How to Make Weekend Cheat Meals Work for You

by Metabolic Meals

by Metabolic Meals

Updated Dec 18, 2023

Reading Time:

A recent survey discovered that about 83 percent of women in the United States engage in a “feast or famine” culture of dieting. For most of the week, they consume dangerously few calories — sometimes as few as 500 a day — then overindulge on the weekends, taking in 3,000 to 4,000 calories on a single weekend day.

image 1

People aren’t usually as busy on the weekends, so it’s likely they’ll have more time to enjoy a leisurely meal at a restaurant. Afraid to miss out, people will often go all in, ordering an appetizer, main course, and dessert. This makes it highly likely that they consume more calories in one meal than they did throughout the previous day.

To exacerbate the problem, it isn’t just fitness enthusiasts who look to the weekend as a time to cheat. Surprisingly, I’ve known quite a few people who don’t exercise or eat particularly healthfully yet believe it’s OK to overindulge on the weekends because … wait for it … it’s their “cheat” day.

The Long-Term Effects of Weekend Cheats

A small bump in calories can improve thyroid output and raise leptin, a hormone responsible for energy balance and appetite suppression. However, a significantly larger bump every weekend will definitely increase body fat.

Many of these calories come from refined carbohydrates, which produce a rapid increase in blood sugar followed by a significant drop. This can cause the eater to reach for more carbs again in a few hours. Most people consume too many carbohydrates in their diets to begin with, and as a result, their bodies already produce insulin too frequently.

Add hundreds of grams of extra carbs on the weekend, and your body will make even more insulin. Eventually, this could lead to insulin resistance and heightened risks of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some forms of cancer.

How to Make Weekend Cheat Meals Worth It

While overindulgence can be detrimental to your health, cheat meals themselves aren’t harmful. If you’ve eaten clean foods all week, limited your sugar intake, and exercised regularly, one or two unhealthy meals on the weekend will not hurt you. In fact, they’ll probably help. The key is that cheat meals should be earned.

From a mental perspective, cheat meals make healthy eating easier and more of a lifestyle. Looking forward to your favorite restaurant on Saturday makes a little hard work and dedication through the week seem less tedious. From a physical perspective, these — as long as they’re not an absolutely massive portion — can improve thyroid output and leptin levels, helping you balance hormones and induce weight loss.

With these five steps, you can put in a little extra work and make the most of your weekend cheat meals:

1. Earn the cheat meal.

image 2

Multiple consecutive days of healthy eating will improve almost all of your body’s processes, including detoxification, metabolism, and immune function. Earn your cheat meal by getting your body running on all cylinders first. Eat healthfully for five to seven consecutive days before enjoying your cheat meal, and then get right back at it again.

2. Set limits for the cheat meal.

I’ve witnessed people on several occasions stay three times longer at a restaurant than they normally would just to cram as much food as possible into one meal. You should order what you want, of course, but don’t order the whole menu. I recommend keeping your time at a restaurant under an hour — time yourself if necessary to stay on track.

3. Make your cheat meal the last meal of the day.

After a cheat meal, you’re more likely to crave even more unhealthy food. For instance, a big plate of pancakes for breakfast can put you in a food coma for most of the morning and then have you craving pizza for lunch. To avoid that temptation, save your cheat meal for dinner, and resume your healthy routine in the morning.

4. Exercise on the day of your cheat meal.

image 3

High-intensity exercise, such as weight training, increases insulin sensitivity and growth hormone production post-workout, creating the perfect environment for fat loss. Engage in a tough workout on the day of your cheat meal, and your metabolic rate can be elevated for 24 to 48 hours, burning right through the meal.

5. Make the meal count.

Keep in mind that cheat meals are intended to be a mental and physical break from healthy eating. I always encourage people to go all in for their cheat meals — while staying within the one-hour rule — and order or make whatever they crave. If you want a burger and fries, then enjoy your favorite burger and fries. You’ve worked hard all week to earn your cheat meal; you deserve for it to be great.

Cheat meals are an important element in the long-term success of your fitness routine, but overindulgence can undo all the hard work you put into keeping yourself healthy. With the guidelines above, you can enjoy your weekend cheat meals guilt-free, without compromising your fat loss and health goals.

Pin It on Pinterest