Skip To Content

    12 Cheat Meals Personal Trainers Actually Eat

    Here's what fitness pros eat when they DGAF.

    The idea of the "cheat meal" is an imperfect concept.

    giphy.com / Via giphy.com

    The phrase implies that when you eat stuff you really want to eat, you're doing something bad or wrong. But that's not quite what we mean here.

    It's not uncommon for people who are in the health and fitness industry to stick to a fairly consistent diet — one that's aimed at workout performance and recovery or maintaining a certain body composition, etc. — and then every so often, take a break from their food routine to have a meal that, if they had it all the time, wouldn't help them meet their goals. Meet: the treat meal.

    BuzzFeed Health wanted to know what fitness pros eat when they're throwing caution to the wind.

    Here's what they told us:

    1. Ice cream in a waffle cone with sprinkles

    @saltandstraw / Via instagram.com

    "This is real, artisanal ice cream from Salt & Straw, it's not some 'healthy' take on ice cream. If I'm going to have ice cream, I want the real deal. I don't have a specific timeline for when I have it — I may have it once a week or every other month."

    Erica Giovinazzo, registered dietitian, CrossFit Coach and manager of Brick Los Angeles

    2. Pizza and wine and maybe dessert

    Courtesy Rob Sulaver

    "Every Sunday my girlfriend and I do a carb reload. Our most recent favorite has been the pizza at Marta. We get a bottle of wine and an embarrassing amount of thin-crust pizza. If we’re still feeling hungry we’ll walk down to Milk Bar and get some birthday cake balls and cookies. It’s not pretty."

    Rob Sulaver, founder and CEO of Bandana Training and founding trainer of Rumble Boxing

    3. Pancakes with butter and syrup

    Daydreamsgirl / Getty Images

    "Pancakes are my absolute favorite go-to 'cheat meal.' There is truly something whimsical and nostalgic about sleeping in on a Sunday and making pancakes. I try to save them for special days or holidays as they aren’t nutritionally dense, but that’s what I love about them; the more butter and syrup the better!"

    —Caitlin Krause, instructor, SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone)

    4. Portobello burger with spinach, tomatoes, onions, and goat cheese

    Micah B. Rubin Photography

    "I'm a vegetarian so I go with something that reminds me of a burger, is smothered in cheese, and has plenty of satisfying carbs. The recipe is quick, so it's perfect after getting home late from a full day of training clients and teaching classes."

    Here's how to make it:

    "Marinate the portobello for 10 minutes in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoon balsamic dressing, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of smoke rub, and 1 clove of chopped garlic. Broil the portobello and onions for 7 minutes. Top with goat cheese and broil for 2 more minutes. Assemble with spinach, tomato, and avocado on a your favorite roll."

    —Joanie Johnson, cofounder of FPC and pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist

    5. Bison burger with lettuce and tomato, and sweet potato fries

    Courtesy David Kirsch

    “When I want to indulge in something without straying too far from my usual diet, I’ll go for a bison burger. I like bison meat because it is so much leaner than beef. Also, simple tricks like swapping your regular fries to sweet potato fries and adding lettuce and tomato help keep the meal nutritious...yet decadent.”

    David Kirsch, celebrity trainer and author of Ultimate Family Wellness

    6. Lettuce rolls with tuna and vegan mayo, and a wrap with turkey bacon, avocado, and chicken

    Courtesy Anowa Adjah

    "When it's time to let loose I usually go heavy on the carbs and proteins. I always do an appetizer before the big meal. My choice: three lettuce rolls with tuna and vegan mayo. Then I top off my meal with a gluten-free southwestern wrap with turkey bacon, avocado, lettuce, chicken, and extra spicy chipotle sauce."

    Anowa Adjah, owner and CEO of Anowa Adjah Works

    7. Pepperoni pizza

    Piyato / Getty Images

    "I don't necessarily have cheat meals per se, since I have a very flexible (yet nutritious) diet. But when I really want something I don't typically have, I will eat a slice or two of a pepperoni pizza!"

    Idalis Velazquez, founder of IV Fitness

    8. Blueberry muffin

    @4monkeypaws / Via instagram.com

    "Blueberry muffins are a weakness of mine. I only treat myself to them a couple of times a year. At this point, whenever I have one it's too sugary and I only end up having the muffin top, which is the best part anyway!"

    —Noelle Nieva, CrossFit coach and licensed massage therapist, Brooklyn Body Shop

    9. Chickpea pasta mac ’n’ cheese with chicken sausage

    http://@katie.yip / Via instagram.com

    "My go-to meal is Banza mac ’n’ cheese with chicken sausage. I am a huge fan of Banza pasta products because their pasta is made from chickpeas, therefore making it significantly higher in protein and fiber. Although this isn’t necessarily a traditional 'cheat meal,' it’s my way of eating the foods I love while still eating a nutritious meal."

    Katie Yip, New York City–based Pilates teacher

    10. Hail Merry's chocolate almond butter tart

    Courtesy Shauna Harrison

    "I don't really believe in 'cheat meals,' as I prefer not to be super restrictive about my eating. I stay mindful that I need my food to support my activity level, but I don't limit myself excessively.

    "I eat chocolate often — lately it's been dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate of some sort. My new obsession is Hail Merry's chocolate almond butter tart. Soooooo good."

    Shauna Harrison PhD, Bay Area trainer, Zenrez creative director and lifestyle athlete, yoga teacher, brand ambassador

    11. Scrambled eggs with spinach and a side of sweet plantains

    Courtesy Wayne Williams

    "My favorite cheat meal is super simple to make: scrambled eggs with spinach and a side of fried plantains. I enjoy eating it after a long week of training demanding celebrities, and fortunately my fiancé is nutrition blogger and author Abby Ayoola, who makes my meals."

    Wayne "BuffBoy" Williams, celebrity trainer, BuffBoy Fitness

    12. Cacio e Pepe

    Alexpro9500 / Getty Images

    "Cacio e Pepe is a savory, cheesy, and delicious spaghetti dish. I love it because it is simple and tastes amazing. While studying my yoga practice in Italy, I developed a serious craving for fresh pasta. Sometimes after a long week, I like to indulge on Sunday nights and Cacio e Pepe is my go-to. If I am trying a new restaurant and Cacio e Pepe is on the menu, it's hard to resist! Everything in moderation."

    Here's how to make it:

    "Bring water to a boil, season with salt and add spaghetti. After cooking the pasta, remove and set aside, saving some pasta water. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan, add in 1 teaspoon cracked pepper. Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water to the skillet. Reduce to low heat, adding 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat, add 1/3 cup finely grated pecorino, and mix until cheese melts. Add in the pasta. You can sprinkle any extra Parm on top if you prefer. Serve and enjoy! Yum!"

    —Perry Kronfeld, yoga instructor

    Responses edited for length and clarity.

    Want to be the first to see product recommendations, style hacks, and beauty trends? Sign up for our As/Is newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form