Ah the beautiful cheat day, the day where you can eat what you want with no guilt or regret because you were good all week. The theory behind the cheat day is that by allowing yourself a brief period of indulgence, you’ll be more likely to stick to your prescribed diet the majority of the time. There are pros and cons with cheat days and a lot of people ask; should I do cheat days?
The main idea behind a cheat day is that by allowing yourself one day of indulgence, you’ll stick to a healthier diet throughout the week. However some argue that by having a cheat day, you run the risk of it developing into a cheat week and eat more calories than you should. The key component to consider here is self-control. If you want to incorporate cheat days into your eating regime then you need to have the strength and self-control to keep it to one day and one day only and then get back on the wagon immediately afterwards.
Another aspect to consider with cheat days is your approach. If you are going to use this day as an opportunity to completely binge and have a high volume of fat/carb-rich foods then this may not be the healthiest approach. For example, if you have a massive English breakfast, doughnuts as snacks, burgers for lunch and then pizza for dinner… you may be over doing it a little. Cheat days are more about letting loose a little. Therefore its important to note, rather than blowing a whole day’s worth of calories in one meal or spending the entire day stuffing your face, maybe it is more beneficial to have small amounts of ‘cheats’ throughout the week.
A positive of the cheat day is your sanity. You can’t be expected to eat chicken and broccoli every day of your life. It would drive anyone insane. Good food is also tied with social interactions, which are important for mental and overall health. You want to be able to enjoy a dinner with your friends where you don’t have to consider the calories or have a few beers down at the beach on the weekend. No one is dietary perfect all of the time.
We also need to look into what your specific goal is? If you are trying to maintain body composition then you have a bit more lead way and a few cheat meals isn’t going to kill your progress. However if you are trying to lose weight and tone your body, a cheat day may halt your progress. It has been advised by personal trainers and dieticians that if a cheat day is going to be undertaken, it’s best to be done on an active day. Therefore, enjoy your pizza but make sure you hit the gym afterwards.
All in all when it comes to whether or not you should incorporate a cheat day there are a lot of variables to consider. If you feel you have the self-control to keep it to one day without going completely over the top then definitely do it! If you want to lose weight but are happy for that process to be slightly slower, then do it! If you are maintaining your current weight, then do it! However if you haven’t yet mastered self-control or are in the beginning of your weight loss journey, a cheat day isn’t recommended just yet.