Getting the right balance with healthy eating is a fickle beast. Some days, eating just enough protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables to function is fine. Other days, the overwhelming need to eat an entire pizza pie is almost too much to handle. Thankfully, any healthy diet can handle motivation-saving cheat days.
A day that allows you to indulge in whatever your heart (and taste buds) desire may seem too good to be true, but cheat days are actually essential for a healthy diet. Having said that, there’s a right way to do a cheat day that will aid in weight loss and your overall health, there’s a wrong way that could end up hindering your overall goals.
That coveted cheat day you’ve been powering through cups of vegetables and chicken breasts for is more than loading up on junk food. Psychologically, it’s about making your diet seem more feasible. Even the most chiseled gym bunny would lose their mind sticking to a strict diet over the course of 12 weeks. Let’s say Sunday through Friday are healthy eating days and Saturday is the day for your cheat day. Sticking to your diet six days out of the week seems a lot more attainable with a glass of wine or slice of pizza waiting at the end.
“There is a psychological component to the cheat day. Without rewards, it can become mundane to keep a healthy lifestyle day in and day out. Oftentimes, it may take several weeks to see the scale budge, so knowing that a cheat day is coming can help keep up motivation,”.
There’s also a scientific approach to why we need an occasional cheat day. It all starts with leptin, a protein produced by fat tissue that helps regulate body weight and fat mass by impacting appetite and the body’s energy balance. Constant dieting will eventually lead to caloric deficits which cause our energy levels to plummet. A calorie bomb provided by your cheat meal will help the body maintain energy levels needed to continue dieting and exercising.
So don’t be afraid to let your hair day, one day and week and give your body and mind so much needed TLC.