There are many reasons to consider a cheat day in your diet plan. If your live in a deficit of calories for too long eventually you will succumb to temptation no matter how strong willed you are. The idea of a cheat day is to allow yourself to give in to these temptations on a controlled level. This also provides an increase in calories to helps boost your leptin levels to ensure your body knows that a good food supply is on its way and to not fall into starvation mode.
Try not to overdo it. Taking a cheat day is not a license to gorge and consume a large pizza at your first major meal. This should be a moderate increase in calories. Not only will these extra calories slow your weight loss you also will probably will feel like crap for a couple days (which could be used as deterrent for next time) Personally I typically eat no more than what my maintenance level of calories would be, I typically consume about 1800 calories per day but one day I usually less than 2300 calories. This one reminds me of what life will be like once I hit my goal weight and reduces the risk of actually gaining weight on this “cheat day”
Consider a cheat meal. Don’t think you will make it with a whole day and only consuming 500 more calories per day? Just go for a cheat meal, go ahead go out for Mexican food, have a few tortilla chips (not a basket mind you) and have a moderate meal. Complete the rest of the day with your typical lower calorie meal and probably skip a snack because you will not be hungry and your survived your cheat day.
Don’t schedule your cheat day. Though it can be reassuring when you hit temptations it can be reassuring to know when your next cheat day is coming. The problem is they more than likely will come unplanned. Get invited out to lunch with some coworkers, that business trip you forgot about, or Grandma’s delicious dessert. You know it will happen, just good to have a cheat day queued and ready for action.
Still try to eat healthy. Just because you are cheating that doesn’t mean you have to be stuffing junk into your face. Try adding the calories with an extra helping of sweet potatoes or few more ounces of steak. This will give your body the same leptin level increase without feeling like someone punched you in the gut at the end of the day.
Do not start a diet out with a cheat day. If it is day 3 of your diet and the reading about cheat days, hold off on that tube of cookie dough. Your body is still adjusting to your calorie reduction and you have to give it time. If you give in to the cravings now there is a very good chance you will not go back. Wait until you are on your diet for a couple months before considering a cheat day. Even better try it when you find that your weight loss appears to have stalled for couple weeks. If you are losing a 1-2 pounds a week without a cheat day, why stop a good thing.
Do not call it a cheat day. Lastly, do not call it a cheat day. It sounds so negative and something you should be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I don’t really care what you call it “maintenance day” or “recharge day” just consider it a valuable tool in your weight los arsenal.