Cheat meals or cheat days are heavily debated topics in the fitness world. There are many arguments in favor of cheat meals and then there are equally many arguments against them. There are valid points on each side but it does raise the question: are cheat meals worth it or not? Let’s find out
A cheat meal can be actually beneficial for people wanting to lose weight or achieve whatever fitness goal they have. Losing weight or staying fit is not as easy as many people make it out to be. If it was, then everyone would have a six-pack. It requires determination, persistence, and most important of all: sacrifice. We’ve grown so accustomed to eating sugary and junk foods so it involves a lot of sacrifice to ditch those foods for healthier options.
It’s not easy to adapt to a new diet. It’s more of a lifestyle change if you’re truly in it for the long run. If you think you’ll “diet” for a while and then you can go back to your unhealthy habits after losing weight, then you’ll end up reversing all your hard work. Therefore, fitness does involve a lifestyle change which demands a bit of sacrifice. Cheat days help you get used to your new life whilst also maintaining a piece of your previous diet.
Cheat days can help you stay motivated and on track. If you don’t have cheat days, you might get demotivated after a while because the new lifestyle just isn’t for you. However, if you have a cheat meal here or there every few weeks, chances are you’ll stick to your regime. Moreover, once you start eating at a deficit with healthier foods, your metabolism drops to compensate for the lack of calories your body is receiving.
Since junk foods contain a high number of calories, cheat days can help kickstart your metabolism again and thus, preventing it from slowing down. As mentioned earlier, cheat days also help get rid of your cravings so there are some serious benefits of cheat days.
Cheat days may have a lot of benefits but they can be equally bad for you. When people think of “cheat day”, they go overboard with it. Usually, the perception is that you can eat and drink whatever you want, and eat as much as you want. While the former may be true, the latter doesn’t necessarily have to be.
As a result, people eat too many calories and undo most of the hard work they did the entire week. Moreover, the next day, instead of going back to the original routine, a lot of people still crave more and soon a cheat day turns into a cheat week. A cheat week turns into a cheat month and eventually, one just gives up. Why does this happen?
It starts from the initial craving you get after the cheat day. You might think to yourself “oh just a small piece won’t do any harm” and you start from there. However, instead of stopping there, you do a bit more. At this point, you think “oh! I’ve gone off my diet today, I’ll try again tomorrow” and then you disregard your diet for the whole day in hopes of that tomorrow, which never comes. Although you might not do exactly this, a lot of people suffer from similar things.
Cheat days: Are they beneficial?
After discussing the good and the bad, what’s the verdict then? Cheat days are good for you only if you stay mindful about your portion sizes. If you go overboard, chances are you’ll continue on the same path and eventually ruin your diet. If you remain mindful about your portion sizes, you won’t go wrong and then the cheat day will actually have the benefits discussed above. If you can’t pick yourself up from a cheat day, then I’d suggest ditching the cheat day altogether.