At first glance, having cheat meals while dieting seems counterproductive.
And while a cheat meal in itself will not help you to lose weight, quite the contrary actually, there are multiple advantages of having a scheduled cheat meal or day while dieting.
Dieting or losing weight is not complex. At least from a technical standpoint. Burn more calories than you consume. That’s it.
However, losing weight is often done over a long period of time due to making positive lifestyle changes. This means that we need to be able to maintain these positive changes that we made to our diet.
And this is where the positive effects of the cheat meals come into the picture. Let’s take a look at what the possible advantages of pigging out once in a while are.
Advantages Of Having Cheat Meals
Keeps The Motivation High:
Motivation is not a static or constant entity. Our motivation goes up and down depending on the day, what’s currently going on in your life and even something seemingly small like the weather can have an influence.
For example, your motivation will be lower when you are stressed because you’re making a lot of hours at work, maybe you’ve got into a fight with your spouse (hopefully verbally) or you’re not motivated because you’ve had a bad night of sleep and are feeling lethargic.
Dieting requires a lot of discipline and willpower when you’re not allowed to eat or drink a lot of things that you probably enjoy like eating snacks, eating fried foods, drinking soda.
This means that dieting brings a lot of stress with itself. So to keep the motivation high, you’ll have to reward yourself from time to time for all your hard and diligent work.
Multiple studies suggest that rewarding is more effective at establishing good habits and the desired behavior rather than punishment.
Another study has shown that rewarding is more effective at motivating people than punishment in the long term.
This means that instead of blaming yourself and stressing yourself out for not losing weight fast enough or feeling guilty about having a cheat meal, it’s much better to see it as a way of rewarding yourself for all your hard and successful work so far.
Dieting means burning more calories than you consume. This will place a certain amount of physical stress on your body because you will have to go on about your daily life with less nutrients, calories, and thus, energy than your body is used to.
Psychologically, having to constantly watch what you eat and how many calories you consume daily can be very mentally draining.
So dieting brings with itself a considerate amount of physical and mental stress.
A cheat meal once in a while can help to combat the physical and psychological stress.
Physically, you refuel your body due to the increased calorie intake. Mentally, you recharge your batteries due to being able to eat whatever you want without counting the calories.
While seemingly contradictory, a cheat meal has distinct advantages for both your physical and mental health. Cheat days can allow you to persevere your healthy diet and habits for prolonged periods of time.
Important to note is that you should not overdo it.
A cheat meal or cheat day once in a while is fine. Multiple cheat days each week is overdoing it and will lead to weight gain instead of weight loss. It’s a fine balance.
All that being said, instead of being too harsh on ourselves like most people have a tendency to, we’re better off rewarding ourselves for our hard work.
And that goes for everything we do in life, not only when we’re trying to lose weight.
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