The celebrity cheat meal is the reminder we all need that behind those muscles is a mere mortal who really just wants a slice of pizza.
It’s not a free pass to eat whatever you want, whenever you want—you don’t look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by eating platters of cookies (at least not every day). However, it softens the sting of guilt that inevitably sets in after downing a Taco Bell Mexican pizza or two.
Research shows that celebs who cheat on their diet might be onto something. People who schedule regimented cheat days were found to have more success reaching their long-term dieting goals (1).
Plus, one study found that men who took scheduled breaks from a calorie-restricted diet dropped more weight, and gained back fewer pounds after the diet than men who stayed on the straight and narrow (2).
So scratch being perfect and treat yourself. From Chris Hemsworth to Kevin Hart, here are all the celebrity cheat meals that have us drooling. Take notes.
If there’s anything Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson loves more than a solid leg day, it’s the cheat meals that happen afterward. The Black Adam actor is famous for his overflowing plates which lean into his cravings.
He’s dubbed his two biggest repeat contenders the “Sushi Train” and “Midnight Sugar Train”—which usually involve exorbitant amounts of the aforementioned. But he’s also dabbled with a burger, fries, french toast, half a cheesecake, and tequila, because why limit yourself?
The actor is no stranger to packing extra calories. In preparation for Thor: Love and Thunder, his trainer, Luke Zocchi, says Hemsworth ate around 4,500 calories a day to fuel muscle gain.
Despite the high calorie count, he usually eats pretty clean. “If I have a goal, I’m really good about what I eat—protein, veggies, clean food, and restricted carbohydrates,” Hemsworth told People. “Cheat days are pizza, hamburgers, beer, sugary things—everything I’m not allowed to have.”
“When my cheat day is on, it is on,” Crews told Men’s Health. His Instagram would agree. There you’ll find a healthy smattering of pizza, loaded burgers, and what he’s coined “Mac and Jeezy”—a mac and cheese recipe his family reserves for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“It’s only for special occasions because I would not be in shape,” Crews told Tasty. “I would just be eating ‘Mac and Jeezy’ all day long.” Based on the photo evidence, same.
Don’t expect the Deadpool actor to whip up his own junk food, “I am not innovative in the kitchen,” Reynolds told Men’s Health. “If I cook, you’ll have a structure fire. The firemen will kick down our door, take my wife away, and give her a better life.” Fair enough. Although, he seemed to know his way around a pizza oven pretty well on David Letterman.
Instead, when the actor has cravings he finds himself venturing to his favorite Manhattan pizza spot. “Is it really unhealthy if it makes you so happy?,” he asked People. “Patsy’s Pizza…there’s a Patsy’s Pizza up in Harlem that’s pretty much the best pizza…on the whole planet.”
Chris Pratt has come a long way since his Park and Rec days as loveable but chubby Andy Dwyer. After dropping an impressive 60-pounds in preparation for Guardians of the Galaxy, the 43-year-old actor adopted some seriously healthy habits. But even superheroes need junk food on occasion.
“I give myself a three-hour window and just do as much damage as I can. I plan for it,” he told Complex. “Usually, it’ll be something sweet and carby: pancakes, pizza, cheese—because I try to stay away from dairy—ice cream, Drumsticks, fried chicken, all the good comfort food.”
Jackman’s ripped Wolverine physique is highly enviable, and it’s rumored he put back an average of 6,000 clean calories a day to get it.
We have a lot of questions. What we do know: anyone who can take down that many calories can eat. And Jackman is down. “All hail the cheat meal,” he captioned a post with the works: bacon, toast, pancakes, and eggs.
When he does splurge, the actor prefers the good stuff from his homeland, Australia. In a box labeled “Do not open until cheat day,” Jackman revealed a supply of Tim Tams—Australian cookies with layers of chocolate malted biscuit, chocolate cream filling, and textured chocolate. But if he can’t get the goods, a burger will do.
Hot tip: Efron takes his big-screen diet with a side of cheat meals. While filming for Baywatch, he took to Twitter to share his diet secrets.
“9 days of absolutely zero carbs and sugar. Only organic grass-fed, free-range protein, and organic leafy greens. This leads to…” he posted, before following up with another tweet showing off an array of dirty dishes from his day off. “#cheatday! Devoured a steak, 4 sides: potatoes, veggies, mac and cheese, 3 desserts, bread, butter, brick of cheese, and caviar.”
When Kevin Hart isn’t sticking to his vegan diet you can find him cheating with chicken. He tends to crave one dish in particular: “I’m simple, fried chicken,” he told People, which we like to think he washes back with his tequila, Gran Coramino.
“You’ve got to have a day to eat what you’re not supposed to eat,” he says. “But as soon as you eat cleaner and you do get accustomed to the healthy side of living, those cheat days aren’t as important because you don’t really want to mess up what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.”
Still, thanks to Men’s Health we know Hart crushes his fair share of Doritos, with french fries and blue cheese.
The Live with Kelly and Ryan host, 47, admitted on the show that he changed his eating habits because he struggled with body image when he was younger. “I was teased for it, and I will always see that little boy when I look in the mirror,” he explained.
That’s why he now opts to eat mostly healthy—a combination of pescetarian and plant-based. But he still loves a milkshake as much as the next guy. “My milkshake my cheat day,” Seacrest wrote, posing with his shake complete with multiple straws for easy and efficient access.
Strahan eats his fair share of cauliflower rice burrito bowls, baked chicken, and sad-looking plates of salmon and broccoli. But, the retired NFL star and co-host of Good Morning America also loves good old-fashioned comfort food.
“Cheat night lol, nothing like some home-cooked mac and cheese,” he shared in an Instagram post. “A cheat day for me will be the one meal that’s out of line: a burger, mac and cheese, french fries, ice cream, cookies. I’m getting hungry talking about it, “ he told Tasting Table. “I do occasionally eat fast food, but not often. My favorites are Shake Shack and Chick-fil-A.”
To achieve his chiseled body for The Legend of Tarzan, Skarsgard worked with celebrity trainer Magnus Lygdback and his team of chefs—who delivered him small portions of protein on set every few hours.
However, as soon as filming was wrapped, he swung right back into carb city. “I spent four days in bed, being fed by dad,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “He cooked these pastas with rich sauces, bone marrow, fried mozzarella, and tons of beer and wine. It was the most incredible weekend of my life.”
1. Coelho, R. et al (2016). The benefits of behaving badly on occasion: Successful regulation by planned hedonic deviations. https://myscp.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/j.jcps.2015.05.001
2. Byrne, N. et al (2018). Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: the MATADOR study. https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2017206