I make a lot of custom meal plans for people, and the most commonly asked question aside from: “am I going to have to eat plain foods?” is: “how many cheat meals can I have weekly?” Before I answer this question, I’m going to state that personally, I don’t believe in cheat meals. I’m not saying I don’t condone eating junk food in your diet, believe me, I love my pizza and hamburgers, but I don’t believe in treating and rewarding yourself with “tasty treats” and meals for your hard work because it’s kinda weird. We aren’t dogs ya know.
Too often I’ve seen beginners think that losing fat or dieting, requires strict tracking of foods and only eating foods that resembles what a rabbit would eat. They then end up hopping on that meal plan for a while and are constantly hungry on the diet, and end up giving up and fail to lose any weight. Guys, I’m going to give you some good news:
For the average person who wants nothing but to lose a few pounds and nothing more, weekly cheat meals will not be needed, as you can still freely consume the foods that you love (in moderation of course) as long as they are within your daily caloric needs, and still lose weight.
What I usually recommend for the newbie who wants to lose a few pounds for summer is to get onto the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule pretty much states that if 80% of the foods you consume daily are “clean” foods (lean meats, high fiber veggies, healthy fats) the 20% can come from the foods that you enjoy, such as cookies, cake, etc. AS LONG AS IT FITS INTO YOUR DAILY CALORIE GOALS. Yes, you are going to have to calculate your daily caloric needs though and follow it pretty closely.
I find myself saying this over and over again when I’m explaining fat loss and meal plans to people and it’s that your body cannot distinguish what foods you are eating. It cannot tell whether you are eating a lean piece of steak from a piece of chicken, or whether it’s a bowl of broccoli, cereal, or a slice of pizza. The only thing that your body knows how to do, is break down the foods that you eat into usable energy and use the nutrients that the foods you eat contain. All that matters is the number of calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats and nutrients that are in the food. And as long as you consume the calories that your body can burn off daily, you will not gain any weight, even with those so-called “junk foods.”
Proper nutrition is all about the big picture. If you’ve been eating clean foods all day such as broccoli, chicken breast, brown rice, etc. your body will not suddenly panic when you eat a slice of pizza for dinner, and start to store that particular food as fat. But don’t use that as an excuse to continue stuffing your face with cakes, ice cream and hamburgers. Learning to properly track your calories and eat foods you love in moderation are the key to losing weight, and keeping it off. See you in the next article.