Towards Healthy Life

One little thing at the time

Cheat day, free day or maintenance day

I have been reading that  including a cheat day once a week in a diet plan would help in a few ways.  At first I thought it was only to help getting through the long journey to the goal weight by giving a treat day to cope for being on track the rest of the week. I read something different yesterday. Because our body is adjusting to the calories we give it, a cheat day would prevent our body to go on “starvation mode” and stall in weight loss plateau…

I am looking for a legitimate reason to cheat myself or would it really help? Some says it’s very important to succeed and some says if we hit a plateau we should cut some more calorie and exercise even more.

Here is some article about the subject, what do you think about that?

Do you include a free day in your diet or not?


For the cheat day:

The importance of diet cheat days for weight loss

The importance of a cheat day for building muscles and burning fat

There is other way:

Getting past a weight loss plateau

5 diet myths and what you can learn from them


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14 thoughts on “Cheat day, free day or maintenance day

  1. Last week my weight stayed the same everyday until Friday. On Friday I went over my calories a little bit maybe like 200 or 300 and the next day I was down 1 lb. I think it helps. Ive also had days or meals where I’m like I’m just going to have what sounds good. Then listen to my body tell me ok I’ve had enough. And it’s actually kind of relieving.

    • Thanks for sharing! I was looking into that also because over Christmas I had like 2 days where I hate whatever I wanted and lots of sweet treat and I still lost 1 pound. Same for a week end trip once so I find it weird because I was prepare for a gain but I still had a loss…

  2. Well…. if you really want to know what I feel…. here goes. 🙂
    I used to have a cheat day a week where I would eat whatever I wanted, but then I would feel guilty and have to work harder the next day. That didn’t work for me… so eventually I got to the point where I would have daily ‘treats’ that didn’t harm my diet. Hence the ice cream I would savor every nite. Have I mentioned that before? Everyday I would save up about 200 calories to have a small serving of fat free cookies and cream ice cream. I would sit in front of the tv, with a small spoon, and take little bites – savoring every single molecule. It was something I could look forward to DAILY as opposed to WEEKLY. And since it was built into my calorie intake, I didn’t have to make up for it the next day.
    As far as hitting plateaus and stalling in weight loss… from what I’ve experienced and learned, you may actually be eating too little. Your body may be thinking you’re starving it – especially if you’re exercising – and it’ll want to hang on to the fat. By adjusting your food intake, even just a little, but keeping up the exercise, your body will begin working again and be willing to give up the fat. Keep in mind too, that when your body is digesting food, it’s actually BURNING calories!
    There are ways to increase your metabolism as well. Your metabolism is what burns calories even when you are not moving. I just read an article this morning on increasing metabolism. Short bursts of intense exercise during your routines can rev your metabolism up and in turn burn more calories than working out steadily. So if your body is getting used to your regular exercise, you may want to add one minute of intense cardio to your workout here and there. (Jumping jacks, running in place etc.)
    And finally, and I promise I’ll stop here – muscle burns more calories than fat. So if you have muscle tone, you’ll burn more calories while your sitting. Squats, pushups (even cheater ones), hand weights (or cans of food if you don’t have weights) to tone your arms…. all of these increase muscle tone and will help you burn more calories.
    Whew. A lot of this you knew already, I’m sure, but I have a strong affection for this topic. I STILL love to read about it. I talk with my son about it all the time. And I love to follow other people’s stories about how they’ve lost weight.
    So thanks for reading through all this (if you did. lol) – it’s been great therapy for me! 🙂

    • One again thanks for sharing your experience, I did read it lol and a comment can never be too long if it’s interesting;-) It’s exactly why I wrote this post so I can get advice and opinions. I am contempling a cheat day but didn’t know if it would really help my weight loss…I haven’t hit a plateau yet but I just like to prepare for what could come and like to learn about that stuff as well.

  3. Not a fan personally. It implies you are following an overly prescriptive “diet” rather than trying to fundamentally alter your dietary habits and need a periodic release from it. i’ve also found it easier to aim to lose a smaller weekly amount and overachieve than try to stick within a higher loss program. I don’t feel restricted on a 1lb a week program. Going to 1 1/2 was more stressful, can’t imagine 2 a week.

    In addition, I’ve read of too many people more or less undoing significant amounts of progress on their cheat days. As the earlier commenter suggested, i’d rather work small treats into my regular schedule that I can either work around overall OR occasionally dip into exercise points for.

    • Great point there. It is true that if I aim for new life habits, a cheating day would be at the opposite of my goals. I am a very impatient person and don’t do well on long goals, I was curious because some claim it increases the metabolisme.

  4. Back when I was on Weight Watchers, they actually called this phenomena the “wendy plan”, I think. I used to do it (not consistently) but I was also exercising like a fiend, which I am not yet doing. Did it work? I lost over 100 pounds with no plateau in less than a year, so it worked for me fine! The trick is to not really plan to do bad at all, just say, on Wednesdays, I’ll treat myself to something I’ve been craving this week at dinner-don’t let the whole day get you off track.
    Best of luck!

  5. It isn’t a cheat day – it is a day of rest and reflection.

  6. I had a nutrionist once who said that a “cheat day” isn’t a full day to endulge. It’s a day where you allow yourself to have a healthy dinner and follow it with a delicious dessert. Or wake up and have waffles for breakfast and then go back to portion control for lunch and dinner. It helped when I viewed it that way because I didn’t feel like I was throwing a way a full week of good decisions in one swift fattening day.

  7. Angie Bullock on said:

    I firmly believe in “cheat” meals (full days put too much back on to be beneficial for me), but have found that often once a week is also a bit too much for me, personally. When I do them every two weeks or so, it really kick starts my weight loss again, as long as I go right back to my healthier options the very next meal/day.

    I recently lost 100 lbs and I indulged in pizza (my personal fave) about once a month or so. I generally saved it for when I was starting to stall/plateau and it helped for two reasons: kick-started the weight loss and helped emotionally with the frustration that came from the stall. 🙂

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