Raise your hand if you dream of your cheat day all week.
I see you.
I used to do the same thing. I would eat super healthy all week while dreaming about what I was going to buy at the grocery store on Saturday morning to cheat with throughout the day. A whole day of “cheat” food was a dream come true.
Then, healthy eating started to become more of my lifestyle rather than just something I had to do. My daydreams were less and less about my Saturday cheat and more about how good I felt from eating well consistently every day of the week.
It was also very sobering to sit down and see the calories of a typical day of eating well versus the calories in one my cheat days. Let me count it out for you:
A typical meal plan:
- greek yogurt parfait – 203
- apple with cheese – 160
- Cobb salad, 309 – 515
- hummus and carrots- 200
- salmon with green beans and potato – 563
- ice cream – 320
A typical cheat day:
- bagel sandwich – 670
- Diet Coke – 0
- bag of smart food popcorn – 360
- full box of mac & cheese – 1050
- Digiorno Supreme pizza – 1440
- ice cream with whipped cream – 350
- 2 beers, 2 mixed drinks – 398
- Total: 4,268
As you can see from the calorie counts of a regular day versus a cheat day, a cheat day is more than double what a regular day of food consists of. These extra 2,307 calories are not even something you can burn off during a workout.
Most workouts do not exceed 300 burned calories. Now, for the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you do burn 300 calories in your workout and you workout 6 days a week. That is only 1,800 calories burned, leaving you with 507 remaining. This does not even factor in the regular calories you are consuming throughout a regular day of eating well.
If you do not do a cheat day, but rather a cheat meal, which many people do, you are still looking at a significant calorie increase for your week. Let’s say your cheat meal is a full box of mac and cheese instead of a Cobb salad, you are eating 500 more calories than normal.
For some more numbers: If you indulge in a cheat meal once a week that consists of, on average, 500 extra calories, it would take you 7 weeks to gain a pound. Over the course of a year, you are looking at almost 7.5 pounds in additional calories.
Sure this number will fluctuate, but why are you making it more difficult for yourself to lose the weight you have worked so hard to keep off?
Even though eating healthy is now just part of my daily life, with no designated cheat days or cheat meals, I do maintain a balance of healthy foods versus non-healthy foods. For instance, I still eat the occasional Smart Food bag (though over a few days, not all in one). I still eat ice cream, mac and cheese, and pizza. I still drink Diet Coke. The difference is I do not indulge all in one day and I do not set aside a designated cheat day to eat those things. They are mixed into my diet.
I also do not prescribe by the thinking that gets so many of us in trouble, “I will burn this off at the gym tomorrow”, or, “Because I worked out this morning, I deserve to eat this.” But, we will save that post for another day.
The benefits of not having a cheat day or cheat meal?
- You will maintain a more steady weight loss
- You will make healthy eating a lifestyle and not a painful experience.
- You are not over indulging in calories all in one day.
- You can make space in your brain since you are not constantly thinking about your next cheat
- You get more creative with your healthy eating
- You find a true balance between eating your feel-good foods and indulgent foods
To help you plan nutritious meals without feeling like you need to “cheat”, get your FREE Meal Planning Guide here. This will help you plan and prepare healthy meals throughout the week while saving you a bit of money on your grocery budget!
Do you use cheat days? What do you “cheat” with?1