Are Cheat Days Worth It?
All week you have been thinking about it… Pizza, burgers, pasta, chips, lasagne, ice-cream, chocolate. All the good shit that is supposedly “naughty” food.
The day finally arrives and you smash as much high fat, high sugar processed deliciousness down as you possibly can. Then for the next couple of hours you feel like shit and the guilt sets in. You have more than likely just blown out your entire weeks worth of hard work in one day.
You wake up Monday morning, reload and start the entire process again.
Depending on the individual. Having a set day where you may not track your calories as closely or give yourself some extra carbs may not be a bad thing. You may not have any unhealthy, guilty connotations with food and thats fantastic. But for some this can be an unhealthy approach to your nutrition in the long term.
Firstly, setting aside one day per week where you can eat the foods you enjoy can be a bad idea. Does this mean that if you eat some food that you enjoy on a different day you are now a bad person? Or you have somehow failed? These associations of guilt, if they go unchecked can create eating disorders.
A healthier more sustainable approach would be to allow yourself to have meals that you enjoy throughout the week and work them into your nutrition goals. If you are counting calories track those meals first and work back from there. See what your remaining macros are for the day and create the meals for the rest of the day using these.
You may soon see that its only beneficial to have one of these meals every now and then, due to the huge hit that your cals will take. It will also give you a more balanced perception on your nutritional habits.
Heavy restriction for long periods of time generally leads to some kind of over indulgence at some point. No matter how strong willed you may be, it happens to the best of us.
Obviously depending on your goals there may have to be some restriction for a given period of time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t balance everything out during the week instead of an all or nothing type approach.
Check out our “Is Macro Counting For You?” blog to see if tracking macros would better suite your lifestyle than having cheat meals/days.