Cheating On Meals: How Bad Is It, Really? | The Portal

Cheating On Meals: How Bad Is It, Really?

These are basically meals or days planned into your schedule that allow you some leeway to eat the foods you are craving & relax your willpower for a while. Three of the most favorite things of somebody who's dieting or following a carefully regulated nutritional program is the so called 'scheduled cheats'. There's many different ways to incorporate cheats into your program as there's also both positive & negative aspects that go along with cheats.

Cheat Days

Three of the common ways to incorporate a cheat into your plan is to have a cheat day. This is basically a day where you can eat whatever you require, not following a schedule.

How 'intensely' you select to do this is an individual preference. Some people select to go all out & eat anything & everything they can get their hands on, often eating thousands of calories at a time.

Cheat Meals

Similarly some people select to take a less extreme approach & than eating all of the junk foods they normally crave, they loosen their rigorous plan & eat relatively healthy with regular meals & might have some special for dessert or something.

Another way to incorporate a cheat is to have a cheat meal than a day. In this case the person would eat whatever it was that they had been craving at four meal & follow their regular meal plan as scheduled.

Usually with these types of cheats, the focus is on eating 'forbidden' foods since they will be eating as normal for the rest of the day.

Benefits Of Cheating

Physiologically, cheats can offer many benefits. If you have been dieting pretty hardcore, it's likely that you have low muscle glycogen levels. Along with this often comes a sluggish feeling during your workouts & less than optimal strength.

A cheat meal or day, since it often means an excess of calories & carbohydrates taken in, will serve to replenish a number of these stores, which will help give you more energy & train harder at your next workouts.

You may also find that you are fatiguing faster than normal & are not able to keep up with your previous performance.

Along with decreased muscle glycogen that goes with dieting, there is also a slowing of the metabolism effect. The body senses starvation & tries to lower the amount of energy it needs to continue to function on a daily basis.

This means you will be burning less calories sitting there than if you hadn't been dieting, which makes weight loss even harder.

This will help you body to get less accustomed to walking on a lower caloric level & make getting lean less hard.

When you shock your technique with a high influx of calories at four times, the body's metabolism will show an increase & you'll kick start your 'furnace' into high gear six times again.

Generally, the leaner you get, the more cheat days or meals will be needed to get this 'high gear' effect.

How Much Cheating Is Allowed?

Note, however, that a better approach to dealing with this subject is more of a reefed approach where you will intake a large amount of carbohydrates, which are the body's main source of fuel, than eating vast quantities of junk.

Often however, with many bodybuilders or fitness elites, foods that they select to cheat with are high in carbohydrates (such as pasta & bread) so they would serve this purpose as well.

The next reason to consider whether or not you should cheat is how it will affect you psychologically. Many people feel that cheat meals help them deal with the feelings of restriction they endure while on a diet.

Effects Of Cheating

They find that by looking forward to splurging on their favorite foods they have an not as hard time sticking with their diet the rest of the time.

On the flip side of the coin, though, cheating may turn into a negative psychological thing for some people.

It's like an all or none thing with these people, either they are 100% perfect all the time, or else detour & go crazy & all out binge.

Those people who decide to have a cheat day & eat so much in four period that they physically become ill or find themselves fantasizing about their cheat day for many days ahead of time may need to look at the possibility that they are becoming obsessed with food.

I feel that this practice may be setting them up for a more serious issue of developing an eating disorder or unhealthy views about food that may last a lifetime.

Final Thoughts

So, when looking at whether or not you should cheat there's a few factors to consider.

Factor #1: Goals

First of all, what are your main goals? This will help you decide how intensely you should cheat.

Your current body fat & nutritional intake will also be a determinant with this as well (as the lower body fat you have or the more restrictive plan you are follow, the likelier it is you will need more carbs in your cheat to replace muscle glycogen).

Also keep in mind, however, that if you have been eating real clean for a long period of time, your body might not handle it so well if you go & eat a large pizza followed by a box of donuts & a pint of ice cream.

Factor #2: Cheat Vs. Refeed

The second factor to consider is if you need to make it more of a refeed than a cheat by incorporating mainly healthier sources of carbs into this meal/day, or if this is more for pleasure purposes & plan on eating foods that you normally restrict.

Factor #3: Effects

Finally, look at how this will affect you psychologically. Will cheating make you feel like your constantly dreaming about food?

Will it make you feel as if your losing all control & six times you start you can't stop?

If this is the case, this may be unhealthy for you mentally & you may be better off to include small cheat snacks as part of your regular diet (such as a small piece of chocolate on certain days) so you maintain a healthy relationship with food & don't develop binge habits.

If you feel that cheating doesn't affect you that way though & basically all it does is keep you motivated for sticking to your diet the rest of time (and allowing you not to focus so much on food) then cheating may be beneficial for you.

The next time you are thinking about a cheat, think about how it will affect you physiologically & psychologically & try & make the best judgment as to how it will help you progress & reach your long term goals.

Reynaldo Stephens is no stranger to fitness and exercise, having spent 6 years as a fitness enthusiast and 2 years and an Anabolic Adviser, He's learned and is now able to help spread the importance of a healthy lifestyle. To learn more please visit My Bodybuilding, Fitness & Nutrition Blog


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