What Is A Cheat Day And Why Should I Use It?
Wow ! Quick Questions this week – so read on……
Cheat days being incorporated into more weight loss programs because of the success that these programs have achieved with it in their program.
The idea at first was to give you a mental break from your strict diet. Some programs are so strict that mentally individuals become tired and start to stray from their programs. Ultimately they “fall off the wagon” because it was too challenging for them to continue.
So many use the cheat day as a way to give you a break or a mental reprieve. It allows you to eat some of the foods you have been avoiding while on your weight loss program.
What some discovered with research is that something physical was taking place when a cheat day is incorporated.
When you diet by restricting calories and nutrients your body starts to deplete a hormone called leptin. This powerful hormone can influence weight loss or cause you to gain weight if manipulated in the wrong way.
When leptin drops you brain gets the signal that you are starving. Some call this ‘starvation mode’ and it triggers a series of other actions. Your brain sends signals to other hormones to slow down your metabolism, shed energy costly muscle and start storing the calories you eat as body fat.
A cheat day is important in this situation because by allowing you to eat more calories, more sugar, more fat, etc allows leptin levels to increase and calm down. By raising leptin levels back to normal a “We are not starving” message goes to the brain to stop storing fat to protect the body.
This allows you to continue to burn rather than store extra calories. Generally it takes a few days for the body to recognize the calorie restriction and the leptin level to start to fall, which is why a cheat day is often inserted somewhere between the 3rd and 5th day of a restricted calorie weight loss program.
One thing to be careful with this method is that 1 cheat day doesn’t turn into 2 cheat days and then 3 cheat days, etc, etc. Some individuals have a hard time getting back on the program the next day so if you use this type of program be careful to not fall into this trap.
Also remember that Alcohol is a fat burning FULL STOP – you may not burn fat for 3 or 4 days if you have more than 1 unit on your cheat days.
Most will look forward to this method and don’t mind getting back to the program the next day knowing that the next cheat day is coming in 3-5 days.
If you follow a strict calorie restricted weight loss program and don’t have a cheat day built in you might want to insert one every 7 days and see if it doesn’t help you with your weight loss. This can help if you have hit a plateau – BUT you MUST keep up the hard training to preserve your hard earned muscle (they boost your metabolism and give you your super sexy shape!)
I usually recommend a cheat day on day 7 (just ‘cus it fits in with a good roast dinner – but you might choose Saturday if that’s when you socialize) The closer you get to your goal shape you may have to insert your cheat day more often….
Let me know how you feel with a cheat day….. has it helped? Did you find it hard to get back on track?
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