How often do you have "cheat'' days?

johnsyke Posts: 6 Member
edited May 15 in Food and Nutrition
I recently switched to having a cheat Saturday every week to break calorie counting and reset all my cravings for the week. I feel like it's been really helpful for curbing my cravings throughout the week knowing that I get to splurge on Saturday and so far it hasn't really impacted my goals (I'm not eating 8000 calories or anything crazy).

Anyone else on a set schedule or just take them as needed?


  • snowflake954
    snowflake954 Posts: 8,378 Member
    I'm also against the idea of "cheat days". Many people that do it ask why they're not losing weight. Some days or on special occasions I go over my calories. I then go right back to my normal habits.
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,114 Member
    If it hasn't really impacted your goals, couldn't you simply eat a bit more every other day of the week and therefore maybe not feel the need for a scheduled "cheat day"?

    I dislike the term "cheat day". Cheating implies you are doing something under-handed to win against someone else, none of which applies here. People don't want to call it "binge day" though, which typically it probably is.

    I think a periodic or 'taken as needed' 48 hour refeed break (not a binge) is better than a weekly "cheat day".
  • Pdc654
    Pdc654 Posts: 317 Member
    I don't like the term cheat days. I often have one or two days on the weekend where I eat higher calories. Usually when family is here and we go out to eat. I still do my best not to eat too many calories, and I log absolutely everything. If I know this is coming up, I eat lower calories during to week so the calories all fit into my weekly calorie budget.

    When I was losing weight 10 or 12 years ago, part of the diet plan I was working at that time allowed a "free day" on Sundays. Basically it was the same at your cheat day. The only problem with that is if you were not careful, you could easily negate your entire deficit for the week in that one free day.
  • SuzySunshine99
    SuzySunshine99 Posts: 2,966 Member
    sollyn23l2 wrote: »
    I follow Greg Deucette's idea that, if you have to "cheat", your diet's too strict. But, to each their own. If it works for you, great.

    This exactly. Whatever you are craving can certainly be worked into a typical day. If you are cutting out the foods that you love for the sake of a "diet", then it's not sustainable in the long run.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 30,261 Member
    I'm also not a fan of the cheat concept, on two fronts.

    For one, who or what would I be cheating? Is food a sin or something? Nah. The whole idea is Just Wrong. To me, "cheat days" are kind of like Santa Claus is to me as an adult, a jolly little myth.

    Food is just food - we need some - not a moral proposition. Some days I eat more, some days I eat less. Eating more can be for technical reasons (the appetite hormone resets, to spike lagging energy level, whatever), or it can be because food tastes good and I want things that day that won't fit in my basic calorie goal.

    If I do that too often, I'll gain weight, and that creates a negative situation for me - worse health, feel worse physically, have to buy new clothes (I hate shopping!). So I need to balance short term pleasure with long term health and happiness. If I "cheat", I'm not getting away with anything. (It's kind of like people who goldbrick excessively on the job whenever possible to "stick it to the man", then are angry they don't get raises and promotions like their more committed co-workers do. We sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot via our own attitudes.)

    For two, when I was losing weight, I logged every thing I ate every day like it was religion, because I wanted a really good estimate of my own calorie needs. (MFP, fitness trackers, other calorie calculators just spit out averages for similar people. We're not all exactly average, and a rare few are pretty far off average, possibly in either direction. Turns out I'm one of them.) With that personalized calorie needs estimate, I find I can manage my weight (loss, maintain, gain) quite precisely when I want to, which is nice.

    Make a plan for weight loss that's sustainable for you, and - at least at some point during weight loss - that gives you insight into the habits you can practice routinely to stay at a healthy weight permanently, almost on autopilot. If you want the long-term life pattern of eating substantially more or differently one day a week on a particular regular schedule . . . that's a little weird to me, but it's your call. In maintenance, it implies you'll need a small deficit during the week to balance things out calorically.

  • johnsyke
    johnsyke Posts: 6 Member
    Not off put at all and appreciate all the responses. Definitely see where everyone is coming from and that different things work for everyone based on their goals.

    To me the whole “cheating” aspect embeds a reward system into my eating that I genuinely enjoy. I like the idea of looking forward to a big meal of any kind of junk food I want and I feel it keeps my normal weekly cravings at bay. It certainly wasn’t always this way, but just how my planning has recently changed or evolved over the years.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 8,691 Member
    Have you considered viewing your weekly calories rather than daily. You can set MFP this way

    And then start your week on Friday - you can change setting to start whatever day you want - and then eat bit under goal 6 days to save up for Sat,

    That way you know if your calories are averaging out to what they should be and you know your limt for your high day.

    You still have to log every day though.
  • johnsyke
    johnsyke Posts: 6 Member
    I haven't actually, I love that. Not sure why I've never looked at the total for the week but having that bigger picture is a great way to look at things. I'll give it a run for a few weeks. Thanks for the recommendation!
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 7,501 Member
    Personal opinion is people feel the need for cheat days because they do not like their typical day. Maybe because it's too low in calories, or doesn't have foods you enjoy, or whatever.

    Personally, I intentionally make room each day in my calorie budget for food I enjoy. A little chocolate here, or a soda there. Doesn't have to be a lot, say 10% of my calorie budget. I can still get all the protein and nutrients I need off the other 90%.

    I would rather have 200 calories' worth of chocolate each day and be happy, than to go completely without six days a week (feeling miserable and cranky) and eat 1400 calories of chocolate one day a week (and feel guilty about it, let alone not be able to fit my other nutritional needs in that day).
  • laurosaurusrex
    laurosaurusrex Posts: 66 Member
    Paperpudding has the right idea IMO.

    I find looking at my weekly averages to be most helpful as well as having a calorie goal range. I typically have a higher calorie day on Saturday as that's the day I usually go out. I don't think of it as a "cheat" but an opportunity to have a little more flexibility or enjoy larger portions. I track macros, so I increase fats and carbs especially. I've found this to be super helpful in maintaining sanity, adherence and motivation.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,843 Member
    When I'm losing weight I'm usually at or close to maintenance on the weekend because that's when we as a family tend to eat out or we entertain and have a pool party/BBQ or whatever. That is offset somewhat by the fact that I'm also typically more active on the weekend, but it still slows my loss a bit...but I don't really care.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 8,691 Member
    I would rather have 200 calories' worth of chocolate each day and be happy, than to go completely without six days a week (feeling miserable and cranky) and eat 1400 calories of chocolate one day a week (and feel guilty about it, let alone not be able to fit my other nutritional needs in that day).

    I assume people who are banking for the weekend dont intend to eat all their banked calories on a single food thing like chocolate - more likely a higher calorie meal, say, pizza and a couple of beers or going out for dinner etc.

    I found weekly calories a good way of managing variety in days - but I didnt feel miserable and cranky on the days I went 100 or so under goal to bank up.
  • spacetreemonkey
    spacetreemonkey Posts: 171 Member
    I set aside wednesday, friday and saturday for cheat meals but now I'm just eating what I want everyday.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 8,691 Member
    ^ interesting comment to add 4 months afterwards.

    As had been established already, OP was looking at ways to manage one higher calorie day each week, a perfectly reasonable thing to do within one's weekly calorie allowance.