Why You Should Incorporate A “Cheat Day” To Your Diet
If you follow @themindfultechlab on Instagram, then you know we are all about having a cheat day 🙂 When we refer to a cheat day, we basically mean a high carbohydrate day because it is hard to eat too much fat or protein – when was the last time you ate too much chicken and butter? A cheat day also means you are consuming more calories than you do on the other six days of the week. It’s when you can indulge in a food or foods that maybe aren’t 100% healthy – and that’s totally fine and good!
Reasons to incorporate a cheat day…
Better self control
The more you try to forbid a certain food, the more you are going to crave it, and the harder it is going to be to resist. You may even find yourself over indulging in other foods just to prevent yourself from eating this food. If you tell yourself, ok, Saturday I am going to eat all the ice cream I want, this prevents you from snacking on other sweet treats throughout the week. Once you get to Saturday, you probably won’t even be able to eat that much ice cream because your body will be so sensitive to processed foods and sugar.
If you follow a very low carbohydrate diet like we do and workout daily, then this is even more reason to have a high carb cheat day. When you use up all of the stored carbohydrate in your body, your workouts can suffer. Workouts that will suffer the most are high intensity interval training exercise, because the preferred fuel source for this type of exercise is carb.
Best of the best treat meals
Decide what you want your treat meals to be for your cheat day, and make them good. You want pancakes? Find a restaurant that makes the best pancakes and book a reservation. Then you have this treat to look forward to all week and this will prevent you from snacking on mediocre indulgences in between.
If you are eating low carb and watching what you eat and exercising most days of the week, you are likely burning more calories then you are taking in without even realizing it. Your body is smart and will get used to this lower calorie intake and will start to slow down to prevent you from burning too many calories and wasting away. By increasing the amount of calories you eat for a day, this automatically causes your body to start burning more calories to keep up with you, and in this way resets your metabolism.
How to do a cheat day right…
We always have a high fat and/or high protein breakfast, and then reserve cheat meals for brunch and on. This ends up limiting the cheat day to about 8 hours without even meaning to.
We also make a point to exercise more on cheat day to ensure that the extra carbs and calories are being shuttled to muscle rather than fat. Exercise causes changes on the cells of muscles that make them more open to taking calories in.
If you watch our Instagram stories, then you will see that we are very active on our cheat day which tends to be on Saturday. You’ll see us going for a run, doing a yoga class, and/or playing tennis.
Note that a cheat day is not appropriate if you are snacking throughout the week, no matter how small the indulgence or indulgences are.
After a while of eating a whole food diet that is low in sugar and carbohydrates, your body will crave healthy carbs and the cheat day becomes less of a cheat with treats day and more of a day of just eating more. For example, my favorite cheat meals include sweet potato fries, banana oatmeal cookies, and sushi rolls 🙂
About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab
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