A cheat meal is normally a weekly/fortnightly meal that is high in sugar, fat or any unhealthy additives. People consume cheat meals to take a break from their strict dietary regiments that normally contain bland or less flavorful foods. What many don't realise is that cheat meals actually provide necessary nutritional benefits for dieting individuals (especially people on fat-loss plans). The key purpose of a cheat meal is supplementing any calorie deficit an individual is going through as a result of their otherwise low-calorie diet. When you shock your system with a high influx of calories at one time, the body's metabolism will show an increase and you'll kick start your furnace into high gear once again. This will stop your body from growing accustomed to running on a lower caloric level and make getting lean easier. By consuming a high-calorie meal during a diet you are also boosting metabolism and stopping it from dropping too low or crashing.
So now that we understand the nutritional benefits of a cheat meal; this opens up a whole new avenue of clean cheat meals known as 'Refeed Meals' that provide the caloric content of a cheat meal without the high sugar and fat. It could simply be a normal meal in your diet plan, but with an extra side of rice. Obviously, a refeed meal like this wouldn't be as satisfying as a greasy burger or slice of cake, which is why refeed meals should be tailored to satisfy your individual cravings without setting back your diet with excess sugar and saturated fat.
The benefits of opting for a refeed meal over a cheat meal are plentiful. Workouts preceding a cheat day often come with a sluggish feeling and less than optimal strength. You may also find that you are fatiguing faster than normal and can't keep up with your previous performance during a clean eating period. With a refeed meal, you are likely to experience an increase in fitness due to the influx of healthy energy being introduced to your body. Furthermore, during a clean-eating period, your stomach develops microbiota (healthy bacteria) that help our bodies digest and absorb nutrients, synthesise certain vitamins, and protect against influenza and toxic cancer-forming carcinogens. In addition to boosting our immune system, microbiota sends messages to our brain and helps regulate metabolism.
Giving up on your cheat meal/day is no easy task, but the benefits do exist. Luckily with refeed meals, you won't have to totally abandon your favourite foods altogether. And if you can't bring yourself to part with your weekly cheat meal/day, then hopefully this article has provided some insight into the relevance and impacts of different cheat meals/refeed meals.