The Quick Fix Guide When You Cheat on Your Diet

If you want to know what to do after you cheat on your diet, then you want to read this article.

It happens to all of us, even the “cleanest” of the clean eaters. A special occasion comes along and you cheat on your diet.

And by “cheat” we mean you went ham at the brunch buffet, double-fisting buttermilk biscuits with a side of eggs benedict and finishing with a “dessert” of Irish coffee.

Yes, the might cheat meal has punched us all in the collective gut a time or two over the years.

We’ve got the quick-fix guide you need to undo the damage done by your epic cheat day as well as some pointers to help you get back on track with your healthy eating.

Let’s get started!

How to Recover from Cheat Meals / Cheat Days


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Accept and Move On

Eliminate feelings of guilt. It’s ok to feel bad for a minute for cheating on your diet, but you don’t need to let it consume your entire day or even an hour’s worth of your time. It was a temporary lapse in judgment, and that’s it.

Accept that you had a meal that contained too many calories and wasn’t exactly in line with your nutrition plane. Then, move on.

There’s no need to dwell on it.

You have much better things to do with your time, energy, and efforts. Channel the guilt you feel for overindulging into something productive. Use it as motivation to crush your next few workouts.

One thing you absolutely do not want to do is let one cheat meal completely derail all of the progress you’ve made so far by spiraling down into a sea of shame, guilt, and self-pity. Embracing this mindset can lead you to adopt an unhealthy attitude towards food where you binge then starve yourself.

Adopting this cheat meal--starvation mentality just lays the groundwork for a potential eating disorder to surface due to an unhealthy view of food.

The fastest way to get back on track and leave the binge in the rearview, is to just move on. Don’t sweat it.

So long as the cheat meal was a “one off” experience, and your regular daily habits are dialed-in, that cheat meal will be like a drop in the bucket.


So, you consumed a few too many calories. All that means is that you have that much more energy to devote to training your ass off in your workouts. With topped of glycogen stores from your epic cheat meal, you now have ample energy reserves in your muscle to crush some wind sprints, high-volume resistance-training sessions, or even go on a long hike in the great outdoors.

Exercise doesn’t always have to be inside a cold, dark gym. Do any type of physical activity that gets your heart rate of and have fun.

You have a ton of energy for a great workout (or two). Put it to use and make some new gains in the process!


If fasting is something you are comfortable with, give it a shot. It’s an incredibly effective way to help undo some of the damage done by your high-calorie cheat meal.

When fasting, you are purposefully going without food for a brief period of time, and then returning to your normal eating habits when the intermittent fast is over.

Do not confuse fasting with starvation diets. The two couldn’t be further from each other.

Fasting allows your body to use the extra calories consumed from previous meals (i.e. stored body fat) for fuel in the absence of your regular meals.

Your fast doesn’t need to be an extended one, either.

For example, let’s say on Friday night, you went out and had a few too many slices of pizza. Simply skip breakfast on Saturday morning and eat your regular lunch and dinner that day, and you’ll be back on track with your nutrition plan.

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Why Do We Feel the Need to Cheat?

We’ve spent the majority of this article discussing ways to help you recover from a cheat meal, or ways to “fix” any potential damage done.

But, instead of investigating ways to recover from our cheat days, maybe we should be asking ourselves why we feel the need for a cheat day in the first place? And where has this negative psychology with regard to diet come from?

Is your diet so restrictive that the only way you can reduce stress and feel a modicum of sanity is by “cheating” on it with “naughty” foods?

As we said before this mentality of “good” foods, “bad” foods, and “cheat” meals just feeds into an unhealthy relationship with food.

Rather than thinking of your indulgent, high-calories meals as “cheats”, think of them as a “reward meal” for a week’s worth of diligent effort in regards to training and nutrition.

One method that has been known to work for many individuals is to treat your daily calorie intake as a bank account. Every day you start with a beginning balance, and with every meal, snack, and protein shake you consume, you’re “withdrawing” calories from your balance.

If at the end of the day, you have 100 or 200 calories left over, and you find that you aren’t hungry, “save” them in your imaginary calorie savings account.

If you “bank” 100 calories every day of the work week, that’s 500 extra calories you have to “spend” on your cheat meal.

Taking this approach helps shift the focus of weight loss and weight gain from a micro (24-hour cycle) to macro (weeks) view. You won’t gain 10 pounds of fat in a day, and you won’t build 10 pounds of muscle in a day either.

It takes days, weeks, and months of diligent effort with your nutrition and training to make significant body composition changes.

The Bottom Line on Cheat Meals

At the end of the day, having the occasional indulgence or “cheat meal” if you prefer, isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or that you’ve fallen completely off the wagon and destined to return to your previous bad habits.

Consider it a temporary lapse, a reward, or a “one-off” that is more the exception than the normal. When “cheat meals” start becoming a regular occurrence, they no longer are a “cheat”, indulgence or treat, they’re your diet.

If it helps, you can dabble with intermittent fasting and having a longer, more intense training session to put those extra calories to good use, but if not, don’t sweat it. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body.

Consistency over the long term leads to change.

Enjoy a treat every now and then and consider it a reward for a job well done. So long as it’s only every now and then, you don’t need to let it stress you out.