Do Cheat Days Work? Part 2
In Part One of the article I talked about how you need to factor leptin into your diet plan if cheat days are a part of it.
Now, in the latter part of this article I’ll tell how to use cheat days successfully and, if cheat days don’t work for you, how you can avoid depriving yourself on your diet. Based on this information, having a cheat day is essential in our fat loss journey.
So, what is a cheat meal or day?
Essentially it is a day or meal where you exceed your normal amount of calories for that day in order to boost your leptin levels and in essence kick start the fat burning process all over again.
So, how do I do it and what do I eat?
Here’s how I recommend setting up your cheat day/meal. The day before your strategic cheat day you want to ensure you keep your carbohydrates low as to deplete your glycogen (sugar) levels. This will help with insulin sensitivity when you eat and drink some of those goodies the next day.
That day of your cheat day, make sure you drink plenty of water and workout/train fasted if possible. This will further deplete your glycogen levels and then you can go ahead and make that next meal your cheat meal. On the day that you cheat, don’t make it a whole day of madness because 1. You’re going to feel like crap and 2. It may feed into the next day if you’re not careful and that will lead to fat storage. That day after is really important. That next day I would again drink plenty of water, fast for as long as your hunger will allow and go for a walk or light jog. Fasting will help regulate your insulin, boost leptin, decrease IGF1, boost T3 and T4 and increase glucagon and growth hormone.
What if I don’t want to deprive myself all week just so I can splurge on the weekend?
This is what I preach to most of my clients. I am a fan of the 80/20 or 90/10 approach. This does not include counting calories or measuring food. This is simply making sure that 80% or 90% of your food choices on a day to day basis is as close to perfect as possible and the other 20% or 10% is about 80% of perfect. That means you can have that piece of chocolate or glass of wine or couple of beers throughout the week so you don’t have that craving to binge on your cheat day.
I have found the 80/20 approach is effective for most, but at the end of the day it is all about finding balance.
In my opinion, food is supposed to be enjoyed not endured, so based on your goals and your personality find what works best for you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If you are not seeing results doing it one way, try another.
The takeaway (another food pun)
Cheat meals are necessary when it comes to weight from a hormonal stand point but it can be a slippery slope if you are not careful.
You must strategically plan when your cheat day or meal is going to be and take action accordingly.
If you feel a cheat day will send you on a spiral to old habits try the 80/20 or 90/10 approach, but either don’t half ass it.
Make sure you commit to the plan and execute.