Thursday, August 11, 2011

4 Ways Cheat Days Don't Work For Diets - Or Health

"If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying!"

Or so the saying goes.

With dieting, typically a "cheat day" is when you follow a strict diet 6 days out of the week, but on the 7th day of your choice, you can "pig out", and eat whatever you want! Many people swear by this method of losing weight and staying fit. But does it work?

I say no. I think it can "work" temporarily, but is doomed to failure in the long term. Here's why:

1. Having a cheat day is saying that you are "on a diet". If you are on a diet, it is very easy to jump off that diet! And, diets don't work - most people don't stick with them because they have not conditioned themselves to actually want the foods they are eating to be healthy. Cheating on your diet right away says that you don't want to eat the way you are eating 6 days a week and the 7th day is when you can finally enjoy yourself!

2. Any carb addictions you likely had before starting this diet will not go away. So if you love ice cream and save it for your cheat day, each time you scarf down the wonderful sugar and dairy delight, you are re-triggering your addiction - and pretty soon you will have small cheats on your non-cheat days and that's the end of that!

3. Cheat days are inherently unhealthy days. If you eat a healthy, low carb diet 6 days out of the week, then flood your body with insulin-spiking desserts and alcohol on the one day, it will take you a day or two just to recover from your cheat day! Does that sound healthy?

4. Most people will cheat with sugar. The problem is that sugar is really tough on your immune system - so if you're "junking it up" even one day a week, you are going to be more susceptible to colds, flus, and other diseases.

So what to do?

Well, I eat healthy but I also "cheat" on a regular basis. will have a square or two of dark chocolate several times a week. I'll have a beer here and there. But I don't call it cheating. I call it being healthy, not getting crazy about it, and most of all not being on a diet!

Overall, stick with the 80/20 or 85/15 principle. That means eating the healthy foods 80 or 85% of the time, but be relaxed, have your cheat foods here and there, but not all at once! Over time, you will also start to crave the healthy foods the more you eat them.

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