Depending on who you ask, some people think that diet “cheat days” may actually increase the chances for overall weight loss success. Many people even say that cheat days can help to keep your metabolism running more efficiently because your body is “shocked” by the sudden amount of high calories you are consuming, therefore keeping metabolism from slowing down due to calorie restriction.
Putting scientific theories aside and focusing only on the mental aspect of cheat days, I think they can be beneficial. Truth is, they can help you to ultimately stay on course with your diet, because you know you have some wiggle room, and the freedom to eat the things you really want now and then.
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The idea behind a cheat day, either weekly, monthly, etc, is that you commit to eating well for the vast majority of the time, but you allow yourself to have a specific time period in which all bets are off.
Cheat days are structured and planned out in advance to allow cravings to be satisfied; therefore, you are able to avoid becoming fixated on foods that are considered “forbidden”. Planning a weekly cheat day is a good place to start, because you know that your favorite things are always within reach sometime in the near future and are not perceived as “off limits forever”.
For some of us starting a “diet” or trying to consistently practice more healthy habits make us fear that we will have to eat salads every day for lunch forever and give up our beloved pizza, biscuits and chocolate. Considering what we think is going to be a difficult process before we begin, we decide it's just not worth it.
If this sounds like you, consider practicing the weekly cheat day strategy. Setting aside a day or 2 in the week when you can give to your vices might be what you need to not give up your diet, or even start a weight loss diet.
Studies show the biggest factor that cause people to fail with weight loss is not being able to comply with their diet long enough to get the desired results. That's the reason using any stratetegy like cheat days that makes a diet easier to stick to is very important for anyone trying to lose weight.