Cheat days are a real dieting strategy. While some research shows cheat days just slow progress, other research shows they’re beneficial. They’re days when you give yourself permission to sway from the no added sugar, no processed food, whole food diet that’s lower in calories to a day when you can eat a sweet treat or go out with the gang for a pizza or a burger. It may seem counterintuitive that cheating on a diet can help you lose weight, but there are reasons it might help.
Theory says, cheat days boost your metabolism.
The fewer calories you eat, the more your body tends to conserve calories, so the fewer calories it burns. The theory that cheat days help is based on this information. With planned cheat days, you temporarily increase your intake of calories. The metabolic slowing doesn’t start, so you keep your calorie burning fires high. While there are no long term studies to prove this theory, there are some short term ones. In the short term, having a cheat day can boost your calorie burning by as much as 10%, but that lasts only 24 hours.
Cheat days can help prevent feeling deprived, which helps you maintain a healthy diet.
If you know that you can eat that burger and fries when you’re out with the gang, you don’t have to feel bad if you eat it or deny yourself that luxury, leaving you feeling deprived. That’s a huge benefit. Many people simply quit trying to eat healthy if they slip one day. It’s not the cheat, but the quitting that’s the failure. With cheat days, it’s built into the plan. The next day you simply revert back to healthy eating.
Cheat days have a downside.
Cheat days will definitely slow you down if you want to lose weight faster, especially if you overdo the cheat. However, you won’t regain all the weight you lost by simply eating more calories for one day. One of the dangers of cheat days comes from eating a lot of food with added sugar. Sugar is addictive, so it can cause you to have to go through the same difficult process of giving it up if it’s included in your cheat day.
- One thing you might learn from cheat days, especially if you schedule your first cheat day after you’ve avoided added sugar for a while, is that sugary treats actually taste too sweet and not nearly as good as you remember.
- When you have a cheat day, you still can’t overdo it if you want to lose weight and if you want to be kind to your stomach. Eat slowly, to ensure your stomach gets a chance to send a message to the brain that it’s full.
- Including a cheat day makes you eat more like people who never have to lose weight. People without a weight problem may pig out one day, or eat “forbidden food,” but eat healthy all the rest. The rest of the days are what keeps their weight lower.
- Habits aren’t made in one day or destroyed in one day. An infrequent cheat meal won’t change your daily habits, as long as it’s infrequent. Plan cheat days around special occasions.
For more information, contact us today at Targeted Nutrition Technologies