You’re on the dieting wagon.

You’ve experienced the dieting blues; hunger, lack of strength, a drop in energy and your mood is low.

It’s been a tough 6 days.

The most excitement occurred on Wednesday when you swapped the brown rice…

…for white rice (you maverick).

It’ll all be worth it though because today is Sunday.


Cheat day!


The Epic Cheat Meal

You know what I’m talking about right? We’ve all seen the pictures of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his ‘Epic Cheat Meal’. The former wrestler turned Hollywood A-Lister grinning alongside a mountain of pancakes stacked higher than a pile of bodies at the end of the ‘Royal Rumble’!

The Rock is clearly loving life and fair play to him. He’s a HUGE dude who trains like a beast and gets himself into ridiculously good shape for the big screen.

So when considering whether to adopt The Rock’s ‘Cheat Meal Strategy’, maybe ask yourself a simple question:

Am I a 6ft 5in, 260lb male with 20+ of years lifting experience?

If the answer is yes, have you considered a career as a professional wrestler? Maybe even The Rock’s stunt double? Either way, enjoy your pizza and pancake buffet.

If the answer is no, welcome to my world (the remaining 99.99% of us).

Cheating like The Rock will not lead to his physique.

In the short-term you’ll feel sick and slip into a food coma.

In the long-term you’ll get fat.


The Problem – It’s a Numbers Game

Using The Rock is an extreme example admittedly but the point still remains. A sustained 6-day period of dieting followed by a no holds barred blowout is not doing your fat loss any favours.

Allow me to present exhibit A – Dave.

Dave is maintaining his weight consuming 2500kcal a day and decides to diet using a modest deficit of 250kcal (good job Dave). He decides to diet for 6 days a week and then incorporate a ‘cheat day’ on Sundays – this works well because he plays football in the morning followed by a pub lunch with the boys. Sunday is also pizza night with the girlfriend (some quality time in with a film to make up for not seeing each other during the day).

The perfect lifestyle setup right?

Let’s put this down in figures:

7 x Days a week @ 2500kcal = 17,500kcal (Maintenance)

7 x Days a week @ 2250kcal = 15,750kcal (Fat Loss)

6 x Days a week @ 2250 + 1 x Day Cheat = ?

The following numbers are estimates but I’ll try to be as fair as possible:

Dave’s Cheat Day  
Meal Food Calories



Bacon and Egg Sandwich 600kcal

Pub Lunch


Roast Beef with all the trimmings



Dinner Medium Stuffed Crust Meat Feast


Chicken Wings


(Throughout the day)

Bag of crisps


Half Tub Ben & Jerry’s








(Throughout the day)


Orange Juice

Lucozade Sport

3 x Pints

Half Bottle Wine




Total Calories 6200kcal  


Our completed breakdown now looks something like this:

7 x Days a week @ 2500kcal = 17,500kcal (Maintenance)

7 x Days a week @ 2250kcal = 15,750kcal (Fat Loss)

6 x Days a week @ 2250kcal + 6200kcal (Cheat Day) = 19,700kcal (SH*T!)

Congratulations Dave – you’re about to wake up on Monday morning fatter than you started!

I guess the only thing to do is give up pizza, ice cream and booze right?

Not quite.


Potential Solutions

  1. Cheat Meal instead of Cheat Day – This keeps things nice and simple. Instead of an all day binge you pick one meal where you relax the dieting reins. I’m a big advocate of leaving this meal until the evening. A black coffee with Greek yoghurt for breakfast and a chicken salad for lunch leaves a nice surplus of calories for the evening meal. It might not let you incorporate the ‘stuffed crust meat feast’ but 1000-1500kcals is normally good for a meal out plus dessert.
  1. Cheat Day 2.0 – If we look at Dave’s plan again there are a few easy trades / minor sacrifices that can be made to bring those calories down.

Check this out:


Dave’s Cheat Day 2.0  
Meal Food Calories



Bacon and Egg Omelette 400kcal

Pub Lunch


Roast Beef with all the trimmings 800kcal
Dinner Pizza Express Forza Romana


Garlic Bread


(Throughout the day)

Bag of crisps



Half Tub Frozen Yoghurt








(Throughout the day)


Sugar free squash

Monster Zero Kcal

3 x Bottles Beer

2 x Glasses Wine




Total Calories 3200kcal  


Is this perfect?

No – but it’s a damn sight better than Dave’s original plan (about 3000kcal ‘better’ in fact!).

Of course you could replace that pizza with a salad and cut out all the alcohol but:

A – Would Dave stick to it?

B – Would Dave enjoy it?

The best diet is the one you can follow after all. This shows how like-for-like swaps can still allow you to adhere to the plan, get results and enjoy life!


  1. Flexible Dieting – The new kid on the dieting block (relatively speaking). If you’ve been exposed to the world of online fitness in the last couple of years, you may have noticed the acronym IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)popping up on your timeline next to pictures of pizzas, pies and pop-tarts with the occasional 6-pack. It’s a rebellion against the ‘clean eating’ brigade who firmly believe the only route to visible abs lies in a Tupperware box filled with chicken, rice and broccoli – I digress.

Flexible dieting is not so much a diet as a mindset shift. If you have a basic understanding of your calorie requirements you can factor in some ice cream, a cookie, a bag of chips, etc. as long as it ‘fits your macros’ and still lose weight. It also teaches a valuable lesson that no single food is inherently fattening. You can eat ANYTHING you want and still lose fat (as long as you control for calories).


Take Action:

  • Whether you opt for a cheat meal or cheat day – have a basic grasp of the calories you’re consuming.


  • It’s good to cheat occasionally! It’ll give you something to look forward to and break the inevitable monotony of dieting (especially if you’ve got more than a few pounds to lose).


  • Adopt a flexible approach – use the 80/20 rule (80% from nutrient dense, single ingredient food / 20% ‘fun stuff’). Avoid all-or-nothing thinking when dieting, this is the key to long-term sustainable fat-loss.