Cheat Day: the dieter’s day off from their healthy, active lifestyle. The dieter may indulge in one or more ‘cheat meals,’ defined by one study as “very large quantities of calorie-dense foods rated to qualify as an objective binge episode.”
Mmmmm…. Time to binge!
Cheat days have become an Instagram phenomenon, thanks to the golden combination of food photography and celebrity endorsement. But are celebrity cheat meals the real deal or just a humble brag to draw attention to an impressive physique? Rave Reviews decided to put these well-stacked dishes to the test. We analyzed the cheat meals of more than 80 celebrities for calories, fat, carbs, sugar, and protein.
The biggest ‘cheat dayer’ of all is four-times World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw. He maintains his 440lb frame with 12,000 calories per day, even when not binging. Shaw’s 3,879-calorie cheat meal includes a Pizza Hut Large Pizza and 3 tubs of Ben & Jerry ice cream, putting Emily Ratajkowski’s naughty 305-calorie ‘cupcake or a croissant’ to shame.
There are three women in the top ten, with actress and former WWE wrestler Natalie Eva Marie at number seven. Eva Marie sinks a Homer Simpsons-esque 20 banana pancakes with a bacon waffle chaser for a 2,180 calorie boost. Eighth-placed Serena Williams out-proteins Brian Shaw with her sneak treat of Pizza, tacos, fried chicken, and Moon Pies. Then Kylie Jenner eats her way to the tenth spot with the unusual combo of sushi, tacos and orange juice.
Not sure where your next 3,000+ calories are coming from? Check our ‘cheat sheet’ of celebrity indulgences below, and read on to see the cheat meals of your favorite Avengers, athletes, and geology-themed strongmen.
What Are the Avengers’ Cheat Meals?
We researched how the Avengers cast stacks up when it comes to cheat days. Jeremy Renner’s cheat meal may be one of the lighter options on the chart, but the Clint Barton/Hawkeye actor’s choice is also the oddest: “a whole roll of raw cookie dough.”
And the winner? The clue is in the name: Brie “cheese sticks” Larson sinks 1,632 calories when she gets back to her trailer. “You see something like me running in the movie,” Captain Marvel tells Dave Morales, “- that one shot of me running meant I was running all day. So you try running all day. You will crush two boxes of mozzarella sticks at the end of the day.” And that’s not to mention the pint of ice cream to follow.
What Do Athletes Eat On Cheat Days?
You expect actors to be role models when it comes to hedonism and athletes to be the pinnacle of restraint. But athletes have a lot of burned calories to balance. Muscle-bound Brian Shaw and Eva Marie are the top cheater-eaters on our list, but they’re not alone. Maria Sharapova, former number one female in the relatively dainty sport of tennis, can nail 1,485 calories in a single pizza and wine sesh.
But what about soccer’s rival GOAT candidates? Ronaldo has 7% body fat and the body of a Greek statue, while rival Lionel Messi has had poor performances blamed on weight gain. Yet Ronaldo relaxes with a family pizza while Messi opts for a more gentile plate of toast and dulce de leche. The final score: Ronaldo 1335 – 308 Lionel Messi.
Absolute Units of GoT and WWF: What Are The Mountain and The Rock’s Cheat Meals?
Many a late night has been spent on the forums discussing the relative capacities of these geologically-monikered man-gods. Here are their Cheat Meal Top Trumps head-to-head.
Dwayne ‘Rock’ Johnson is a former WWE wrestler and movie idol, frequently cited as the perfect male physique. His cheat meals are legendary among fitness influencers, who challenge themselves to match his eating feats. Hafþór Júlíus ‘Mountain’ Björnsson is a champion strongman and the strongest man in Game of Thrones. He recently set the record for the heaviest weight ever lifted – a 501kg deadlift.
You may be surprised that, while neither big man is a cheap date, The Rock has the best hand at Top Trumps. Sure, he weighs around 180lbs less than The Mountain, but The Rock wins outright in the eating stakes (and the eating steaks). Björnsson gets a special mention, though, for scoffing 17,000 calories in a single day on one occasion. “I treat my body the same way I would treat a brand-new car,” claims The Mountain. “You have to treat it well so it can run for a long time.”
“Don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself and enjoy your cheat meals my friends,” concludes The Rock.
Don’t Try This At Home
Science is split on whether cheat days are a good thing or not. The idea that a ‘binge window’ will speed up your metabolism is a myth: “Any increases in your metabolic rate are temporary at best, and never enough to produce a noticeable effect,” says nutrition consultant Michael Roussell, Ph.D. But “planned hedonic deviations” (mmmmm…) can “facilitate long-term goal-adherence,” according to a study from Tilburg University.
In other words, a cheat meal may be the food holiday you (or The Rock, or Captain America) need to keep your diet on track. But it wouldn’t hurt to do some work on your relationship with food – especially if you don’t have a celebrity personal trainer to ensure you’re not damaging yourself.
METHODOLOGY & SOURCES
To make these infographics, we researched celebrity cheat meals using lifestyle publications such as Men’s Health, Vogue, Yahoo Life, and others. Then we used the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Nutritionix to find out the nutritional information for each meal.
Where servings or quantities of food were not specified, single servings were assumed for side dishes and garnishes, while double servings were assumed for main courses and desserts. Where it was impossible to ascertain the exact type of products or brands like cookies, pizza, cheese, nutritional values of generic product types were assumed.