The ice creams, the mithais, the deep fried snacks may all be taboo and banned from the table if you’re on a diet. Indulging could mean guilt, regret and a setback for the healthy eating or weight loss plan – correct? Well not quite; say some researchers and nutritionists. There may be some benefits of occasionally going off the diet; cheat days may actually help you achieve your fitness goals.
There is a cheat day?
When you’re on a diet you’re typically eating low calorie foods and restricting the number of calories that you consume. The understanding is that the body reacts to this as it would to a time of scarcity and this could cause the metabolism to slow down. The body will become more fuel efficient, conserve more calories, and burn less fat; thereby slowing weight loss. This is because evolutionarily speaking; the body is programmed to conserve its resources. This is the reason why a strict diet and low calorie intake often doesn’t produce the kind of weight loss that a person expects.
A cheat day is one day or a meal where you eat the stuff that is on the forbidden list and eat more of it. The high calorie meal or meals trick the body into thinking that there is no scarcity and that there is plenty to eat again. This is supposed to kick start the metabolism. Some experts say that low calorie and low fat diets result in a decline of leptin and thyroid hormone levels in the body which impact weight loss. Cheat days can help bring those levels back to normal.
The fact that cheat days help reduce cravings for some of the contraband foods and therefore make you more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan is just another benefit! A cheat day is like a reward; so it is something that you’re looking forward to at the end of the week perhaps; making it easier to stick to the straight and narrow dietary path for the rest of the week. So there are psychological and physiological benefits of cheat days according to a great many fitness experts and nutritionists.
So binge eating is good?
Well not quite. Binge eating junk or eating till you’re ready to burst are never really a good thing. The foods that have no nutritional value will remain empty calories and the bad, artery clogging fats that cause inflammation in the body will continue to have those negative impacts. So even on those cheat days, choose those cheat foods with care. Rather than foods rich in refined sugars, eat a fruit salad. If it’s a deep fried snack you carve ensure that it’s a healthy cooking medium and don’t go overboard.
So long as you’re judicious about it, this is one type of cheating that can actually help!