If you’ve dabbled in the dieting world, a cheat day is nothing new to you but there are always questions surrounding whether it’s a good idea.
Will a cheat day take you off track?
Can it halt weight loss results?
Read on to find out everything you’ve wanted to know about cheat days to see if it’s going to help or hurt your weight loss journey.
What is a Cheat Day?
A cheat day is usually considered a get out of jail free card for healthy eating. One day a week, fortnight, month or however long, that you can eat whatever you feel like.
For most, this means gorging on high-calorie foods backed with refined sugar and saturated fat a.k.a. junk food.
The theory behind having a cheat day is that you’ll stick to your diet throughout the week and keep away from those foods tempting you by reminding yourself that you have a cheat day coming up. Essentially motivating yourself to keep on track in the meantime.
Benefits Of A Cheat Day
While the whole “cheat” bit makes it sound illicit, cheat days can actually have some benefits. In fact, cheat days are sometimes something that bodybuilders and professional athletes include in their training programs.
Our bodies are smart. Over time, they wise up and realize that you’re eating fewer calories than what you’re burning. To offset this, your body adjusts its metabolism, slowing it down so that the body becomes more efficient. This is usually around the time when your weight loss stalls. By introducing a cheat day, the thinking goes, you’re introducing more calories for a limited amount of time, which is sometimes enough to trick the body into shifting your metabolism back into high gear.
Cheat days can also help keep you on track longer, as you’re not completely depriving yourself of what you’re craving. It’s the opposite to the usual “all or nothing” approach people think they need to take when attempting to lose weight. It’s all about balance.
Consequences Of A Cheat Day
If you’re considering adding a cheat day or cheat meal to your diet plan, there are a few dangers to consider.
If you struggle with portion sizes and overeating, one major downfall of a cheat day is gorging yourself just because it’s labelled as a cheat day. Although the idea is to enjoy the foods you’ve been craving, it’s never a good idea to overeat to the point of feeling ill so please be cautious of that.
Cheat days can also make healthier meals or a healthier diet seem like an enemy to some as it’s preventing you from satisfying a craving, increasing that feeling of restriction. This defeats the purpose of having a cheat day or meal to begin with so definitely something to consider.
In the end, you have to assess your own goals, diet and limitations to figure out what’s going to work best for you in the long run.
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