Taking your waist down a few inches is pretty easy in theory: use more calories than you’re taking in. But in reality, it’s a different story—keeping those notches off your belt can be pretty tough. Especially if you’re logging your meals and making healthy food choices—all of the time.
Well, don’t fret. There may be healthy and satisfying way to break up the monotony. And I think you will love it…
There’s no question that adopting a “healthy” diet low in fast food, processed food, and refined sugars can improve your health and waistline. Eating more whole fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains will lead to results. But, let’s face it: you don’t always want to eat that stuff. It’s summer, for crying out loud! Ice cream, hamburgers, daiquiris, and beer are seasonal delicacies.
Cheat Meals Help with Weight Loss
Your intuition might tell you to avoid these foods, but guess what? Eating a hamburger and fries, a slice of pizza, some ice cream, or a rack of ribs covered in BBQ sauce could actually help you reach your goals faster while allowing you to sustain your efforts well into the future. If you do it right.
You see, eating these types of foods can do wonders for your brain. They keep you sane. And if you’re sticking to your regular, healthy diet most of the time, these extra calories, sugars, or fats aren’t necessarily going to be stored by your body. They may be absorbed and used as energy. Basically, they won’t act as a negative force in your efforts, as long as you’re in a calorie deficit the majority of the time.
I’d like to give you a personal example, if I may. I’m a guy who likes to trim down over the summer. So for the past few weeks, I’ve tightened up what I eat. I keep my protein and fat intake relatively constant, but slowly scale back my starchy and whole-grain carbohydrate intake each week.
Over the last seven weeks, I’ve lost 14 pounds, which is right on schedule. But last weekend—and like most weekends since I’ve started my program—I was in a situation where: a) I wasn’t necessarily in control of my situation; and b) I wanted to splurge. So, at an early dinner, I decided to order a big burger on a white bread bun, and wash it down with a beer—okay, maybe two.
But when I did my weigh-in on Monday morning, I was still down the two pounds I was aiming for. Also, I should note that I didn’t cut out any of my other meals during the day to “make room.” I just turned a blind eye.
How to Cheat and Stay on Track
This can work for you, too, if you allow yourself to “cheat” properly. This means eating cheat meals in a controlled fashion. If you do it more than about twice per week, you’ll have a harder time reaching your goals. It’s important to have your cheat meal, enjoy it, and then get back on track. Here are a few rules to help you stick to your guns:
1. Plan Your Cheat
Set your cheat meals up so they’re not too close together. And so you know it won’t spiral into a few bad decisions in a row. Doing one mid-week—on Wednesday, for example—and then another on the weekend provides ample spacing (and leaves you something to look forward to).
2. Don’t Overdo It
It’s a cheat meal, not a cheat day. So eat the meal and get back on the wagon. It’s also important not to use the meal as an excuse to gorge yourself. A cheat meal is maybe two slices of pizza and a scoop or two of ice cream for dessert. Not a whole pizza and ice cream cake.
3. Be Patient
If you’re trying to eat healthy for the first time, or have had troubles sticking to nutrition changes in the past, it’s best to wait a few weeks before introducing cheat meals. Two to four is what I’d recommend; this way you’ve gotten into the habit of making healthy choices. And, there is a lower risk of a cheat meal throwing you back to your old ways.
Go against your gut by spiking your diet with a cheat meal from time to time. It could actually help!