When you’re trying to eat clean, there are many unhealthy foods that can be tempting enough to “cheat” during a cut. Whether it’s donuts at work, pizza on Fridays with the guys or scoffing candy on the way to work.
We totally get it – it’s tough work. Especially when your favorite snacks seem to be everywhere. It’s not uncommon to start craving the foods you may have previously indulged in, especially when you’re tired of your Tupperware chicken and broccoli.
Right guys, we’re just gonna put it out there. Healthy cheat meals do exist.
While you may be committed to the cut, we all hit a point where the same old meals get boring – making a cheat meal so much more tempting.
But is there such thing as healthy bodybuilding cheat meals? Do healthy cheat meals really exist?
Of course, they do. We’ve found the best cheat meals around that’ll keep you on track with your cut, while feeling as though you’ve cheated.
Cheat meals while cutting
Rest assured, healthy cheat meals aren’t going to completely sabotage your efforts during a cut. Cutting is a fickle beast. Some days chowing down on prepped meals of chicken and veg is enough to get us through. On others, however, the mere sight of a pizza is enough to make us salivate.
Believe it or not, good cheat meals do exist – and they also support your cutting more than you think. When you’ve stuck to your diet plan and eaten clean all week, a (healthy) cheat meal can act as a reward, motivating you even further.
Think about it. During any type of weight loss diet, many of us focus on the things we can’t have over the things we can. This is why it becomes so easy to fall off the wagon and scoff a whole pizza instead. The same applies to cheat meals while cutting.
Healthy cheat meals during your cut not only keep you motivated, but eating smart (and clean) cheat meals won’t derail your efforts so far.
When you’re in a calorie deficit, eating a low-carb diet can cause your results to come to a halt, since your body has already stripped out as much fat as it can. So in order to kickstart your metabolism again, a healthy cheat meal is in order.
Since the aim of a cutting phase is to lose weight, lose fat and get lean, you need to be smart about the type of cheat meals you go for.
This is why we’ve put together some of the best cheat meals around so you can treat yourself and still cut successfully.
What are the best cheat meal foods?
As we mentioned already, cheat meals while cutting need to be healthy, in order to not cause havoc with your efforts up to this point.
But you needn’t fret, as we’ve put together some cheat meal examples to get you started, so you can reward your efforts and stay on track.
Plenty of carbs and protein
When it comes to leptin levels (the hormone that burns fat), carbs have the greatest influence. So not only will a high-carb healthy cheat meal keep you feeling full, but it will also support your fitness goals.
Getting regular protein will help keep your appetite steady and those hunger pangs at bay, since you’ll feel fuller for longer.
However, when we talk about cheat meals, we’re not suggesting a high-fat meal – oh no. Since this type of food is more likely to be stored as body fat (exactly what we don’t want), put down that greasy pizza and those deep-fried onion rings, and look for high-protein and high-carb.
Here are some of the best cheat meals to treat yourself and still hit your cutting goals.
Good cheat meal examples
1. Cauliflower crust pizza
If we’ve learnt anything during a cut it’s that pizza is a common craving. However, that doesn’t mean you have to totally miss out on pizza while cutting.
Cauliflower crust pizza is one of the best bodybuilding cheat meals around, since a cauliflower version cuts out some of the excess carbs associated with pizza.
But why is this one of the best cheat meals? Well, a cauliflower crust pizza gives you just the right amount of carbs, as well as fiber and a ton of veggies on top. So you’ll be feeling full and motivated to get stuck into next week’s clean eating.
If it’s meat you’re craving, opt for chicken over pepperoni. Chicken is naturally a leaner meat, while pepperoni is also heavily processed. To rid your pizza of any excess fatty oils, you can simply dab the top with a paper towel.
When it comes to sushi as a bodybuilding cheat meal, things begin to get a little trickier. Try to avoid anything tempura, with any whacky sauces or mayo typically found on rolls.
While we’re not gonna give you a slap on the wrist for ordering rolls, for a healthy cheat meal – opt for nigiri and sashimi. These are the “cleanest” options! While sashimi is simply raw fish, nigiri is raw fish on white rice.
Incorporating some sort of fish into your cheat meal will be beneficial – so for the cleanest cheat meal (sushi wise), go with sashimi and nigiri. Avoid anything deep fried or smothered in sauce, as these will usually be the fattiest.
3. Steak and potatoes
Who says a cheat meal has to be boring?
When it comes to healthy cheat meals, good ol’ steak and potatoes are a great go-to for bodybuilders during a cut.
Although steak is typically higher in fat than other sources of protein, the odd cheat meal in this form won’t totally derail your progress. The way you choose to cook your steak will also have an impact on the fat content.
Grilled steak is your best option, since fat is easily drained away during cooking. Pair it with a medium potato and plenty of vegetables to keep you feeling full, while giving your body protein, carbs and other crucial nutrients.
Also Read: How to calculate your BMR and TDEE
Not only does steak make for one of the best cheat meals, but treating yourself to dinner at a steakhouse can be a great boost of motivation for your hard work!
4. Spaghetti and meatballs
While scoffing bowls of pasta may not quite be a part of your cutting diet, spaghetti and meatballs is a good cheat meal since it’s dense in carb and protein.
With minimal fat, this healthy cheat meal hits all of your macros, making it a go-to for bodybuilders seeking the best cheat meal options.
To make this dish even healthier, opt for whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta where possible. And if you want to make it even healthier, switch out beef meatballs for leaner alternatives – such as turkey or chicken.
While we all love a good cheat meal, portion control is still important, so don’t go eating bowl after bowl, yeah?
Our top tips for healthy cheat meals
While “cheating” may feel like the easiest part of cutting, how you cheat is more important. Opting for leaner meats and careful cooking processes means you get a moment of indulgence without a negative impact on your cut.
However, there are a few things to consider to ensure you’re “cheating” the right way.
Get organised with your cheat meals
By now, we’re pretty used to meal prep, and the same applies to healthy cheat meals.
While it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have your cheat meal cooked and ready to go, knowing when and what you’re going to eat is crucial for “cheating” well.
Whether it’s planning a steakhouse dinner with friends on a Friday night or grabbing the ingredients for your cauliflower pizza crust in advance, knowing when and what you’re eating will help keep you on track.
This means you’ll be less likely to binge eat on the day you’ve allowed yourself to cheat, since you’ll know what’s on the menu!
Smash the gym first
When you walk out of the gym dripping in sweat, you know you’ve worked your butt off and earned your cheat meal.
This will not only minimize your fat gains, since your body empties glycogen stores for energy during exercise – but a workout in beast-mode makes a cheat meal so much more worthwhile.
Pay attention to portions
You may be “cheating” but that doesn’t mean all portion control goes out the window.
This also applies to eating out, too. Bodybuilding cheat meals don’t equal eating 10x your usual meal size, so be careful that a single healthy cheat meal doesn’t turn into a total binge-fest.
If you eat some of our best cheat meals (as mentioned above), you’ll be hitting your macros while treating yourself. But don’t get too carried away with the size of the portion in front of you!
Stay clear of high-fat foods
Sure, you’re “cheating” during your cut, but that doesn’t mean that a good cheat meal is packed with fat.
Many of us believe that high-carb is worse than a high-fat meal, but this isn’t entirely true. Chowing down on greasy junk food will turn into body fat far quicker than the plate of pasta (and meatballs!).
I get it guys, you want a “cheat” meal to feel like exactly that – a cheat. But there is a healthier way to feel like you’re indulging than scoffing on fatty takeaways.
Opt for a meal high in carb, high in protein and low in fat to get your tastebuds tingling and stay clear of sabotaging your progress so far.
Remember your goals
It can be easy to cheat once, twice… Three times… Before cheating takes over your entire cutting phase.
Also Read: How to measure your body fat percentage
It’s important to remember what you’re trying to achieve in order to stay on track with your fitness goals.
A healthy cheat meal will allow you to stay motivated, while having a moment of indulgence. Plus, when you allow yourself to cheat occasionally, you’ll be less inclined to fall off the wagon of clean eating.
Ready to SMASH your cutting goals?
And there you have it, our best cheat meals for your cutting phase. Remember, portion control and planning are crucial for sticking to your cutting goals!
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