For a long time and still even to this day, many believe that in order to get in shape, lose weight, feel good, and have more energy, they must subject themselves to a low carbohydrate, no sugar, low fat, low calorie “diet” for many months. Unfortunately, the majority of these fad dieters ended up either losing weight and regaining the amount they lost if not more, got very discouraged somewhere along the line and went off the diet, or visiting the doctor due to lack of energy and/or not feeling well. We’ve learned that these fad diets tend to have an unfavorable success rate. Our bodies need carbohydrates to function properly and at it’s best. The type(s) of carbs matter, along with what they’re consumed with, when, and how much. When you go for a snack, chances are it’s high in carbs, salty, sweet, or perhaps both. Despite what you may have heard, they do have a place in your eating plan. That place is Cheat Day. Here are a few justifications for a guilt-free day of snacking.
Contrary to popular (and erroneous) belief, a cheat day can help you lose weight and/or get ripped. Research has clearly shown that each week your body goes through the low carb, low fat, calorie restricted diet, it becomes more and more difficult to burn fat. Truth be told, your body despises this way of dieting, and tells you so via gradually increasing the abdominal fat-boosting stress hormone called cortisol, and decreasing not only your thyroid output but also your metabolic rate. Isn’t that the opposite of what anyone whose goal is to lose weigh, look and feel great wants? So, have your cheat day, not cheat meal. Have the pizza, ice cream, dark chocolate, etc., along with some protein and veggies, and know that by doing this, you will raise your all vital leptin hormone levels, reset and eventually raise your metabolic rate, and keep cortisol levels at a minimum.
When trying to accomplish anything that’s tough and requires discipline, what’s one of the things we need to keep going? Incentive. Knowing that day when you can eat just about whatever you’d like is on the way gives you the incentive to stay true to your eating plan and that “something to look forward to”. You have no idea how excited I get on my cheat day, which I refer to as either “Sunday Funday”, or if I have to switch it for some reason, “Monday Munchday”. High carbs, moderate to high fat, with some protein and veggies mixed in so as not to go into a carb/sugar coma feeling with blood sugar levels off the charts. Usually, I have so much during the course of the day that I don’t even want to look at anything that resembles a cheat day treat for days. Hence, another accomplishment – satiation. Your body will love you for it.
Something else we all like when we reach a goal, no matter how big or small, is a reward. Cheat day is your prize for sticking to your eating plan for however many days it requires you to. Sure, you could buy yourself a new pair of shoes, a tool kit, or treat yourself to a night out. Yet, after 6 days or so of eating smart and healthy, few things are more rewarding than a day of free eating and quenching your cravings whatever they may be. So, go ahead and award yourself that day. You deserve it.
There are still some who debate the usefulness of a cheat day, and even claim that it is detrimental to weight loss/getting ripped goals. I, along with many others, however, beg to differ. A Cheat day can and will help you lose weight via resetting and raising your metabolic rate, keeping cortisol levels down, providing that much needed incentive to keep going, and providing the prize that makes it all worthwhile. If you’re engaging in high intensity, consistent workouts, and following your eating plan, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a cheat day.
*If you are diabetic, you’ll need to follow your physician’s restrictions.