April 4, 2013

Empty Calorie Cheat Meals

Most people will tell you its ok to have a cheat meal once a week while trying to lose weight.  A meal where you can eat whatever you want and not worry about it.  I know some people who have an entire cheat day once a week, some have a cheat meal and others cheat the entire weekend.  I know it is good to have cheat meals, that way you don't feel completely deprived while dieting.  I get it, makes sense.  My trainer always says, eat healthy during the week and save the things you're craving for the weekend.  Usually by the weekend, you forget about the things you were craving during the week.

I have been following the advice of my trainer.  I save my wine and unhealthy snacks for the weekends and usually by the time the weekend rolls around, I completely forget about the wine and the snacks. So although I allow myself to have those things on the weekends, I usually don't even want them once its the weekend.

Now that I have been on this journey for a while, I have noticed that my weight responds much more to a good diet than it does a good exercise routine.  Meaning, I lose the most weight when I eat healthy rather than when I workout really hard. Although I workout hard and I try to eat healthy, my cheat days really do effect my weight and my progress.

Last week, I avoided drinking any wine, I packed lunches everyday, cooked dinner and ate very healthy. My body responded nicely and I was at my lowest weight.  On the weekends lately, I still eat very healthy and usually eat less than I do during the week since I am busy.

This last weekend was Easter and I did not, let me repeat, I absolutely did not plan on cheating and eating poorly.  (Before I go on, please no "this is why you're fat" comments - I am being honest and keeping myself accountable). My sister came over late on Saturday night and spent the night - and brought over McDonald's fries.  The next day was Easter, we had appetizers, ham, potatoes and candy.  Nothing was healthy and of course I did not eat in moderation.  Very hard to limit what you eat at gatherings.

One bad weekend isn't going to ruin all of my progress, I know that.  But my problem is getting back on track.  Once I cheat like this, my body CRAVES carbs and junk food and I find myself making poor food choices. Why?? Why is it so much harder to eat healthy after cheating?

I was so curious that I did some research. After several google searches, I found one that made sense to me.

Empty Calories: Calories that come from food with little to no nutritional value, usually made up of carbohydrates or fat.


  • Chips, Fries
  • Cheese
  • Sweetened Breakfast Cereals
  • Cakes, Pastries, Doughnuts, Cookies, Brownies
  • Soda, energy drinks, fruity juice
  • Pizza
  • Candy
  • Ice Cream
  • Wine, Beer, Liquor
  • Butter
  • Sausage, Bacon, Ribs
This site lists some good substitutes: Click here

This list of food looks familiar to me, all of the foods I crave after a cheat meal.  But why? Although these food items taste good, they lack nutritional value.  They contain lots of sugar and fat, yet lack vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber and antioxidants. Since these empty calories lack nutrients, they actually leave you more hungry.

Don't get me wrong, its ok to have a cheat meal every now and then.  But eating these food items make it so my cheat meal turns into a cheat week. I thought this article was interesting, mentions how eating empty calorie foods makes your blood sugar spike.  Your blood sugar spikes and then crashes, which makes people tired and needing another instant boost from more empty calories.  Interesting, right? When I see it like that, it just shows how this cycle goes and why it is so hard for me to get on track after cheating and eating empty calories. It is a hard cycle to break!

When I really think about it, I am more inclined to cheat when I don't have food with me and when I have failed to plan. I am really great at planning my meals out during the week because I have such a set schedule.  On the weekends though, I am all over the place and it is harder to plan meals. I guess this is a reminder of how important it is to meal plan, even on the weekends!

I am still working on getting back on track after this last weekend, but I am working on it! I really need to think twice before I decide to cheat and eat empty calories, not worth it for me.  Once again, I think its ok to have a cheat meal, but I think I need to be more mindful of what my cheat meal is.  If I am craving carbs, probably better to have potatoes rather than potato chips or fries.  I am working out way too hard to eat poorly. It is a waste to workout everyday and kick butt in the gym if I am eating like crap.

Ready to get back on track!



  1. You are not fat! You have come a long way and are a fit person now. Stop even thinking people will say "this is why you're fat" because you are far from it now. I too have read the same atricles and noticed that I make more weight loss and body fat loss from eating then I do from working out or running!!! You are what you eat is completely true. Keep up the journey and the confidence building!