Why ‘cheat meal’ is such a lamentable phrase…

PIZZA. It’s alright; goes down well and there aren’t many people that would say no. But…..It’s bad for you, full of cheese, dough and more cheese. Right?

A regular and enjoyable ‘cheat’ meal or even cheat meals can be essential. As we’ve talked about before, if you’re reading this it’s likely you are interested in your health, well being, appearance, training performance, eating and exercising. This is good; strong, ‘clean’ nutrition is the cornerstone to enhancements and improvements in every aspect of your living. However, it’s not always easy and sometimes, if you are ultra-strict with you’re eating, not always enjoyable. As renowned Canadian strength & conditioning coach Charles Poliquin observes ‘a zero tolerance approach to nutrition is a losing proposal’. Nutrition guru Dr John Beradi goes as far as to put a figure on it; 90 percent. Basically, eat whatever you want 10 percent of the time. It is unnecessary, unwise and lamentable to be so fastidious with you’re eating that it makes you miserable.

Using the phrase ‘cheat meal’ is also pretty lamentable too as it implies you are doing something bad, wrong and sinful. Eating the foods you like guilt-free, on a semi-regularly basis without regard for the calorie, carb or sugar content is totally legitimate to the point it is entirely recommended


We talk a lot about hormones. Rightly so, as they (under instruction from your nervous system) regulate, control and manipulate every process in your body. The usual hormonal suspects that crop up time and time again when discussing the link between eating, exercise, performance and body composition are the reason why cheat meals are can be beneficial. When in a caloric deficit, underfed individuals produce less T3 and T4, both important thyroid hormones that play roles in the regulation of metabolic rate. A cheat meal will increase these hormones, pushing your metabolic rate up which, as we have discussed in a previous post, is a good thing. Your leptin levels will get a much needed kick. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full – a good thing. When you eat clean, lower calorie foods and put yourself in or close to a calorie deficit, leptin levels drop – a bad thing as you are always hungry. Rubbish. Leptin will decrease after just 72 hours of lower calorie (calorie deficit) eating. Based on this, you are looking at enjoying a cheat meal every three days.

As always, there is a slight caveat: Do not take the piss. If you’re eating 3 meals and 2 snacks each day you are feeding roughly 35 times each week. 90 percent of 35 is 31/32 feedings each week. There’s your limit. As reasoned above, it is wise to eat one of your 3-4 cheat meals every third day rather than 3 in a row on a hung-over Sunday.

Back to Pizza.

Of all the ‘cheat’ foods you may treat yourself to it’s a good one. It contains all the macro nutrients you need to support your training in that it is high in protein and fat. Compare this to chips, which just have starchy carbs, fat and no protein. If you want to eat pizza more often but keep your nutrition on point, try this:

Low carb pizza. Looks a bit rough in the picture but tastes alright. Honestly. Make it, try it, let us know what you reckon.

Pizza base:

1 large cauliflower (grated 200g),
1 large whole egg,
60g grated mozzarella,
30g grated parmesan,
1 rounded teaspoon of pureed garlic,
1 teaspoon of basil & 1 teaspoon of oregano,
Pink salt and black pepper to taste.

Pizza topping:

60g grated mozzarella,
40g tomato puree,
sliced ham.


Grate cauliflower into bowl (200g) until it resembles rice/cous cous.
Cover and microwave for 4 minutes
Place in tea towel and ring till all water is drained from the cauliflower
Place Cauliflower into a large bowl and add all remaining (base) ingredients
Mix until consistency and mixture are even
Pre-heat oven and tray to 220 degrees
Spread a very thin layer of coconut oil on grease proof paper
Spread mixture evenly upon the paper, around 7 inches in diameter
Place in oven for 10-12 minutes till lightly golden


Remove base from oven
Spread tomato puree evenly across the base
Sprinkle mozzarella evenly
Two slices of diced/torn sliced ham
Place back in oven for 5-7 minutes at same heat; baking as to your desired texture/colour.

Rough macros breakdown: (may differ slightly between brands)
Protein: 53g
Fats: 26g
(Total) Carbohydrates: 10g

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Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the evidence from controlled clinical trials.
Bendtsen LQ1, Lorenzen JK, Bendsen NT, Rasmussen C, Astrup A