Who wouldn’t like a day of shoving burgers, ice-creams, and chocolates into their face after a week-long strict diet plan and rigorous training sessions? We all love cheat days! While some claim cheat days to be a part of a fitness program that helps progressively, many dislike the idea of this unhealthyeating behaviour and fear the impact of cheat meals. So, are cheat days harmless treats that help you progress, or do they act the exact opposite?
The concept of a ‘Cheat day’:
A ‘Cheat day’ is a concept that was invented to boost your metabolism, sprit and your enthusiasm to stick to your strict diet for the remainder of your week. The plan is simple- you eat healthy and follow your workout diet or weight loss diet for 6 days of the week, and anything that sabotages your weight loss goals or your fitness goals like junk foods and processed foods are off the table. Then you indulge or ‘Cheat’ your fitness programs on the 7th day. This is where you let out your food cravings do its thing. You can eat fast foods, ice creams, processed foods, and whatever you like.
The general concept of this is that when you consume fewer calories for 6 days, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy and when you consume more calories on the 7th day, your metabolism speeds up to digest those extra calories. This is said to boost metabolism. But the impact of cheat meals is not that simple.
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Impact of cheat meals:
Although cheat days are totally necessary to keep you sane for the rest of the week, they are a potential recipe for disaster. Here are a few impacts of cheat meals.
On a cheat day, you are more likely to overeat to a point that cheat days will do more harm to your fitness goals than it does good.
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2. Negative connotation:
The term ‘cheat’ is a negative term that is often liked to guilt and shame. So, cheat days or cheat meals may fuel a negative effect on your mind.
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3. An unhealthy relationship with food:
There are no good foods and bad foods. The only difference is the calories. Categorizing foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.
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4. Eating disorder:
When you go full rampage on high-calorie foods on a day and eat way too less on other days of the week, it is often seen as a gateway for eating disorders.
So, are cheat days bad for you?
More than the extra calories and unhealthy eating habits that come as an impact of cheat meals, associating your morality with your food choices may break you down mentally and makes you quit your fitness program. As many dietitians suggest, it is more healthy and good for you to drop off your cheat days to have a more food-neutral and healthy mindset.
But, don’t worry, ‘cheat day’ is not the only strategy to boost your spirit and fuel your enthusiasm. A cheat day becomes a ‘Cheat’ day because you let yourself go off the strict diet leash and eat more than what you need. But if you come to a mindset where you enjoy your food anytime when you need it, you don’t even need cheat days. If you feel like you want an ice cream on a warm Monday morning, go for it! This helps you prevent overeating and makes you not wait for a cheat day.
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Not even professional athletes can go on a vegetable and protein diet all week long, so instead of fixing up a cheat day and ruining your week’s progress, indulge in what you crave for then and there and stick to your fitness routine. This fosters a healthier relationship with food and makes you ditch a practice that involves guilt and shame.