Will “Cheat Days” Ruin My Progress?

Eating healthy is the key to losing weight. Whole foods are normally lower in calories and higher in nutrition than processed foods, so in most cases, it’s hard to eat too many calories. The caveat is that sometimes you want a sweet treat or a greasy burger. If you go out with friends, it’s hard to resist a New York pizza, burger, wings or cheesecake. Cheat days are meant for those times. While you’re eating more calories, some believe cheat days offer some benefits.

In theory, cheat days help keep your metabolism high.

People who include cheat days as part of their weight loss program justify it as a way to keep their body burning more calories. When you restrict calories and boost calorie burning, your basic metabolism may start to slow to preserve the body. With a planned cheat day, you boost the calorie intake temporarily, so that slowing doesn’t occur. In the long term, that theory hasn’t been proven, but in the short term, cheat days may boost metabolism up to 10% for 24 hours.

Cheat days don’t make you feel deprived and do replace your glycogen stores.

If you’re out for an evening on the town, eating pizza with the gang is almost a must. If you’re dieting and don’t have cheat days, it can spoil the whole evening. In this case, consider cheat meals instead of cheat days. You are given permission mentally and can enjoy the meal but return to your stricter eating plan the next day. That pizza also may have helped your workout by replacing the glycogen stores in your muscles.

Cheat meals can help you stick with a healthier eating plan.

Cheat meals or cheat days can help you stick with a healthier eating program. You aren’t “breaking” your diet, since it’s planned, so you don’t experience that “clean out the refrigerator regret eating” that can sometimes occur. It also helps you plan ahead and stay social. You won’t be poking at a salad while the gang eats a loaded pizza and can join in the fun. Remember, cheat meals should be used sparingly and the longer you stick with the healthy eating plan, the less you’ll probably use them.

  • Don’t overdo on your cheat days or cheat meals. Eat more slowly and savor the flavor of each bite. It gives your stomach a chance to message the brain that it’s full, so you’ll probably eat less.
  • You can’t starve yourself into a better body. Losing weight is all about making smarter decisions when it comes to food. One meal won’t make a huge difference. It’s consistent behavior that changes things.
  • Cheat meals can provide psychological relief for some people. It makes them feel more like they’re changing habits and not giving up everything they love. It can be the key to a healthier lifestyle.
  • If an addiction to sugary treats is your weakness, a cheat meal or cheat day can set you back. It can trigger cravings for a few days after the cheat meal, since sugar tends to be addictive.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness

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