Many fitness enthusiasts who maintain a regimented diet believe that consuming a weekly cheat meal can help sustain a low body fat percentage. The psychological benefits of taking an occasional hiatus from rigid routines are touted by a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. There are, however, splurges that just don’t seem to make sense. Veteran trainer Darla Leal says, “the recent discovery of increased leptin hormone levels (spurred by cheat meals) helping with weight loss doesn’t mean a free ticket to gorge on everything in sight on a cheat day.” Want to indulge in a little dietary mischief? Help yourself, but avoid these four nutritional atom bombs that are sure to leave you lacking motivation afterward.
The internet is replete with information regarding the perils of making bad food choices. It is baffling to consider that junk foods like Oreos, bubblegum, cheesecake and Snickers bars are now being breaded in pancake batter, deep-fried and sold by the hundreds at state fairs and other events. Other deepfried abominations include Kool Aid, Twinkies, salad and yes — even deep-fried butter. It seems the more bizarre the concoction, the better it sells.
A typical 100-gram serving of deep-fried Oreos packs a whopping 890 calories and comes with:
- 107 grams of carbohydrates (devoid of any significant nutrient)
- 1,000 grams of sodium
- 947 milligrams of salt
- 51 grams of sugar
- 48 grams of fat
Add a 20-ounce soda for 250 more sugar-laden calories and you’ll have a cheat meal your waistline will surely remember.
This home-cooked Southern staple is a favorite for cold mornings when folks need something that will “stick to their bones.” And stick to your bones it will, in the form of artery-clogging saturated fat and cancer-causing nitrates in the sausage gravy, and high-glycemic carbohydrates, trans fat and empty calories in the biscuits.
One biscuit with a half a cup of gravy will cost you half a day’s worth of sodium intake. Pile four on your plate for a total of:
- 1,200 calories
- 64 grams of fat
- 132 grams of carbohydrates
Don’t forget the 4,000 milligrams of salt that will send your blood pressure soaring and cause you to consume twice the recommended daily allowance of sodium – all before you start your day. If it’s cold outside, washing down the debauchery with a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows will add another 146 calories and 18 grams of sugar.
Dr. Joseph Marcela, a New York Times best-selling author, says, “it’s too bad that Americans view doughnuts as a breakfast food as, nutritionally speaking, eating a doughnut is one of the worst ways to start off your day. It will throw off your blood sugar and doesn’t provide any real nutrients, which means you’ll soon be hungry again. You are better off eating no breakfast at all, or better yet, grabbing a quick glass of whey protein.”
Doughnuts – especially the ones filled with cream or jelly – are chock full of white flour, sugar and trans fat. Worse yet, most are fried and dunked in a sugar glaze before being stacked into boxes and display cases. The penalty for indulging in a Boston cream doughnut is thus:
- 310 calories (with little or no nutrient value)
- 17 grams of fat
- 36 grams of high-glycemic carbohydrates
While a single doughnut probably won’t destroy your diet plan, it will cause an insulin spike in your metabolism, raise your blood sugar and leave you drained during the ensuing crash –causing you to head back to the break room in search of a few more. Want to exacerbate the problem? Chug down a cold glass of orange juice to add another 25 grams of high glycemic carbs.
Marcela says, “I am fond of telling patients that one French fry is worse for your health than one cigarette.” Regardless of whether there is a way to quantify this statement, the nutritional value of french fries is abysmal. Wedges of high-glycemic carbs are deep-fried in oil and then covered in salt. Add some chili, gobs of melted cheddar cheese, bacon bits and sour cream, and you have the makings of a dietary monster.
Possibly a one serving portion of loaded chili-cheese french fries will run you:
- 1,409 calories
- 116 grams of carbohydrates
- 82 grams of fat
- 2,935 milligrams of salt
Even if you split the serving with a friend, the results are sure to have you feeling sluggish and unmotivated afterward. Swig down a couple of beers or drink a 450-calorie margarita to seal the deal. Alcohol hits the pause button on your metabolism, causing your liver to burn the alcohol for energy before utilizing other sources. In the meantime, the fats and carbohydrates from the loaded fries are headed straight for your mid-section – all before dinner is served.
Cheat days are a time to recoup the mind, reset the metabolism and enjoy a rest from the grind. Keep your perspective if you decide to indulge, and do yourself a favor – walk away from these four nutritional nightmares. “Studies have shown increasing calories by 20 percent are all that is needed to spike leptin levels and affect metabolism,” Leal says. “That would mean overindulgence wouldn’t be wise on a cheat day.”