How to Include Cheat Meals in your Diet Plan

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The best way to stick to your diet plan is to include some of the foods you thought you would never be able to enjoy again. That’s right: On occasion, the high-fat and high-carb foods you shut out of your heart and mind might be able to make a comeback on the dinner table. Don’t get too excited yet, though, because with great power comes great responsibility. Learn when to schedule your cheat meals to make them work for you and how to resist the urge to turn a single meal into a cheat week to stay on track.

Hunger Hormones

Leptin is the hormone that your body uses to regulate and reduce your appetite. It is secreted by fat cells and affects the way that your body decides to use energy. Some people experience leptin resistance and may consistently experience ongoing hunger as a result. Leptin works in combination with another hormone, ghrelin, that signals the initial feelings of hunger. Ghrelin may also operate at a deficit, and when the two are not in production as they should be, people experience great hunger despite their best efforts to prevent it.

Cheat meals can sometimes lessen the effect that leptin and ghrelin have on your body. When you consume a cheat meal, it increases your metabolism, which works side by side with the increased leptin levels from the meal to shift your body into weight-loss mode.

Schedule Cheats

Rather than let tempting opportunities happen on their own, take control of the calculations you need to schedule your cheat meals into your weekly nutrition. There are plenty of weeks ahead of you to include a meal that you may not be able to have this week.

Events

Schedule your cheat meal for a birthday party, wedding, or other event you are attending that week. There is no reason not to fully enjoy your obligations as you gather with friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Plateaus

You may also want to schedule your cheat day as your exercise results start to plateau. If you stop seeing results, schedule in a cheat meal rather than your usual cardio and then move to circuit training for best results.

Dedication Drops

If you have nothing else planned for the week, think about the day of the week that your dedication and motivation suffer the most. If you constantly find yourself with a bowl of ice cream on Saturday nights, stop feeling guilty and schedule your cheat ahead of time so you can calculate it accordingly instead.

Cheat Smart 

When you are planning your cheat meal, think about which foods or meals you need to modify in your weekly plan so that you can substitute them for foods with equal calories or macros. A sneaky approach to cheating is finding options that impact your diet less than others so that your hard work and exercise don’t suffer due to your cravings. Healthy cheat meals with lower-calorie options or plant-based substitutions for higher fat treats are also an excellent way to save calories without choosing to cheat in smaller amounts.

Control Portions

The romanticized idea behind cheat meals comes from people who may be training for specific events or have undisclosed dietary needs. A cheat meal for the average person should not consist of a dozen pancakes, two sushi boats, a box of cookies, and a gallon of orange juice. To lose weight or maintain your progress so far, continue the portion sizes you follow all week long.

Avoid Temptation

When you enjoy your cheat meal, opt for smaller portions if you are at a restaurant. The best way to ensure that this happens is to call ahead and explain your dietary needs. More often than not, your requests will be granted. If you cannot opt for a smaller portion, ask your server to immediately box half of it before even bringing it out to the table. You can send the untouched half home with other diners or drop it off to a loved one who may appreciate a quick meal on a busy night. This practice ensures that you do not make more than one meal out of your scheduled cheat, and no food is wasted in the process.

Limit Yourself

The most important thing you need to manage for cheat meals is to ensure that they only happen once a week. Be careful that your cheat meal doesn’t turn into a cheat day or a cheat week or longer. By including rewarding and flavorful treats that you enjoy in your weekly meal planning, you should have consistent access to foods you love without depriving yourself. Staying committed to the larger plan is essential, and results will come with time so long as you remain diligent.

Download the Prospre macro meal planning app to help you keep track of your food choices and your one cheat meal every week. Learning more about how to fit in that one treat expertly can help you stay on track and maintain your goals.

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