The concept of a cheat day is nothing new and is very simple, it’s a given day within a period of clean eating or dieting where you allow yourself a re-feed day where you eat whatever you want.
STOP: They Are More Likely To Kill Your Progress Than Aid It!
Theories Behind Cheat Days:
1) eating lot’s of food can help boost your metabolism, counteracting it’s slowing from calorie restriction
- The reality is that the boost has been shown to only be somewhere between 3-10% and only lasts for 24 hours
- Exercise is a far superior method for increasing your metabolism to counter act calorie restriction
2) It aids motivation and a mental boost as you get to eat the foods that you like
- A good diet whether for weight loss or not can and should include a healthy dose of your favourite foods – eating clean doesn’t mean complete denial of junk food therefore rendering this point invalid
What Happens When Most People Have A Cheat Day
So, you’ve been really good Monday-Friday and hit your cumulative calorie target regardless of whether it’s for weight loss or maintenance, at this rate you’ll finish your week on target, however you heard that you should have a cheat day for the reasons above (or others).
So, on Saturday you go crazy and consume double your daily allowance of calories. If you are very good you’ll then be able to return to your normal target for Sunday, however even with only 1 cheat day you’re now over your target for the entire week meaning that if you haven’t gained weight you definitely didn’t lose any.
What You Should Be Doing:
- Remember the golden rule: there is room for all foods in a controlled, balanced diet
- 1st & foremost weight management is a numbers game, calories in vs calories out
- Set yourself a realistic calorie target, you can gradually reduce this down if needed
- Understand what your current calorie intake is
- Calorie restriction & weight loss should be gradual over a period of months, not days or week
- Use a calorie tracker initially to understand how many calories are in your favourite foods
- Use exercise to stoke the fires of metabolism
- Have a re-feed/cheat day monthly or even more infrequent (should still be controlled)
- Remember, your diet should be fairly consistent over the majority of your life, therefore drastic and extreme interventions are unlikely to have longevity
- Play the long game & you’ll enjoy better mental health surrounding your diet
We hope that you find this helpful, happy health,