Why Eating “Cheat Food” is Actually Good for your Metabolism

Oh man. The last 2 days I pigged out like a food monster. I bet you wouldn’t believe how much I ate. I may seem small but my stomach expands like a balloon. It’s not a pretty sight but I can stuff it.

That above right there is an ice cream cookie sandwich from Diddy Riese right by UCLA. Vanilla bean premium ice cream smushed between freshly baked peanut butter and snickerdoodle cookies. OH EM GEE. Foodgasm. Loved. Died. Heaven in my mouth.

As you know, I spent Fri-Sun filming for my new show Pilates Bootcamp on Livestrongwoman. These were LOOOOOOONGGGGG days spent in the sun, basically working out the whole time.

Here’s a vlog I did showing you the crazy nice house we filmed at and I also talk about my dreams of having a Diddy Riese Cookie…hahaha.

Watch it!!

So to stay fit and trim for my 3 day shoot fest, I was eating very clean with lots of fruit and nuts for sustainable energy. I also had to carefully time my meals because I easily puff up (my lower abs) if I eat too much. So by Sunday night, I was beat and well, hungry in the soul. I promised myself that if I was going to be super duper good for work, I was allowed a crazy unrestricted fatty food bonanza Sunday night. And that’s what I did alright! As you read in my last post, I had a grand ole time at The Cheesecake Factory and ABSOLUTELY killed it.

And you know what?


First of all, mentally and emotionally you need to feed your soul every once in a while. I mean, there is no fair substitute for warm ooey gooey cookies, succulent cheesecakes, or a REAL juicy cheeseburger with slightly crispy french fries!!! There just isn’t. These foods also bring back happy childhood memories. (You know, because back in the day you could pretty much burn off anything you ate…plus you were growing so you needed those calories…ha.)

Feeding your soul keeps your mind and body at ease. Bad cravings can drive you nuts, so taming them by eating some of your fave “bad foods” is totally ok!

Secondly, if you’re eating clean all the time, having cheat foods is actually good for your metabolism! It keeps your body guessing for what’s next. It doesn’t get comfortable with how to burn calories – it has to continuously work hard to figure out new ways to function so that you don’t plateau. Much like with working out and how you should change your routine every 4 weeks to keep your body shocked, you need to do the same with your diet every once in a while. A lot of people do 1 “cheat meal” a week. I personally don’t plan “cheat meals” because I feel like I have “cheat snacks” here and there anyway, so I choose to eat clean all week as a baseline.

Lastly, having cheat meals helps you to have a more positive relationship with food. Making things forbidden or labeling them as “bad” makes you want them even more. It can even lead to some level of an eating disorder and even binging. By allowing yourself exposure and indulgence in such foods, you teach yourself how to react and handle being around tempting delicacies.

Just be careful not to completely overdo it. The calories still count and you can EASILY pack on an extra thousand or two calories in a sitting if you’re really going all out.

I think I actually overdid it because after Cheesecake Factory I had a sushi buffet the next day plus Diddy Riese. I can see it in my stomach, but you know what!??? OH WELL. I loved every single bite. It was so worth it :) I worked out a little longer at the gym today and ate clean.We all can clean up our messed and get back on track.

So there ya go POPstars! Tell me the truth – do you “cheat” once in a while? What is your FAVE “cheat meal”!!???

<3 Cassey


  1. Yesterday my father in law had his 61 birthday party, and it was barbeque. It was really the cheat meal for me. I recently started cleaning eating and 30-45 mins cardio per day to lose weight.(for 8 days)it went very well so far, I lost already 1.8 kg. And yesterday I decided to cheat a little bit. But still I follow my eating routine for the dinner, a lot of veggies and fruits, then I ate more meat than I usually do. It wasn’t crazily more than usual, but I felt happier having some food I really like, until this morning I weighed myself again. I gained a total of 0.6 kg! What??? I’m really frustrating right now on my losing weight progress. It’s said to be ok to cheat one a while, but I don’t understand why one yolo meal made me that 0.6 kg more already! ); I swear I didn’t overdo it, was seriously maybe one steak more than I would normally eat……); anybody can help?

  2. Eating clean is essential for your body to function correctly. It is this functioning that makes up the metabolism. Indulging on empty fuel is not essential but in small amounts is fine, your body can filter and restore it’s self when it’s high functioning. So stick to your routine, enjoy your cake, and love yourself

  3. I’m already 1 kg from my weight goal and I try do do sports (insanity, elliptical training and you workouts ;)) around 3-5 times a week, depends how busy I am. Clean eating is really a part of my lifestyle now but I dont have cheat days I have small snacks (a small cookie or praline) or rarely a piece of cake nearly every day. Not much I still eat the kcal amount I have as a goal but it helps me to not go into binging or craving so much that I think about it all the time. Beside we have a coffee time tradition at home where we drink coffee/tea and a small treat. So this is really a nice thing of the day . I hope that is still considered clean eating.

  4. I lost 160 pounds in 15 months, and I have always had cheat days once or twice a month. Some people do need to stay strict though. If you feel yourself slipping, it may be time to go back to what was working. I feel it is better to strictly plan your cheat days. If you don’t you may end up falling off the rails completely at spontaneous times.

  5. Love your message and tone. Just found you. Please keep inspiring us. Love Kat in Fremont

  6. Thank you for posting stuff like this it really helps me personally stay positive about eating right and having cheats. Keep doing this :) thanks

  7. So nice to see someone really fit advocating this. To some, any kind of ‘cheat’ is a no-no. I agree that it seems a if derailing once in a while can actually HELP weight loss (off track- not pig fest). As someone new to clean eating, I’m planning on one cheat meal a week. Today I tried one of the homemade energy bars I made for my family. It had brown sugar in it (gasp)! I had planned to throw back a Smirnoff or two tonight, but I don’t really feel like it and I had that bar, so I won’t. If I really wanted a Smirnoff, I’d have it. I plan to skip bday cake on my kid’s bday this week, but I also plan to indulge in some take out next weekend- probably Chinese. If I just rolled with my cravings, I’d be totally off the clean-eating wagon, so better I plan ahead. I can ignore the occasional craving during the week and stay well on track if I know there’s something good at the end of the week! I eat pretty clean, but I don’t panic over little things once in a while like this morning, when I had some salsa on my eggs. It had sugar listed as an ingredient, as well as citric acid. Oh well, I’d rather have a smidge of those two things than pass the salsa I was dying for. It was a better choice than risking feeling totally deprived over a smidge of sugar and a bit of acid in my 2 or 3 tablespoons of salsa. Great article!

  8. Good ideas in this post, i really love this post and really happy to follow this post. thanks for this post!

  9. Also I weigh 124 lbs I dont know if it is bad!

  10. Hey us it bac of I eat diabetic food all the time too loose weight I do eat iy everyday and I go to mcdonalds once every two months is that bad im not diabetic I just eat it too loose weight!

  11. afonso faria says:

    I Have a cheat day every now and then. Try to have it once a week. Sometimes I don’t last 7 days without having one. Yesterday started with some biscuits and oreos and this morning finished with more biscuits and mars bars. When I do have a cheat meal it needs to fill me. I need to feel full or I won’t stop. Chocolate buscuits.bars.crips.cheescakes.anything will go in. After that I fill full. Full filled most of all… more focused to get back on track… lower stomach blows up like a balloon.. back to my routine tomorrow…. until the next indulgence cheat day…

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  13. I say f**k it every once in a while and have a serious amount of ice cream…it seriously is good for you once in a while! gotta replenish those glycogen stores…and ice cream just makes me happy ;)

  14. diabetic 1,800 calorie diet

  15. My heart broke when they zoomed in on Nando’s face at the beginning from the match. He looked so sad. I honestly assumed he’d come in after the 70th minute or so. I’d enjoy for him to see some action in Munich.

  16. HI,
    So i have been keeping track of the things i eat through out the week for a very long time now..i used to occasionally have a cheat meal on a friday or saturday night and a sugar free chocolate bar with dark choc sesame snaps..I also do about 3 hours of exercise a week. I started loosing a bit at the beginning but now have stopped and have found that i am so hungry lately and cant stop eating..this has been going on for a week straight..large proportions of the wrongs food like pizza thn half a block of chocolate and fries..I have made a strict dieting plan for the net 4 weeks, where all i am having is 2 celebrity slim shakes and a salad throughout the day..with allowance for a sugar free cho bar wednesday lunch and a cheat mean on saturday. Do you think this will help? and do u think that unhealthy eating may have given me a kick..and possibly helped?

    • Eidolon Chase says:

      Hiya Amy, apologies for just barging into your conversation, just thought I would share some of my personal experiences. I have been putting up with my sweet tooth for years, I just could not stop eating unhealthy things. For some reason it just gave me a good feeling, only problem with that is the feeling fades rapidly. Increasing my rate of consumption per day just to get that good feeling. Diet after diet, advice after advice by PT’s, nutrionists, Blogs I just kept putting on weight (hit 119kg at 5ft 10 with 49% body fat). So I decided to do my own research reading books on everything and anything to do with nutrition and working out. The conclusion was simple, eat clean and high intensity work outs. But as expected I thought I would have a cheat day and the kick was something else. Took me right of point, just could not stop eating for a week. So I decided to stick to a simple rule – On training days I would consume high protein and complex carbs (quinoa, brown rice etc) in very small portions, 7 times a day – calculating and accounting for every gram; on non training days I would consume 6 meals a day of protein and vegetables (starting and completing my day with a cup of green tea). On the seventh day :D the cheat day, I would cheat with low fat products, high protein and carbs. I know your thinking that is not a cheat day, but it so is :D; eating small portions every two hours of my little desires (i.e. morning oats with teaspoon of almond butter (gorgeous), 2 hours later melted dark chocolate with banana slices wrapped in low fat pancake and so fourth) then when the cheat day comes to an end, a cup of green tea and back to the beginning of the cycle :D. (eventually you will enjoy being creative on your cheat days and the pounds will keep shredding) Kept this routine up for 4 months and by then I was 89kg, 21% body fat and had lost 7 inches from my waist. (Of course your exercise routine is important as well). Anyway that is my story.

      Kind Regards :D

  17. Marley Rachel says:

    I love cakes,sweets,bread,fried chicken,french fries,magnum ice cream,i work hard during the week and i spoil myself on weekends,it feels so gooood!

  18. I love to indulge in this handcrafted cake from the health food store. Its loaded with bad fats and empty calories, but you cant forget the taste! The thing is, I get into a couple bites every few days! I wonder if thatll make me fat!! I know when to stop.. Most people cant. Also my metabolism is very fast, and Im pretty healthy. For the most part I eat clean… I just couldnt resist seing it. Never shop hungry.

  19. I love to indulge in this handcrafted cake from the health food store. Its loaded with bad fats and empty calories, but you cant forget the taste! The thing is, I get into a couple bites every few days! I wonder if thatll make me fat!!

  20. I completely find this article insensitive and extremely a one sided view on unhealthy foods. Many overweight people are addicts.. Just like a crack head, or alcoholic. One little sip or one little hi can make it difficult to stop. What you are referring to is a person that doesn’t have an addiction but chose to smoke pot everyone now n then or have a drink every now and then and then quit pot n drinking all together. Food obviously is a choice for you but many of us dieters are addicts. One bite of sweets triggers your glycemic index and those memories of those emotional battles you have overcome. You say bad food triggers good child memories for many of us it triggers bad child memories. I are excessively throughout adulthood because we were poor as kids n never had food in the house so when the first of the month came (food stamps n welfare check) that was the only time the fridge was full n yes that was a good feeling but a week later it would be empty n this is part of many of the emotional reasons I always saw food as a reward, not as a necessity to live. Your view is very ignorant for the masses.

    • Stephanie says:

      I’ve got to say I loved this article. Jai I’m sorry you had to deal (or are currently dealing) with a lack of self control, but that’s just it, it’s all about self control. Trust me, I was the 5’6″ 250lb geek in high school. I’d down a 1/2 gallon of ice cream and not think twice about it. However, after joining a gym, losing a few pounds and doing a combination of Paleo Diet, The Four Hour Body and Leangains, I’ve found the self control to allow myself a binge meal and am able to move on. I look better, feel better and sleep better now that I’ve found out what works for me. I suggest that you do the same.

  21. Have to say, I’m really not a fan of the cheat meal concept.

    The idea of eating “clean” and categorizing certain foods as “cheats” is outdated and encourages disordered eating. (IMO of course.)

    Basically, ,ost folks just don’t do well with cheat meals – http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/cheat-meals-the-rocky-road-to-a-crappy-physique/

    • Some of us need yummy yummmmyyyy unhealthy food
      I’m not about health, I’m about weight loss, there’s a difference.
      If I don’t get my unhealthy food once a week I’ll end up binging. If I can’t look forward to that one day, I’ll die.

      But whatever floats your boat bra. :P

    • I agree, it encourages a bad relationship with food. Categorizing foods as bad and good makes people feel guilt during eating, which is a special time for many to bond and nourish ourselves together. Many people lose touch with this part of their lives and creates a feeling of discomfort when eating out with friends, at birthday parties and even at your own dinner table. It can transfer negative thoughts to your children as well. It doesn’t encourage moderation and listening to your body. Contrarily, it encourages deprivation, losing trust in your own body signals and instincts, and unhappiness most of the time. Using food as a reward is just an unhealthy way to live.

  22. Josh Barry says:

    I eat clean all week training 6 days a week with Sundays off, and I have a cheat dinner every Saturday and Sunday night, so Sundays are like heaven, ironically! I’m a 190 lb. MMA training weight lifting young buck, so I eat a lot. A cheat meal for me can range from a large pizza to fast food. My favorite is 3 McDoubles, 1 McChicken, Large Fries, Carmel Sundae, and a large water. It is a cheat meal but I am weird and love water.

  23. Victoria says:

    This post made me feel a lot better about myself. I’ve lost about 28 pounds all together and I never thought I could do it but hey, here I am at 5’2 and 104 pounds! I’m always scared of gaining weight and I think I have more of an unhealthy relationship with food but I’m definitely working on it! I used to weigh myself everyday and I unfortunately let the scale dictate my mood for the day… I’m trying my best to weigh myself every week and remind myself that the scale doesn’t mean everything! Tonight my favorite TV show is coming back so my family and I are eating out at McDonalds because well, fries are my favorite cheat meal, and their mcflurries! I might over due it but I have to remember that one cheat meal isn’t going to ruin my life or make me gain 20 pounds! It’s not even possible to put on a pound of fat in a day. I’m going to work extra hard today (on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays I usually run 1.5+ miles anyways) and I’m going to work on the blogilates calendar (today is cardio!) and make sure to eat clean the rest of the week.
    Thanks Cassey, this article made me feel sooo much better and now I know that I shouldn’t be scared of “cheat” foods because hey, #YOLO

  24. Aaron Ott says:

    I like cheat days when I fuck around on my wife, is that wrong?

  25. I don’t even think about a “cheat meal” until I want it. I don’t think about it ahead of time as a weekend reward for eating clean and working out. What I do is, when I have that rare craving for a cheeseburger and fries, I let myself have it – don’t feel guilty – and move on. It has worked for me for years now. In the beginning, when I thought I had to reward myself with a cheat day, I ate stuff I necessarily wasn’t even craving, but ate anyway because it was “my cheat day”. Over time, I just put the idea of a cheat day out of my mind and when the craving hit, just went with. Fortunately, I can go months without craving “bad food”. I agree with you 100%, it is healthy for the soul to let yourself indulge once in awhile.

  26. I think the whole idea of a cheat meal is really motivating. I only recently started to change my diet to clean eating and its wonderful, I’m losing weight slowly off my stomach and getting more toned. I think having one cheat meal motivates me more to work harder for the next. I just love pizza !

  27. Hey Cassey,
    My plan for this year is to have 300 days of eating clean and 65 where I can eat cheat foods. In a diary I’m going to keep track of how many days I’ve eaten cheat foods by numbering them eg the first day I eat something bad I put a ‘1’ in the corner and the second day I’ll put a ‘2’ etc so I can keep track of how many days it’s been and if there is too many I know to not have one for a while.
    Does this sound like a good idea to you? I thought it would be easier than having a planned cheat day a week and it helps me not just think ‘Oh I want to eat healthily’, I’ll really think about reaching for a bad snack or popcorn at the movies!

    • Wow that sounds like a good idea. Basically once a week plus some holidays and vacations!

    • Hi! I like your idea and just wanted to offer some friendly advice: be careful not to overdue it! I struggled with an eating disorder for several years and one of my biggest problems was obsessively documenting my food intake. Obviously I don’t know you and you probably don’t have the same problems; so take it or leave it Good luck :)

  28. Hi, I have a question for all the people who’ve commented on this thread, I have been in a huge dilemma about having a cheat day ( I’ve been on a low carb diet 3 weeks) I’ve been really good and focused about my goal and I’m seeing really good results. However I really want to treat myself to meal and not count all the calories etc. what I want to know with the cheat meals are you all still losing weight?.. I really don’t want to undo all my hard work.. I’m not desperately craving things I’m pretty disaplined but would be nice to have something a bit naughty haha… Any advice would be great!!

    Thanks xxxx

    • yes you are, because your body doesn’t know what your eating so it burns it quickly its kinda like tricking your body

  29. Margaret Hoar says:

    Hey! This post encouraged me so much. I work so hard to eat right all week and then cheat once on the weekends. But I guilt trip myself out over it so much its hard to enjoy. I’m so glad to know that you cheat once in a while and you stomach extends and gets puffy too! You are human. :) :) Thanks Cassey!

  30. OMG so glad I saw this post because I major cheated today, pizza is my weakness. And I miiight have overdid and felt so bad but then read this and thought hey, it’s okay once in a while! So long as you know you’ll work to burn off those extra (hundred) calories! :)

  31. Oh man, do I have a hard time resisting chocolate. Chocolate chocolate chocolate.

  32. I eat clean for the most part and workout 5x/week for 2 hours. I am trying to get my tummy back after having my two boys. My cheat food though is Poppycock original popcorn. I love it!!

  33. I eat really clean from Monday to Friday but every weekend I binge badly which prevents me from ever losing any weight. I have started to realise that once I get started I feel like ‘Oh well now the diet is wrecked I might as well go mad!”. I think that I need to wait until Sunday to have my cheat meal because I am really strict in the week so Monday wouldn’t be an issue. What are your thoughts?

  34. i eat pretty healthy, but everyday i have a serving of fat free soy ice cream or fat free almond pudding. it seriously feels like I’m cheating but i don’t think its too bad :) if you can find better options comparable to things you love you won’t feel like you need to cheat :)

  35. I am very clean eater, but at weekends (maybe twice per month i drink some wine and then i go crazy). I like to eat ice cream and french fries and some bread and salami. Not all together!

  36. Sweets. Cookies, cakes, brownies, ice cream, chocolate…sugar heaven.

    I struggle to keep it in moderation. I am just now trying to eat healthier.

  37. Oooo it’s got to be a peanut butter and banana toastie made with fruit bread with butter on the outside (so it goes golden) and a tonnnnnne of thick crunchy PB. Alternatively raisin scones with strawberry jam and cream Nomnomnom. For desserts I looooove cornish creamy vanilla icecream with a dash of golden syrup, raisins and mixed nuts on top.

  38. I totally agree with this post. If you aren’t training for a competition and just trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you shouldn’t have to follow a strict diet with so many restrictions. That’s already a red alert for failure because your temptations will eventually give in or you’ll go crazy. I live to eat so I made the change to my lifestyle so I CAN eat as much as I want… exercise more.. and eat more. ;)

  39. I do cheat every once in a while like on date nights or whatever. My fave cheat meal is…honestly any type of fast food burger or sandwich with fries and then a couple scoops of neopolitan…omg! :)

  40. Hey Cassey,
    thanks for the advice! I definitely know that I cannot control myself with cheat foods in the house.. so I just don’t keep it at home. Instead if I have a craving, I go out to eat it and it definitely helps me stay clean.
    I also wanted to ask you about weight loss, I have been working out and seeing results, but now I feel and look so bloated! And I don’t know what to do.. I have been counting calories (1200 a day) and eating smaller portions and trying to eat healthier.. but I feel like I’m gaining weight! I’m trying to lose the last stubborn 15 baby weight pounds, what can I do to make it go away faster! (Going to Mexico in a month, help!!!!!)

    • You are probably restricting your calories too much to the point where your body is in starvation mode. Instead of losing weight, your body is trying to preserve any fat that it can get.

  41. Heck yes I cheat from time to time! No shame ;)

  42. Oh girl, it happens to the best of us. :) My fav cheat meal usually involves pizza, but I had some amazing cheat ice cream last night. Yum!

  43. Natasha says:

    I am a HUGE chocoholic! That’s probably been the hardest thing to kick since starting a clean eating lifestyle, but I think I’m doing pretty well :) I never go out of my way to buy anything chocolatey, but if it’s in the house then I’ll have a few squares, or a few Hershey’s kisses, or a slice of cake ;) As long as I don’t overdo it, there are never ANYYY regrets!

  44. I don’t consider it cheating because I eat waffles for breakfast every day…and always have haha. I think by now my body is used to it and I only eat one and don’t pour a ton of syrup. But I cut out stuff like soda, and have it only on rare occasions. Same with a lot of other stuff I love. I found it was easier to eat at least one sweet thing a day than cut out everything I love all together. I do eat a lot more fruit and veggies than I did before though.

  45. I eat a piece of dark choc everyday! and dont really plan cheat meals either, like yourself i plan to eat clean everyday and then if i feel like a tiny naughty something i dont deprive myself. However i do try to set aside once perweek upping my calorie intake by around 200 cals to try keep my body guessing, not necessarily with cheat foods (coz i actually more enjoy healthy food anyways) but some of that always involves something chocoaltey or Froyo like. I have the biggest sweet tooth so i probably consume way too much sugar/artifical sweetened food.

  46. Viktoria says:

    I def cheat waaaay too much. About twice a day, with frozen yogurts and pasta. I also def eat too much fruit, to satisfy my sweet tooth. Its all yummy though!!!

    I realized, that if I season my veggies enough, and eat enough protein daily, I can go without any cravings for a day or two.

    I think cheat food should be once a week, or every other week for me. HAAARD!

    Great post, thank you so much!

  47. I am definitely a “seasonal splurger.” When it’s summertime I love froyo…when it’s the holidays you’ll definitely find me with a piece of apple or pumpkin pie! I think that just as long as you can find some sort of balance, life is too short NOT to enjoy that last piece of cake :)

  48. Great article! My cheats…Chic-fil-a, a juicy cheese burger (with bacon!) and ice cream. I allow myself this things at least once a month. I eat so good most of the time so I treat myself and make it up the next day with a nice workout. Though sometimes when I cheat, I have to remind myself to not be so tough on myself. Guilt is not good!

  49. Estefania says:

    Love this post! I don’t have cheats days either, I cheat more than once a week, when my body asks for it, especially sweetie food, ice creams, smoothies, frappuccionos, cakes… I need them in my life, I eat healthy but I don’t have forbidden foods. Everything in moderation, including moderation ;)


  1. […] some insightful blog posts I recently came across. Both are a couple years old, but still relevant. Cheating is good for your metabolism but Cheating can send you off course What are your thoughts on the cheat meal/day? Is it […]

  2. […] Cassey wrote a while back and it was quite in-tune with what I wrote about yesterday. Read her post here. It’s about “cheat” food, you know those times when you actually eat a […]

  3. […] well that I think it’s ok to eat “cheat foods” once in a while. Like I said in my last post, it’s healthy for your soul and your […]

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