Mound of pancakes with syrup running off of them with a bit of chocolate on top.

How You Can Use Healthy Cheat Meals to Hit Your Fitness Goals Faster

Reduce your weight loss time significantly by implementing this practice.

Mound of pancakes with syrup running off of them with a bit of chocolate on top.
Photo by Shay Wood:

EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.

I love cheat meals.

Anyone that has seen my Instagram from the past will know how much of a cheat meal fanatic I am.

I am maniacal about what I eat during the week and have a pretty strict diet that most people may consider a bit ridiculous.

I do this for two reasons:

  1. It helps me control my weight easily without a lot of guesswork.
  2. It allows me to eat insanely large cheat meals on the weekend.

Recently, however, I had a pretty big epiphany when I realized that not only could I keep my weight in check better by adopting healthy “cheat” meals for the weekend, but I could actually enjoy them just as much as I would my usual non-healthy ones.

Cheat meal philosophy

Before we go into exactly what is a healthy cheat meal, I think it would be beneficial to recap my cheat meal philosophy.

I’m of the mindset that your cheat meal is sacred as it represents all the hard work you’ve put in during the week.

You’ve earned that cheat meal by denying yourself all of the things you would have rather ate and now is that time of the week that you get to reward yourself for your commitment.

I have two specific rules with cheat meals:

  1. It is only a MEAL and not a cheat DAY, which could completely ruin all the progress you’ve made during that week and
  2. You cannot count your calories or think about how much you are eating at the time.

Some people disagree with the second rule because of the fear of overdoing it, but since I am so regimented during the course of the week, it would be impossible for me to eat that much without seriously hurting myself.

What constitutes a healthy cheat meal?

While I have usually been of the mindset that you should eat whatever you want, I recently began a journey to run a sub 20-minute 5k and knew that my Saturday heavy cheat meals were going to make my Sunday long runs an absolute nightmare.

Therefore, I began looking for cheat meals that were still good but were just a bit healthier and not as likely to add 2–3 lbs in one sitting.

I discovered a number of different options of healthy versions of various foods that I love that were surprisingly as good as their fat-laden counterparts without all the excess calories and regret that come with them the next day.

The big difference about healthy cheat meals versus non-healthy ones is that you’re probably going to have to make it yourself at home.

The chances of you finding something from a restaurant that is going to be particularly good and healthy are just not very good.

Now, let me be clear here: I don’t cook.

So all of my cheat meals aren’t any type of recipe that I follow but actually pre-made healthier versions of different types of food that I love.

While I haven’t done the exact math to compare all my pre-made healthy versions to their restaurant-served counterparts, I would guess that if you make the meal at home, you’re probably going to consume anywhere between 25–50% fewer calories in that sitting.

And this can pay dividends to help you hit those fitness goals faster.

How do you begin?


Think of any food that you really love and then look for the healthy version of it to see if it’s just as good.

You’ll be surprised at how many healthy versions are out there in different categories.

One example of this is pancakes.

I love to have breakfast at night, and one of my go-tos now are Kodiak pancakes with sugar-free syrup and low-fat turkey bacon. I couple this with a few slices of toast with sugar free jam and instant grits, and you have a breakfast fit for a king for dinner.

The Kodiak version of almost anything is going to be decently healthy for you and will have way fewer calories than it’s traditional version.

Another go-to would be California Pizza Kitchen pizzas, along with sweet potato fries and bread sticks made with low-fat cheese.

The great thing about this is not only will you be saving money by making this at home, since you are the chef you can also ensure that you get as much as you want.

There’s nothing worse than eating a cheat meal and finishing wishing you had ordered a tad bit more to make it worth your while.

And while I can’t promise that you still won’t have a tendency to wish you had made a bit more from time to time, you can now always just walk over to the kitchen, put your apron back on, and get to making another serving so you can eat until your cheat meal heart is content.