Cheat to Gain: 5 Smart Cheat Meals for Your Diet Plan

Anyone who has ever put themselves on a diet has come across the topic of the “cheat meal.” It’s that one time per week when you get to indulge in those bad eating habits you’re trying to kick. 

Cheat meals can be a slippery slope, especially if you’re prone to emotional eating or you really enjoy obscenely high caloric cheat meals. While having a cheat meal once a week can be beneficial to your mind and body, it’s important to define what a cheat meal should be.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of having a cheat meal and the top 5 recipes for smart cheat meals that you can add to your diet plan.

cheat meal, benefits, healthy

The Benefits of Having a Cheat Meal

 First, let’s talk about why you should be eating a cheat meal.

A cheat meal provides a nice psychological buffer from the potential stress of clean eating in a world that is plastered with fast food advertisements. Walking by a pizza shop can be torture but that’s where a strong will, motivation, and an occasional cheat meal comes into play. By allowing a responsible cheat meal into your diet, you are more likely to continue down the road to your goal weight.

You’re only human and a cheat meal can help you to remember the very reasons why you started your diet. That food that you’ve been craving suddenly looks and tastes different from what you remember. Many dieters report losing those junk food cravings especially after connecting the dots with how sluggish and fatigued they used to feel when their diet was compromised of those junk foods.

“Can I Eat Clean 100% of the Time?”

Of course, you can but why would you want to? Having a responsible cheat meal won’t collapse all of your progress. In fact, it may help in some cases, based on the macro-nutrient content and your fitness goals. For example, a protein-packed burger after a leg day for someone looking to gain muscle can be a big help.

The key here is to eat responsibly. Yes, I know that doesn’t sound like much fun but when you eat a smart cheat meal, you’re getting the flavor you love AND the nutrients you need.

What is a “Smart” Cheat Meal?

A smart cheat meal allows you to indulge in that guilty pleasure junk food flavor while minimizing the caloric impact of the meal. Admittedly, you have to be a bit more mindful of smart cheat meals but the reward is worth it.

You can ensure your smart cheat meal is safe for your fitness goals in a few ways:

Make the Cheat Meal Yourself

  • When you have control over the ingredients, you have control over your nutrition.

Use a Calorie Counter

  • Use a calorie counting app that lets you punch in your own meals or has an extensive database. MyFitnessPal is one of the best.

Learn About Portions

  • You can enjoy some terrible classic junk food options like pizza and fries so long as the portions agree with your diet plan. Eating five slices in one sitting is not a “normal” cheat meal portion.

cheat meal, benefits, healthy

Tips for a Successful Cheat Meal

Try these quick and easy tips to ensure your cheat meal is everything you hoped it would be and you stay on track for your goal weight.


  • By scheduling your cheat meal once a week, you have something to look forward to and you get to plan for cutting calories elsewhere.

Workout Beforehand

  • No matter what your cheat meal is, be sure to hit the gym before you jump into your guilty pleasure.

Drink Up

  • Don’t get any ideas here. We mean drink you water. Hydrating before, during, and after a cheat meal can help with digestion and ensure you feel satisfied.

5 Smart Cheat Meals to Make

Here are 5 simple and easy cheat meals that you can make at home or enjoy when you’re out with friends. Not only are they packed with flavor but they’ll ensure you stay on track.

  1. Grass Fed Cheeseburger

Let’s put the most popular cheat food on stage first. The cheeseburger is packed with incredible flavor and plenty of protein. Problem is that the traditional cheeseburger is also heavy with saturated fat from cows that have been pumped with growth hormone. Treat yourself to a grass-fed cheeseburger. Be sure to skip the fries, load up on those vegetable toppings and substitute the cheese for soy cheese.

Want to make it at home? Try this recipe.

  1. Pizza

Let’s talk about the next most popular cheat meal: pizza!

Everyone loves pizza and it’s not hard to understand why. There are so many varieties of pizza that it’s impossible to not find one you like.

Lucky for you, most major cities offer specialty pizza shops that cater to your diet while providing incredible flavor. If you’d rather take up the dough-tossing yourself, click here to select one of dozens of recipes for healthy, homemade pizza.

cheat meal, benefits, healthy

  1. Milkshakes

Who can turn down a milkshake? With the number of options out there, milkshakes are the best way to customize your dessert. We recommend making this cheat meal at home. Why? So that you substitute key ingredients to keep things healthy.

The foundation of this milkshake should be ice cream or birthday cake-flavored whey protein. Skip on actual ice cream and try a low sugar, low calorie option like frozen yogurt. Also, be sure to avoid cow’s milk and use almond milk instead.

Consider healthy additions to your shake such as berries, raw cacao powder, and peanut butter. You can also use herbs like mint or ginger.

  1. Gourmet Cheese and Fruit Platter

Cheese is one thing that many people cut out of their diet and understandably so as the type of cheese they are eating is overly processed and provides no nutritional content. If you’re ready to indulge, be sure to get the good stuff. Spend a few more dollars and get yourself gourmet cheese that is packed with real nutrients. Pair it with your favorite fruits.

Want to make it at home? Try this recipe.

  1. Pancakes

If your cheat meal is breakfast, then it’s obvious you want pancakes!

You can try to go searching for delicious and nutritious pancakes at a restaurant but they’ll be tough to find. The solution? Make your own. Making a few simple switches and including some whey protein, you can get protein-packed pancakes that are gluten free and seriously good for you.

Try this recipe at home.

Tell Us What You Think!

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