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Benefits of Cheat Days

Why It's Good to Take a Cheat Day Each Week

Imagine a day where you throw caution to the wind regarding your wellness regimen — and not just for holidays and special occasions! Health-conscious individuals who exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet may want to make cheat days a weekly practice.

  1. Muscles need to repair: If your workout schedule includes lots of intense cardio or weight training, a rest day allows your muscles to recover and recuperate, setting you up for another week of workouts. Go for a massage, jump in the hot tub, or pay a visit to the sauna or steam room to help improve circulation.
  2. The pleasure principle: Everything in moderation is a mantra that works. If you're eating healthy and exercising, indulging with a sweet treat or a glass of wine here and there isn't going to throw you off the wellness wagon. However, if you need to harness your cravings, take a page out of trainer Harley Pasternak's playbook: schedule a cheat day. Pasternak believes cheat days keep you from feeling deprived since they give you something to look forward to.
  3. Combat cravings in their tracks: The 4-Hour Body author Tim Ferris labels his Saturday cheat day "Dieters Gone Wild." Taking the cheat day to the next level, Ferris gorges on all of his vices one day a week — the other six he doesn't even want to look at them. By dramatically spiking your caloric intake, Ferris thinks you can increase fat loss by ensuring your "metabolic rate doesn't down-regulate from extended caloric restriction." This approach is a little extreme, but it might work depending on your body's needs.
  4. Rest works: Sleeping in and staying in your PJs later than usual is good for the mind, body, and soul; I can't stress enough how important sleep is. If your body just naturally wakes up early, try going to bed earlier on a Friday or Saturday night to clock some extra hours of snoozing on the weekend. It's a great way to give yourself a kick start before the next week of work — and working out! — begins.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography
leemorg leemorg 5 years
Hi there, I definitely agree with the previous comments about taking cheat days. Moderation, as Mike mentioned, is the key to taking your cheat days/meals effectively. The idea is to allow yourself "some" indulgence, so that you avoid depriving yourself and subsequently binging on other days. As the logic behind cheat days/meals goes, if you eat healthy foods and exercise regularly MOST of the time, your body is better able to handle short bouts of unhealthy eating and/or inactivity. What you do MOST of the time is what really counts, so taking a "day" of indulgence is thought to be okay after your 5 or 6 other ways of clean, nutritious eating. Cheat days can be really strategic for some, and detrimental for others; it really depends on how you handle your habits and manage food temptation. For some, a little regulated indulgence is necessary to avoid "going crazy" and binging every other day. However, for others, one bite is the beginning of the entire cake, so cheats should be taken with caution. This article's reference to Tim Ferris' all-out indulgence is certainly interesting, although I'm not sure it's 100% effective for everyone. Even with a "cheat" day, I wouldn't necessarily advocate gorging to the point of exhaustion. It's still important to maintain certain "guidelines," regardless of what you're eating. On my cheat days, I still try to maintain regular eating patterns--that is, eating in regular intervals with controlled portions. I may have earned that pizza for dinner, but I'm going to aim for one or two slices, rather than eating the entire box. This helps me avoid feeling so stuffed that all I want to do is nap. My blood sugar levels will stay relatively stable, and I'll be ready to eat again in a few hours. Although WHAT I'm eating might differ on my cheat days, I'm still following the "eat to fuel" philosophy. Gorging on anything, be it "healthier" food or not, isn't the best philosophy, so see if you can keep at least some eating structure to your cheat days. I usually find that the longer I go without indulging, the easier the healthy routine becomes; however, that's not to say that I don't "crave" some chips every once in a while! A cheat day or a cheat meal lets me have a bowl of chips every once in a while so that I can stop thinking about what I'm missing. :) In short, it's best to consider your own habits and eating patterns, as you know yourself better than anyone; the trick is all in finding the balance between going all-in and being too careful ;) Happy eating, Lee
TheIronYou TheIronYou 5 years
Cheat day can be ok as long as you throw everything out of the window...MODERATION is key on binge days! Peace Mike
amber512 amber512 5 years
Skipping a day of exercise feels sooo good. I'm usually so antsy the next day to work out!
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