Cheat Meals Have Huge Calories and Carbs

Cheating on weekends prevents weight loss.   Are you dieting during the week and having cheat meals on the weekend?  If so you are probably finding out the best you can do is to maintain your weight. Losing weight, unfortunately, takes seven days!

The belief used to be that it was possible to watch your food and drinks from Monday to Friday, eat what you wanted on the weekends (or at least one or two weekend dinners) and still lose weight. That was when restaurant meals were not 3000 calories or more. Now it’s not possible for most typical dieters.

Even working out 3 or 4 days a week is not enough to make up for some of the very bad cheat meals. Cheat meals were the the meals we could all look forward to – to let our hair down and give in to urges. We used to think having a cheat meal would satisfy cravings and lower the pressure to be careful every day. The problems are due to the really high calorie, large portion meals some of us eat. Only a very few dieters who are being careful can get away with a single cheat meal a week.

How many calories to maintain our body weight: just multiply weight in lbs. x following factor:

Gender | Inactive    | Active
women  | 10 x weight | 12 x weight
men    | 13 x weight | 15 x weight

Example: A woman who weighs 160 lbs. and is inactive needs to eat 10 x 160 or 1600 calories a day. It would rise to 1820 calories if she was active.

The Effect of One Cheat Meal a Week Without Exercise

A typical inactive female dieter weighing 160 lbs. needs to reduce her calories from 1600 to a little over 1100 a day to lose 1 pound per week. 1600-1100 = 500 fewer calories per day. 500 x 7 days = 3500 calorie reduction per week. This works out to a little more than 1 lb. a week of weight loss.

A man who weighs 200 lbs. needs to cut calories down from 2600 to 1500, which would save 1100 calories a day. Over a week that represents about 2 lbs. of weight loss. Many meals eaten in Italian, Mexican, and other restaurants can easily top 2500 calories. Using 2500 calories as an example, subtract 800 calories for a meal that could have been eaten instead of the “cheat” and you get an extra 1700 calories for the one cheat meal. Take the extra 1700 calories and think in terms of how many calories the one cheat adds to the daily intake over the week: 1700 calories / 7 days = about 240 calories a day.

For women the one cheat meal a week reduces their 500 calories to only 260 calories and cuts their weekly weight loss down. Add two cheat meals a week, say Saturday and Sunday, and the total calorie savings per day is reduced to almost 0. Therefore, they have no weight loss.

Effect of One Cheat Meal a Week With Exercise

As one would expect, adding exercise provides a little more room for the “cheat” but not as much as one might think. If the dieter were to burn 400 calories three times a week (40-50 minutes on a treadmill), the daily average calories would be 1200 divided by 7 days, or 175 calories a day. Not enough to make up for the single cheat meal.

Factors That Make Weekend Cheating So Costly

  • Our metabolism slows down as we age, lowering our daily calorie requirements. Yet 1 lb. remains 3500 calories and walking one mile consumes the same 100 calories.
  • Restaurants are serving larger and larger amounts, and people are eating these huge portions.
  • Compensation by exercise is usually exaggerated, and the calories are almost always less than what one might think.
  • Exercise often increases hunger and sets up a “reward” system. The dieter exercises all week, and thinks that gives him license to pig out on the weekends.

Think Cheat Meals are Not So Bad? Think Again.

Below are some example restaurant entrees – not including the salads, breads, and deserts.

Chili’s Big Mouth Bites with French fries – 2,350 calories

Olive Garden Tour of Italy, with lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and fettuccine alfredo – 1,450 calories

The Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese- 1,570 calories

Uno Chicago Grill’s Mega-Sized Deep Dish Sundae – 2,800 calories

The Cheesecake Factory’s Chicken and Biscuits – 2,500 calories

Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger with fries – 1,820 calories

The Cheesecake Factory Philly Style Flat Iron Steak with fries – 2,320 calories

Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger – 1,820 calories

T.G.I. Friday’s BBQ Chicken Wrap – 1,720 calories

Cheesecake Factory Kids’ Pasta with Alfredo Sauce – 1,803 calories

IHOP Colorado Omelet – 1,890 calories

Note in the illustration below, even reducing the weekend dinner meals hardly makes up for two weekend meals that are over 2000 calories!

weekend cheat meals and dieting during week makes it almost impossible to not gain weight