Reining in Cheat Days

Anyone have any cheat day tips or thoughts? I have one cheat day a week... and I've found that it's super helpful for me to know that I can go off the rails once a week.. but I think I'm eating way more than I should and more than even nessesary. Yesterday I had a whole pan of brownies... among burgers, fries, biscuits. I'm wonder how other do their cheat day without eating all the calories they burned the past week!
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Replies

  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,103 Member
    I totally understand the need for some indulgences in life.

    Well, last night was a "cheat night" for me in that I shared a lovely takeout Indian meal with family, including a Guinness and some ice cream for dessert. Loved it!

    It seems best to plan a great meal with friends or family, rather than binge for a whole day. I think it's more satisfying as well.
  • plumwd
    plumwd Posts: 161 Member
    There is nothing wrong with cheating every now and again, however I find it best to look at just a cheat meal, vs a whole day or even a weekend. Once you get closer to your goal you can get away with that, but for now too many cheats will just derail all your hard work. You need to decide whether that tray of brownies is worth it for that.

    An alternative is also to do a little extra work on days that you know you're going to be cheating to offset the calories.

    Get religious about tracking your meals and you'll be less likely to want to do this. Also as time goes on, the cravings go away and cheat foods are less appealing (at least to me).
  • VintageFeline
    VintageFeline Posts: 6,771 Member
    I don't cheat. For some people it's just a way to describe the odd indulgent day, for others the language around it can create habits that derail progress, even if only a little, sometimes a lot.

    You could try banking calories (assuming your goal isn't too low) during the week and using those one day a week, still logging so you still have control over your intake but can still indulge. It will also help you see what is "worth it" to you in terms of those indulgences. Are you just eating them because it's a free for all and you're trying to cram in as many of the things you restrict as possible or are you truly enjoying them and getting pleasure from eating them.
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    Thanks for the replies! I'm thinking I might have to make it more of a meal rather than a day.

    I'm aware that a lot of the masses at mfp are more "everything in moderation everyday." When I say cheat day, I mean I'm going over my calories drastically--which I do still log. I eat Halo Top Ice Cream every night, and have whatever I want within my calorie range-- normally whatever gives me the most energy for my workouts.

    I've tried just upping my calories throughout the week and not having a "cheat day" but for me that ends somewhere with me gradually eating more and more calories everyday. I don't ascribe to the idea that every person has to be an "all things in moderation" type-of-person. I'm just a type who likes to be more strict during the week and then have a special day-- I feel like it cages in my bingeing and I've lost 40lbs doing this. Not saying everyone has to do it this way.. just what I've found is helpful for me.


    But.. all that said.. I do welcome tips on "cheat" days.. or whatever you want to call them. I've defined what I mean.
  • IsabeausRose
    IsabeausRose Posts: 129 Member
    I eat my favorite foods as part of my calorie intake. There is a FiberOne bar that is a brownie that has chocolate chips in it with 5 grams of fiber for 90 calories and it's really good. I have one of those every day. Don't deprive yourself of the foods you love all week and then make up for it on a cheat day. Eat something you love every day on your diet and soon that cheat day may not come to mean so much to you and you may just end up eating half your plate like I did yesterday.
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    I don't cheat. For some people it's just a way to describe the odd indulgent day, for others the language around it can create habits that derail progress, even if only a little, sometimes a lot.

    You could try banking calories (assuming your goal isn't too low) during the week and using those one day a week, still logging so you still have control over your intake but can still indulge. It will also help you see what is "worth it" to you in terms of those indulgences. Are you just eating them because it's a free for all and you're trying to cram in as many of the things you restrict as possible or are you truly enjoying them and getting pleasure from eating them.


    That's a good idea! Maybe I'll sit down and work out a plan where I get a certain amount of calories on those days. I always do better if I have a plan going in rather than winging it.

    I honestly do think I'm just cramming everything I can in. The thing is, like I said above.. I'm not crazy restricting myself during the week. Thursday I had 3 pieces of pizza that fit perfectly in my calorie intake. Sometimes I'm not even craving anything on my cheat day, I just feel like I have to because it's what's been helping me stay on track during the week and I'm afraid that if I don't then it will make me justify overeating on other days... and in the past, that's just been a slippery slope for me.
  • JeromeBarry1
    JeromeBarry1 Posts: 10,187 Member
    Solid science indicates that a calorie deficit of -500 per day for 8 weeks causes a decline in one's NEAT of about 10% in excess of the decline that would be caused by the weight loss. Further, the same study showed that a week of eating at maintenance restores that person's NEAT to the normal condition that would be expected after the weight loss. That is, a big calorie deficit makes you lose weight, but you lose NEAT faster. You can undo the damage with a week of maintenance and that is only the case with -500 calorie per day deficits.
    With deficits of -750, -1000, or more per day, the damage happens more quickly (this is my assertion).

    Still, there is that point about restoration of metabolic wellness with a diet break. That's well-known.
    A weekly super-high-calorie day isn't anybody's idea of maintenance for a day, To have a weekly day of maintenance eating along with 6 days of a calorie deficit is a perfectly good way of maintaining a calorie deficit week after week while also maintaining the well-being of your metabolism without damaging your NEAT.

    The way you've been doing it is more likely to eliminate any deficit that may have accumulated in 6 days with 1 day of bingeing. Your NEAT is fine as you've only got a strange way of eating at maintenance or even surplus.
  • bbell1985
    bbell1985 Posts: 4,582 Member
    My thought is, don't do a "cheat day". I have a high calorie, higher carb day every week. It's purposeful for better training, happiness, hormone levels, and diet adherence.

    There is still a calorie goal, and it is factored in toward my weekly total. I log everything carefully still. At the end of the week, I still have somewhat of an expectation as far as weight loss goals, considering my high day. The most important thing is, I'm in control. This is super helpful as you enter maintenance as well.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,103 Member
    Another thing: If I go out to a big meal one night, I log it as a "quick add" of 1000kcals with the drinks added separately. Could be more or less, it's just a way to say "I ate a big meal out." Often, I'll skip breakfast the next day and eat a normal lunch, snack, and dinner.

    (This is about the 10th time I've said this on these boards. Sorry to those who've already read it!)
  • RelCanonical
    RelCanonical Posts: 3,883 Member
    I don't have cheat days where I don't log, and my "cheat" days are generally only days where I eat at maintenance, when I need it. I have struggled with binge eating in the past so cheat days are generally not a good idea for me. I don't know how to rein it in, so I guess my advice for a cheat day is to just increase calories a little, but still fit the things you want to eat in appropriate portions. If you don't struggled getting back on track, you could up it higher than maintenance (even if I don't do that) and have like an extra 1,000 calories for a nice dinner.
  • gentlygently
    gentlygently Posts: 706 Member
    Would it help to coincide your 'cheat' with a good day's walking/hiking? You could enjoy the burger/chips/brownies - but walk most of the calories off...

    And enjoy the birdsong too.

    Gradually you might get into the habit of 'earning' your 'cheats' as well.
  • CTRLplusZ
    CTRLplusZ Posts: 23 Member
    Perhaps make the "cheat foods in smaller quantities? Instead of making a whole tray of brownies make a mini tin of them. Order the smaller burger and fries. Surely you won't eat as much if it's not there to eat?

    Also maybe make your "cheat" event take place at a gathering with friends. You may not feel as compelled to go to extremes when out to dinner with your pals.
  • vanmep
    vanmep Posts: 396 Member
    Who are you cheating on?
  • nowine4me
    nowine4me Posts: 3,986 Member
    plumwd wrote: »
    There is nothing wrong with cheating every now and again, however I find it best to look at just a cheat meal, vs a whole day or even a weekend. Once you get closer to your goal you can get away with that, but for now too many cheats will just derail all your hard work. You need to decide whether that tray of brownies is worth it for that.

    An alternative is also to do a little extra work on days that you know you're going to be cheating to offset the calories.

    Get religious about tracking your meals and you'll be less likely to want to do this. Also as time goes on, the cravings go away and cheat foods are less appealing (at least to me).

    This has not been the case for me at all. I could get away with overages at the beginning, but essentially need to be 100% on point now that I'm down to my last 10#.

    OP - maybe try eating at maintenance on your "cheat" day. As you know, a pan of brownies will more than wipe out your deficit for the entire week. Never mind the burger and whatnot.
  • SusanMFindlay
    SusanMFindlay Posts: 1,804 Member
    edited May 2017
    nowine4me wrote: »
    OP - maybe try eating at maintenance on your "cheat" day. As you know, a pan of brownies will more than wipe out your deficit for the entire week. Never mind the burger and whatnot.

    This. I eat at maintenance once or twice a week (as well as having small treats every day). Keeps me from wanting to eat the whole tray of brownies (though how bad that is depends on how big the tray was). Though I have been known to eat a couple of cookies worth of cookie dough when baking. :smiley:
  • spiffychick85
    spiffychick85 Posts: 311 Member
    Well if it's a weekly splurge I fast the day of. Saturday night's I eat out and will fast prior, this helps me stay on track week to week, because I still maintain a deficit.

    Then there are weekends like this one....where I had Mothers Day and my birthday...I ate a ton of food over the course of 3 days. I didn't track a single bite of it and I won't look back. I can restrict food many weeks out of the year, but if I'm being offered free meals to celebrate my life you better believe I'm all in :D I may not like the scale next week...but I'm already back on track and I know it will fall back where it should be.
  • trigden1991
    trigden1991 Posts: 4,659 Member
    "Cheat" days work in some situations from a psychological and physiological view. Unfortunately it is way too easy to overdo them and cancel out your weekly deficit.

    You need to track what you eat and do the maths to ensure you don't do this.