When it comes to weight loss, we hardly leave any stone unturned or diet untried. I speak for myself here and I have to admit that I’ve experimented like crazy—from fad diets to lifestyle changes—been there done that!
But you know, I found one commonality between all of them: it is easier to keep yourself motivated with the temptation of a cheat meal or day at the end of the week.
As enticing as cheating on your diet sounds, it also comes with its own consequences. But first, let’s understand the difference between a cheat day and cheat meal.
Cheat meal versus cheat day
While a cheat meal means having the high-calorie food of your choice in just one meal, a cheat day can give you a free pass to binge all day.
Basically, a cheat meal is like occasional flirting here and there while you’re in a relationship. But a cheat day is almost like having an affair. Needless to say, the degree of damage both can cause is huge.
The logic here is fairly simple: women need roughly 2000 calories every day to function smoothly and maintain our weight. However, when we decide to embark on a weight-loss journey, this count has to be decreased gradually in order to push your body to draw energy from the stored fat rather than food.
Secondly, standard healthy weight loss is around one kilo in a week and this can be achieved by cutting down 500 calories in a day, which amounts to 3,500 calories in a week.
Enough mathematics, let’s get to the point: one heavy meal with, say, an entire box of your favourite pizza with ice cream would roughly mean you’ve had 500 to 1000 calories. Now, imagine having three meals with that heavy a calorie count on a cheat day!
Can you see your entire week’s hard work and restraint going down the drain? So, on just one day, you’ll end up consuming around 3,000 calories, which you were actually supposed to cut down.
Pro tip: Use cheat meals to your advantage
Our body produces a hormone called leptin which signals the brain to feel full after a meal, and eating a heavy cheat meal can produce more of this hormone, keeping you fuller and preventing further cravings or rebound overeating.
However, if like me, you too have lost some weight and have hit a weight-loss plateau, you might have to cut down your calorie intake further. This includes shifting from a 700-calorie cheat meal to say a 500 calorie one.
Remember, weight loss or no weight loss, cheat meal or no cheat meal, cheat day or no cheat day–in order to remain healthy, you’ve got to eat mindfully.