Cheat Days: Do They Make or Break Your Diet?

Shannon Slabaugh

Categories:

Nutrition Tips

Cheat days are heavily debated in the health industry. Are they good? Are they bad? Should you strictly stick to your diet? Or should you relax and take on 80/20 rule. What we've realized is, there is no one size fits all method. For some, they prefer strict periods on and off of a diet. Others, work best with a flexible diet. For those who prefer to have the more flexible approach to dieting, we created some tips on how to have a cheat day without ruining your diet. 

1) What Should I Focus On?

Arguably the most important thing to focus on when having a cheat day is moderation. I know, that may be the one thing you didn't want to hear. But, it's extremely important that you do not take on the mentality of eating everything in sight just because it's your one day to do so. Instead of deep diving into everything you've been craving, satisfy your cravings with the one thing you want most.

Remember, the food will always be there. If there is something you really want, you can save it for your next cheat day without ruining all of your progress. 

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2) How Do I Plan Cheat Meals Into My Day?

If you track macros/calories and want to have a cheat meal high in fats or high in carbs, know that this is coming and plan your surrounding meals around it. For example: If you are having a high carb meal, load up on protein earlier in the day and substitute out your normal carb source for something lower in carbs like spaghetti squash or broccoli.

You will more than likely go over your macros/calorie goal for the day but focusing on at least hitting your protein goal for the day, will ensure that your diet isn't completely thrown off for the day.

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3) Should I Track My Fiber?

Fiber is a big element in any diet, making sure you get enough fiber especially on days where your diet is different, will ensure that your body digests the food appropriately and will save you the added bloat. But where does fiber come from? Dietary fiber comes from parts of plants that your body isn't able to digest. Unlike proteins, fats, and carbs, your body does not break down and absorb fiber. Fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and offers many great health benefits! Foods that are high in fiber are things like: whole wheat flower, nuts, beans, vegetables, and most fruits. When eating a lot of fiber, it is important that you also drink a lot of water! Fiber works best when it bonds with water. 

4) How Much Is Too Much for a Cheat Meal?

Like I said before, moderation is really what works to keep your cheat meals from throwing off your diet. While it is understandable that you may go over your caloric intake for that day, it is important to still exercise some control and portion meals appropriately. 


Holidays tend to be one of those days where cheat days are pretty much expected. While it is a special occasion, it is still important to exercise proper portioning. Do you really need 3 servings of stuffing plus a slice of both pumpkin and pecan pie? Could you live with having only one serving of stuffing and half a slice of each type of pie?  

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5) What Types of Cheat Meals are the Best? 

The best cheat meals are moderate in protein, high in carbs and low in fat. Why? Carbs and protein are less calorically dense than fat, for example 1 gram of fat holds 9 calories, whereas 1 gram of carbs/protein holds 4 calories. Simply speaking: a high carb/ protein meal will probably have less calories than a high fat meal.  Examples of these meals are: spaghetti and meatballs, hamburger with a side of sweet potato fries, and sushi. 

If you would like more examples of the best cheat meals, check out this article:

READ MORE 

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