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What is a Cheat Meal? How Cheat Days Affect Your Body

A cheat meal is a meal that you eat once a week while you’re dieting. When it comes to this meal, instead of following the strict guidelines of your diet, you eat a meal that’s either fast food or processed. People use this meal as a psychological rest, especially when following a very strict or restrictive diet.

Will a cheat meal make you fat?

A lot of people know about this nutritional strategy, especially in the world of bodybuilding. This class of athletes follows diets that tend to be monotonous and not very sustainable over time. In addition, they’re often lacking in many important nutrients. A cheat meal is a way to break from your own diet, without it having any consequences on your body image or composition.

Normally, people will have their cheat meal at the weekend and it will include a lot of excess calories, sugars, and other things. It doesn’t really involve changes in body composition because the body takes this large intake of nutrients as something aggressive. As a result, it can eliminate these excess calories in the form of energy.

Is this cheat meal practice beneficial?

Just because you don’t gain weight from your cheat meal doesn’t mean that it’s harmless to your health. Eating a lot of fast or processed foods causes a large increase in insulin production and, as a result, an increase in pancreatic stress.

We could compare that pancreatic stress to the damage your liver faces after a weekend binge. In the short term, it won’t cause any harmful effects on your health, but maintaining that habit for years isn’t beneficial at all. Avoiding those peaks in your glucose levels and the associated pancreatic stress reduces the risk of developing complex diseases in the medium or long term.

Bodybuilding practices and health

You can’t forget that the nutritional and sports practices that bodybuilders carry out have little to do with health. Instead, their interest is totally aesthetic and they utilize a series of strategies that can seriously compromise their body’s functions.

Therefore, when it comes to dieting, bodybuilders are mainly worried about gaining volume or losing weight, and not about getting the amount of macro and micronutrients their body needs.

In fact, it’s very common for bodybuilders’ diets to be deficient in micronutrients and highly unbalanced. In addition, they add even worse quality foods to their bodies during their weekly cheat meals. Even though the increase in calories won’t ruin their weight loss goals, neither are they filling in any nutritional gaps.

The best diet is a varied one

When it comes to dieting, it’s much more advantageous to choose a non-restrictive, varied diet. That way, you can still eat some processed foods, but you’ll do so in moderation. In doing so, the diet will be a lot more sustainable over time and you won’t need a weekend binge in order to feel psychologically liberated from all the restrictions in your diet during the week.

The basis of a proper diet are fresh products. By eating fruits, vegetables and fish, you’re ensuring that your body is getting enough macro and micronutrients. From there, you can complete your diet with other meats and some processed foods.

It’s important to keep in mind that achieving a certain aesthetic shouldn’t be the goal of your diet. A varied diet is essential when it comes to staying healthy and performing at an optimal level athletically.

However, bodybuilders’ diets don’t allow for either of those things to happen. In addition, they’re often affected by external aids that can hinder one’s ability to get the proper amount of macronutrients.


A cheat meal is a meal full of processed foods that people eat once a week. It’s associated with restrictive diets and helps people feel psychologically liberated from those restrictions. However, while it doesn’t hinder one’s weight goals, it isn’t beneficial to submit your body to that much stress.

It’s far more advantageous to follow a varied diet full of fresh products. While following this diet, you can also eat some sweets or processed foods from time to time. That way, you won’t be restricting yourself so much that your diet will cause psychological stress. As a result, you’ll be more likely to stick to the diet, you’ll be far more successful, and you’ll be able to sustain it for longer.

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