“The problem with cake is, it tastes so good…”
While it seems counter-intuitive allowing ourselves to have ‘cheat meals’, ‘cheat days’ or ‘sweet treats’ this can actually help your body transformation.
Why? There are two main reasons. The first is physical and the second is psychological.
The psychological benefits of ‘cheating’…
You’re always going to have weddings, events, birthdays, etc that you go to. Trying to be the ‘my body is a temple’ angel at those events is frustrating for you and other people.
That build up of frustration can lead to a binge at another time. Far better to allow yourself a few treats, without going mad, than to abstain and blow out later. Less stress leads to a better life.
The other point to make here is that this is life. You are going to have these things come up every month so you need an action plan that is sustainable and helpful.
If you do over-indulge, the resolution is to be a little stricter the following week. In your mind you can say “OK, I’ve had a good night out. This week I need to repay that debt. I’m going to do an extra workout, eat extra healthily, etc.”
The physical benefits of a cheat day
The physical aspect of it is a contentious one. Some say that it helps to stop your metabolism from slowing. This is because when you’re on a restricted calorie diet your metabolism slows to conserve energy.
Believe it or not, if your body is used to having higher levels of fat it doesn’t want to lose it all. Fat is a rich supply of energy and valuable. Your body has been saving that up for a rainy day!
The cheat day helps to re-assure your body that you are not in a state of famine. There is plenty of food available and you will feed it, so it doesn’t need to slow your metabolism right down.
Your metabolism is like a fire
Think of your metabolism like a fire. If you don’t put enough fuel (food) on the fire, it will fizzle right down. Throw on some petrol (cheat day) occasionally and it will fire back up, torching the fat the following days when you reduce food again.
More on psychology…
We can’t be good 100% of the time. It doesn’t work like that. If we think we can, then we have a treat, we see it as a failure and beat ourselves up about it. This is critical in the mindset of long term, sustainable health. And this relates to life not just health and fitness…
If you think that you are perfect, you will always be disappointed. More on this was covered in the ***managing expectations section.
We will have days where we eat treats, go to restaurants, out for drinks with friends, weddings, etc. We just need to make sure that they are not our regular, day-in, day-out habits as that won’t he helpful.
Use ***self awareness to ensure it doesn’t become regular a habit.
Think back to how you’ve approached treats before, did you ban them outright?
Do you think you could manage to have a treat at special events and be more disciplined normally?
How many times a week do you have treats at the moment?
What could you reasonably reduce that down to?