To Have a Cheat Day or Not?!!!!

So you’ve started a new fitness and healthy eating plan and its going really well, you’re feeling more energized and positive about the way you look and you really want to succeed..Cheat-Day

What happens when something comes up like a special occasion or a holiday… is it ok to over indulge occasionally and have a day off or will it ruin your results?!!? I personally do not like the phrase ‘cheat day’ as I think it sounds like you are being naughty and it immediately puts pressure on us leaving us feeling guilty. I think it is more healthy to stay realistic that in life you will come up against occasions when you will over indulge but if you remember the 80/20 rule (80% good to 20% not so good) you will have more success altering your habits for life rather than for a few weeks.

The problem with a regular cheat day is that our bodies experience a large increase in blood sugar and insulin and then you crave carbohydrates the next day. To prevent this from happening you need to be realistic about your meal/day off and address it the following day so as not to let it affect your journey. Some people believe that by having a cheat meal it re-starts your metabolism which may have slowed down if you are on a very strict diet. I think it is all about exercising and eating around your lifestyle, making it realistic and achievable.

Here are some tips on how to recover after over indulging!

Don’t feel guilty and be kind to yourself – you are already trying to make changes to your lifestyle by eating healthily and exercising so do not feel bad for over indulging, its part of normal life! Continued stress and feelings of guilt could lead to further binging or unhealthy eating. Accept that you have over indulged, don’t beat yourself up, move on and get straight back into your healthy eating plan.

Do not have a ‘give up’ attitude – when you have over indulged many people think they have ruined all the good work they have done and give up and therefore continue to over eat. Try to make positive changes for the rest of the day and the next day and remember why you started this in the first place. Re set your goals. A few slips are ok, we are only human, do not use it as an excuse to give up! A great way to re-start after over indulging is to look at your ‘before photos’ and remember what you are trying to achieve. A client of ours once told us she kept her before photos on the inside of the fridge door!

Plan your week with your training- get back to your routine of exercising. Write it in your diary as you are then more likely to stick to it and get it done! As your diet is 80% good your body is not automatically storing food as fat, therefore the excess food consumed the day before will be in your muscles, liver and blood supply waiting to be used. Try to see the food you over indulged in as an increase in your fuel tank ready for a big workout! If possible try to exercise on the day after over indulging. Go for a run at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate, working the anaerobic system, unlocking energy stored from the night before. There is also research to show that having caffeine before you train will elevate your heart rate, allowing your body to use more calories as you train.

Plan your meals around your lifestyle too, especially if you have a meal out, try to incorporate training on that day and being really good with your food the rest of the week. Return to eating healthily as soon as you can and prepare and cook your meals at home. Following a day or night of over indulging don’t be tempted to starve yourself to counter balance the calories. You can reduce your carbohydrates and fats over the next couple of days but do not be tempted to skip meals. Eat a high protein breakfast which will keep you satisfied for longer and sets you up mentally for the day. Make sure you snack throughout the day to prevent you from being overly hungry at mealtimes causing you to over eat.

Get off and stay off the scales – getting on the scales is only useful in the long term journey of losing weight and fat loss. Try not to jump straight on the scales after a night out, weight fluctuates daily so it will not be a realistic indicator of your progress. Try and wait until you’ve been back on your plan to record your weight. Better still, use indicators such as measurements and photos to show realistic and motivational progress!

Drink lots of water – you need to be drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated, but after a night out you will need to increase this to re-hydrate your body. Be aware that dehydration can sometimes feel like hunger- causing temptation to snack rather than drink. Dehydration can also cause afternoon fatigue and grogginess so avoid this by sipping water all day. I like to fill up a 2 litre bottle at the beginning of the day and keep it with me all day – that way I know I’ve drunk at least that much if its empty by the end of the day!

Sleep – try to get 7-9 hours sleep every night as this will help balance your mood and control your appetite. When we are tired especially after a late night we crave carbohydrates the next day and this is when the cycle of over eating can then become a problem.





Could that cheat day be making you fat – by Bianca London for mail online

Cons of cheat days when dieting by Jane Plan

How to get back to healthy eating after over indulging –

How to undo over indulgences – Fitness Body Professionals

You are what you drink – Health and Fitness Magazine December 2015