To Cheat Or Not To Cheat… On Your Diet That Is

These are questions that trainers and nutrition coaches get all the time from their clients. When can I have a cheat meal? How often can I have a cheat meal? What can I eat when I have a cheat meal? The simple answer is: it depends.

There’s no perfect equation for how often you can have a cheat meal; there are some things that you need to think about. If a person is at a body fat level they feel comfortable with – meaning their body fat percentage, weight, and appearance in the mirror makes them feel happy and is considered healthy – they’ll most likely be able to have a few cheat meals and not see any changes in body composition.

This is because they’re eating clean 80-90% of the time, they’re getting the proper amount of exercise in, and they’re carrying a significant amount of muscle tissue that’s keeping their up metabolic rate. Oftentimes these people have NOT been significantly overweight during their life. If you’ve treated your body correctly over the years, you’ll reap the benefits.

On the other hand, if someone isn’t happy with their body composition (maybe 20-30+ pounds overweight), they’re not getting their workouts in, they don’t eat clean 80-90% of the time, and don’t have a significant amount of muscle tissue compared to body fat, they really can’t afford to eat cheat meals until they reach their goals.

I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up, it’s just personal experience with my clients and myself. There’s also something to be said about the metabolic stress and damage that being overweight for a significant amount of time can cause to one’s body.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that people who have NOT struggled with their weight and have always been active and eat clean, can usually have more cheat meals than those who’ve struggled with their weight.

This could be due to many factors. Hormones, metabolic disorders, low activity level, and high body fat percentage could all be contributing. If someone battling health issues, high body weight or body fat, and has a low activity level, his or her body just seems to process food a little differently.

In my opinion (again, no science to back this up, just a thought), people who’ve been overweight for a significant amount of time seem to have a much tougher time reducing and maintaining a healthy body fat. Even after they lose the weight, they have a tougher time keeping it off.

Basically, if you’re someone that’s looking to lose a significant amount of body fat, you just don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Instead of thinking about when your next cheat meal is, you need to think about what it’s going to take to get to your goals. Slipping in cheat meals here and there could hinder your results if done too often.

You need to be honest with yourself. Working out and eating clean for a week does not justify a cheat meal. Besides, there are plenty of quality foods you can eat that are satisfying and won’t leave you feeling guilty. As they say, if you are wearing it you ate it.

If you want a good laugh about how I eat when I cheat, take a look at this blog here! 

Share this post

Download PDF Resources to Kickstart Your Health and Wellness Journey

Our library of resources includes ebooks and cheat sheets to improve your knowledge of nutrition, fitness, and an understanding of topics like ‘What Is Functional Strength Training?


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Explore the free guides

Nutrition and fitness guides, cheatsheets, and meal plans to supercharge your success.

Explore the free guides to jumpstart your health and wellness journey.