Cheat days have become the newest fad. This is because if used right, they actually work to bust you through any weight loss plateaus that you are stuck on. Lori and I have used this method for years with great success. Your body is amazing at 1 thing…. adaptation. You an adapt to virtually any situation.
So what happens when you adapt? Well, to put it simply, you get stuck in a rut. Especially in weight loss. That is why it’s a great idea to “shake things up a bit” hence, the cheat day.
The idea at first was to give you a mental break from your strict diet. Some programs are very strict and mentally individuals would become tired and start to stray from the program. Ultimately they “fell off the wagon” so to speak because mentally it is too challenging for them to continue.
So many use the cheat day as a way to give you a break or a reprieve mentally. It allows you to eat some of those foods you have been avoiding while on your weight loss program.
What some have discovered with research is that something physically takes place when you incorporate a cheat day.
When you diet or restrict calories and nutrients your body will start to deplete a hormone called leptin. Leptin is a powerful hormone that can influence your weight loss or even cause you to gain weight if it manipulated in the wrong way.
When you diet and start depleting your leptin levels you brain gets sent a signal from leptin that you are starving yourself because leptin is dropping. This is what some call the ‘starvation mode’ and when this happens it triggers a series of other actions. Your brain will now send signals to other hormones to slow down your metabolism, shed energy costly muscle and cause your body to start storing more calories you eat as stored fat.
A cheat day is important in this situation because by allowing you to eat more calories, more sugar, more fat, etc allows the hormone leptin to increase and calm down. By raising your leptin level back to normal it starts to think “We are not starving” and tells the brain to stop conserving and trying to protect the body.
This allows you to continue to burn calories and prevent extra storage of calories. Generally it takes a few days for the body to recognize the calorie restriction and the leptin level to start to fall, which is why a cheat day is usually inserted somewhere between the 3rd and 5th day of a restricted calorie weight loss program.
One thing to be careful with this method though is that 1 cheat day doesn’t turn into 2 cheat days and then 3 cheat days, etc, etc. There are some individuals that have a hard time getting back on the program the next day so if you use this type of program be careful to not fall into this trap.
Most will look forward to this method and don’t mind getting back to the program the next day knowing that the next cheat day is coming in 3-5 days. In our course on how to lose weight fast, we add in a cheat day every week. We also give you the option to stay flexible and add a cheat day every 3-5 days. Fat Loss Factor does a great job giving you baby steps to overcome your weight loss issues.
Remember, to keep your sanity and keep your metabolism boosted, add in a cheat day every 4 days or so. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Dr. Michael Allen
Fitness Instructor & Fat Loss Factor Founder