Most people who choose to diet love to give themselves a “treat” or “cheat” day. It’s sort of a “pat yourself on the back” for being able to stick to a diet most of the week.
But the debate in the health industry circles is whether these “cheat” days are healthy or not. According to who you listen to this may cause you to gain the weight you lost or it may be very beneficial.
Research has shown that taking a cheat day may actually help you lose weight. This is based on the need for balance. The body needs some foods just to produce the right amount of energy, sodium, fat, etc. to function properly.
So what is cheating when it comes to diet?
For most health professionals, cheating involves four things:
- A cheat day can mean eating anything you like for a specific period of time.
- Eating something forbidden in your diet.
- Since a true diet is about balance, cheating may not really be cheating but just allowing your body desirable foods.
- Cheat days are seen as flexible days that allow you to not get so wrapped up in your diet.
Benefits of Why You Should Celebrate a Cheat Day
There are many benefits of having a cheat day, a few include:
- Look forward to something. You’ve heard the saying “everything in moderation.” This mantra works. When you’re exercising and eating foods that are healthy, it won’t kill you to indulge in a glass of wine or a couple sweets as long as you can get back to the gym and your diet afterward. Cheat days gives you something you can look forward to.
- Nourish your body. When you’re eating the same low-calorie foods day in and day out or following a diet that’s very restrictive, giving yourself a cheat day can actually give your body the nutrients it requires. For instance, if you’re eating baked salmon every day, allow yourself one day to eat lean red meat. Or, if your diet consists of all low carbs and low fat, on your cheat day, eat more carbs or fats so your body gets the nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids or fiber it needs.
- Psychology. Many nutritionists and psychologists believe that having a cheat day will help individuals stick to their restrictive diets because they satisfy a craving. Other advocates of cheat days accept individuals will usually stick with a restrictive diet only 80 percent of the time and cheat for the other 20 percent of the time.
Quick Tips for Celebrating your Cheat Day
Cheat days accomplish a couple things.
1. They boost your metabolism helping you burn more calories when you get back to your diet.
2. They keep you from feeling deprived.
Use these quick tips to celebrate your cheat day.
- Set goals. But, you need goals for your cheat day to work. For instance, set a goal to lose three to five pounds in the next couple weeks. After these two weeks if you’ve accomplished your goal, celebrate by allowing yourself a cheat day. Once you’re done celebrating, make a new goal or reset the same one.
- Try a cheat meal. If you’re not too keen on celebrating a cheat day, why not celebrate a cheat meal instead. This is where you eat a meal that has all the foods you crave and then discipline yourself again by going back to your regularly scheduled meal plan of foods low in fat and carbs. By doing this, you’re allowing yourself a plate of “forbidden” foods since you know you’ll be eating properly the remainder of the day.
We all know that committing to never eating a piece of pizza again will only end up in frustration and breaking your diet. When you take a planned cheat day break, however, you can still lose the weight but you don’t have to be miserable while you’re at it. Perhaps you can eat healthy, workout those muscles and still fit in that slice of pizza. This way, you still work hard, but can stay happy and stay on track.