Cheat Days – What is it all about?
To every person taking their health seriously and exercising regularly, it is
a big question whether to indulge in a cheat day or not. Since cheat days have come about, the health world has been divided on this context. Like the word suggests, the concept of cheat day started as following a strict diet for a period of time and on one day indulging in all sorts of food that the person craves for regardless of the amount of calories it contains. Later the concept was refined with a scientifically backed menu for satiating the foodie that lives in our mind and body.
How Does a Cheat Day Work?
The practice of cheating on a diet boomed a few years ago, even though it had been around for quiet sometime. Dr Paul Rivas in his book The Cheater’s Diet, published in 2005 enumerated the process of losing weight through cheating on a diet schedule. He observed that people who indulged in cheating on diets lost more weight than those who didn’t. This helps increase metabolism and boosts the production of Leptin, the hormone that is responsible for providing us with a sense of satisfaction.
The secretion of T3 and T4 hormones (thyroid hormones) decrease when people are on a diet. This slows down the rate of metabolism in our body and it takes more time to lose the extra calories. The satiety hormone, Leptin is produced more when a higher calorie diet is consumed and this in turn increases the secretion of T3 and T4 hormones resulting in a surge of metabolism. A cheat day diet should ideally comprise of high protein, high carbohydrate and low fat. Alcohol should not be consumed as it has been seen to reduce the workability of Leptin. Though for women it has been observed that red wine works as an exception. So ladies – you safely sip away from your wine glass.
Cheat days are a way to stay focused on a diet for the rest of the week. It brings about psychological relief and allows you to stay motivated towards your fitness goals. It is very difficult for a person to maintain a restrictive diet unless they take certain liberties such as having a cheat day. A planned cheat day saves the person from guilt trips and demotivation that are caused by unregulated eating while on a fitness regimen.
Thus while cheat days are good for you on a periodic basis, here is some tips on how you can reduce their negative impacts on your body.
Six Easy Hacks to Reduce the Negative Impacts of Your Cheat Day:
The benefits of cheat days can be optimized by following the steps mentioned below.
- Include lots of water and green tea in your cheat day menu: Drinking more water and green tea helps to prepare the body for the change in diet and helps improve metabolism and digestion. Green tea helps detoxify the body as well.
- Exercise moderately before your sumptuous meal: Exercising will help prevent the extra bulk consumed to be stored as glycogen in the body. Our body contains glucose transporters that when activated (during exercise and other physical activities) carries the glucose from the blood stream to the muscles.
- Make the first meal of the day protein centric: Proteins are one of the most important and less harmful macronutrient that we often ignore. Consuming more protein as the first meal of the day will keep you full and prevent you from diving neck deep into carbs and fats that are more stubborn weight gaining macronutrients.
- Consume cinnamon: Cinnamon has a huge benefit in the weight loss arena. It helps in preventing formation of fat from metabolised sugar. Cinnamon delays the time taken for food to pass from the stomach to the intestine and leaves the person feeling full for a longer time and reduces craving.
- Consume a lemon water concoction: Lemon or lime juice can be consumed with water as it slows down the insulin response and hence lesser amount of food consumed shall be stored as fat.
- Prefer solid food over high calorific drinks: Calorific drinks such as shakes and aerated drinks do not help in filling the stomach and leaves a person craving for more food.