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Can I Have a Cheat Meal?

Throughout the course of over 3 years of doing P90X and other various Beachbody programs, I have learned what works and doesn’t work for me in terms of the diet, and at first, I thought that having a cheat meal was like disobeying your parents, but as I progress through my fitness career, I am learning how many times I can cheat on my diet and not be greatly affected by it. Whether or not you cheat on the diet, though, depends on a few things, and that’s what I’m going to cover below. So, can you have a cheat meal?

Yes, my friends, this IS the question, because no matter who it is, a cheat meal every once in a while sounds like a glorious thing! I mean, who wants to eat clean 100% of the time anyways? If you would do that, you might go crazy. Well, at least I know I would. Anyways, there are a few things to consider before you indulge in that greasy, fried doughnut that contains enough fat to cover you for an entire week! The first depends on where you are in your fitness journey. If you’re just starting P90X, are 60 lbs overweight, the last thing you’re going to want to do is have a cheat meal 2 days into the program. From my own personal experience, once cheat meal sets me back 2-3 days, so if you do the math, indulge in 2-3 cheat meals per week and you will either see no results or very, very slow, turtle like results, and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to put myself through crazy P90X workouts, I sure as heck want to be seeing steady results! Here’s something that I tell all of the people I coach (btw if I’m NOT your coach, click here to make me your coach for free), if you’re going through your first round of P90X, your best bet is to not have any cheat meals at all. I know it’s tough, but your body just isn’t ready for them yet. Once you get the results you want, get accustomed to a healthy diet, start feeling confident in yourself again, then you can begin working in a cheat meal or two. Remember, once you lower your body fat, speed up that metabolism, a cheat meal every once in a while isn’t going to affect you like it would at first, but you have to get to that point.

Once you do go through P90X, get Adonis like results, are so shredded that you make Mr. Wayne Wyatt look like the Marshmellow Man, then you can begin having a cheat meal or two. By the way, for those of you who don’t know Wayne, getting more shredded than that guy is in fact impossible, literally, and I was just trying to prove a point. The point was that you have to be in great shape before you can begin adding in cheat meals to your diet! How many cheat meals should you have? I can have one cheat meal per week and not be affected by it, but that’s not how I roll. Instead, I might indulge in a cheat meal every few weeks, sometimes every month. Really, I have no desire to eat unhealthy anymore because of how I feel afterwards. That doesn’t mean that I don’t, it just means that it’s not fun after the fact.

What about entire cheat days? Now these are different. It’s funny because someone that I coached emailed me about a year ago and asked if he could eat whatever he wanted, how much he possibly could, all in one day. Really? He started talking about what he wanted to eat, and it was like a large Dominoes pizza, ice cream, chips, you name it, he wanted it. I can’t even imagine what this poor guy would have felt like the day after! Hopefully he didn’t do that because if he did, chances are he would have been able to read through the entire “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader” that day. OK, tmi, I know. The point is that cheat days are much different than cheat meals. If you indulge in an entire day of eating nothing but crap, it’s probably going to take you a little longer than 3 days to work it off.

So to answer the question, “Can I have a cheat meal,” when it all comes down to it, a cheat meal should be out of the question if you’re just beginning your fitness journey, but if you’re an experienced veteran and in great shape, then a cheat meal every once in a while is OK. Remember, though, don’t go crazy! Oh and BTW, if you haven’t tried Shakeology yet, that’s like a cheat meal in itself because it tastes SO DANG GOOD!



  1. Great info, explains a LOT!

  2. Thanks for posting about that, I was like a lot of people that believed that one bad meal was the end of your diet and all your hard work was ruined. It’s good to know how and when you call allow a cheat meal into your diet.

  3. Dude, this might be the single best blog I’ve ever read! And I’m not just saying that because you give a shout out to my mad ripped-ness …. okay, maybe that’s why LOL!

    Thanks for the name drop! I appreciate it.

    Awesome advice too! I tend to go more drill-sargent on peeps and say no cheat meals, but you are absolutely right that once you get your results, you can afford that 2-3 day setback because you are already where you want to be. But if you are trying to make steady progress, it will kill your momentum.

  4. Brent /

    Hey i was just wandering about something. Im on the recovery week of phase 2 and i have been following the diet very well. Me and my family are goin to see The Hangover 2 and i wanted to know if it would be ok to have a small popcorn and if it would set me back. I hate going to the movies and eating nothing…

  5. Josh /

    @Brent. Having a cheat meal every now and then is fine, just as long as you don’t go crazy.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been working out for 15 years and know that a cheat meal here and there can keep both your sanity an physique.:)

    It is hard for people just starting out to gauge what is acceptable, and what will kill their progress. Focus on self discipline and really proceed with caution at first. Once you feel you are in control the decisions come easier and you allow the pizza or whatever else to be “ok”. If it still feels “guilty”, you’re prob not ready and should continue not to cheat. You’ll know when it’s ok for you and that some foods are just NEVER worth it. I avoid the sugar, white flower 98% of the time as they are prob the most likely to do more harm than others. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll squeeze in a little cheese cake from time to time, but only knowing I allowed it and have no doubt it won’t set me back.

    Anyway, my 2 cents:)

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