October 09, 2017 · Written by Foodtolive Team
Best Cheat Meal Ideas and Tips to Boost Your Weight Loss Program
A cheat meal is a way for you to get one over your weight loss program without the risk of losing your progress. A well-planned cheat day is actually able of boosting your fat burning ambitions. Special meals like a healthy chocolate cake, pasta with rich sauce and parmesan, or even pizza and burgers can make any diet much more pleasant.
What Is a Cheat Meal
A cheat meal literally is a meal you use to break the rules of a weight loss diet without consequences. It allows you an opportunity to enjoy a seemingly unhealthy and often high-calorie dish.
Please note that a ‘cheat meal’ must never include highly unhealthy foods, like processed snacks or meats. Those are rich in saturated fats, refined sugar, and other nasty elements that can harm your body. To cheat on a diet means to eat more calories than you spend. Therefore, you can enjoy some fatty foods on your cheat day, but not something that breaks the rules of healthy eating altogether.
When used right, this type of meal can boost one’s metabolism. It won’t prevent one from meeting their fitness goals and even bodybuilders can benefit from it.
Cheat Meal: Pros and Cons
- Easier adaptation to a new diet
- Metabolism boost that can enhance the effects of a weight loss program
- Emotional boost that helps you keep up the motivation to diet
- Adding a variety to a healthy meal plan
- Ability to lead a full and enjoyable life while on a restrictive diet
- Risk of getting carried away and eating too much
- Reduction in the efficiency of a weight loss plan (caused by poorly planned cheat day meals)
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Please note that people suffering from severe health problems might not be allowed cheat meals. If you have dietary restrictions due to health concerns, you must consult your doctor before breaking the plan. It’s imperative to discuss what you can and cannot eat so that you can plan a cheat day that won’t endanger your wellbeing.
When Is the Right Time for a Cheat Day
The best time for a cheat day is the period of post-workout recovery. As you’ve been burning calories off hardcore when exercising, you can afford to get a bit more of them back. However, the most important question here is ‘how much more?’
When indulging in a cheat meal, you must abide by the 90/10 rule. This means that you follow your dietary weight loss plan 90% of the time and only allow yourself 10% leeway. This rule also covers the amount of calories you can indulge in. Do your best to make your cheat days not more than 10% over your regular plan.
Eating a cheat meal right after an intense workout will increase the chance of it going towards growing your muscles. If you consume fatty foods when your body is less active, you’ll just be adding to your body fat.
Cheat Meal Tips for Your Weight Loss Strategy
- Make a cheat meal plan.
When you have a plan, you’ll be less likely to overindulge. This will also help you prepare ‘good’ cheat meals that won’t be too hard on your arteries. Planning in advance will allow you to set up your meals so you can indulge when eating out with friends.
Remember, alcohol is high in calories, so a few drinks a night make a cheat meal on their own.
- Stick to your diet the rest of the time.
A cheat meal will be an effective metabolism booster only if it’s rare and incorporated in a low-calorie plan. If you break the meal plan in small things every day, you cannot have one big cheat day splurge.
- Never eat a cheat meal when you’re hungry.
Your stomach is relatively slow in sending out the ‘I’m full!’ signal to the brain, and when you’re hungry, you’ll overeat before the thought registers. One of the important healthy eating tips that help you lose weight is chewing your food well so you eat slower. This ensures that the signal has the time to reach the brain. Thus, you’ll avoid consuming too many calories.
- Create a small ‘calorie buffer’.
You create a ‘calorie buffer’ by reducing your calorie intake a bit more so you can mitigate the damage from the cheat meal. Bear in mind that you must be reasonable about it and plan your meals well for this to work. Cutting the calories too much and working out too rigorously will dangerously weaken your body. This will most likely lead to extreme hunger (see the point above). The safest way to create a buffer is to skip the previous meal. However, you’ll need to move the meal before that a bit down on your schedule and make it slightly bigger. For example, if you go to a party in the evening and plan to feast, miss lunch but eat a late breakfast.
- Have a list of allowed cheat meals.
Limit your cheat meal choices in advance by listing every food you can reasonably allow. The multitude of tasty options from a menu often makes you break the cheat day rules and pig out. The list will help avoid this and assist with budget planning.
The idea of cheat meals is widely embraced by dieticians, fitness pros, and regular people who work out regularly. However, one must never forget about the connection between exercise and weight loss. This means that if you plan to have a cheat day with your diet, you must exercise to shed any extra fat you gain.
You also must remember that cheat meals are effective as a weight loss aid because they boost the level of leptin. This is the so-called ‘starvation hormone’ that naturally drops when you switch to a low-calorie diet.
This natural reaction makes your body burn fat slower as it believes the reduced calorie intake means famine. An occasional calorie-rich meal will boost the leptin levels and kickstart your metabolism. However, this will only work if you allow those levels to drop by following a smart weight loss plan.
4 Basic Cheat Meal Mistakes to Avoid
- Having a cheat day too often.
It would be best to stick to only one cheat meal per week. You might indulge a bit more when getting used to the change in diet. However, limit yourself gradually to achieve this level.
- Consuming too many calories with a cheat meal.
If you follow the traditional 2000-calorie a day meal plan or even 1500-calorie a day, which is more frequent for weight loss programs, a 2000-calorie meal is too much. An average Chinese takeout packs between 1700 and 200o calories. Things like creamy pasta can get over 2000 calories. This doesn’t even include a dessert. Your cheat meal shouldn’t be over 1000 calories, and even that might be too much. Be sure to either choose a reasonably healthy dish or enjoy only a very small portion of a fatty meal.
- Having a full out cheat day.
The words ‘cheat day’ in a smart weight loss program mean a day when you allow yourself a cheat meal. This doesn’t mean that you can indulge all day long.
- Drinking and feasting at the same time.
Many people overlook the fact that alcohol is a high-calorie product by default. Combining it with a cheat meal results in an overindulgence that ends up forming an extra level of fat.
Top 4 Delicious and Easy Cheat Meal Ideas with Recipes
Creamy Vegan Mac’N’Cheese
- 10 ounces macaroni shells
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ onion (diced)
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ cup vegetable broth
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (crushed)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 4-ounce can of green chilies
- Cook macaroni following the instructions on the package.
- Sautee onions and garlic with a bit of olive oil in a large skillet for 5-7 minutes.
- Combine sautéed onions, cashews, spices, ½ can of chilies, yeast, and cornstarch in a blender and pulse. Add broth and process until smooth.
- Drain macaroni and set them aside in a bowl covered with a towel.
- Pour the sauce into the same pot you cooked macaroni in and cook until it gets thick. Stir frequently.
- Add macaroni and the last half of the chilies can to the sauce. Serve while hot.
This cheat meal is amazing and will make a great dinner on a day you want to indulge. See more uses for cashew cream here.
Simple Vegan Pizza
- 1 vegan pizza crust (store bought or use your favorite recipe)
- 1 cup mushrooms (chopped)
- 1 ½ cups bell peppers (chopped, use peppers of varied colors)
- 1/3 cup red onions (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sautee onions and peppers in a large skillet with olive oil and half of the spices.
- Add mushrooms after about 8 minutes sauteeing and cook for 3-5 minutes more.
- Make a sauce by combining tomato sauce with the other half of spices and seasoning with salt.
- Roll out the store-bought vegan dough, put some sauce onto it, and add the veggies on top.
- Bake at 425Ffor about 20 minutes.
It’s a cheat meal for indulging with friends when watching a movie. You can top it with some vegetarian cheese.
Tortilla Chips with Guacamole
Ingredients for guacamole:
- 2 avocados
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 ripe tomato (chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and mash avocados.
- Pulse all ingredients in a blender until you get the desired consistency.
- Chill your guacamole for 30 minutes before serving.
This would be a great cheat meal for a party. You can use any kind of tortilla chips, but try to find the type with least fat.
Vegan Ice Cream (Strawberry Sorbet)
- 16 ounces strawberries (quartered and hulled)
- ¼ cup honey
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor until perfectly smooth.
- Push the puree through a fine mesh by hand to remove the maximum of seeds.
- Add honey and lemon juice before whisking thoroughly.
- Chill your sorbet for several hours before serving.
There is no better cheat meal than ice cream for when you are having a bad day. Be sure to limit your portions, but eat enough to lift your mood. You can use other fruits in this recipe as sorbet at its simplest is fruits pureed and mixed with sugar syrup.