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Cheat-Day Calories

The Magic Number to Remember on Your Cheat Day

According to Chris and Heidi Powell, the celebrity-trainer power couple on the ABC show Extreme Weight Loss, "Anytime you deprive yourself of food, or of anything, all you want is what you can't have!" This is one of the major reasons that cheat days — or what the Powells prefer to call "reward days" — are built into their clients' weight-loss plans.

While these indulgent days can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan, the Powells don't recommend a calorie free-for-all at breakfast, lunch, and dinner! The magic number for Heidi and Chris is 1,000. One day a week, many of the Powells' clients are allowed to have "up to 1,000 extra calories of whatever kind of food they want." This reward helps clients "stick to the plan for a longer period of time and see results forever." Heidi and Chris believe these rewards are essential so we never feel guilt when we indulge; when guilt is eliminated, dieters can make a permanent shift and reshape old habits.

There is one limitation: the 1,000-calorie reward cannot be a trigger food. You know, those foods that easily lead to an out-of-control or out-of-body overeating experience. Trigger foods tend to be calorie-dense, sugar-rich, and carb-heavy, and it's important to recognize which foods trigger you in this way. The couple recommends their clients stay away from the foods that lead to the "slippery slope" of overeating, since they "put you in a state where you can't control yourself." Once you're aware (and steer clear) of the foods that affect you in this way, those 1,000 calories are up for grabs!

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