5 cheat meals you should always have on hand
Double-stuffed-crust pizza. Triple-scoop sundaes. Beer-battered onion rings. Welcome to cheat meal paradise – and to weight-gain hell. The problem with treating yourself when you’ve been successfully eating well is that we can go too far with the splurge.
Eating junk for a day doesn’t do you any favours - hence the term ‘cheat meal’. If you ate it all the time, you’d go backwards in your fitness journey. But getting the right high-calorie, carb-packed meals can actually help optimize your body’s hormones to prevent the weight from staying as it is. Upping leptin levels and lowering ghrelin can also help prevent negative effects on metabolism and hunger.
So what do you feast on when you want a day off, but don’t want to straight-up binge? Here are five well-planned cheat meals to give you a metabolic boost and stop you feeling deprived of your favourite foods:
Naked cheeseburger and sweet potato fries
When you want to indulge without straying from your diet, try lean meat and swap regular fries for sweet potato. It’s high in carbs and calories but still packs in plenty of nutrients. Throw in a bit of salad and you have a balanced meal that will provide direct fuel for workouts.
Mac ‘n’ cheese with chickpea pasta
By swapping normal pasta for pasta made from chickpeas, you can bump up the protein and fibre in your meal. That way, you have your traditional cheat meal, without the lack of nutrients and energy slump after eating. Throw in some chicken sausage for some extra protein.
Mexican night! Only lighter and full of goodness. Fish tacos are ideal for getting an Omega-3 fix, reducing inflammation and getting all kinds of nutritional benefits. Protein and vitamin D are two of the mightiest. Go grilled, not fried, and you’ll cut down on the calories too. They’re easy to throw together, meaning you’ll be less tempted to pick up the phone and call your local takeaway.
If The Rock chooses pancakes for his cheat meal - it’s a no-brainer. Action star Dwayne Johnson shared his well-earned cheat meal in an Instagram video: banana chocolate chip pancakes. Seven to be precise. Make sure you’ve always got ingredients on hand to whip up your own cheat-day pancakes. Bananas, protein powder and flaxseed are all perfectly healthy additions to help keep you on track deliciously.
Calories are high, carbs are high, but there are no sugar-laden, nutrient-dense setbacks going down here. Make them healthier by loading up corn or maize nachos with ground beef, beans, peppers, cheese, avocado, tomatoes and jalapeños for a cheat meal that incorporates good quality protein and healthy fats. If you want to make the dish vegetarian, simply omit the meat for additional beans and vegetables.
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