If you know people who diet, the term cheat day has probably come up. YouTube is also full of videos in which people show what their cheat day is all about. One of these well-known Youtube videos is the cheat day of actor Dwayne Johnson. He eats 10,000 calories on his cheat day.
Opinions on whether or not to use a cheat day during a diet are divided. In this article, I explain what a cheat day exactly entails and what the pros and cons are.
What is a cheat day?
You do not or hardly follow the guidelines of your diet on that day.
The frequency of a cheat day varies from person to person. Some people do it every week and other people schedule it once a month.
It is often used as a reward while following a (strict) diet. For some people, being able to stick to their strict diet is motivating. They then look forward to this day.
Some people do cheat meals instead of cheat days. They then choose a meal that they can eat once in a while that normally does not fit into their diet. They do follow their diet for the rest of the day.
Benefits of a cheat day
As mentioned before, it can work for some people as a motivation to stick to their diet.
You don’t have to think about your diet during your cheat day. This can reduce stress for some people.
Disadvantages of a cheat day
After a cheat day, it can be difficult to pick up your diet again the next day. Especially if you normally eat little sugar and during this “smuggling day” you ingest a lot of sugar. This can lead to even more sugar cravings.
Achieving your goal more slowly
Changing your diet takes a lot of energy. You should always consciously choose healthier options. Only after a longer period does your new diet become a habit.
If you take a cheat day in the meantime and eat what you ate before, it may take longer before your new diet becomes a habit.
Having a cheat day can also make your new diet feel like punishment. This hurts maintaining your behavioral change.
Excessive energy intake
If you want to lose weight, it is important to consume fewer calories over a longer period than you consume.
If you ingest a large surplus of calories during this day, this can ensure that the energy shortages that you have had during the rest of the week are compensated. As a result, you will ultimately lose nothing.
For this reason, a cheat meal is a better choice. You usually get a lower amount of extra calories than with a cheat day.
Then be aware of the pros and cons. You can also use the tips below.
- Determine in advance how much you will eat. You can determine this in terms of portion size or terms of calories.
- Ideally, opt for a cheat meal.
- Determine how often you want to do this and also take holidays into account.
- Adjust your meal or meals to your energy needs. Like a diet, a cheat day or cheat meal is personal. Dwayne Johnson, for example, normally eats a lot of calories due to his build, a large amount of muscle mass, and a high degree of exercise.
If you want to follow a healthy diet, finding balance is important. This means that you can eat about 80% healthy and 20% unhealthy. Many people who use a cheat day are often much stricter on themselves on the days surrounding this day.
With a balanced diet, you have a better chance that you will last. If you want to lose weight, you have to take your energy balance into account when choosing a cheat day.