The first thing that you must understand, according to my point of view, is that there is no stipulated cheat meal, there is no specific food to skip the diet, it is directly related to the concept of "what we would like to eat at that moment that we can not habitually allow ", it means that someone will choose a salty option and others will choose sweet.
There are certain characteristics that we must take into account, both beneficially and in a harmful way; and after several years putting it into practice with patients, I think it is much easier to establish rigorously when it is harmful to introduce this type of food that goes out of normal:
If we are doing a ketogenic diet
It is better not to make a cheat during the whole process of ketosis and make it shorter, than making more time of ketosis with cheat meals between; the results will be greatly appreciated in the first option. normally (I mean a very high % of cases), a person when he makes a cheat meal, if he wants to go back into ketosis, it can take a high work; additionally the symptoms that our body receives and that it manifests at the same time of entering and leaving ketosis, are quite ungrateful; therefore I think there are enough reasons to not think about performing a cheat meal at this time.
If we use to have problems with anxiety
For people who have a history of poor self-control, that can't take only 3 tablespoons of ice cream from a tub, because they want to eat it whole, or when ordering a pizza, they can not take only 2 pieces because they also want to eat it whole; This is not a very suitable option, because, from my experience, it is not to exceed twice the calories of the highest intake of the day. Exceeding, can lead to metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, digestive discomfort, intestinal permeability (especially those people who do 2 a week very blunt). My advice is not to make a diet too strict where there is a need to make these cheat meals, so that there is not excessive consumption of food outside of food quality.
If there is a history of eating disorders
This is quite evident, if the person has a negative or irregular relationship at a psycho-alimentary level, It does not make sense to do a cheat meal.
As for the benefits, what can we obtain and in what way regarding the cheat meal?
- Motivational factor: it is very common when a person has been trying to comply with some demanding nutritional guidelines for a long time, when there are moments when the option of abandonment is very viable, where it is difficult to keep going, where we stop being objective with results and we do not see progress. Well, a cheat meal can be the necessary incentive to carry out a meeting of nutritional goals, the desire to carry out an impeccable week so we will able to enjoy a cheat meal on weekend; and, in the long term, it can suppose a much more sustainable rhythm, translated to better results than those that try to make everything perfect and that seek to alleviate those feelings of anxiety with supplements to avoid doing the cheat meal.
- Disconnect mentally: everything that is routine inevitably ends up saturating; and the diet is not going to be different ... not thinking about calories once a week, the evasion of not having to be checking labels, the knowledge that because you incorporate something that does not come in your diet and you do it in a "controlled" way It will not provide negative results, it is certainly a positive point to make nutritional plans sustainable for a longer time
- It can be useful to increase the intensity of the workout at a specific time: getting a repletion of muscle glycogen, carrying out a super caloric habit, we can take advantage of it so that our next workout can assume the ability to reach levels of effort and higher physical / muscular demands
- Control of the Leptin and Ghrelin hormones, improving the feelings of satiety and hunger respectively can be a very positive strategy to make the periods of weight loss more sustainable. I will not stop to explain the operation of Leptin and Ghrelin independently, since you can find it in google without any problem, what I want you to understand is that a cheat meal, can be a benefit in the way of regulating both hormones and which refers to the overall set of nutritional plan in a matter of positive evolution; in other words, the fact of not cheat meal, can affect the levels of these hormones, producing feelings of hunger and anxiety in a higher proportion than necessary, and that is something very common in calorie deficit diets.
How should we focus on the incorporation of a cheat meal?
I have already mentioned some small strategy to take into account to make a good approach, but basically the scheme that reduces the points to take into account is the following:
1. Caloric control of cheat meal
It is not consistent that we control the calories throughout the week, and suddenly the cheat meal arrives and we get to introduce misplaced quantities such as 2000 kcal (something that is not uncommon to see), this not only slows down the process we carry out with the diet, it also makes an impact at the metabolic level that can take several days until it is balanced again. Calories with consistency!
2. Approach on physical exercise as a result of cheat meal
There are two key moments for our cheat meal to have a better purpose: the first solid intake immediately after training, which means that due to physiological need we generate less waste and absorb more calories; and with a similar approach, about 3 hours before working out (that gives us time to do the digestion), so that it can serve as a method of increased performance, especially if we come from a diet where calorie restriction is important.
3. Do not stay with the desire of any craving after
This is simple, do not "select qualities of cheat meal", incorporate what you most want, without contemplations, but with criteria regarding the quantities; Take away the feeling of anxiety, enjoy that moment of disconnection and think that the better you carry out the diet during the week, the more you will get that small prize.
4. Plan a possible fasting based on gastrointestinal sensations
Either if you are more like the people who take a bit too much cheat meal or more like those that when they leave the line of daily food quality have slow, heavy and prolonged digestion; Considering introducing a fast of 8-14 hours after doing the cheat meal can benefit greatly to achieve all the positive points above. It would be useless to make a cheat meal that could impact negatively to the organism at the digestive level during a long period of time.