Cheat Days & Cheat Meals: Are They Good for Weight Loss?

Fitness enthusiasts love cheat days. You stick to a strict eating plan for the entire week, but on one day you can eat what you want. Burgers, pizza, ice cream, chocolate, soft drinks, alcohol… Sounds like fun, right?

Your diet can have a huge impact on your fitness goals, whether you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle. Are cheat days or refeeding days beneficial if you’re trying to reach your fitness goals?

Physical Effects During Cheat Days

When you intentionally increase your caloric consumption to give yourself and your mind a break from a restrictive diet, this is called a cheat meal or a cheat day. Some studies show that athletes who alternate days of food restriction with higher food energy intake reach their weight loss goal and do not regress.

The researchers also discovered that cheat days restored energy levels and “briefly stimulated the release of certain regulatory hormones that have a positive impact on fat loss, satiety, and metabolic rate”. The theory goes that cheat days boost metabolism because they increase leptin production. The body should burn more calories as a result. The effects of a hot day and refeeding are still being investigated. Leptin, a peptide (a mixture of amino acids) hormone secreted by fat cells in the body, is also under study. It is believed that overeating can boost metabolism by 3–10%.

However, if you go overboard with your cheat day, it can also put your fitness goals back on hold. You will not lose weight if you indulge in cheat days too frequently. You should only indulge in cheat days in moderation.

Psychological Impact of Cheat Days

The human mind can be affected by both the positive and adverse effects of cheat days or refeeding days. It all depends on who you are. Many people believe that cheat days regularly help them maintain a strict diet. This makes it easier to control their food cravings the rest of the time.

Overeating may be harmful to some people. On their cheat days, they eat so much that they end up feeling guilty. They may only think about their cheat days and not healthy eating. This is a very unhealthy behavior that can lead to eating disorders.

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