Serving Up Cheat Meals

Sometimes You Just Need To Eat To Feel Good

Lunch time is a perfect chance to take a step back from the work bench and let your thoughts carry you wherever they may. To give your brain a bit of a prompt during a sluggish work day, “Food for Thought” is here to offer the mind an adequate serving of information. Bon appetite!


Today's Special: Cheat Meals

The Rock's Cheat Meal - 12 pancakes, 4 pizzas, 21 brownies

Photo courtesy of Perez Hilton & 

In the immortal words of the late Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben in Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility." In the world of fitness and nutrition, this quote can be linked to two words: cheat meals. 

The purpose of a cheat meal is two fold. First and perhaps foremost, it serves to satisfy cravings that come with dieting. Second, a well balanced cheat meal (yes, such a thing exists) can actually have a positive impact on metabolism, causing weight loss for those looking to slim down. 

To understand the benefits of a cheat meal, there a few things that must be understood about the requirements and responsibilities that come with them. 


What does a cheat meal do? 

As previously stated, cheat meals have two strong reasons for existing behind them: satisfaction, and to keep metabolism flowing. 

The biggest destroyer of diets and overall progress is cravings. Whether you're trying to bulk up or slim down, every meal plan comes with certain sacrifices that must be made in order to achieve the goal. Discipline is ultimately the key to keeping on track, but discipline is not exactly synonymous with deprivation. 

The other side of the coin is that cheat meals have the ability to jump start certain proteins and hormones that regulate body weight and metabolism. As ironic as it sounds, the body can become too used to low calorie/low fat diets to the point that these proteins, such as Leptin, reduce in number and actually work against the body due to lack of sustenance. Keeping just a little bit of fat, sugars, and sodium "in stock" keeps Leptin and other proteins and hormones active and keep your body running smoothly. 


What makes a good cheat meal?

Every body has a unique metabolism and reaction to certain foods, so while it's easy to ask "What can I afford to eat for a cheat meal?" it may not be as easy to answer that question. However, there are a few basic rules to follow to make the most out of your next cheat meal:

  • sugary foods, such as donuts or non-protein based cookies and brownies are fine as part of a cheat meal, but keep in mind sugar is tougher to burn off than carbs and calories.
  • high calories are carbs are the best parts of a cheat meal. They give the body more energy to work with, and a good amount of cheat meal options include a protein source such as burgers and chicken wings. 
  • if your cheat meal is something you can either make at home instead of going to a restaurant, do so. Cooking at home allows you to keep an eye on what goes into the meal since a dish from elsewhere could pack more calories, fats, and sodium than you probably think.
  • remember that if your cheat meal will consist of something that your body has been without for some time, you may experience some digestive discomfort later. 


What is this "responsibility" you speak of?

Everyone needs a break once in a while, even top athletes and body builders. Through consistent training and dedication to a well balanced diet, you can earn the privilege to have a cheat meal once a week. That said, you are therefore responsible to only allow yourself the cheat meal. Again, that is a cheat meal, not a cheat day

At the same time, the other bit of responsibility is allowing yourself to have the cheat day. Do not be disappointed in giving into temptation once a week, or feel like now that you ate that big bowl of pasta that you have to hit the gym for three hours. The work will do itself this one time so long as you are sure to do the work all the other times. 

And if ever you get second thoughts as to whether or not a cheat day is something that can in some way assist you in your fitness goals, always remember that even The Rock, the People's Champion, has them too! 

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