There are so many posts and articles out there about whether or not cheat meals work, are necessary, or hurtful. You might have your own opinions about them, just as I do. So for the purpose of this blog, this is just my opinion on the topic and how I use mine.
Each week, I run a pretty tight, but not restrictive, ship as far as my "diet" goes. I eat plenty of chicken, eggs, veggies, salmon, tuna, rice, blah, blah with the occasional sweet snack. (I'm a BIG fan of chocolate chip protein pancakes, btw.) Since I'm still cutting, I do eat in a calorie deficit, but since I lift on a pretty continual basis, I make sure I'm eating enough during the week to fuel those workouts. I have made the mistake of eating waaaay too little, which cause me to lose muscle, become fatigued, cranky, and all around miserable. You're probably thinking...fine, good, but what does this have to do with cheat meals. Let me explain how I use mine...
I'm pretty meticulous in my planning of meals during the week including my cheat meal. I don't use that day to eat like a 6yo with no supervision. Instead I still track what I eat and make sure that my calories on that day don't exceed my normal goal by 1200 (I'm not always great about it, but I do try). It means instead of oatmeal and eggs, I'll have a couple Dunkin Donuts, maybe some cake...the opportunities are endless, or at least until I hit my number. Even eating like that, it averages out for me staying in a deficit for the week. I might lose weight at a slower rate than someone who is in a larger deficit (due to starting weight or amount of weight to lose). And I'm ok with that.
It works for me because I can sustain this for a lifetime. There will always be days when you're out with friends, out running errands, or just out of your normal schedule. It means if you're working to lose weight, one day, one meal won't mess up your progress. It's realistic, you're not restricting anything from your life, and you're still being responsible for your decisions.