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Fitness & Wellness

Will “Cheat Days” Ruin My Progress?

At Body Sculptors in Louisville, KY, we focus not on dieting, but learning to eat healthier. That way there are no strict calorie restricted days. Cheat days are more for those on strict calorie restricted diets, which we don’t recommend. They became popular as a way to boost metabolism by allowing you one day periodically to eat whatever you want, even if it’s ice cream, alcohol or burgers and fries. Is it beneficial and can it help you lose weight?

There are two versions, cheat days and cheat meals.

On cheat days, the sky’s the limit. You can eat anything you want throughout the day. You may actually eat two to three times the number of calories you’d eat on a normal diet day. Some people cut back a bit and rather than making it a day’s stay at a burger joint, they simply eat more food that’s healthy. Cheat meals are a shortened version of cheat days. Those allow one meal that contains high calorie food that’s often junk food.

The theory behind cheat day is that it boosts your metabolism and the production of leptin.

In theory, cheat days increase the number of calories you burn, since they boost your metabolism to help digest the overeating your body experienced. The amount of leptin—the satiety hormone that tells your body it’s full— is also increased. Scientific debate still exists on whether leptin production actually is affected by cheat days. It is believed that overeating can boost your metabolism, but only between 3 and 10% over a 24-hour period.

Cheat meals can help replenish glycogen stores in your muscles.

If you’ve starved yourself forever, you might notice your workout isn’t as good as it used to be. That’s because the glycogen stores in your muscles are low. You’ll fatigue quicker and face the potential of injury during a workout. A cheat meal or even a cheat day, can replenish that store of glycogen. It can boost your energy by increasing your intake of calories and carbs. It’s like carb loading before a marathon. While it can improve performance, it also can slow your weight loss progress.

  • If you have any potential with eating disorders, cheat days can have a huge negative effect. Cheat days can create an unhealthy cycle of super restrictive eating and binging that can lead to eating disorders.
  • Some people find that cheat days actually help them stick with a diet that’s strict. They ignore most food cravings, knowing they’ll be able to eat that food when their regular cheat day occurs.
  • People with diabetes, high cholesterol or problems with blood pressure need to be wary of cheat days. Anyone that’s on a special diet under doctor’s orders should also avoid them.
  • With our menu plans, healthy eating is the focus. In order to lose weight, you should stick with the menu provided, but if you eat a piece of birthday cake at a party, it won’t destroy everything, so don’t feel guilty and enjoy.

For more information, contact us today at Body Sculptors Personal Training

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