Cheat days are a tricky thing. As I have discussed before, they are very important to your mental and physical health, but depending on the type of person you are, they have the potential to derail you. It is important to know your pitfalls or triggers. These are mental challenges more than anything. Taste does play a roll. For example, there are certain foods I just won’t buy because they taste so good I just want to keep eating them and then over eat. This could defeat the purpose of a cheat.
Another thing to consider is if you have a lot of weight to lose then you may be able to do a cheat day, if you have less to lose or you are aiming for a goal, perhaps a cheat meal is a better option. Remember, it is still best to log these foods so you can balance the calories out during the rest of the week. Even if you go over for the day, tracking food is really the only way to know exactly how you are doing for the week. If you don’t use the Fitbit food log, MyFitnessPal is a great alternative.
The idea of a cheat day or meal is to eat something you’ve been craving or missing. Eat it guilt free. This is so important! Take pleasure in it and enjoy it. Then resume your normal eating plan as though nothing has changed. Think of it as a break and then it’s time to get back to work.
This is why cheats work. When you cycle between restricting your diet and then a cheat day/meal, it keeps your body on it’s toes, so to speak. When you restrict your calories, your body will go into “starvation” mode within a few days, your metabolism will reduce and then can conserve the calories you consume. Adding a cheat day/meal can make the body release a chemical called, Leptin. This instructs the body to burn fat. This is exciting because the next day when you return to restricting your calories your body is still in fat burn mode. It will take a few days for you body to switch back again. This back and forth between conservation and fat burn keeps your weight loss going and hopefully you’ll be less likely to hit a plateau. Restricting calories for long periods of time can stall your weight loss, if your body feels it is not getting all the calories it needs.
Armed with this knowledge you can devise a great eating plan that can still include the things you like. You’ll find that the more you change your habits, cheats may become less or different as you become more committed to your healthy lifestyle goals. Remember enjoy the journey and a little bit of what you like does you good..