Being motivated to shed those extra pounds, you might pound out workout after workout in the gym every single day and really control what you eat. This level of motivation is great, but what you might not realise is that ‘going at it’ this hard might end up doing more harm than good.
If you are serious about losing weight and maintaining your new body for the long term, it might be a good idea to start having cheat days. This might seem counterintuitive, but there are several ways that cheat days actually help you to lose weight.
On a very basic level, changing your diet drastically and going from eating whatever you want to only eating grilled chicken and salads can wear you down mentally.
A lot of people aren’t able to stick with their new diets because they get bored of them, eating bland, low calorie food day in and day out can burn you out. After a certain point you’d just give up and eat that pizza you are craving, and it’s all downhill from there.
A better way to go about things would be to pick one day out of the week where you don’t work out and eat whatever you want. As long as your cheat meals are within reason, that is to say you don’t eat an entire bucket of fried chicken or gorge on an entire pizza, this will help you to satisfy your cravings and get back to your diet the very next day.
A cheat day will also be something to look forward to, a way to reward yourself for all of the hard work you have been doing, thus allowing you to stick with your diet for the long term.
There is a biological reason for having cheat days as well. When you drastically lower your caloric intake, your body might go into starvation mode under the assumption that you are doing this because food is scarce. Hence, your metabolism would go down, thus preventing the weight loss that you are trying to achieve. Having a cheat day will allow your body to get a high caloric dose, thus maintaining a high metabolism that would get rid of that pesky fat.
During a workout, your muscles are pushed beyond their limit and get sore. Your body repairs this “damage” and increases the size and strength of said muscle to prevent it from happening again, at which point you increase your work out intensity and the whole process repeats itself. However, if you don’t give your body a break you will burn yourself out, because your body would be unable to recuperate from your workouts.
If you take a cheat day every week, your body will be able to rest and repair itself, thus leaving you fit and ready for another day at the gym with even more stamina than you had before.