Cheat meals area a traditional part of a fitness lifestyle since some time now. There is plenty of rationale behind them; specifically glycogen replenishment and even mental sanity. Whatever the reason might be, most amateurs and professionals alike cheat on their diets…it is not a shameful secret!
On the contrary, photos of cheat meals flood the social media – tokens of stomach bursting pride. As much as reasonable cheat meals are unlikely to harm your physique, they might have some negative health effects. Read on to find out what to look out for when indulging in a cheat meal…
Why Cheat Healthily?
Good health is what gives you resilience to endure the demands of training in order to build your perfect physique. Therefore, before you inhale a thick crust and a tub of ice-cream and you may want to think of health and longevity as tools in your muscle building repertoire.
Sure, your diet might be well balanced most days of the week and cheat meal may not seem like a biggy. However, you may run into problems if every week you go on a four or five digit calorie binge. In these amounts certain nutrients and preservatives will be eaten in quantities which are beyond safe and may counteract your hard earned fitness level!
If your health is poor, your body is likely to direct all the effort to deal with that, rather than cooperate with your fitness regime!
Ingredients to Avoid in Your Cheat Meal
✗ Simple Sugar
High insulin levels will make your body create fatty acids from carbohydrate. These will end up packed into “bad” (LDL) cholesterol molecules floating in your bloodstream, clogging up your arteries after eating a large amount of simple sugar. It might be a better idea to “carb up” over several smaller meals rather than with a full blown cheat meal.
Examples: sweets, cakes, biscuits and pastries
✗ Trans Fat
Small quantities of this type of fat can be found in dairy, beef, lamb and mutton. However, the biggest concern is commercially hydrogenated fat. The British Dietetic Association points out, that food manufactures do not have a legal requirement to state that their products contain trans-fat. Choose wisely – you might be up for heart breaking news… literally.
Examples: processed foods, such as; doughnuts, biscuits and cakes
Your day to day diet might be low in salt – however, one crazy salty meal can be enough to raise your blood pressure for a while. Over 80% of all salt is hidden in processed food – check the sodium content.
Examples: pre-made pizza, biscuits, corn-based cereals and ready-made meals
✗ Omega 6
The products of omega-6’s metabolism are incorporated into all cell membranes of your body, helping to trigger the inflammatory response, of which occurs when your thumb swells up after being banged with a hammer. Some inflammation is necessary to aid the healing process. However, too much omega-6 may lead to excessive and harmful inflammation!
Examples: sunflower oil, corn oil, soy-bean oil and cotton-seed oil.
TIP: Plan your cheat meals and prepare them at home to ensure superb nutrient quality and give you a chance to experiment with new meal ideas!
Below you will find a simple suggestion for a full course, DIY cheat meal.
Simple and Healthy
4-course Cheat Meal
4-course Cheat Meal
Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa with Rice Cakes
For starters antioxidants, vitamins and minerals-rich salsa, which can be served with rice cakes for extra carbohydrates.
– 1 Mango
– 1 Avocado
– 4 Medium-sized Tomatoes
– 1 Green Chilli
– Fresh Coriander
– 3 Garlic Cloves
– 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
– 2 Tablespoon Lime Juice
– 1/2 Small Red Onion
– 3 Tablespoon Virgin Olive Oil
1) Peel the mango and avocado, remove the stones. Dice them along with tomatoes. Chop the onion and corianders. Seed green chilli and mine it with garlic cloves.
2) Mix avocado, chilli, coriander, garlic, mango and tomatoes in a bowl. Stir in sea salt, lime juice, red onion and olive oil.
3) Refrigerate for 30 minutes to meld the flavours. Serve with low-salt rice cakes.
|Nutritional Information – (1/4 of a bowl, no rice cakes)|
Steak, Chips, Salad
Nothing inventive here, just a good old steak and chips… Instead of fetching that dish in a local pub, treat yourself to a grass fed premium cut, which tastes amazing and is packed with omega-3s as well as regular iron, vitamin b12 and creatine!
As for the chips, go for the low-fat oven baked version saving the drudge of soggy wedges fried in a vegetable oil, which remembers last summer. I trust that ingredients and instructions are not necessary. The nutritional information below shows the average calorie and macronutrient values for a decent-sized portion.
|Nutritional Information – (8oz sirloin steak with 300g chips)|
High Protein Choc-Banana Cake
For those with a sweet tooth a high protein, low fat and no added sugar cheesecake recipe. The cake is based on a protein packed, pressed cottage cheese. It comes in “blocks” and can be found in most big supermarkets in “world foods” section.
Cottage cheese contains large quantities of slow-digesting protein casein, calcium and CLA. The cake itself uses ripe bananas as natural source of sugars and some MCT-rich coconut oil to grease the baking tin. The protein to carb ratio 60:40 per portion is more than enough to justify the baking effort.
– 6 Eggs
– 1 Sugar-Free Vanilla Pudding Mix
– 3 Blocks of Pressed Low-Fat Cottage Cheese (250g each)
– 3 Large Ripe Bananas
– 1 Tablespoon of Coco Powder
1) Use blender to mix eggs together. Add the pudding mix, followed by bananas and mix until a smooth consistency is achieved.
2) Prepare a 9 inch cake tin and grease it with some coconut oil. Dust the bottom of the tin with some flour.
3) Pour in 2/3 of the mixture into the baking tin. To the remaining 1/3 add the coco powder and mix thoroughly until it has a uniform colour. Pour the dark mixture over the light one in the baking tin. Use a kitchen knife to give your cake some stylish, decorative doodles.
4) Put the baking tin in the oven for 60 minutes at 160°C. Once finished, open the oven doors slightly and let the cheesecake cool. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight.
|Nutritional Information – (1/8 of the baking tin)|
(Virgin!) Protein Irish Coffee
…and to finish off an Irish coffee taste-a-like without the hooch. You may want to consider a drip-filtered coffee, as studies shown that filter traps cholesterol-raising ditripenes!
– 1 Scoop (25g) Impact Whey – Irish Cream Flavour
– Black Coffee
– Stevia (optional)
1) Mix a scoop of protein powder with half a glass of water. Use a blender to get rid of any lumps.
2) Prepare a small cup of drip-filtered coffee.
3) Pour the protein shake into the coffee while stirring. Add stevia to taste.
|Per Serving (one coffee)|
Take Home Message
Over a long period of time, irresponsible cheat meals have a potential to negatively impact your health. Even if health is not your top priority, remember that poor health can lead to poor gains – your body will always give priority to the former rather than the latter!
Of course, eating “junk food” in moderation is not a big issue. However, cheat meals and moderation usually do not go together. Binging on family packs of processed foods is simply asking for trouble. Why not take on a more weight-out approach; planning and preparing your cheat meals at home. Doing so will give your body superb quality nutrients, much needed for a superb quality physique!