Cheat meals: a useful weight loss strategy?

Cheats meals can motivate you to maintain a healthy diet. However, if there is not enough self-control, they can backfire.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on November 04, 2021.

Last update: 04 November, 2021

Nothing more nor less than a cheat meal, this is what the cheat meals. It is an intake that deviates from the pattern established in the diet and that allows the introduction of some restricted foods, but in a controlled way.

It is proposed as a way to break the diet on a specific day in those strict eating plans. Thus, it is intended that people can enjoy some foods that do not usually have a place in their diet, which helps to avoid early abandonment.

However, nor is it an open door to fast food in huge quantities, as this could be counterproductive. Therefore, if you want to know more about this experience, what it consists of and how to apply it successfully, then we will tell you all the details.

Cheat meals or cheat meals

The initiation of cheat meals is related to diets to lose fat and to increase muscle mass. For this reason, at first their scope was limited to the gym, where they became popular with fans of the gym. fitness.

But its supposed advantages when it comes to coping with an eating plan (related to motivation or metabolism) could also be beneficial for those who follow slimming diets.

Far from what it may seem, the idea behind the cheat meal It is not filling up on junk food in large quantities. It is about rewarding the effort made with the diet, and introducing a day off to eat the foods that are restricted in a planned way.

Apart from cheat meal, In some contexts, the idea of cheat day. In this case, it is a whole day with freedom of choice of food.

Make a cheat meal is indulging in a treat from time to time, without stopping maintaining a healthy eating program.

Benefits of practicing cheat meals

Introducing cheat meals in an organized way has been shown to be a positive strategy to lose weight. This is believed to help improve your ability to lose weight and your motivation to stick with the diet for longer.

However, it is important to note that each person has a particular metabolism and body composition.

Therefore, not everyone responds the same to weight loss diets and not to the practice of cheat meal. Thus, these benefits could appear to a lesser or greater extent depending on the person.

Counteract metabolic adaptation

The moment a calorie-restricted diet is started and food is “scarce,” a series of hormonal changes are triggered. These are related to leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger pangs and basal metabolism.

As a consequence, the body becomes “thrifty” and stops losing weight even though the intake remains low. According to the theorists of cheat meal these days with a higher intake could break these circumstances and save the metabolic adaptation. However, at the moment scientific studies have not been able to prove it.

Increase adherence to diet

A weight loss meal plan can be monotonous, calorie restrictive, and variety. Break this every now and then with the days of free intake increases the chances of maintaining the diet for longer.

This could be one of the keys to weight loss success, since scientific evidence indicates that adherence to the eating plan (the degree to which a person is able to continue with the diet) is more relevant than the chosen program itself .

Reconnect with the social circle

Some people stop going to meals or meetings with their loved ones when following weight-loss diets. In these cases, match the cheat meal with a social gathering can be a way to recover these acts around food.

Does cheat meal practice have drawbacks?

Despite the benefits observed, the application of cheat meals raises some doubts about its suitability and the existence of potential health risks.

One of the first problems of cheat meals It derives from the person’s own control. If these become rampant ingests of food with a high energy intake, you run the risk of ruining the achievements you have made so far.

In addition, it is a method that can promote the intake of unhealthy foods, with a high energy density and with a low or no contribution of nutrients.

Subsequent periods of restriction and binge eating is a risk factor for the development of an eating disorder. This method could aggravate food-related problems, whether addictions or inability to regulate habits.

Some studies show that people who use food to forget worries and negative feelings They are more likely to develop binge eating disorder when they eat more palatable foods.

Likewise, it must be considered that it is not positive to conceive of diets as a time of suffering that deserves the reward of a day without control from time to time.

The very notion of “cheat food” or “cheat” already is accompanied by a negative connotation which can be associated with feelings of guilt and shame.

What to keep in mind to make cheat meals without risk?

There is no single model or guideline for conducting a cheat meal. It all depends on the preferences of each person, their favorite foods or the periodicity with which cheat meals are scheduled. Still, it is convenient to apply the following tricks:

  • Although the idea behind the cheat meal is breaking the established diet, this food it needs to be planned on the basis of healthy eating. It is not advisable that cheat food is synonymous with eating without restraint and without taking into account your own feelings of hunger and satiety.
  • A first step is deciding when to do it and what to eat. Some meal with friends or a special celebration is a good occasion.
  • It is also good to choose two or three foods that you want to eat, but they have no place in the weight loss diet. One day you can choose carbohydrates in the form of bread or pasta and another time choose a sweet dessert, for example.
  • Similarly, portion control can be a positive practice; it is enough to add two slices of pizza instead of eating a whole one. Everything that cannot be savored in a cheat meal it is reserved for the next while it is enjoyed what is chosen.
  • It is not advisable to stop eating or eat very little the previous days, since an exaggerated feeling of hunger could be an open door to overeat. An intake high in fiber and protein is adequate, since it increases satiety and could help not to overdo it.
Do cheat meals It can backfire if there is not enough self-control. Therefore, it is advisable to plan it and make the right decisions regarding the chosen foods.

Introducing planned cheat meals can motivate you to follow the weight loss diet

Skipping the diet one day a week or once in a timely manner is not a negative practice, nor does it have to spoil the results obtained. But if you don’t watch the way it’s done, there is a danger of promoting unhealthy dietary practices.

In addition, in those people who already have problems with food, it could open the door to more serious eating disorders. A diet that is hungry and food forbidden can lead to occasional binge meals, with the risk of causing binge eating disorder.

First of all, the best way to lose weight is to seek professional help. Both doctors and nutritionists they can guide you towards a healthy and varied eating program. They will also help improve other habits to have a better lifestyle.

Be that as it may, if you decide to apply the cheat meal in the slimming diet, it is necessary that this be approached from a positive and healthy point of view, with measures that respect physical and mental health.

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