It’s Fourth of July weekend, and you know that that means. Tis’ the season for indulging in empty calories, because nothing says ‘Merica quite like grilled meat and ice-cream-topped apple pie, am I right? Now, before you start stressing about killing your diet, you need to know -- it’s okay to build in a cheat meal here and there. No really, it’s actually good for you. Here are 3 reasons why, in case you need to justify downing a couple of hot dogs this weekend.
They Make Dieting Feasible
Psychologically, even the most disciplined gym rats need a cheat meal. Nobody is perfect, so planning an indulging meal gives you something to look forward to. It also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the less healthy foods you like in moderation. The keyword, though, is plan. You should know when you should and shouldn’t splurge. You should also know when to stop. Make your cheat meals something that will satisfy you, but not something that will completely kill your progress. For instance, choose a balanced meal instead of one that’s composed of nothing but sugar. As a best practice, plan your cheat meal on the 7th day of the week. It’s just the motivation you’ll need to push through a week of clean eating and intense workouts.
They Help You Burn Fat
If you allow your body to fully adjust to a low-calorie lifestyle, it will adapt to the shortage of calories by burning fewer of them. Cheat meals help prevent this from happening by randomly, yet strategically boosting your caloric intake. The result is an increased metabolism and a body that is encouraged to burn calories faster.
They Allow for a Lifestyle Change
The key to wellness is not restriction - it’s balance. If you’ve decided to go on a diet, chances are you’re hoping for favorable long-term results when it comes to your weight and overall health. By regularly cutting yourself some slack, you make it easier to maintain your desired results over time. As long as you cheat in moderation, and hop back on track when you fall off, the results will come and stay. Practice makes progress!
All in all, cheat meals can benefit your mind and body, but you have to be sure you don’t overdo them. As a rule of thumb, follow the 90/10 rule - consume healthy foods 90% of the time and “cheat” 10% of the time. Remember, a cheat meal is very different from a cheat day, so plan them out, keep them balanced, and keep all the rest of your meals clean.
Now go enjoy that barbecue, and have a fun, safe Fourth of July!