icon Feb 04, 2022 - Fitness Trainer

Cheat Day - Should It Be A Thing?

The concept of "cheat day" can be a controversial topic amongst PTs and fitness fanatics. For those of you who don't know, a cheat day is a term used to describe a scheduled break in a diet or healthy eating regimen where you allow yourself to indulge for a day.

Is it a good idea to have a cheat day? What does a cheat day involve? Are cheat days bad for you?

All very common and valid questions, but with lots of different answers, depending on who you ask.

So we've decided to take out some of the guess work for you and ask our resident Fitness Experts what their thoughts on cheat day are.


Kyle: Personal Trainer and Coach

What is your personal attitude towards cheat day?

Personally, I don’t believe in a cheat day, I eat with an aim to consume the correct number of calories I need and hit my macros, most importantly protein. For most of the population this is how black and white it needs to be, try not to overcomplicate it.

What do you advise your clients when around having a cheat day?

I wouldn’t advise my clients to have a cheat day because in the long term this can be detrimental to how they view certain food groups - most which, if consumed in moderation, are not bad for you. This can lead to a lack of sustainability in their diet due to fact that they aren't eating any of the foods they enjoy because they are deemed to be “cheating”.

A certain food shouldn’t make you feel mentally guilty. Deviating from your healthy eating occasionally is all about moderation.

Lauren: Personal Trainer

Would you recommend having 'cheat days'?

I personally wouldn't recommend a specific said “cheat day” to any of my clients as it can lead to over-indulgence on those days, which would defeat the purpose of the “clean eating days”.

What would you recommend to your clients?

Instead of a cheat day I would recommend to my clients that they eat in moderation. It sounds cliché, but if you allow yourself to have some “bad” food every now and again then you tend not to crave it which then stops the over-indulgence on set “cheat days”. As long as you stay within your calorie and macronutrient allowance each day, you will have the same desired effects of having clean eating days and a cheat day – in some cases it’s actually been seen that adopting the idea of a “cheat day” is worse because of the caloric indulgence.
Essentially, I wouldn’t recommend a set cheat day but would say, if you want a “bad” food and it works within your individualised caloric intake and macronutrient goals then go for it.

Riley: Personal Trainer and Content Creator

Where does 'cheat day' come from?

Cheat days have evolved from the re-feed concept in bodybuilding where athletes would consume carbohydrates to replenish the body’s glycogen stores and appear fuller. The main difference is that re-feed days are calculated and controlled. The general person looking to live a healthier lifestyle tend to be too restrictive Monday-Thursday which causes them to binge over the weekend, losing that control aspect.

What would you recommend to your clients?

I coach my clients in a way where they are able to still enjoy foods throughout the week but still stay within their targets. Because of this they don’t feel the need or desire for a cheat day. The best way to make progress is consistency and routine and relying on a cheat day pulls you from said routine and can be counterproductive.


In Summary

So, there we have it. The general opinion from our resident Fitness Experts is that it tends to be better to have a flexible approach towards the food you eat than to have a 'cheat day'.

Be sensible, but enjoy foods in moderation and avoid going into an all-or-nothing restrict and binge cycle. Remember, eating healthy doesn't have to be boring and being too restrictive usually isn't sustainable or enjoyable.

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