Make cheat meals good for you: How to have 100 “fun” calories a day
So, how much should you cheat when you are trying to lose weight?
No one is suggesting an all-you-can-eat junk food buffet, where you get to binge on an unlimited amount of every imaginable indulgence.
Fretz suggests a small amount (100 calories) of one of your favourite treats daily. That might be a 100-calorie chocolate bar, or one-sixteenth of a pie. Josephson recommends a modest 90 calories toward what she terms “fun food” for every 1,350 calories of eating on a healthy plan. It could be 90 calories each day or 630 calories once a week.
But if you choose to save up your cheating for once a week, won’t those extra 630 calories affect your metabolism? Josephson says it won’t, for two reasons: The cheating is modest, and you’re eating well the vast majority of the time.
“Over a period of one week, there are 21 meals and 14 snacks. So one moderate indulgence isn’t going to affect your metabolism. What affects your metabolism is what you do on a daily consistent basis,” she explains.
And don’t compensate for these treats by skipping meals – that will do more harm than good, says Fretz.
If you skip meals and then binge at the end of the week, you are more likely to slow your metabolism, because your body won’t know when the next meal is coming and it will hang on to the calories when it finally gets some. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that skipping breakfast was associated with being overweight in second and fourth graders; in fact, the most important risk factor in becoming overweight and obese was skipping breakfast.