Whether it’s from fitness superstars you follow on Instagram or your friend Dave on Facebook, the term ‘cheat day’ is often thrown around quite often.
It generally refers to a day in the week where you eat WHATEVER you want, having been very strict on yourself for the other days in the week.
It’s sort of, a day where you can let go and indulge in your favourite foods. But, how easy is it to OVER-INDULGE? Hands up if you’re guilty.
For many, that day of over-indulging can lead to several days (or even weeks) of the same behaviour as you fall out of love with your day-in-day-out-salads.
The Reasons Behind Saying No To Cheat Days
You need to be (roughly) in a 500 calorie deficit each day to lose 1 pound of fat in a week (3,500 deficit by the end of the week.)
Let’s say you need to eat 1,500 calories to be in that deficit, so..
Monday: 1500 calories = 500 calorie deficit
Tuesday: 1500 calories = 500 calorie deficit
Wednesday: 1500 calories = 500 calorie deficit
Thursday: 1500 calories = 500 calorie deficit
Friday: 1500 calories = 500 calorie deficit
Saturday: 1500 calories = 500 calorie deficit
GREAT! 3000 calorie deficit for the week! Only 500 more calories to go tomorrow and you’ve lost a pound.
Sunday AKA. CHEAT DAY: 5000 calories = 3000 calorie SURPLUS
Let’s do the maths..
-3000 weekly deficit PLUS +3000 calorie Sunday surplus = 0 net calories.
If you think 5,000 calories sounds outrageous, it definitely isn’t.
If you have a fry up for breakfast, a Sunday lunch, some ice cream and chocolate treats plus a meal later on in the day, you can soon pull together 5,000 calories.
THIS is why cheat days aren’t the best.
Not Only The Calories..
On ‘typical’ cheat days, a lot of people tend to go for “less healthy” options. It isn’t 5,000 calories of salads, chicken and fruit. It’s generally processed foods, alcohol, high fat, greasy, high salt or a combination.
Not only does it contribute to wrecking your weeks progress, but it can contribute to wrecking your overall health..
Is There An Alternative To Cheat Days?
Cheat meals. Treat yourself throughout the week to a cheat or two. Whether it’s a cheat dessert (FULL FAT ICE CREAM) or a fry up on Sunday – do it.
Enjoy food in moderation, but don’t go all out. This can help:
- Maintain a good relationship with food
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle / balanced lifestyle
- Keep you in a deficit (if you want to lose weight)
- Help you manage cravings in a healthy and sustainable manner
If your plan is to gain weight, the same applies. You don’t want to go into a 3000 calorie surplus through the use of a ‘cheat day’. To gain weight at a steady pace, a 500 calorie surplus each day is absolutely fine.
Some people like the idea of saving up all your treats for a set day, or ‘earning your rewards’.
The bottom line is, if cheat days work for you – then go for it. You’ve found something that works, where you can find a balance and indulge without the consequences. If the results come, then perfect!
For many, cheat days are the way forward. For others, cheat days set you back to the start each week. Find what works best for YOU!