Are Cheat Days Real?
First, let’s define exactly what a “cheat day” is (and what it is not). A cheat day is a period of time when you are trying to lose or maintain weight where you stray from your normal eating routine and eat foods that you normally don’t eat while on your diet. Stray is the operative word as it means eating more calories that you would normally, but not clearing off a buffet table and feeling guilty afterward. The other operative word is control. If you are one that can’t control your eating during a cheat day, then you are better off not having one.
Are Cheat Days real?
A cheat day (or in some cases just a meal) can be beneficial both physically and mentally. Sometimes just the anticipation of eating something different on a certain day of the week, is enough of an incentive to stay on a diet during the other six days. In most cases, damage on the scale will be minimal. Because it takes 2,000 additional calories beyond what is burned that day to gain a pound, weight gain will be minimal at best. You probably will not even notice a change as it is unlikely one would consume that many additional calories.
However, with all this in mind, there are some “strategies” cheat day “connoisseurs” use, such as:
Most who use a cheat day, stick with just one day per week where they moderately eat foods not otherwise on their diet. Because they are consuming more calories they normally make other concessions, as noted in timing. Don’t forget you should always try to count collective calories over 7 days when trying to lose weight rather than each day, it takes a 3500kcal deficit to lose 1lb of fat, so if you’ve saved a good amount of calories until your ‘cheat day’ to indulge a little more, then in theory it isn’t a cheat day at all as long as you remain in your deficit.
Typically, a cheat day tends to be on the same day each week, but if a special occasion, such as a birthday party or anniversary are coming up, you may want to time your cheat day to fall on the same time as the special occasion. This way you can have a good time without feeling guilty that you had two cheat days that week.
Because the calorie count tends to be higher on a cheat day, many time their day with a workout that burns more calories. That workout could be more intense, last longer, work different set of muscles, etc. The point is that some of the additional cheat day calories will be burnt off, thus minimizing the damage done to a diet change. Are you considering running a marathon? Check out Runnersworld training section to get started.
By factoring in frequency, special occasions and timing into your cheat plan, you can still enjoy the foods you like – in moderation – without feeling guilty afterwards. Having a cheat day can make losing weight much easier as it keeps the cravings at bay, knowing you can have the food you desire once a week.
Do you follow the cheat day concept?
Check out my previous post on how sleep can affect your weight.