Does a cheat day ruin your diet?
No, it doesn’t.
Here’s the reality: Unless you eat until you feel sick, you won’t ruin your diet.
In other words, don’t eat just because you can, eat because you’re hungry.
See the difference?
A cheat day isn’t meant to go and pig out the whole day, that’s a recipe for disaster. (Pun intended)
What it’s meant for is to enjoy normal portions of your favorite foods without worrying or stressing about it.
Go ahead and have those slices of pizza, burgers, ice cream, tacos, or any junk food you crave.
Just make sure that instead of a whole box of pizza, you have 2-3 slices.
Instead of a whole tub of ice cream, you eat 1-2 cups.
And instead of eating till you throw up…eat slow, enjoy your food and remember the benefits of your cheat day so you don’t feel guilty after.
Wait…there’s benefits to a cheat day?
Below are 10 benefits that come from taking a day off and having a cheat day instead.
1) Reset leptin levels
In my book, Demon Diet, I talk about a hormone in your body called leptin.
Leptin plays a VERY important role when you’re on a diet.
It’s job is to signal to your brain whether you’re hungry or full.
When your leptin levels are high, your brain receives the signal:
“Hey, I’m full. Take away my appetite”.
But, when your leptin levels are low, your brain receives the signal:
“HELP! I’m starving! Increase my appetite so I’m forced to eat”
Leptin also determines the rate that your body breaks down fat.
When your leptin levels are high, you metabolism increases.
On the other hand, when your leptin levels are low, your metabolism decreases.
One of the main reasons why people fail on diets is because they get so hungry and lose weight so slow, that they end up binge eating.
Here’s the simple solution: Add a cheat day to your diet every 7-10 days.
This allows your body to burn the MOST fat without experiencing intense hunger and without your leptin levels dropping too low.
Cheat days raise leptin levels because the abundance of calories you consume signal to your brain:
“Hey, we’re not starving. It’s OK to raise leptin and burn fat.”
Your body burns the GREATEST amount of fat when your leptin levels are at their highest.
This is why people lose weight so FAST when they start a diet, they have HIGH leptin levels.
Where things begin to go wrong is when they don’t have a cheat day and begin to experience the appetite of a lion.
Allow yourself a cheat day and you’ll make your diet and life a lot easier.
2) Calorie cycling
Another benefit of a cheat day is that you trick your body by what’s referred to as calorie cycling.
When you go on a diet, you typically eat the same, low amount of calories every day.
While this results in weight-loss initially, eventually, it begins to slow down because your body becomes accustom to the low calorie amount.
Therefore, not only will you be eating less food, but your body will burn less fat!
Can you imagine how frustrating it is to barely eat anything and lose fat very slowly?
Are you beginning to realize why so many people fail with diets?
Again, there’s no need for that nonsense.
A cheat day will “trick” your body and prevent a weight-loss plateau so you can continue burning fat quickly.
It’s that simple.
Glycogen levels deplete when dieting since you’re not having that many carbohydrates and your calories are low.
When your muscles are depleted of glycogen, you’ll feel weak, especially during exercise.
You’ll also begin to lose motivation to stick to your diet because of how low your energy becomes.
This is where the lovely cheat day comes into play.
Since cheat days typically consists of a lot of carbohydrates, they do a FANTASTIC job as refilling your glycogen levels.
This allows you to continue burning fat without feeling weak, you know, the way dieting is suppose to be!
4) Mental break
A cheat day allows you a mental break from dieting.
Most people believe that they get stressed out when dieting because of the food they eat.
No, what stresses you out is the constant reminder that you’re on a restricted diet.
Think about it for a moment…
If you eat a can of tuna with a salad for lunch, sure it isn’t as tasty as your favorite cheat meal, but, after you eat it, you forget about it.
You don’t spend the entire day complaining about how you wish you would have had pizza for lunch instead of tuna.
However, you might complain how you won’t be able to have meatloaf with mash potato for dinner.
The keywords in that last sentence are: how you won’t be able to
You never complain about food that you couldn’t eat, you only complain about food that you won’t be able to eat.
Are you following me?
What’ I’m trying to say is that you need a mental break from the thought of restriction, not from restriction itself.
By having a cheat day once a week, you get to take a break and not worry about what you can and cannot eat.
5) Social life
One of the worst things about being on a diet is your social life.
The fact that you have to be conscious of everything you eat and drink takes all the fun out it!
A cheat day allows you to stick to your diet while not giving up your social life.
The best day to plan your cheat day is for when you typically hangout with friends.
For most people, this day tends to fall on the weekends.
However, the day you choose is irrelevant.
What’s important is that you only have ONE cheat day every 7-10 days.
6) Crush cravings
I have a HUGE sweet tooth.
When I was a kid, my grandmother would bake me cinnamon rolls.
I always have and probaly always will love them.
However, when I was a kid, I could eat all the cinnamon rolls I want and not gain a pound.
Now that I’m 30 years old, I need to be careful.
How am I careful?
By only having cinnamon rolls on my cheat days.
As a result, I don’t crave them on the other days.
I honestly believe that cravings are all mental.
The fact that you know you can’t eat something makes you “crave” it more.
Cheat days help you prevent, or atleast minimize, your cravings.
Since you know that you’ll be able to eat whatever you want in just a few days, you’ll notice how your cravings begin to decrease as the weeks go by.
As a bonus, you enjoy your favorite foods MORE on cheat days, opposed to when you eat them all the time.
Like they say, the forbidden fruit is always sweeter.
7) Makes dieting easier
Dieting for more than 7-10 days isn’t feasible.
Sure, you can “tough it out” and do it, but you’re going to be one huge pain in the ass.
You’ll be irritable, short tempered and angry all the time.
This will make sticking to you diet very difficult.
Besides, you’ll lose weight slower and feel weak as I mentioned in #3 above.
There are no benefits that come from not having a cheat day.
Don’t make life difficult, have your cheat day every 7-10 days and everything else will take care of itself.
8) Keeps stress low
If you work hard all week, stick to a strict diet, and never allow yourself a cheat day; you’re going to stress yourself out.
This is 100% guaranteed.
If you don’t allow yourself a day where you just sit back, relax, and enjoy some of your favorite foods; you’re setting yourself up for failure.
You’re a human, not a robot.
You need to take break and reset every so often.
One of the biggest issues people face when dieting is not being able to manage stress.
Of course not, you have a million things going on in your life, and on top of that, you’re eating less food than usual so you can lose weight.
Have a cheat day, release some stress and continue your diet tomorrow.
You’ll be fine, I promise.
Cheat days are a great way to have fun while on a diet.
Your fitness goals should be top priority, especially if you’re working to become healthier.
With that said, there’s no reason for you not to take a break and enjoy life every so often.
As an example, when football season comes around, I have a cheat day every Sunday.
I have a great time watching football with friends, eating some BBQ and having a couple of beers.
And guess what?
I get to do all of that and STILL MAINTAIN MY WEIGHT!
My football Sundays are fun, relaxing and make maintaining my weight extremely easy.
No matter what goal you’re working towards, make sure you allow yourself to have some fun on the regular.
Don’t ever forget that.
Being on a diet during a family event or holiday is difficult.
For example: birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
These are times when there’s usually a lot of food present and where families sit together to enjoy.
People on diets do one of two things during these times:
- Quit their diet and binge eat
- Relentlessly stick to their diets and barely eat anything
Again, this is unnecessary.
The best thing to do is to schedule a cheat day whenever there’s a family event.
Every year I schedule my cheat day on Thanksgiving for obvious reasons.
There’s no way in hell that I’m going to stick to my diet on that day.
And, in my honest and humble opinion, anyone who does is being way too hard on themselves.
Of course, like I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to eat until you feel sick.
However, you also don’t want to overthink every bite you take, especially during special times with family.
Go ahead and enjoy your event, enjoy your food, and continue your diet the next day.
So what’s the main point I’m trying to make in this article?
That you can do it all: stick to your diet, eat your favorite foods, and live life like a normal person.
There’s no reason to be extremely hardcore when on a diet.
There’s also no reason to binge eat and completely ruin your diet.
As long as you plan ahead, you’ll be just fine.
I guarantee it.
I recommend having 3 meals on your cheat day.
Go ahead and have your favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.
And, if you want a little dessert at night, go for it.
Enjoy your day off and don’t think about your diet until tomorrow.