Cheat Day Diet: The Pros And Cons Of Cheat Day

Should you take a cheat day when you’re on a challenging diet? A cheat day diet can have pros and cons. Let’s get to know them here.

woman holding a burger

Are you considering a new diet? If so then one of the options you have is a cheat day diet. These diets provide one day a week when you can have an epic cheat day and eat anything you want. You can find lots of incredible cheat meals on the web including Dave Tate’s 13,000-calorie cheat meal. How many calories is that? It’s nearly a full week’s worth of food on a 2,000-calorie diet. Cheat meals/days are quite similar to one including a single meal and the other allowing you to eat anything for a whole day. There’s some debate about whether or not people should have cheat days. While they’re often trending on the web it doesn’t really mean it’s a good thing.

Like other health/fitness issues it’s critical to weigh the pros and cons of cheat days/meals. For example, it can help to motivate you when you’re on a calorie-restricted diet, for example. On the other hand, some health experts warn against it because cheat meals could wreck your diet and possibly your health. A possible middle ground is a cheat meal instead of a cheat day. That limits your unlimited calories and macros to one meal. You won’t be eating tons of unhealthy one full day during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

What Exactly Is a Cheat Day?

When you’re on a strict diet program it can be tough to stick to it. This is especially true if it’s super-low in calories or carbs, for example.

Other diets are super-low carb. For example, Phase 1 of Atkins and South Beach only allow 20g of calories. That works out to a small salad with greens, tomatoes, and bell peppers. These are some of the toughest diets in the world since they’re hard to stay on.

One method of helping you stay motivated is something called a “cheat day” or “cheat meal.” This can include a whole day of eating just about anything you want, or a single meal. Regardless of which one you pick the ultimate goal is to stick to your weight loss program.

In recent years epic cheat meals have been featured on the web. They include ones with several thousand calories and often lots of unhealthy food. There’s some debate among health experts about whether or not you should even go on such diets. More on that later.

When having a cheat meal there are certain features that should be applied. They should be scheduled during the week. Another key feature is that it’s only a temporary break from your diet. After the cheat meal is over you should go back immediately to your daily routine.

There are different factors to consider when planning a cheat meal. One is how often you’ll have one. The standard option is once per week. However, there are various factors to consider including your weight loss goals and general health.

Another important issue to consider is some diets specifically don’t allow cheat meals. For example, when you’re on a ketogenic diet it’s important to stay in the state of ketosis as much as possible. This prevents you from consuming high-carb foods that would kick you out of ketosis.

Pros

Higher metabolism

This might be a surprising one. How can eating more food boost your metabolism? When you go on a low-calorie diet, for example, your body goes into starvation mode. It then starts getting fuel from stored fat. This is the state of “ketosis” for which the Keto diet was named.

When you eat an epic cheat meal it then confuses your metabolism. Studies show that the drastic change in calorie intake actually boosts metabolism. You can keep the process going by alternative low/high amounts of calories.

Long-term dieting

One of the problems with the term “diet” is it creates the idea that you’ll stay on a program until you reach your health goals. This isn’t the best approach because it makes it more likely you’ll fall off the wagon

If you’re allowed a burger and fries now and then it’s more likely you’ll maintain a healthy diet long-term. That includes after you’ve reached your weight loss goals. If you enjoy eating certain fast/junk food you can still satisfy your cravings with cheat meals. The difference is it will be in a limited way.

Motivation

One of the main problems when going on a diet is people often feel deprived. This is especially true when the diet is super-restrictive and only allows certain kinds of food. In those situations, it’s often impossible to eat your favorite comfort foods without going off the diet.

While strict diets can be healthy, they can also be super-stuff to follow. That’s why cheat meals have become so popular. This allows you to eat 20 super-healthy meals during the week and cheat during one.

The ultimate goal when having a cheat day/meal is to keep you motivated to stay on the program. The actual meal can vary greatly. Generally, the key feature is the foods allowed are high-calorie so they normally wouldn’t get a thumbs up on a weight loss program.

Cons

Staying on track

One possible problem following a cheat meal is to keep cheating. In theory, you could have multiple cheat meals in a row because you enjoy them so much. However, it’s more likely you might cheat a little here and there because you’re allowed so much leeway during the cheat meal.

One way to do that is to scale back your cheat meal. This could be in terms of calories, food allowed, etc. The main idea is to make sure to set limits on the cheat meals so it will be easier to pivot back to your diet program.

Binge eating

One of the possible drawbacks of cheat meals is it could trigger binge eating if you’ve done that in the past. If you don’t quit certain unhealthy food cold turkey then it can be easy to start binging again if you’re allowed to eat them during cheat meals.

Health issues

If you’re normally restricted from eating certain foods due to health conditions you can still have problems consuming them even if it’s allowed for cheat meals.

So it’s important to check with your doctor first about foods that you should and shouldn’t consume during these meals. One X-factor is, cheat meals are about indulgence.

Calories

One of the possible pitfalls of cheat meals/days is the number of calories you consume. There are some cheat meals that include thousands of calories. These can add up quickly and cause a world of trouble in terms of weight gain and others.

Even small cheat meals can tack on lots of extra calories for the day. If you’re going to have one make sure you make up the calories somehow that day. One option is to do a 24-hour fast after your cheat meal. This is quite practical anyway since you’ll have a ton of food to digest from the cheat day diet.

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