• Emma Green

The problem with cheat days

Cheat days, where you eat ‘whatever you want’ with no consideration of macronutrient or micronutrient content of food, seem like an appealing idea on the surface. The concept of cheat days has been around for a while and still seem to be pretty popular within the fitness industry. They do have a dark side though, here’s why: . 1. Promote idea of good and bad foods: Cheat days encourage binary thinking about food. Although certain foods are more nutrient dense than others, no foods should be demonised. All foods that you enjoy can be included in your diet regularly. It’s much easier to eat in moderation when you don’t ban any foods. 2. Encourage binge eating: The mentality of cheat days is typically having a low calorie and restrictive diet all week and then cheating at the weekend. The problem with restrictive dieting is it makes you feel deprived, mentally and physically, making it more likely that a cheat day will turn into a binge. This can easily become a vicious cycle. 3. Don’t boost metabolism: The idea of cheat days is typically that they increase metabolism by boosting leptin levels. Research shows that occasional overeating has no significant effect on leptin at all, particularly if foods eaten are high in fat. Changes to leptin levels occur over a much longer period of time and can’t be ‘hacked’ by a cheat day. The bottom line is that if you feel you need a cheat day, your diet is too restrictive. You shouldn’t feel the need to eat large amounts of ‘junk foods’ on a regular basis if you are fuelling yourself properly. Of course there are days when you might eat a bit more, have more treats etc but if his feels like a need, not a choice, it’s time to rethink your approach.

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