Cheat Days: Worth it?

Cheat days. It’s as good or as bad as you perceive it to be. Each one of us has different ideal look or weight that we want to achieve. It also depends on other factors like your mood and how you generally feel. Being on a diet can be really tough, especially when you are trying to lose those last few pounds, or get into contest shape. Being in a caloric deficit can take its toll on your mind and body and that is where cheat meals come in.

Here are some benefits of cheat meals:

Psychological Relief

Sticking to a diet for a long period of time can be mentally tough, it requires a significant amount of will power and discipline. Having a cheat meal once or twice a week will help relieve stress and help you stay on track with your diet.

Motivation

Cheat meals can be effectively used as a reward tool. If you managed to stay on track with your diet Monday through Saturday, you should reward yourself by having a cheat meal on Sunday. The cheat meal at the end of the week will motivate you to eat right throughout the week and vice versa, if you don’t manage to eat clean through the week, don’t indulge in a cheat meal.

Increases Metabolism

The human body is very smart and it will soon realize that it’s in a calorie deficit. While in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time, your body will slow its metabolic rate to conserve energy. This affects lean dieters the most (sub 10% body fat). Having a cheat meal once or twice a week will shock the system and your body will ignite its metabolism. A cheat meal will assure your body that it is not in starvation mode.

Replenishes Glycogen Stores

Most dieters drop their carbs significantly, in combination with cardio and weight training results in low glycogen stores. This leads to poor workout performance, mental fogginess and dizziness. Having a cheat meal high in carbohydrates once or twice a week will adequately replenishes glycogen stores for the week to come.

The Social Factor

As we all know eating out while on a diet is a big no. Having one day out of the week where you can go out with your friends or family is a nice way to use a cheat meal. You can have a social life while still losing weight.

Negative effects of cheat meals:

Your Body Won’t Fully Adapt to the Healthy Diet

When you drastically change the way you eat, a certain adaptation process needs to take place. For example, if you are doing a low-carb ketogenic diet (keto) then your body needs to change certain hormones and ramp up production of enzymes to make use of fat as the primary source of fuel. If you keep cheating, you will prevent this metabolic adaptation from ever fully completing.

Also, when you abandon the standard western diet and start eating more real foods, it can take some time for the sense of taste to adapt. If you have ever done the paleo diet for an extended period of time without cheating then you may have experienced this. With time, real foods start to taste much better.

If you cheat and eat junk foods frequently, your taste sensations won’t adapt completely and you won’t be able to experience the same satisfaction from real foods.

If You Pig Out on Junk Food, It Can Feed The Addiction

This problem appears to be common and people who have issues with cravings and binge eating should probably abstain from these foods as much as possible. If you keep having something that you’re addicted to, it just keeps the addiction going. In this case, having “everything in moderation” isn’t a good idea as it will be almost impossible to maintain. If you crave junk foods all the time and keep giving in to these cravings, then that will just make the cravings even stronger. Avoid these foods completely and the cravings will diminish over time. Abstinence is the only thing that works for addiction, period.

Junk Food is Bad For You

Junk food is bad for you (duh) and that is probably the reason you gave it up in the first place. Having McDonalds or a pizza with some ice cream once a week may not seem like a big deal compared to people who eat this sort of crap every single day.

But eating these junk foods once a week is still clearly worse than having none at all.

These Nasty Ingredients Will Never Completely Leave Your Body

Trans fats, seed oils and gluten and more, these linger in the body for a while and it takes a long time to fully recover from their effects. If you keep eating them, they will never completely leave your body.

So, what do you think? Have you heard of this phrase:

“Once on your lips, forever on your hips.”

…Only unless you exercise and take necessary measures to balance out your diet and fitness. The body is yours to decide!