Do Elite Fitness Trainers Eat Cheat Meals?

You bet they do. Have you ever wanted to have a cheat meal? Of course you have! It’s only natural to want some of the “treats” that have consumed on a regular basis for years before getting healthy. In my years of experience as a trainer, I have come up with 5 rules that prevent that inner Cookie Monster from going on a binge eating spree yet satisfy that want and desire.

My 5 guidelines:

1.  The first rule is the hardest and trickiest.  Ask yourself, What Are Your Gateway Foods?   Avoid all “gateway” foods at all costs!  These are the foods that the moment they touch your tongue, Dr. Jekyll disappears and Mr. Hyde takes over. For me, it is chocolate. I become my own version of Cookie Monster and inhale as much chocolate as I can.  At the same time, all of my lifting goals I have dedicated myself to have been forgotten, and I focus only on the immediate gratification of consuming more cookies.

2.   Choose wisely what you are going to treat yourself to.  It better be worth it since you will stop burning fat for days.

3.  In an ideal world, go out to eat for your treat. If it’s not in the house, you can not eat it again.  For example, every year our family enjoys the tradition of apple picking in the fall. The place we go has all the traditional apple picking festivities, tractor ride, playground, thousands of apple trees, a corn maze, but it also has one of my favorite things, apple donuts.   The only donuts I consume throughout the year, are on this day. I will tell you they are fantastic but conveniently, once they are gone, they are gone. I cannot get these fantastic donuts anywhere else, so it is an annual “treat”.

4.  Consume your treat after dinner. Why after dinner?  When you consume a treat, there will be an insulin spike and crash from the sugar. It all goes back to the classic line “what goes up must come down”.  When the insulin crash happen, it will be dramatic, especially when your body is not accustomed to consuming sugars, you will become extremely tired. Strategically, you will be going to bed a little soon afterward.  At the same time, if you consume them after dinner, I only have a few hours to maintain control of wanting more. If I were to consume sugary foods at breakfast or lunch, I would have 10+ hours to try to keep myself from eating more cheat foods.   I know myself and I understand that once sugar hits lips, I will want to consume it for the rest of the day. Once again, it’s the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

5.  Have the cheat meal once per week. This will keep you from obsessing about what you. can not have.  You know that in a few days you will be able indulge. This makes it easier to eat even better the other 6 days of the week.  

What do I try to do have when having a cheat meal?    

I will try to indulge in fruits or fruit salads that are in season.  The other indulgence is starches, sweet potato fries, French fries, etc.  How often will I eat cookies, ice cream, candy, or other sugar treats? The way life seems to work itself out for me is that once a month there is some sort of special celebration, birthday party, anniversary, or holiday so that usually becomes my cheat meal for the week.   

What can you do?

Enjoy a weekly cheat meal. However utilize my 5 guidelines which will ensure you will not release your inner Cookie Monster!


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

Youth & High School Track and Football Coach

Health and Fitness writer for