T Nation

Define cheat meal.

So I know the general belief is that while dieting, 1 cheat meal a week (or even 1 cheat DAY per week) is acceptable. My question is, how far is too far? When you are having your cheat meal, do you simply just add a few carbs here and there… have something friend, maybe a bit of cake…

OR… do you go ballistic and shove your face with all kinds of foods you crave until you feel as though if you eat another bite you’re gonna explode? Common sense says it’s not good to do the latter, but do some of you do this anyway and still see decent results while cutting?

I ask because typically my cheat meals is just having slightly larger portions at restaurants but still eating clean overall. But yesterday I went to the cheesecake factory and went nuts. I know just 1 crazy ass meal won’t destroy my progress but I wonder if people do this on a weekly basis and still make fat loss progress?

my idea of a cheat meal is about the same as yours…it usually involves me going to eat(i always cook,and carry my own food with me) i`ll eat a larger portion…once in a while though my cheat meal will involve a pig out for sainity purposes…

Well, it depends on who you are. Some people do perfectly fine on full out cheat meals, but other people spend the rest of the week making up for them. Worse, while for some people a cheat meal (or day, or whatever) reduces cravings for the rest of the week, for others it makes things worse. There are different schools of thought on this, ranging from ‘healthy carb refeeds’ all the way to ‘gorge on whatever you want.’ While I’m sure you’ll get a lot of feedback on this topic, you might want to search out the carb-refeed thread that was on the forum a while back. You might also want to read what John Berardi has written concerning cheat meals.

Mmmmmm, the Cheesecake Factory. That brings back some memories.

My take on ‘cheating’ - for myself, I’d ideally like to have a clean cheat; maybe up the carbs. More along the lines of a refeed. When I’m dieting, every week this is my goal. The work week is very structured, which makes eating well very easy. My concern is the weekend. Each week I tell myself, I can get through this weekend. No problem this time. I plan for a higher carb day … and that turns into chaos EVERY time.

It is usually pizza, but can be fast food, donuts, whatever. This weekend I hadnt planned on eating or refeeding at all, since it’s the first week of dieting. Well, my mom called me up and said she made me a peach pie, and a butterscotch marangue pie and some blueberry thingy. Now how on earth do I compete with that? I have to try and get all this eaten in one day, since I don’t want to ruin two days. Well, I didn’t. I got the blueberry thing and the peach pie done.

So, basically, I cheat like no tomorrow, but wish I could just stick to a clean refeed. I generally think the clean approach is a better way provided the calories are high enough.

Now what do I do with this other pie?

Check out the articles:

The Cheater’s Diet (available here at T-mag)


Cheater’s Diet EDT (through the forum search feature)

Lastly, if you want, feel free to email me for an addendum to the original Cheater’s Diet article as well as some more information on periodic overfeeding and how it can benefit the dieter.

Take care,


I consider a cheat meal one of 2 things…either I have higher carb content than I normally do (ie. potatos, pasta, desert etc.) or I have a dreaded P+F+C meal (I know I know…I’m sorry JB…but it happens :slight_smile: ).

I find that it doesn’t hinder my progress much because although I gain water weight, within 2 days I’ve lost the water weight, and by the end of the week I lost the 1-1 1/2 lbs I was aiming for as well.

“Cheat meal” advocates more often than not just use pseudo-science based on leptin and whatnot to gorge on uncredibly shitty food every once in awhile.

If you’re capable of not doing so, then don’t! Eating McDonalds and candy bars in crazy proportions is quite obviously not a clever thing to do if you want to achieve your goals.

There’s some pretty tasty “good food” out there; eat that.

As several here have stated, it’s depends on how your body reacts to the meal.
You have to ask yourself a few questions:

What are your goals? BF? Lean mass gain?

What will a cheat meal do for you? You may actually benefit from it (cheaters diet).

How fast do you want to get to your goal? If you’re looking to drop BF, the cleaner you eat, the sooner you’ll get there.

Take all factors into consideration and do what needs to be done.

This is a question I’m still wondering myself. Not giving it too much thought though, since I haven’t really noticed a huge difference either way.

I think for everyone it’s different. Some people can go hog wild and eat ice cream, snickers bars and oreos till the cows come home on a cheat day, and still end up doing well.
Others have to stay almost completely clean and just up the volume a bit.
And then most people are somewhere in between.

For myself, i’ve noticed that I feel shitty if I go hog wild all day long, but on the same hand I do really like homemade desserts, and can’t resist them here and there. Same with good beer. And fruit. And ice cream and pizza.
So, ive been going in moderation. Some of my refeeds have been fairly clean, just eating thick breads, pasta and frozen yogurt/fruit.
And some of them have had a few beers, some ice cream, and even pizza and cookies/cakes.
During it all (cheat day every 7th day), Ive continued to lose fat/gain muscle. So I can’t say it was that bad, and in same breath I cant really say it was that good either since I don’t have a twin who ate differently to compare with.

The Cheat Meal like every other part of the diet is defined through a lot of personal tweaking.
T-dawg 2.0 calls for the cheat meal to be just larger portions of what’s good for you.
If you do want to go wholehog at least put it in perspective by taking what you eat against your caloric deficit for the week.
Oh yeah, it doesn’t necessarily have to be every seven days.

Mmmmm, a burger and beer. Er…wait…just had that last night…and the day before.

Okay…a nice big dim sum lunch. No…wait…that’s something that I don’t consider a “cheat” but a beautiful meal that I deserve. Cookie? No…I make sure to eat a nice, big, freshly baked cookie every other day. I LOVE cookies.

Seriously, yeah: depends on who you are and what you’re use to eating on a day to day basis. I don’t like Snicker or any other candy bar for that matter; so I just don’t eat them. Not a ice cream eater, as well. Don’t eat the stuff. I guess you could say I no longer have “cheat” meals: I just eat more on some days than others.

now I have a great recipe for Reese PB cup lovers.I got the recipe from John Berardi’s(recipe thanks to John K. Williams) site it fits in great for a P+f snack and you can eat it more often then a “cheat day” here goes i promise this is awesome!!

4 Tablespoons of chunky natural PB
2 scoops of ground flax seeds(i`ve been using about 2 Tbl. spoons)
2 scoops chocolate protein powder

mix the whole mess together try to add little to No water(it can be done).then form it into 2 bars wrap in plastic or wax paper,then freeze…thats it

macro breakdown:

23G fat
15G carbs(alittle on the high side,but they are low impact and has a good amount of fiber)
33G protein

make sure to drink plenty of water with these to digest all the protein…enjoy!!

Wendys: double with cheese fries, coke, a couple of bacon burgers and a frosty…

otherwise, um, beer…