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Fad diets and yo-yo dieting can backfire as quickly as they begin. In fact, just using the term “dieting” instead of saying “nutrition plan” can set you up for failure. “Dieting” can make you feel restricted and even hangry! When you eat, you want to be able to relax and enjoy yourself without feelings of guilt or regret. You want to feel good about what you eat!

cheat day

As we know half of eating right is having the focus, determination, and willpower to make the right choices. But since it’s all a mental practice, some say it’s beneficial to incorporate a day, a meal, or a special format where what you eat has no scorecard. The cheat day comes in multiple forms all to reiterate the saying, “Everything in Moderation.” While it’s not for everyone, here’s the science behind the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off of eating right so that you can decide for yourself.

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The physical

cheat day While calorie intake vs. calorie outtake remains the golden rule for weight loss, those who have one designated day for indulging in any foods they want can actually help you to lose weight. Let’s say you are maintaining a daily calorie intake of 1,500, but on Sundays you exceed that number with foods that also maybe aren’t so healthy. In order to gain one pound, you’d have to consume an additional 3,500 calories from what you usually eat and then deduct what you work off through cardio, lifting, and other activity. Unless you are regularly eating in excess and not working out, you’ll be just fine with one day of delish!

The hormonal

Hunger is created and satisfied though hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells you when you are hungry and leptin tells you when you’re full. Some studies have suggested that after a week of eating a restricted diet, eating a surplus of calories on a designated day will help to actually increase your metabolism and leptin for the coming days. But this will only work if you’re eating healthy 95% percent of the time and not eating the entire buffet on your cheat day.

The psychological

A research study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology claims that having a designated cheat day will actually act as an incentive for eating right all week long. It also says it will help with long-term adherence to your goals. Will knowing you have a prize at the end of your “good” week help you lose weight?

Cheat Day Protocols:

One weekly cheat meal

cheat day, cheat mealProbably one of your safest bets, this protocol is simply saying to yourself that every week you can have one meal that can be anything you want-lasagna, pizza, or even just an ice cream sundae with all the toppings! One meal won’t break the bank so long as every other is spot on!


One whole cheat day

Taking the one cheat meal protocol a bit further, some people choose to reserve one whole day–often a weekend day–to eat off their regular, more healthy meal plan. As previously mentioned, this likely won’t hurt your progress made by the other six days in the week. However, if you overdo it with foods high in sugar or fat, it may actually create extra cravings by mid-week. This could cause you to break your stellar healthy streak!


90/10 diet

This protocol follows a simple rule that 90% of everything you eat should be clean, healthy, and the correct portion size. The other 10% of the time you can eat whatever you like.


80/20 diet

A little more lax, this variation allows you to eat healthy 80% of the time and 20% of the time it’s like recess for your mouth. If you’re good with keeping to that and it doesn’t ruin your overall healthy progress, then this plan may work for you. It’s all a method of checks and balances!


When it comes down to it, your relationship with food, your internal motivators, and how much your goals mean to you, you have to be the one who decides whether a cheat anything will help or hurt you. Balance in everything you do will help you live your happiest life. Does a cheat day help you find balance?


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