After working extremely hard to retain a body you are happy with, many of us can admit to feeling ashamed for giving into our guilty pleasures.
From the late-night kebabs to curing a hangover with fried chicken, it’s some of the ultimate ‘cheat meals’ we have all indulged in.
But have you ever thought about how much calories these meals are worth?
Sadly, spoiling yourself to your favourite foods can undo all your hard work – but there are ways you can cheat on your diet and lose weight at the same time.
Here, Sydney founders of Equalution Jade Spooner and Amal Wakim revealed how the go-to cheat meals stack up in calories – and it may shock you!
How do your cheat meals stack up? The shocking reality behind your guilty pleasures revealed
For most dieters who stick to a healthy calorie intake over the weekdays, can undo all their hard work on weekends when they give into their guilty pleasures
‘Cheat meals as the name suggests has a negative connotation and essentially is a deviation from the diet,’ Jade told Daily Mail Australia.
‘For that reason, it numerically and mentally is in most cases what hinders results when it comes to dieting.
‘For most people, their diet is so restrictive and unbalanced that when it comes to a cheat meal, it turns into an uncontrolled binge or choosing to eat something so calorie dense that their hard work maintaining a calorie deficit all week is counteracted.
‘Any diet that insists or requires ‘cheats’ or deviations ultimately isn’t a sustainable practice acknowledging that the general day to day practice is of such a strict nature that it needs an outlet.
‘This isn’t optimal when it comes to dieting, a balanced and flexible diet which is lifestyle reflective will be sustainable rather than need a cheat meal.
‘Incorporating a cheat meal or cheat day sets the dieter up for a mindset of counting down till they can let loose on their diet which is where lack of control usually causes more harm than good.’
Founders of Equalution Jade Spooner (right) and Amal Wakim (left) revealed how the go-to cheat meals stack up
Hanover cures: How a seemingly small box of fried chicken and fries can be work a whole day’s worth of meals
So can the occasional treat be good or bad for your weight loss?
‘Treats in moderation can be beneficial for weight loss and also in sustaining a healthy mindset and relationship with food while dieting,’ Jade explained.
‘If you’re making allowances for treats according to your intuition and as part of a balanced diet, it can assist in complying to the diet and being able to sustain adherence long term.
‘It also just promotes consistency too. So rather than maintaining a yo-yo approach to dieting in being 100 per cent Monday to Friday and losing control on the weekend, there’s consistency.’
Jade said dieters can still treat themselves but they need to stay in control of their calorie intake by sticking to the 80/20 ratio diet of healthy foods and favourite foods.
‘The body doesn’t recognise food as good or bad, instead it’s recognised numerically as protein, fats and carbs,’ she said.
‘So it’s possible to incorporate treats as part of your diet rather than using them as an outlet to deviate from the diet.
‘The best approach to dieting and practicing this optimally is in the form of an 80/20 dieting practice.
‘What this means is you’re eating according to your calorie, protein, carb and fat needs meeting these with 80 per cent lean meats, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables and 20 per cent ‘soul’ food or your favourite treats.’
While some foods can be highly nutrient dense, other meals can be extremely calorie dense
How a simple dish like Pad Thai can be work a full day’s worth of meals
Top tips for dieters who want to cheat and lose weight at the same time
Jade said if you want to lose weight, it’s important to keep in mind the following:
1. You want to be getting the most for your energy and having more nutrient density
2. You want to feel fuller for longer
3. Numerically you want to ensure you’re maintaining a calorie deficit. Calorie intake plays an integral role in whether you lose or gain weight and a cheat meal or blow out can very much interfere with this equation.
Jade said there are healthier ways people can cheat on their diet while trying to lose weight at the same time.
‘Rather than using treats as a cheat or deviation from the diet instead just simply fit it into your daily intake goals,’ she said.
‘A flexible dieting practice allows for this through being able to have your cake and eat it too in that moderation and portion control is key.
‘So while it isn’t optimal to consume your day’s intake in chocolate, sweets and take out – given you won’t be able to meet your macro and micro-nutrient needs, you instead can fit in a chocolate bar in amongst lean protein sources such as fruits and vegetables.’
For those who want to cheat on their diet, Jade said you still can but you need to stay on track with your calories.
‘It’s possible to incorporate a diet of your favourite dine out meals and delicious food,’ she said.
‘But while striving for fat loss, it’s important not to neglect calorie intake and excuse meals as ‘cheats’ even if it’s once a week.
‘What you can get from the energy in a non-nutrient dense meal high in fat you can have the equivalent energy in significant more quantity, nutrients and overall balance.’
It’s possible to incorporate a diet of your favourite dine out meals and delicious food – but while striving for fat loss, it’s important not to neglect calorie intake and excuse meals as ‘cheats’ even if it’s once a week
Portion control plays an integral role in whether you “overdo” it or not together with food choice given some meals like Chinese dish are highly calorie dense
How going for a simple pub feed can really be an entire day’s worth of meals
If you want to lose weight, it’s important to understand calorie density of ‘cheat style foods’
She said if you want to lose weight, it’s important to understand the calorie density of ‘cheat style foods’.
‘This is important as when aiming to lose body fat you want to be getting the most energy from your calorie allowance, you want to feel fuller for longer and numerically you want to ensure you’re maintaining a calorie deficit,’ she said.
‘Ensure when incorporating treats you’re having them within a balanced diet of lean protein sources, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and your diet is fibrous for optimal gut health and digestion.’
To avoid binging on your ‘cheat days’, Jade suggested keeping on top of your portion sizes when do you give into your guilty pleasures.
‘Portion control plays an integral role in whether you ‘overdo’ it or not – together with food choices given some meals that people have for cheat meals are highly calorie dense,’ she said.
‘A lot of people use their ‘soul food’ outlet for outrageous foods in huge quantities so double stack burgers, loaded fries, three course meals and alcohol.
‘Enjoying these foods shouldn’t really boil down to selecting a better choice over the other but rather just exercising portion control and moderation.
‘So instead of a whole pizza and a loaf of garlic bread, have a few slices and a piece of garlic bread – all within a balanced diet.’
To avoid binging on your ‘cheat days’, Jade suggested keeping on top of your portion sizes when do you give into your guilty pleasures
She said if you want to lose weight, it’s important to understand the calorie density of ‘cheat style foods’
Jade encouraged people to curb their cravings for good by avoiding cheat meals where possible.
‘If your diet will work in the immediate and long term then you really shouldn’t be finding ways to go off track through a ‘cheat’ meal,’ she said.
‘Maybe you’re restricted to a 10-item food list, perhaps you’re forced to eat white fish and asparagus daily which makes you gag at the thought, or maybe you’re even deprived of the small pleasures that you love like having milk in your coffee.
‘These sorts of diet are the ones that leave your cravings kicking in full force and create binge eating behaviours often excused as a cheat meal.
‘Whatever the case, to ensure the best opportunity for you to maintain your results and your relationship with food, your diet should be fulfilling enough as a standalone that you don’t have to make it work only by going off track.
‘Flexible dieting is a practice that won’t inevitably have you putting on your lost weight plus more than once you ‘jump off the plan’.
‘Find yourself a good coach like the Equalution team that will calculate your caloric and macro-nutrient intake needs and use foods you enjoy as part of a balanced diet to ensure you see results and aren’t restricted.’