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Cheat Meal: Do's and Don'ts

You have been working hard to get yourself in perfect shape. Understand the goal of a cheat meal, you're allowed to go out of your way but maintain a nutritional balance. A cheat meal has a lot to do with your metabolism, it can regulate your hormones.

Leptin is the hormone that regulates your appetite and controls satiety. Its production depends on your calorie intake.

Ghrelin often referred to as the “hunger hormone”, tells your brain when you're hungry. When we are in a calorie deficit, our ghrelin levels can actually increase.

A cheat meal (high in calories and carbohydrates), boosts our metabolism (between 3% to 10 % for no more than 24 hours) and regulates these hormones. Helps the body to keep burning calories so it doesn’t lead to a plateau.

Why do we need a “cheat meal”?

Psychologically, they help you stay focussed, break up the monotony and prevent discouragement by following a strict food schedule. It will give you a boost of motivation to stick to your meal plan afterwards!

Physically, tricks your body into thinking that there are a lot of calories to be burned so that it speeds up your metabolism.


  • Carbs are king! Choose food that is carb and protein-dense and contains a small amount of fat. Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on leptin levels, the hormone that burns fat.

  • Go beast-mode during your training session prior to your cheat.

  • Do it smartly, choose a thing you really want but remember, overeating can cause more harm than good.

  • Avoid the scales the next day, those additional calories will also be stored as glycogen, which will make the scale spike. Loading up on carbs on a cheat day can increase your weight noticeably.

  • Let go of the "all or nothing" mentality, where you overeat not because you want to (or you have to) but because you know you won’t get to again for a whole week.


  • Don’t turn a cheat meal into a cheat day. Consistency with your diet is extremely important if you are trying to lose, or maintain your weight.

  • Stay away from processed foods and sweetened drinks. A cheat meal is a single meal, don’t use this excuse to have free food choices for an entire day. A cheat meal is not a free ticket to excessive overeating.

  • Don’t go overboard from eating all the unhealthy fatty foods.

  • Don’t eat more than your body can take.

  • Don’t run the risk of undoing your prior weight loss efforts by ending up eating more calories than you should.

  • Don’t starve yourself for the cheat meal.

  • Don’t devour everything you can get your hands on, it can lead to an eating disorder.

  • Don’t compensate. Don’t try to burn off those calories through exercise or starving yourself the next day.

  • Don’t eat in guilt.

What to do after a cheat meal?

  1. Get back on track!

  2. Be kind to yourself.

  3. Drink water! Lots of water!

  4. Move on!

Remember, balance and moderation are key!

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