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Cheat Meals: Can They Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

Author: Coach Nick Book

Exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand. On days when you're training hard or sticking to a restricted diet, a cheat meal can sound like the ultimate reward. It’s a chance to indulge in your favorite dish or treat without feeling guilty or worrying about the numbers.

Can cheat meals really be part of a healthy diet?

As you might expect, the answer isn’t a straightforward “yes” or “no” - it depends on a variety of factors. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether cheat meals fit into your healthy lifestyle:


How often do you indulge in cheat meals? If they become a daily habit, clearly they won’t be healthy. Cheat meals should be an occasional treat rather than a regular habit, and no more than once or twice a week.

Portion size:

Even if you’re indulging in a treat, portion size matters. Overeating during a cheat meal can lead to digestive discomfort and set back your overall health goals. Aim to consume reasonably-sized servings that fit within the daily calorie limit.

Food choices:

Another key factor that determines how healthy or unhealthy cheat meals can be is their composition. Ideally, cheat meals should be high in protein, low in saturated/trans fats, and high in carbs. Some great options to consider would be something as simple as meat and potatoes with your favorite dessert to finish your meal off! Just be sure to pre-plan what you'll be eating and how much!


Finally, timing matters. Ideally, cheat meals should be consumed after a day of hard training or intense exercise. This way, your body will be able to store the extra calories efficiently as glycogen, rather than fat.

In Conclusion...

Cheat meals can certainly be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation and with your overall diet in mind. They can be a great way to satisfy cravings and stay motivated towards your health and fitness goals. Just remember to keep portion sizes in check, make smart food choices, limit cheat meals to once or twice a week at most, and time them after workouts for maximum efficiency. By following these guidelines, you can indulge in cheat meals without derailing your overall health and wellness plan.