“Cheating” means regularly indulging in a break from dietary rules and consciously enjoying food that you should otherwise avoid. How it is even easier for you to lose pounds, eat healthier and prevent the yo-yo effect, I will explain to you here.
While some people who want to lose weight strictly adhere to the diet, a “cheater” consciously swears by taking a little break from “low carb,” “high protein,” or “low fat.” However, a small outbreak – which tends to be viewed positively – also harbors a few risks on your way to your desired weight.
To prevent your diet success from being ruined by Cheat Days, we present you with the essential tips about this food trend. We complete the repertoire with a few delicious and healthy “cheat recipes” – as always, including an extra portion of enjoyment.
Cheating – This is what is behind the booming Cheat Day
The English term “cheat” stands for cheating, cheating, or tricking and means nothing more than a day to throw the dietary rules overboard and feast with all your senses.
Cheat Day is about breaking the diet or nutritional guidelines – which you stick to the rest of the time – and indulging in your favorite foods. I find the word “sin,” which is often used for this, rather inappropriate in this context, as it has a negative connotation.
From my point of view, it should be much more about deliberately indulging in something delicious and rewarding yourself for having persevered – including small “chat moments” within the week – and being on the best way to break old eating patterns.
However, anyone who uses the day to devour the saved calories of the week within one day – which is also appropriately referred to as “Refeed Day” – has misunderstood the principle and will hardly celebrate success in losing weight. The focus is much more on an “enjoyable break, ” making it easier for you to get back to your healthy diet.
Successful purchases thanks to Cheat Days
A Cheat Day is supposed to prevent the body from going into an economy mode during the diet and getting used to the reduced calorie intake. In other words: the body is led to believe that it is regularly supplied with an extra portion of energy to escape the unloved yo-yo effect. In addition, “cheating” can also positively impact eating behavior on a mental level. While the “cheat day” initially has the potential to go over the top in culinary terms, you will probably feel over time that the “allowed” unbridled feasting leads to listening to your gut feeling more and the focus of “crowd” to shift to “enjoyment.”
This relationship is based on the interaction between the psyche and eating behavior. This deliberate breach of strict rules has long been known from nutritional psychology. It has been shown that prohibitions have precisely the opposite effect and specifically promote cravings and binge eating.
Weight loss can be maximized by conscious “cheating.”
However, the “allowed” feasting can lead to the craving for cheat meals being reduced in a completely natural way.
With diet breaks to the desired weight – Physiological factors
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that diet breaks can increase weight loss success. The subjects were divided into two groups, 33 percent below their daily requirement, eating the same diet.
While one group went through the diet for 16 weeks, the other took a 14-day break every two weeks. The latter maintained this rhythm for 30 weeks to also come with 16 weeks of diet.
The study results showed that six months after the end of the study, the subjects in the “chat group” lost a total of eight kilograms more than the “strict” subjects, presumably due to the deactivation of the energy-saving mode in the calorie deficit.
In this context, the unwanted yo-yo effect should also be mentioned, which, as a clear opponent of crash diets, slows down the metabolism and causes weight gain after losing weight.
On the other hand, you are on the safe side if you decide to change the diet that is reduced in calories but provides enough energy to protect yourself from a shutdown of your metabolism. A Cheat Day can support these processes, as it signals your body that it does not need to switch to an economy mode.
While a cheat day can support you in losing weight on a physiological level, nutritional psychology plays the leading role in cheating.
Psychological aspects of weight loss & during the diet break
From a psychological point of view, this time out can make it easier to stick to a diet plan. Because with the knowledge that at the weekend – a typical time for Cheat Day – they can treat themselves to fast food or something sweet, for example, many “cheaters” find it easier to stay on the ball during the week.
While a set goal – 5 kilograms within six months – is essential for losing weight, you do not need to plan the Cheat Day. The point is to indulge in the food you are currently hungry for or in the mood for.
If you can cope with the fact that your favorite foods are also freely available during the diet week, you can, of course, also buy them in advance, specifically for Cheat Day.
To prevent the unwanted yo-yo effect, it makes sense to plan well for weight loss outside of Cheat Day. In this regard, it is essential, for example, that you do not reduce your energy or calorie intake too much and choose intensely satiating foods. In addition, changes to learned behaviors cost a lot of energy, as the years of routine must first be broken before the first results become visible. Accordingly, you should put together a kind of “emergency plan” before you change your diet. For example, it is about not reaching for chocolate in emotionally tricky situations but instead going into the fresh air, doing a breathing exercise, or enjoying an aromatic herbal tea.
Plan to lose weight & enjoy Cheat Day
If the chocolate bar served as your soul comforter in stressful phases, you can – in addition to the described “emergency tips” – also rely on a culinary alternative. For example, you could always have a few nuts with you in your handbag for nerve food. You can then enjoy your beloved chocolate on Cheat Day.
In addition, you should reward yourself adequately, even – or especially – when no results are visible yet.
Tip: Changes take time. In addition to excursions and other activities, Cheat Day is particularly suitable as a reward to celebrate the week’s endurance and start the next round with new motivation.
It is also essential to remind yourself why you want to change your previous eating behavior for sufficient motivation. You should shift the focus from “What do I have to do without?” To questions such as “What can I gain by eating healthier?”.
You can use Cheat Days as a kind of valve to reduce the risk of relapse. So if you manage to eat healthy and in moderation six days a week, you can feast on the seventh day with a clear conscience.
How often is a Cheat Day allowed?
In the classic or the most popular model, the diet rules are thrown overboard one day a week. Which day is used for this can be chosen according to individual aspects. Sunday is often used at the end of the week to “cheat,” but generally, any other day is possible.
Anyone who previously had an unhealthy and high-calorie diet will, of course, benefit from eating healthy and low-calorie or needs-based food five days a week and marking two days as a cheat day in the calendar.
While too frequent diet breaks stand in the way of losing weight, one cheat day per month seems too little because it is so important to know that the reins can be loosened again on the weekend, especially for motivation during the week.
Theoretically, several cheat meals can be integrated into the week, but this also risk not internalizing the new eating habits sufficiently and slipping back into old patterns.
What should I do without on Cheat Days?
Since Cheat Day is all about letting go and enjoying, I would not like to mention “forbidden” foods in this regard. I would instead recommend replacing mass-produced fast food with a self-made fast-food menu, for example. Incidentally, I will present you with suitable recipe inspiration at the end of this article.
So you can combine pleasure with an extra portion of nutrients and support your body on the way to healthy body weight.
Since the focus when cheating is not about giving up but consciously eating your favorite foods, I recommend that you celebrate your favorites in peace and without distraction instead of devouring them.
On Cheat Day, too, enjoyment – and not gobbling – should be in the foreground.
Enjoyment instead of loss of control – Cheat Day versus eating disorders
At this point, you will again realize how closely weight loss and cheat days are connected to psychology.
Even if the signs on Cheat Day are set to feast, it is not about consuming the saved calories in the shortest possible time. Therefore, in my opinion, the term “save” is inappropriate and even carries the risk of slipping into an eating disorder – for example, bulimia or binge eating (uncontrolled binge eating without vomiting).
Because of disturbed eating behavior, the problem is not infrequent in too strict eating behavior, which is broken by the phases of uncontrolled eating attacks. And since binge eating episodes are known to many overweight people – and can also be decisive as the cause of excess body weight – a Cheat Day can also involve risks.
In this regard, it would be a better way to consciously integrate your favorite foods into your everyday life regularly and learn – with psychological help if necessary – to enjoy foods rich in fat and sugar in moderate quantities and not punish yourself afterward with a waiver.
Can I have a cheat day on a low-carb diet?
As with other forms of diet, you can consciously combine a Cheat Day with a low-carb diet. Here, the same physiological and psychological aspects apply that can usefully support you in losing weight.
So while you reduce the number of carbohydrates during the week or, ideally, choose high-fiber vegetables and whole grains instead of foods rich in starch and sugar, you can treat yourself to baguettes, pasta, and your favorite cake on the weekend.
Our Cheat Day recipes – enjoyment meets nutritional power.
While our favorites pamper your senses, your body can look forward to an extra helping of vitamins, antioxidants, and the like.
Do you fancy fast food? I put together a delicious Cheat Day menu for you:
It starts with our nutrient-rich vegetable burger based on sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, and the like. If you want to go faster, you can replace the homemade chai burger buns with ready-made wholemeal buns. Or bake a more significant portion right away and freeze it to be taken care of on your Cheat Days.
The vegetable burger is soul food instead of fast food and is an excellent alternative to McDonald’s and Co.
Since a delicious burger goes well with French fries, I recommend the following recipe: With these crispy oven pumpkin fries – which you can serve with our light cucumber and yogurt dip instead of mayo – you are spot on.
Of course, a classic soft drink shouldn’t be missing. For example, instead of a ready-made product, you will hit the bull’s eye with this lemon-raspberry lemonade, which also works with frozen berries outside summer.
Would you like a tempting dessert as a sweet finale? Then I recommend this delicacy à la chocolate zucchini muffin with spelled nuts in a vegan recipe, ideal for Sunday coffee.