The Importance of Cheat Day (Why Diets Fail)

How did you spend your Fourth of July? I spent mine eating bagels, donuts, cookies, potatoes, potato chips, corn chips, and ice cream (among other things). But I did not fall off the wagon. Rather I indulged in a well deserved cheat day.

If you do not already know, a cheat day is a day when you can eat all those foods that you do not normally eat. Foods that are “bad for you.” Cheat days are important and you should not skip them. Why are they so important? Here are two reasons.


In an earlier post, I talked about one of the reasons why diets fail. And that reason was an un-manageability factor. In other words, any diet that is going to work has to be a diet that you can live with.

How does this concept figure into a cheat day? Well, what if you were on a diet that forbid you to eat any unhealthy food–ever. Could you do this? I know I could not. While I love eating healthy, I also love some unhealthy foods as well. If I were told I could never eat them again, eventually I would break down and go off the diet. And without the regulation one gets form cheat day, I would probably continue to eat unhealthy food and regain weight.

But this is not a problem when you have a scheduled cheat day. I know that all my sacrifice is going to pay off. I know that there is a day coming when I can eat all those pleasure foods I have been avoiding. And the best part is I’m not breaking my diet! Cheat day gives me the psychological advantage to continue to eat healthy between indulgence days. I don’t have to live without those foods forever. All I have to do is weight a little while.

Health Benefits

The other reason to have a cheat day has to do with the health benefits that accompany them. That’s right. Cheat days have health benefits. It is not all just indulgences.

How is cheat day healthy? As many of you know (particularly those of you who follow a low-carb diet), fat loss is a hormonal process. As you lose weight, you also decrease the production of weight-loss hormones. When you have a cheat day, you re-set all your fat burning hormones. This becomes very important when you are trying to continue to lose weight. In fact, not having enough cheat days is one of the reasons why people plateau and stop losing weight.

So enjoy your cheat day. And don’t cheat your self out of it!

One last thing. You may be wondering how often you should have a cheat day. You may also be wondering what and how much you can have on a cheat day. Keep coming back to this blog to find out.

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