Calorie Counters - Do you have a cheat day?

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04-25-2014, 07:04 PM
So I've started tracking calories as I have in the past when losing weight. It's the easiest and most effective form of weight loss for me. My question is do any of you have a cheat day or a cheat meal? If so do you ever feel guilty for having it or do you think it causes you to fall off track?

I've been tracking my calories now for probably four days and I'm feeling good. I'm thinking a cheat meal would be a good idea for me as opposed to a cheat day.

04-25-2014, 09:19 PM
It is SO coincidental that you made this post!

I was just thinking about this same thing tonight. I did WW for two years and, during those two years, I had not one but TWO "cheat nights" a week. One was on Wednesdays (Wednesday evening was my weigh-in) and one was on Saturday. And I never once felt guilty about it, and it never caused me to fall off track.

I just recently started calorie counting (as in, two days ago) and now I'm thinking, should I still do my cheat nights? I mean, it's not like I was consuming thousands of extra calories. The two nights combined took up all of my 49 weekly points, sure, but once those points were gone, they were gone. I had those two cheat nights and that was that.

Part of me thinks, "No, no, no, no, no. You definitely shouldn't do those cheat nights. It'll undo all the work you're doing and it's so many calories and you just shouldn't do it." But then there's another part of me that's like, "Why not? You always did your cheat nights when you were in WW, and they didn't stop you from losing. If anything, they reminded you that no food is totally off-limits and that you can have whatever you want, just in moderation."

I think I'm still going to do them. As I say, they didn't hurt me before, and just because now I'm counting calories instead of points, that doesn't make the foods I eat on my cheat night any "worse" for me. I'll just track the calorie total instead of the point total!

04-25-2014, 09:27 PM
I use myfitness pal to track my calories, it decides based off my weight and height how many calories per day. right now my goal is 2,000cals a day, to lose 2lbs a week.

On tuesdays we have taco tuesday, I eat 3 tacos, and drink some beers, I tend to go over just a little bit, BUT, Im still in a deficiet because im hoping to lose 2lbs a week. So yes and no ;)

04-25-2014, 09:30 PM
To me, "cheating" would mean going over my allotted number of calories for the day. I absolutely won't do that. As for foods, I can eat whatever I choose. However, I know myself very well. If I eat a piece of chocolate, for instance, and I "get away" with it (weight-wise)one day, more "chocolate incidents" are sure to come, with an increase in frequency and amount. I just can't go there.

04-25-2014, 11:16 PM
I guess it depends on what people mean by "cheat meal" or "cheat day." If you mean, totally eating food that is mindblowingly bad for you and unhealthy and eating a ton of calories that undoes your whole week's work....then no.

On the other hand, if you mean having a day or two where you eat a little more calories than other days but you still have a good calorie deficit for the week as a whole...then yes.

If you mean that 80% or 90% of the time you eat super healthy foods but once or twice a week you might eat something that is a little less healthy but not awful....then sometimes.

For example, I will end today having eaten about 400 calories more than I do on a typical day. In this case, it happens to be because it is my birthday. So I ate a little more food than usual and shared a dessert with 3 other people.

On MyFitnessPal, well, it says I'm well over my calorie goal for the day. But, it doesn't bother me because I know I will be within a good calorie range for the rest of the week. I don't feel that I have to eat the exact same number of calories every day. I look at the week as a whole.

I don't really use the term cheating. I feel that I can eat anything I want to. Some foods I don't often eat. Today I had 1/4 of a chocolate dessert at a restaurant, something I very rarely do. On another day I might have, say, potatoes at a restaurant. I don't usually eat potatoes but I don't think it is the end of the world if I have some every few months. I don't see that as "cheating" but I guess some people might.

04-25-2014, 11:42 PM
On the whole i'm in agreement with koshka.

The word cheat or cheating is a concept i've had to get used to. It was never in my vocab but on these forums, it gets talked about a lot so i'm starting to use it though i still like to think i'm not cheating and try my best to avoid it.

Anyway there is some theory to support the idea of a cheat meal or even a cheat day. Theory based in solid science i might add.

I don't really want to have to go through the whole thing again but you can read about it on by reading the article on leptin on nutrition wonderland or in web-md. Or is it the seratonin article. Anyway both good and useful readings for dieters.

So i don't really cheat but if were going to do it, i wouldn't eat anything that i am likely to lose control with such as refined sugar foods. I might eat a whole chocolate mousse dessert at a restaurant but i don't go to restaurants very often. But i would not eat such a thing at home. I'm not to be trusted with things of that kind at home.

And if i were to do it, i would try to be strict about keeping it to one day or one meal or whatever amount of time you decided to choose.

I just find having rules that i am committed to really important in keeping me on the straight and narrow.

So what i did /have been doing is this. I was on a moderately restricted calorie diet of only healthy food for three months and i lost consistently until my current weight. Now i'm pausing for a while. Maybe until the end of this month. That means i'm eating more but my weight is remaining stable. I 'm still eating really well and not going anywhere near my problem foods but i'm trying to reprogram my body to getting used to this lower weight and out of the idea that we are living in times of famine which according to the theory, is how the body perceives restricted calorie diets.

When you lose about 10-15% of your original body fat, you should consider pausing for a while and increasing your calories. But by doing cheating all the way down, you may be able to delay this tactic even longer because you body hasn't been treating your diet as a famine. Because each time you cheat, your body is getting the message - oh there's no food shortage after all so i don't really need to slow her metabolism down and conserve energy (i.e. make it harder for her to lose fat) after all.

The danger is though that the foods you eat whilst cheating, trigger your old bad habits and make it difficult for you to keep eating healthy foods. So you need to learn to grow your love of healthy foods and want to eat them and mostly only them all the time.

04-26-2014, 01:00 AM
I don't do cheat days or cheat meals. And by that I just mean that I do not actively, consciously set aside a time to eat badly. I also don't really include the word 'cheat' in my weight loss vocab. There is no such thing as cheat foods, only indulgent ones which I can eat whenever I choose to, in moderation.

In the past I tried the cheat thing, and it led to binges. Because I told myself I was cheating, and I felt guilty about it, and so I went 'all-in' with it. The way I do it now I never NEED a cheat day, because I don't draw a big red 'X' over any particular food. A cheat day is of no use if you have nothing to cheat with, right?

The short of it: FOR ME, designating cheat times led to binges. Treating all foods as equals causes zero binges and zero feelings of guilt and therefore is enjoyable/sustainable.

Okay, so having said all of that...I know of people who DO cheat days and it works wonders for them. In my humble opinion, anything that leaves you feeling guilty is going to be detrimental to your efforts. So, maybe try it one or twice and see how you feel after?

04-26-2014, 08:00 AM
I don't consider it cheating, but I do eat more calories on the weekend than I do during the weekday. I look at my week as a whole, not day by day. My goal is to stay under my calorie goal from Monday-Sunday, not just day by day. I've been calorie counting for 5 weeks now, and the weeks where I ate more on weekends while remaining under my weekly goal (zig zagging, calorie cycling, whatever you want to call it), I lost more weight.

04-26-2014, 08:44 AM
I had tried a diet a couple years ago, I think it was four hour diet, forget the name. Anyway it had a cheat day and at first I did it and was okay but then I would start extending the cheat days into two days, then three then suddenly cheat weeks and months. And those cheat days were obscene as I think back on it! I was ridiculous! I'd be embarrassed to even list what I ate in a day!

So with calorie counting which I started last July I had no cheat days and just allowed myself to go over on holidays and here and there when there was an event. But these were just going over my daily calories, for the week I'd still be under. It has been so nice because I have not really felt deprived, I can have whatever I want as long as I count it. The one tip I read that was so helpful was "never say I can't have something, just say you can have it later". For some reason for me, that just clicked! Especially during the Christmas month long blitz of cookies, candies and other foods that were always around. I just told myself I can have any of it that I want, just later. This food will always be around. It was so worth skipping all that junk food!

04-26-2014, 06:47 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone. I like the point that a lot of you made that you don't deprive yourselves and that you don't consider what your doing "cheating." It makes a lot of sense to me now that I think about it.

I'm looking at my calorie counting from the perspective that I will still eat the things I like, just in smaller portions or by making sure I allot enough calories to include them during that day.

04-26-2014, 08:32 PM
I do cheat meals but they have to be worth it.

A picnic with friends. A trip to the best fish restaurant in Thailand. My favorite breakfast in Turkey. That sort of thing.

Not just a burger and fries, me and the television.

04-26-2014, 08:56 PM
Actually, the burger, fries and TV sound pretty good to me! :D

04-27-2014, 09:10 PM
Makes sense Ian.

Today my husband and I drove my Joe's Crab Shack and he asked me how I would count my calories if we went there. I told him that I probably wouldn't count them that day. I would get my usual crab and lobster steampot. I would consider that a cheat day as most likely I would consume more calories than my usual 1200-1400 per day.

btw- I know JCS may not be great seafood to some, but when your landlocked in Indiana, it's the best I've found. It doesn't compare to the seafood we had on our honeymoon in Charleston, SC, but it's pretty good. :)

04-27-2014, 09:21 PM
Nice work. BTW, I would not consider a crab and lobster steampot a cheat meal.

That stuff is just so darn good for you I would not know where to start...

Crab and lobster are some of the best low-calorie sources of protein I have ever found.

The best cheat meals are those where you really didn't cheat! Well done.

04-29-2014, 07:14 PM
I never plan cheat meals. They occur enough on their own.

I also don't like to consider them cheating. They're just times when you're eating off plan.

When you begin losing weight, you may be able to have more of those than later on. Many people find they can have less and less of those as they progress in their weight loss and still lose weight.

It's also important to come to terms with your personality. Can you be off plan and get right back at it? If not, then straying may not be a wise thing to do.

04-29-2014, 07:57 PM
Back when I counted calories for maintenance/proper portions (not losing weight), I always had a "cheat" day built into my week. It was almost always on Saturday, but it was movable to allow for special occasions, and I never let it happen two days in a row. On "cheat" days - which I called freebie days - I ate whatever I wanted and did not watch my calories.

Because I was already aware of how many calories I are, and because I naturally was eating less at that point, I naturally ate less on freebie days and they were never insane. I would sometimes go over 2,100 calories, but not by much and not very often. Also, it helped IMMENSELY with cravings during the week - if I really, really wanted cheesecake on Tuesday, I would remind myself that I only had to wait a few days to have whatever I wanted. It definitely kept me accountable and on track during the week. On the rare, rare occasion I did "cheat" during the week, I would try to balance it by either working out extra in advance to burn off the extra calories, or adjust my calories/workout regimine the next day to "catch up."

I planned to build in a weekly cheat day now that I'm trying to lose weight, but because I started on a Wednesday, I opted to skip that first weekend. After that, I thought maybe I should aim for a bi-weekly cheat day - every other Saturday - which is what I'm doing now. I do still track every single calorie I consume and burn on cheat days, just for my own knowledge. Although back when it was for maintenance, I never tracked my cheat days.