Dieting is never fun, lets be honest. Some days, eating chicken and rice and vegetables can be perfectly fine, and easy. Other days, you just want to devour a whole pizza and eat a carton of ice cream. You would be surprised that cheat meals are actually beneficial!
First, lets just clarify that this is a cheat meal. Not a cheat day. Cheat meals actually boost your metabolism and help with weight loss. Cheat days turn your diet upside down.
The 90/10 Rule:
This should be the holy grail of your diet. The 90/10 rule means that 90% of your meals should be focused on healthy eating, while the other 10% is dedicated to cheat meals. For example, if you follow a diet plan that includes 5 small meals during the day, that would be 35 meals per week, leaving 3 to 4 cheat meals!
Mentally, you’ll be in a better place. Even the most buff gym rat loses their mind sticking to a strict diet for a period of time. Being able to have cheat meals makes your diet seem more feasible. It can become very mundane sticking to a healthy lifestyle every moment of the day. Knowing that there is a cheat meal coming can help keep you motivated. Not to mention, there is science behind cheat meals!
The bomb of calories that are in that cheat meal will help your body maintain energy levels that are necessary to keep dieting and exercising. You still need the three essential macronutrients: carbs, proteins, and fats. This provides energy and builds muscle. But… there is nothing wrong with switching from grilled to fried chicken one day a week.
Leptin, a protein produced by fat tissue, regulates appetite and energy balance. It works on the hypothalamus to suppress food intake and control energy. Studies have shown that when you fast for 24 hours, the leptin levels in your body decrease by 30%! Cheat meals help to throw off the routine energy usage of your body, increase leptin levels, and help return your hormone levels back to their normal values.
Overall, everything is good in moderation. It is important not to over indulge! Stick to normal portion sizes, and don’t go back for seconds. Plan out what meal you are craving. Sometimes cravings mean that your body is low on certain macronutrients. THREE cheat meals per week will not sabotage your diet! If anything, it will help you stick to it!