What are the most common cheat day and cheat meal mistakes the majority of us are guilty of? And how can we correct them?
Having cheat days or cheat meals is a great way to balance your life. Restricting every single day can lead to the feeling of deprivation, which is why incorporating cheat meals can be a really good idea.
However, cheating incorrectly can stop your progress and even take you back a few steps.
Here is the list of the biggest cheat day and cheat meal mistakes:
- Having cheat days, not cheat meals
- Binging instead of cheating
- Eating too much in your cheat meals
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Choosing junk food
- Consuming too much fat
- Eating even if you are full
- Not scheduling and planning ahead
- Extending your cheat days
- Not being active
- Stopping on cheat days
- Not having cheat meals at all
Let’s dive deeper and find out how to correct these fatal cheat day mistakes.
12 Most Common Cheat Day & Cheat Meal Mistakes
Are you guilty of any of these cheat day and cheat meal mistakes? Don’t worry. I got you covered! Here are the 12 most common cheat day mistakes with tips on how to correct them.
1. Having Cheat Days, Not Cheat Meals
One of the most common cheat day mistakes is having actual cheat days and not having cheat meals instead.
Even worse, some people even do cheat weekends. Where they cheat for an entire weekend, not just a day, not just a meal. And by “some people”, I actually mean myself. I was guilty of cheating for an entire weekend which would make me lose all the progress I made during weekdays.
There are many people who are guilty of “cheating” for an entire day, where they eat whatever they want for the whole 24 hours.
If you eat crap for an entire day, you will most likely consume a lot more calories than you should, which can bring you farther away from your fitness goal.
Imagine how many calories you’ll most likely consume if you eat junk for an entire day vs just eating one cheat meal.
You might say: “It’s just a day. Can I really lose 6 days worth of progress in just a single day???”
Think of it this way…
Let’s say you are trying to lose weight, you’ll need to cut back around 3,500 calories a week to safely lose a pound of fat. If you break it up into 7 days, you will need to cut 500 calories per day.
So picture this, you are on a 500 calorie deficit for 6 days then the 7th day is your scheduled cheat day. If you eat for the entire day without restriction, you might just eat all the calories you tried to cut back during the week, which will stop you from losing any weight.
Even worse, you might just gain all the weight you lost.
So instead of having an entire cheat day or having multiple cheat days, have one cheat meal on your cheat day. You can even have 2 cheat meals for the week. One on Saturday and one on Sunday, or you can have them days apart.
It is up to you really! Just make sure not to overindulge.
2. Binging Instead of Cheating
Next on the list of most common cheat day mistakes is binge eating.
Binging is different from cheating.
More often than not, people try to be extremely strict during their non-cheat days, to the point where they feel deprived. This deprivation then leads to binging during their cheat day.
“Bingers” usually think that they need to stuff their faces with as much junk food as they can because once the day is over they have to eat clean again for 6 days.
Binge eating is usually the result of doing an overly strict diet.
This cheat day mistake is commonly made by people who are addicted to sugar and junk food.
Stop thinking that you are on a “diet”, think of it as a lifestyle change.
Stop focusing on short term goals and look at the bigger picture. The goal isn’t to simply lose weight within a month, the goal is to get fit and stay fit for the rest of your life! This doesn’t mean you must eat clean for the rest of your life, it means you should live a healthier lifestyle.
Do not do crash diets or extreme dieting for the majority of the week then binge eat when you get the tiniest taste of french fries.
Use the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the food you eat is clean and healthy, then eat less healthy foods for the remaining 20%.
The 80/20 rule is a great alternative to dieting for the majority of the week then having a cheat day.
3. Eating Too Much in Your Cheat Meals
If you are one of those people who takes advantage of cheat meals by having a cheat starter, cheat appetizer, cheat meal, and a cheat dessert, then you tell yourself that all the food you just scarfed down is considered as one cheat meal because you ate it all in under 30 mins. You are probably not incorporating cheat meals correctly.
Overeating can result in weight gain, and if you overeat cheat meals, they will most likely be stored as fat. Which I’m assuming is not what you are after.
When you eat cheat meals, eat just enough to make you satisfied. Do not over order for the sake of taking advantage of your cheat days.
Let’s say you are craving a cheeseburger meal. Instead of ordering a double-patty burger with large fries and a massive cup of soda, why not order a single-patty burger with a small order of fries and a human-sized cup of your favorite soda. Just by doing this, you are cutting the calories by roughly 50%.
4. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
There are two reasons why drinking too much alcohol can mess up your cheat days…
First, beer and most alcoholic beverages are high in calories. These excess calories can be stored as fat. More often than not, the extra fat is stored in the abdominal area.
Second, alcohol can lower your inhibition, even when it comes to food. When you are intoxicated you will find it harder to resist the temptation of overeating junk.
Drink in moderation and avoid getting too wasted to the point where you might not be able to manage your cravings.
Also, try to choose between drinking alcohol or having a cheat meal. Doing both — especially in a day — will lead to overconsumption of calories, which then leads to weight gain.
5. Choosing Junk Food
Eating junk food, fast food, and refined sugar during your cheat days can revert your progress. These types of food are high in calories, so if you consume a ton of them for an entire day, imagine how much calories you are actually taking in.
Apart from being high in calories, junk, processed, and fast food are filled with trans fat and a big amount of ingredients that are not good for anyone who wants to be healthier.
Why not make your own cheat meals? Grill yourself a nice juicy steak with your favorite side dish. Or if you still want to order out, try ordering from a healthier restaurant as opposed to a fast food chain.
6. Consuming Too Much Fat
Fat is higher in calories compared to protein and carbohydrates. 1 gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories, and 1 gram of protein and carbs is only 4 calories.
Eating healthy fat is good and essential to a healthy balanced diet. However, consuming too much saturated fat can raise your bad cholesterol which causes heart disease. Additionally, taking in too much unhealthy fat can make you gain weight.
Create a list of cheat meals you would enjoy, and find out the nutrition facts of the meals. Make sure the cheat meals you choose do not contain an excessive amount of unhealthy fat.
Planning ahead will prevent you from making hasty decisions which could lead to overconsumption of bad fat.
7. Eating Even If You Are Full
Let’s admit it, most of us are guilty of eating even after we feel full because it’s our ”cheat day”. This only happens once a week, we need to indulge, right?
When you overeat you take in more calories than what your body needs, and it can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Doing this also develops an unhealthy mindset towards nutrition and dieting.
Like binge eating, this creates a bad habit that can potentially revert all the progress you made.
You need to change your mindset towards cheat days. Do not focus on the fact that you are restricting yourself, and that you only have one day to enjoy yourself.
Here are simple ways to stop yourself from overeating during cheat days:
Tip 1: Don’t Skip Breakfast
Skipping breakfast to save some space for your big cheat meal may seem like a good idea but it can actually lead to binging and overeating. So make sure to still eat a nice filling breakfast on your cheat day.
Tip 2: Use a Smaller Plate
Using small plates can give the illusion that you are getting larger portions. Manipulating plate sizes is a simple hack to trick your brain to stop overeating.
Tip 3: Drinking Water Before Your Meal
Drinking a glass of water before your meal can give you a sense of feeling full, which means you will be less likely to eat like a horse.
Tip 4: Stop Eating in Front of the TV
We tend to eat more when we are distracted. So if you have a habit of eating in front of the TV, try to eat without any distractions for a change and see if it will make you eat less.
8. Not Scheduling and Planning Ahead
Not planning and scheduling your cheat meals can cause you to eat more than you need to. Impulsively deciding when you will eat your cheat meals and what meals you will eat can lead to overeating.
If you do not follow an eating schedule during your cheat days, you might end up skipping meals like breakfast then overindulging during lunch and/or dinner.
Planning your cheat meals will help you indulge without going overboard.
Further, create a cheat meal schedule which includes the time and days you will be cheating throughout the week.
Afterwards, you can plan what kind of food you will be eating. Will you be cooking your cheat meal? Will you eat out?
You can create a list or a spreadsheet of cheat meals that you like to make it easier for you to decide, think of it as your own little cheat menu.
9. Extending Your Cheat Days
One of the most common cheat day mistakes is extending your cheat day.
Biting down on that juicy burger after a week of clean eating can send shivers down your spine. You may feel like you are on cloud nine and you never want to leave.
You might think to yourself “Why am I even eating healthy? This juicy greasy burger is too good”.
This thought may lead to you ordering another cheat meal, then another. Before you know it, it’s already been 3 days of you binging non-stop.
Eating too much junk can lead to weight and fat gain. Doing this can revert any progress you worked so hard to gain.
Be adventurous with prepping your clean meals.
Learn how to prepare healthy meals throughout the week that will satisfy your tastebuds. There are so many delicious recipes there that are nutritious.
If you eat bland food for a week then suddenly have a bite of your favorite chocolate cake, chances are you will find it hard to stop eating the cake. The cake can also trigger another craving, then another craving, next thing you know it you are deep down the rabbit hole and you can’t get out.
You can also try the 80/20 rule which I discussed above.
10. Not Being Active
If you are combining your cheat days with being a couch potato all day can hinder your progress. Especially if you combine not being active with overeating on your cheat days.
Remember that extra calories that you don’t burn off will be stored by your body.
Try your best to remain active during your cheat days.
Even if you don’t workout for that day, look for ways to keep moving. You can try to run some errands, go for a walk, declutter your home, anything that can keep you from lounging in your bed for hours on end.
11. Stopping on Cheat Days
Most rookies are guilty of stopping on cheat days. I must confess — I was guilty of this.
You start working out and eating right then your cheat day comes along and you are completely shaken up. You go back to your old habits and you just stop and give up.
This is another result of being too restrictive during your “diet” days.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens. Remind yourself to keep going even if you stopped for a few days. It’s okay to have a few slip ups here and there, but don’t forget to dust yourself off and try again.
Plan 2 – 3 cheat meals for your week and have them days apart. This can lessen the deprivation feeling that may lead to you stopping when you hit a cheat day hump.
Also, remind yourself why you are doing this fitness transformation. Print out a picture of your fitspiration, create a dream board of your fitness goals, write on your fitness journal.
Do whatever you can to remind yourself the reason behind all the workouts and clean eating.
12. Not Having Cheat Meals at All
Lastly, one of the most common cheat day mistakes is not having a cheat day at all.
Switching to a healthy diet may feel like a chore if you do not give yourself breaks from time to time. Our goal is to live a healthier life but this doesn’t mean we can never give in to our cravings.
Transforming your body is a gradual process, doesn’t mean it should be dreadful, right?
Incorporating cheat meals can create a healthy balance with your overall lifestyle. It is also a great method that can prevent you from saying “I’m done with dieting, I want to actually live!”.
Allow yourself to indulge once in a while. Create a schedule for your cheat meals. Distribute the meals throughout the week or on weekends, depending on when you feel like you will most enjoy them.
If you have an event you will be attending, then just simply adjust the schedule.
In conclusion, you don’t have to be on a strict clean diet 24/7. There is nothing wrong with adding cheat meals to your weeks. Just make sure to do it right. Moderation is key to successfully integrating cheat meals into your newfound healthy lifestyle. As long as you don’t overdo it, you’ll be fine.