CHEAT DAYS -- where you eat whatever you want AND burn more calories!? Well.. sort of, but I bet that got your attention ;) How do cheat days work?
Many people believe incorporating a "cheat day" or "cheat meal" into their diet is a wise decision. Scientifically, when you are restricting calories your leptin levels will start to lower. Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for maintaining our energy balance. When you have a cheat day/meal you are temporarily raising your leptin levels and increase calorie and fat burn. It's that quick leptin increase that's responsible for increasing your metabolism!
One major reason I promote a cheat day is because of the psychological benefits. Even if science is wrong (which it is a lot of the time) I think cheat days are good for us mentally. When you are constantly thinking of all the foods you can't have, that's when you binge and overdo it. It's important to develop a healthy relationship with food. Allowing yourself a day to eat the foods you have been craving all week helps build this positive relationship with food, and makes it easier to stick to a restrictive diet. It also is important to know how to control yourself when you are exposed to your guilty pleasures.
How to cheat properly (in my opinion):
The only time I view cheat days as bad is when people take in a ridiculous amount of calories.. like 5 or 6 thousand. You still don't want to completely blow your diet and erase all that hard work from the week! This is why a cheat meal may be better than a whole day. If you are on a 1,200 calorie diet, aim for a 2,000-2,500 calorie cheat day. It's important to set somewhat of a limit because those extra calories will still turn into extra pounds if you don't cheat properly.
What's your favorite "cheat meal" !?