Cheat day when losing weight: makes sense, right?

The term Cheat Day comes from the English word “cheat” which means to cheat, which actually sums up the principle of Cheat Day quite well. A healthy diet or diet is strictly followed six days a week, but on the seventh day we can eat whatever. we want, whether it’s a hamburger, a pizza or a cake. But is this gourmet day allowed or are we putting our weight loss goal at risk?

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A cheat day might have these benefits when losing weight

Proponents bring several benefits because a weekly or monthly cheat day can have a positive effect on weight loss:

  • The cheat day provides the body with the energy it needs, for example, for athletic performance.

  • High calorie food activates happiness hormones such as serotonin in the brain. Therefore, the reward system could help keep the diet long-term.

  • An occasional cheat day can also help keep hormone balance steady. Since the body’s neurotransmitters need fat, cheat days prevent deficiency symptoms in the long term.

  • Especially at the beginning of a diet where protein-rich diet shakes from manufacturers like SHEKO are on the nutrition plan as a meal replacement, a cheat day can help with the change. A scientific study was able to show that the more the diet progressed, the more test subjects felt less craving for a carbohydrate-rich day.

  • Cheat days may also make it easier to follow the diet in general as the craving for “forbidden” foods may be reduced.

Mental and physical aspects of the cheat day

Anyone who deviates from the otherwise strict rules of a low-carb diet experiences psychological and physical effects. Because the low-carbohydrate diet has a long-term effect on metabolism, as the human body normally gets energy from glucose. It actually gets it from the carbohydrates in food. If these are omitted, the body falls back on stored fat reserves, consequently loses weight.

Cheat day should then fill the “empty energy reserve”. By increasing the production of the protein hormone leptin, carbohydrates stimulate the metabolism. However, researchers are still divided on whether leptin actually has an effect on body weight. It is estimated that leptin is expected to stimulate metabolism only to a small extent (up to a maximum of ten percent) within 24 hours after a cheat day. In fact, a cheat day can potentially be beneficial with a prolonged diet when muscle glycogen stores are depleted and energy supply is dwindling.

Psychological effects should also be mentioned when asking whether a cheat day makes sense or not. Gourmet day helps some athletes and weight loss enthusiasts maintain their willingness to diet. For others, a negative effect may be observed if Cheat Day later causes a guilty conscience. A cheat day can also be detrimental to the health of health-conscious people with pre-existing conditions such as hypertension or diabetes mellitus.

Experts recommend “cheat meals” rather than cheat days

For many athletes and people who want to lose weight, Cheat Day serves as an inner reward for keeping them motivated on a diet. However, nutrition experts warn against Cheat Day and its health consequences. On the one hand, those who want to lose weight would not benefit from any additional health benefits, and on the other hand, they would make it difficult for themselves to lose weight. Therefore, experts such as star trainer Autum Calabrese recommend a “cheat meal” instead. This variant is a shortened version of Cheat Day, in which only one meal a day is “unhealthy”.

Experts find it particularly problematic that many who allow themselves a day of cheating to completely overdo it. In the short term, this results in an increase in insulin levels and a higher energy level, which is used again only slowly. Another problem is that the body is overloaded with fat, carbohydrates and sugar, which causes a significant increase in the blood sugar level. In the long run, a “cheat day” can therefore lead to constipation and reduced performance. Nutritionists therefore advise against the Schlemmertag especially for very overweight people and people suffering from diabetes or other metabolic diseases. The recommendation is to consciously eat as much as possible on cheat days. For example, high calorie foods such as whole milk chocolate, gummy bears, cakes, doner kebabs, or French fries can be replaced with healthier alternatives. Examples include bananas, avocados, wholemeal breads and pastas, beans, and salmon.

Rules and tips for a successful cheat day

A cheat day always requires planning so that the calorie budget isn’t too extreme. Optimally, the cheat day should be scheduled ahead of the day on which the “busiest” weekly workout takes place. In this way, the energy reserve can be replenished, which means that the body is better able to cope with the training. Also, dieters should keep an eye on their own negative calorie balance: the calories that are consumed during the cheat day must be reduced on the other days.

It shouldn’t be more than a weekly cheat day so that the diet’s long-term success is not jeopardized. All in all, Cheat Day can be recommended for those who consistently continue their diet and have “internalized” it. For beginners who are new to their diet, the temptation that comes with a cheat day may be too great.

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Video: Time Out From Diet: This Is Why Cheat Day Is So Important