5 Cheat Meal Tips From a Personal Trainer

By: Chase McKesey

Image of a cheeseburger

Pizza, donuts, queso, cake, candy, ice cream. Whatever it is that taunts your taste buds; there’s a right and a wrong way to do cheat meals. Take these tips into consideration when indulging!


1. “I Deserve It”

This one I hear all the time. Let’s set the record straight, your hard work in the gym is worth far more than an occasional box of Krispy Kreme. Achieving your goal as a result of your discipline and dedication will prove to be more satisfying than any slice of pizza. If everything you’re doing to improve yourself is only deserving of a taboo meal; you will always be disappointed after the last bite. You deserve a healthier version of yourself, not a cheat meal.


2. Don’t Go Broke

Let’s say you saved $100 a day for five days. On the sixth day, you spent $500. Where does that leave you? The same goes for a cheat meal. A calorie deficit of 500 calories over five days can be immediately reversed by a surplus of 500 calories in a single day. The calories of a cheat meal should be budgeted into your plans to make sure you aren’t starting back at square one. Balancing the books to remain at the same caloric intake is kind of like having your cake and eating it too.


3. Put a Bow on Top

The thing about cheat meals is, they should be out of the norm. It’s not a cheat meal unless all your other decisions outside of that meal have promoted your fitness goals. The best way to make sure the daily temptations (like the smell of Popeyes or Barbara from accounting bringing donuts for the office) is to make all of these temptations pale in comparison to your planned cheat meal. Plan a date around your cheat meal, invite an old friend, put on your favorite outfit, add a movie into the mix; do whatever necessary to turn a simple plate of food into an experience. Knowing that something special is on the horizon will make all other prior temptations easy to pass up.


4. One and Done

A cheat meal stops at one plate. Six refills of soda, adding dessert, or bringing home leftovers is often the difference between reaching your goals and not. Set a limit and stick to it. I try to set a caloric limit that’s about equivalent to the sum of two of my usual snacks and one of my usual meals. When done like this, it’s super easy to balance the scales as I talked about in tip #2: simply substitute the cheat meal for two snacks and a meal that day.


5. Get Your Head Out of the Gutter

Next time someone asks you what your diet or meal plan is about, try telling them what you DO eat, instead of what you don’t. Ninety-nine percent of us do the opposite. The point is to stop fixating on the foods you’re eliminating and focus on the foods you’re including. The more you focus on your restrictions, the more tempting they will become. I promise that bowl of ice cream will taste just like it did the thousands of times you have had ice cream. Get your head out of the gutter and stop putting food on a pedestal; it’ll always taste better in your head.


Enjoy those cheat meals!

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About Chase McKesey

Chase McKesey, is a certified personal trainer, the founder of TrophyBody Personal Training, and co-owner of Sweat DC gym in Washington, D.C. Chase has taken on health-based initiatives that include Mayor Muriel Bowser’s #FITDC campaign and was named Head Strength Coach for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Follow Chase and TrophyBody PT on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.