Many people who start diets, especially reducing diets, wonder whether and how often to cheat. A cheat meal is an important aspect of a diet, which positively influences fat reduction, as long as it is wisely incorporated in a balanced diet.

Such a meal has amazing influence especially on our hormonal balance, stimulating certain hormones:

  • leptin,
  • ghrelin,
  • thyroid hormones,
  • insulin.

The level of leptin, especially during weight loss, is quite low, therefore, introducing a cheat meal may have its advantages, as the meal that will have a lot of calories will allow leptin to “boost” and accelerate our metabolism. Moreover, the levels of thyroid hormones will rise, which are responsible for our metabolic rate and they also have influence on decreasing cortisol level.

When to eat a cheat meal?

  • when our motivation for diet drops,
  • when we feel tired with diet,
  • when we experience weight loss plateau,
  • when weight loss goes well, but we have a party and would like to eat something “normal”.

Certainly, it is worth mentioning that a cheat meal does not have to include only “forbidden” products, as we may only prepare a pizza on the basis of e.g. potatoes and ice cream with protein powder. A cheat meal doesn’t always have to be based on processed food. We may also include products that are present in our daily diet. It is said that the caloricity of such a meal should exceed 1000 kcal. I believe this is an optimal amount, but I also doubt that anyone counts the caloricity of a cheat meal. Such a meal should satisfy our emotional and physical needs and make us feel better. It is best to plan a cheat meal on a training day, but this is not a rule. After this meal, the subsequent meals should be planned according to our energy needs. Certainly you don’t have to eat anything after a cheat meal, when you don’t feel like eating and you can wait until you feel hungry. If you don’t, just “skip” the meal.


To sum up: a cheat meal is justified, especially when it comes to the psychological aspect of a person, who has been in a calorie deficit for a long time. It is worth planning such a meal and remember that its aim is not to forget about diet for the whole day, as I personally consider a “cheat day” unnecessary and unrecommended. It is obvious that we won’t put on weight or lose weight in one day, but indulging yourself for the whole day may prolong for a week, as “since I’ve been on a reducing diet for so long – I can do this”. Therefore, the fact of planning this meal is so important. It is also worth remembering that cheat meals are not magical. They may help us overcome plateau, but in some cases, e.g. when we have a high percent of body fat, a cheat meal is not recommended, as it may only deteriorate the situation. When our diet is decent and once in a while we want to simply eat something else than our standard meals – we may eat something “forbidden” and feel emotional satisfaction and “indulgence” of our taste buds. In this case, applying a cheat meal is reasonable.

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