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Are Cheat Meals Ok?

So you want to have a cheat meal but you’re not sure whether or not it will deter your results?  This is something that many people struggle with, including myself when I first started P90X.  As most of you know, I consider results to be as high as 80% coming from your nutrition with the other 20% coming from intense workouts.  Upon reading that you might immediately thing you know my take on cheat meals then….you might be surprised.

What is a Cheat Meal?

I consider a cheat meal to be something that you normally wouldn’t find in your P90X, Insanity or TurboFire nutrition guide.  It is something that you KNOW is not good for you.  It could be something that you used to eat all the time before you discovered how to eat healthy or it could just be some sort of high caloric food that you have been craving.  For me, this is typically sweets.  Desserts are my weakness and will always be.  So most of the time I consider dessert my cheat meal. For someone else it might be a burger and fries, pizza, or fried chicken.

To Cheat or Not to Cheat?

This is a 2 part answer and each depends on the type of results you want to get.  First, I don’t recommend having a cheat meal if you are doing a fitness program like P90X, Insanity, TurboFire, etc for the first time.  If want to get the best results possible in the first 90 days then I suggest you sticking to the nutrition guide and following your plan as closely as possible. Cheat meals will only slow your progress, especially if you need to lose lots of body fat.  I didn’t cheat at at all my first 90 days and when I was getting ready for P90X2 the first thing I did was drop my cheat meal.

If you are a graduate of P90X, Insanity or TurboFire then having a cheat meal every 7-10 days is totally and completely fine.  As a matter of fact I have 1 cheat meal each week.  My cheat meal usually consists of a dessert but not always.  After you graduate a fitness program and get the results you were looking for then you have earned the cheat meal.  We have to be able to live healthy lifestyles.  Living a healthy lifestyle includes being able to eat the things we enjoy here and there.  As long you keep your cheat meal to one time per week then I see no reason not to indulge a little.  Just make sure your not overdoing it and you keep it to 1x per 7-10 otherwise you will see negatively effect your results.  The key idea here is that you should be already be finding/eat healthy foods as part of your everyday diet, so by having a cheat meal you will be able to keep on track because you will be indulging a little.

How to Cheat Meal Smart

So let’s say you have graduated from P90X, Insanity or TurboFire and you are now allowing yourself a cheat meal once per week.  What should you eat?  For me it’s all about quality and portion control.  By all means have something you typically wouldn’t have but keep 2 things in mind.  The goal of the cheat meal is to enjoy what your eating when you eat it, not to have a 3,000+ meal.  If you are craving pizza then have pizza but keep it to a couple slices, you don’t need to down a large pizza by yourself.  So keep portion control in mind.  The other is Quality.  For example, if you are craving a cheese burger and fries.  I would rather see you go to have a quality cheese burger made from great quality food, grass fed beef if you can ;), than going to McDonald’s and having a burger and fries there.  Why?…because McDonald’s quality of food is extremely poor.  That goes for most fast food restaurants.  So if your going to have a cheat meal then have a good one!

If a cheat meal is done smartly it can actually help to rev your metabolism again since your body isn’t used to it.  Especially if you are a regimented eater like i am.  It’s amazing how well our bodies work for us when we exercise and feed them correctly on a consistent basis.

What about Cheat Days?

No!  I don’t condone cheat days.  Cheat days are slippery slopes.  If your trying to maintain a high level of health and fitness then indulging in a full cheat day can completely through off your results.  The ONLY time I ever will ever have a cheat day is on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That is all.  The reason is because I have earned it . It only happens 1x per year my body can handle it and it doesn’t take away from my level of fitness that I have worked so hard to get to.

Surprised by my answer?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  But in conclusion I want to say that it comes down to personal choice.  For me, this is how I eat and this is what has gotten me the results that I have been able to get.  This is what I recommend to those I coach because this is what I have seen work the best.  If your looking to get the most out of your fitness program then follow what this post says.  It will come down to your own choice and the level of fitness you want to keep and how your body reacts to having cheat meals.  For me, this is what works.

Do You have Cheat Meals or are you completely against it?  How often do you have a cheat meal?