I've long left the term and mindset of 'cheat meals', after years of being around old-school fitness competitor style programming and good intentions growing sour with my own results. Frankly, you'll drive yourself mad, at least eventually, embracing the mentality of certain foods being 'bad', and beating yourself up to whatever degree for "cheating". Instead, I believe with anything, its important to recognize where you're at, where you want to be, and what it really takes to get there. Life is too short to restrict ourselves from foods we really do enjoy, but it's also too short to constantly overindulge, always wishing we could have the results we want and never getting there. Knowing how often to incorporate fun food to our lifestyle helps create balance, and no matter what kind of life you lead, balance is important for our metabolic, hormonal and mental health- not just how we look.
How often you can enjoy sugar'y sweet treats, extra savory foods or alcohol without your body fat increasing depends on your current metabolism, weekly activity levels and day to day nutrition. In maintenance mode, as long as you're not overboard'ing your body with excess carbs and fats during surrounding meals, most people can get away with a few moderate indulgences per week so long as their lifestyle includes focused exercise and a good day to day eating & supplement routine. You'd be surprised how a little bit of anything over time will result in big outcomes - that's why I'm a big proponent of staying honest with your day to day habits, especially when working towards some sort of physique changing goal.
If you're working on significantly decreasing body fat in a short amount of time, extra carb + fat filled 'fun' food spaced out for a series of weeks or so is a safe range to stay in.
Over the years (going on 12, now) that I've been helping people work towards health and physique changing goals, I've determined for those who have just a handful of weeks to tighten up, the 2-3.5 week time span of spacing the fun food indulgences is the most practical and rewarding. If time isn't short and someone is willing to take the slow and steady route (which I prefer), enjoying a fun food meal once a week while working towards their goal alleviates the anxiety of avoiding beloved foods for 'too long'. Giving yourself adequate time between indulging allows you to see the fruit of your labor, rather than having extra fun food every few days or more, not allowing enough time for you to really see changes, which almost always leads to a feeling of frustration and a decision to stop doing what it takes to get where you want to go.
I hope this is helpful in deciding when to incorporate fun foods and beverages. If you'd like to work with me in increasing your weightloss, weight gain, performance and/or overall wellness, drop me a line via the "contact" form here on the website to get started!
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