General Diet Plans and Questions - Cheat days?

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10-26-2010, 12:26 PM
Howdy all!

I'm relatively new here and mostly post in the calorie counting board.

I was just wondering how many people here do cheat days and how that works for you compared to staying 100% on plan, 7 days a week (whichever plan you may be on). Do you do 1 or 2 cheat days?

The reason I'm asking this is because I've noticed that on The Biggest Loser whenever a contestant does a food challenge and eats a large amount of calories, they will usually have a pretty big loss that week. So that got me thinking about how many people have more success having a cheat day or two each week.

So far I'm doing well keeping my calories between 1300 to 1400 a day, but these cheat days intrigue me. :)

10-26-2010, 12:31 PM
I don't do cheat days. I don't really crave candy or sweets, etc. If I want them, though, I have them. I just work them into my calorie count for the day.

10-26-2010, 12:33 PM
I do a cheat day once a week. Six days a week my calorie count is quite low, but I give myself 300 - 400 extra calories once a week. Knowing I have this coming keeps me on plan through the week. It allows me to eat out with dh, enjoying a normal situation. This makes my plan something I can live with for the rest of my life. Some say this prevents the metabolism from slowing.

10-26-2010, 12:35 PM
my family does a movie night every saturday when we have nachos for dinner. I still do that but eat what I normally eat the rest of the day

10-26-2010, 12:40 PM
I have pizza for dinner every Friday - I did it through my whole initial 70 lb loss and now that I am back on "plan" I will do it again.
It makes it easier for me to refuse other stuff - since I REALLY love pizza I made that my cheat - so now I can say no you don't need cookies, just wait until Friday and you can have pizza.

10-26-2010, 12:57 PM
Does anyone know if there are any medical reasons why a cheat day would work?

Stay Puft
10-26-2010, 01:06 PM
I don't do cheat days because I could easily undo a week or more of work with 1 cheat day. I have no self control once I start cheating. Apparently my full switch doesn't work. Probably made in China.

That said, I don't deny myself things. If I want it, I find a way to work it into my plan like others have said. And I bet they do that on TBL and don't show it. For example, when they ate those cupcakes they were told the number of calories. All they needed to do was cut the rest of the days eating by that number of calories. And I don't think they did better than they had been doing when they ate cupcakes. In fact, wasn't that one woman with asthma still in the bottom the week she ate the cupcakes?

Boinkshiky, there is a diet I read about which does a cheat day followed by a fast day. I haven't researched it because I knew cheat days just aren't for me at this time. It was called Xtreme Fat Loss Diet. They may have some info on why a cheat day could work. Or they may just be a bad scam diet.

10-26-2010, 01:47 PM
I have a cheat meal. Once a week I eat whatever I want. Thinking about what that meal will be keeps me sane as I pass up the chips with dip and candy corn. I think different methods work for different people and if a cheat keeps you on plan then do it. If a cheat derails your plan then don't do it.

10-26-2010, 02:12 PM
In the past I have given myself a cheat day but then before you know it I'm cheating everyday. So this go around, no cheating. It would be nice if I could give myself a few hundred extra calories but clearly I have no willpower and I end up eating my whole weeks work.

10-26-2010, 02:22 PM
I think a cheat day can be excessive. If you give yourself a free for all you might end up eating tons of extra calories and negate any losses.

I think a cheat meal would be okay as long as you know how much you are eating and aren't going way overboard with it.

I think the reason why it works is just like with calorie cycling, it keeps the body guessing and doesn't allow it to get used to a set amount of calories.

10-26-2010, 02:36 PM
The reason it works has to do with re-setting falling hormone levels in the body....

10-26-2010, 03:54 PM
Thanks for all the replies so far. I like hearing about how this works for some but not others.

I, too, feel that it might set me up to go off on a week-long binge, so for now I will just continue to stay within my calorie range. But it is just great that it works for so many of you.

10-27-2010, 05:33 PM
There is a world of difference between going up 300-500 calories once a week and have a free cheat day once a week. The first sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea. The second is a recipe for disaster: as I said in another thread, it's not hard to eat 4000 calories in a day, especially if you are "treating" yourself because it's your "cheat day"--a pastry + latte for breakfast (600 calories), a fast food lunch (1000), a decent dinner out (1400) and 2 margaritas at a friend's house (800 calories) and you are at 3800 without a single snack or dessert.

Someone eating 1450 calories a day 6 days a week and 1800 calories on Fridays will lose the same as someone eating 1500 calories every day. I really think either of those plans would be equally good.

On the other hand, someone eating 800 calories six days a week and 5700 once a week has the same average calories, but I don't think that's a healthy relationship with food--it's certain they are not getting well rounded nutrition (not enough most days, and almost certainly too much fat and sugar on the binge day), and they are keeping the binging habit alive.

10-27-2010, 08:15 PM
Great point, Shmead, and so true!

10-27-2010, 08:42 PM
mkroyer-thank you so much for posting those 2 links...both of them were very interesting and very eye-opening.

10-28-2010, 11:19 PM
I don't do cheat DAYS. Like, I would it would be too hard to reel myself back in after a full day of off plan meals--plus I would feel super guilty. I do have cheat meals though. For instance, every wednesday I have 2 slices of lower calorie pizza from a local place. On Saturdays I have a peanut butter frozen yogurt from a yogurt shop nearby. Each of these 'treats' is well within my calorie range for the day, and doesn't mean a full DAY of being off plan.

10-29-2010, 09:46 AM
Yeah, I tried the "cheat day" (and "cheat meal") thing, and although I lost weight along with doing both, I made me feel like I was on a "diet", and "diets" are something that I "quit".

Instead, now I eat what I want, I just stick within 1200 and 2000 calories a day. The other night, I had half of a 12-inch Italian sub for dinner and a brownie for dessert. That was balanced out by the salad I had for lunch and the protein bar I had for breakfast. The next day, I had a protein bar for breakfast, the other half of that sub for lunch, and a serving and a half of Hamburger Helper for dinner. I ended at 1588 calories for the day.

Given that, I'm not going to track what I eat on Christmas DINNER or Thanksgiving DINNER (or any holidays, for that matter), and I will have a slice of pie both nights, but I will watch my portions and follow the "one plate" rule. (I can have whatever I want, but my whole dinner needs to fit on one plate... This isn't counting the pie, though. I'll let someone else cut that, and then I'll ask for the smallest slice.) Also, my family has holiday dinners at around 4:30, so we do a light "brunch". That will balance the holiday dinner out for me, anyway.

11-16-2010, 08:47 PM
I used to go out with a girlfriend once a week grab a slice of pizza and starbucks mocca frap. Lately though I don't really have many cheat days unless I'm craving something (which usually happens when I'm near my period...) but then the next day I get right back on track. I don't have a specific day of the week which I do things. Sometimes I can go weeks without having a cheat day and then take one randomly.