This article discusses cheat days and meals, their effectiveness and whether to incorporate them into your health and fitness journey.
While choosing the right regimen can be tough, often the biggest weight loss challenge is making and sticking to new habits that support your health or weight loss goals without missing out on the foods you love.
You are doing it all right. You are eating right. You are working out right.
You feel you are on track. So naturally, you want to treat yourself when the weekend hits. That is where cheat days come in.
The incorporation of cheat meals or cheat days into a diet plan has been popular among fitness enthusiasts for some time, but it is now making its way into mainstream diet culture by way of social media.
The term “cheat” itself has negative connotations.
Table of Contents:
- What is a Cheat Day, Anyway?
- Does Cheating Really Work?
- Go For An Individualized Plan
- Using Planned Indulgence as a Motivator
- Plan Your Cheat Meals Better
- Don’t Cheat When You Are Starving
- Make Sure You Make Up For What You Eat
- Allow Yourself A Cheat Meal, Not A Cheat Day
The idea is that you are “good” if you eat clean or “bad” if you cheat. This psychological barrier can be harder to overcome than the physical barrier of making small changes to your diet, which is why some people steer clear of cheat days completely.
So what’s the deal? Are cheat days harmless – or do they completely negate the hours of sweat you have poured into the gym?
Here is what cheat days really do to your body and the best way to approach one if you want to indulge.
What is a Cheat Day, Anyway?
Cheat meals are scheduled meals that include indulgent foods that wouldn’t ordinarily be permitted on your diet.
A cheat day is when you allow yourself to consume any foods you want over an entire day. Now the idea of cheat meals has been around for decades. The six days are dedicatedly spent in eating clean.
The macros and calories are under control. Then you let loose on the seventh day. This is where your Friday night beer-and-wings-showdown comes into play, because what is really the worst that could happen if you break the rules just once a week?
There is also a common misconception that cheat days can help boost your metabolism. The general concept: When you eat less, your metabolism slows down to “conserve” energy. When you eat more, it speeds up to digest and use that fuel.
This, in theory, should allow you to stick to your strict diet for the remainder of your week. The truth, though, isn’t quite that cut and dry.
Does Cheating Really Work?
Weight management and body composition changes are complex processes. Not everyone will respond the same way to the same strategies — the best diet plan is the one you can stick to.
It is well known that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, weight loss is likely to occur.
In this way, the reward-based cheat meal or cheat day strategy may be effective if you are able to execute a well-planned diet and maintain overall reduced calorie intake.
Go For An Individualized Plan
Each person has her own favorite indulgence, and giving yourself an occasional treat can be part of a well-balanced diet plan.
Having a single day when you are allowed a food that is normally banned will not create any serious setbacks to your weight-loss goals, and it can make your diet more readily achievable.
Similarly, each person has different nutrition requirements that are dependent on their lifestyle.
To ensure that your weight-loss diet, including cheat days and foods is healthy and nutritious, consult a professional dietitian or nutritionist to help create a diet plan and weight-loss goal suited for your personal lifestyle needs.
Using Planned Indulgence as a Motivator
While the single-day binge can be helpful for some people, occasionally indulging in smaller portions of your favorite foods may be more sustainable for long.
That way, you can treat yourself a few times a week, rather than carving out an entire day to eat and feel guilty about it later.
Because let’s be real: while the idea of sitting down and slamming an entire pizza may sound appealing, the feeling of fullness after you chow down isn’t.
By allowing yourself smaller indulgences, you can give yourself a break from normal ‘dieting’ without sabotaging your results.
Weight loss has lot to do with psychology. The simple logic behind these occasional meals is that it makes you very happy.
We are all human beings at the end of the day, the positive effect is mostly psychological than physiological. We are good eighty percent of the time, and for a good 20 percent we like to put the guards down.
Eating burgers, pizza, pastas gives us that kind of satisfaction. In moderation, even these indulgences don’t harm. Consider these below points while allowing yourself a cheat meal:
Plan Your Cheat Meals Better
If your cheat day falls on a Sunday, and you have a party to attend on Saturday, make sure you appease your cravings to your heart’s content on a Saturday only.
Going on binge spree again on Sunday, would defeat all the good you have done the past whole week.
Don’t Cheat When You Are Starving
It is not the best idea to go on a binge spree when you are starving or are famished.
Not only would end up eating much more, but will also forget about the buffer of calories you have created for yourself, and go overboard.
Make Sure You Make Up For What You Eat
Conveniently skipping your workout after all the indulging is a strict no-no.
Make sure you burn up all the calories at the gym the very next day.
Allow Yourself A Cheat Meal, Not A Cheat Day
Eat anything you like to your heart’s content but don’t overindulge.
And definitely, do not keep indulging the entire day. If your lunch was a mix of pastas and pizzas, make sure your supper is light.
Either way, one meal or snack is never going to make or break your fat loss goals. You need to look at the big picture.
Eating should be enjoyable and not so rigid that every morsel of food that crosses your lips is weighed, measured, and counted.
If you are considering an entire cheat day, it is likely that the rest of your diet is a bit too restrictive in the first place.
Possible helps you devise the most suitable meal plan for your body and soul and that too meals that keep your taste buds also satiated – with the help of natural superfoods.
Consult our expert Possible Nutritionist for more. The first consultation is on us. Click here to avail.