Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Does a "Cheat Day" Fit Into My Diet?

I am starting a diet to lose weight. I've heard that people incorporate a "cheat" day or meal into their diet. My question is, how does this work? If I eat right 5 days a week and "cheat" the other two, will I still lose weight? Does a cheat day mean eat one food you don't allow on your diet, or eat whatever you want all day?

Thanks, Carl R.

Hi Carl,

Let's start with an example to illustrate how this might work: Say you are eating 500 fewer calories than you need on a daily basis so you can lose 1 pound a week (if you burn 2200 calories a day you'll be aiming to take in 1700).
If you "cheat" one day a week and consume an extra 500 calories above your needs (2700 calories), you will cancel out one of your dieting days. In this case you will lose one pound every 9 days instead of every 7 days.

If you cheat big time and really pig out one weekend and consume 1000 calories above what you burn on each weekend day you'll cancel out 4 of your diet days, plus you won't lose on those two days either. It would take 7 weeks to lose one pound at this rate!

And, in fact, many dieters quickly find out that they can completely trash all their progress during the week when they just let go on the weekend.

A better approach might be to pick one "cheat" food to include on a rare basis and plan to exercise it off. For example, you might decide to have 2 strips of bacon on Sunday breakfast, or an alcoholic beverage on Fridays after work (or even both!). This would add about 300 calories into your work, and not even set you back one day.

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