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Member Comments for the Article:

Can You 'Cheat' on Your Diet and Still Lose Weight?

How Cheat Meals and Cheat Days Affect Your Weight Loss

101 Comments







GREENGEEKGIRL

3/25/2014 12:38:28 PM

GREENGEEKGIRL's SparkPage
"In this example, your daily calorie intake is about 1,200-1,500 calories"

This right here seems like it might be part of the problem. If you're starting at a weight where eating truly between 1800 calories - 2000 calories/day (like, you're sure you're not actually eating more like 2500 calories or something, or drinking extra calories in there) will sustain you without weight loss, maybe cutting enough calories to lose a whole pound a week is a bit aggressive?

Also, from the calculator that you linked: "When calories drop too low (usually below 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men), your body's protection mechanism switches on. In order to conserve energy, the body lowers your metabolism and you will not burn calories as quickly. This results in a slower weight loss rate, or sometimes prohibits any weight loss from occurring."

If I were eating 1200 calories/day, I'd be desperate for a cheat day, too. As it is, I only have a "cheat" day twice per month or so. Since, per the calculator, even at 2500 calories I would be losing a pound per week, and I generally eat way less than that in a day, a cheat day doesn't really throw me off my game. It's a nice mental reset and I probably don't even end up going over my "maintenance" calories. I often go back and track those days a couple of days later just to see where I landed, and thanks to having now trained my body how much to eat in a day, it isn't that far off--and sometimes I still come in under my goals anyway.

LINDACRH

11/4/2013 3:58:16 PM

You are right. Always counting calories is a pain in the butt. However, being sick, overweight, having nothing attractive to wear, no energy, no self respect and not fitting into theatre seats or airline seats is a far worse pain in the butt. I want to be able to live my life and when I accepted the fact that investing the time to keep track for the rest of my life was a good trade off for having a life, it became less of a drag.

And Spark People makes it so easy to keep track because I always have my smart phone and can take a few minutes after every meal to log everything in. Even on vacation, I can and do keep track. After awhile it isn't so hard.

I eat a Paleo diet, and some folks believe that Paleo doesn't require calorie counting or exercise. However, I have found that unrestricted eating with no exercise simply will put on the pounds, no matter how you confine your foods to a certain protocol. After struggling with my weight for years on a Paleo lifestyle, it dawned on me one day that our ancestors had to WORK FOR EVERY BITE OF FOOD THEY WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO PUT INTO THEIR MOUTHS. And they often had to do without when food supplies were scarce. We have the opposite problem - an overabundance of food. In this day and time, we have to work hard at restricting it to only what we need to stay alive and be healthy, and we have to commit to moderate exercise to duplicate the work our forebears had to do to get their daily bread.

I do not severely restrict my calorie intake (my weight loss plan is slow, moderate and tolerable), but I do set limits and stick to them. And, yes, there are days that I choose to indulge in a treat and eat more - it is a relaxing and stress relieving thing to do. I don't call them "cheat days", but prefer to think of them a "scheduled relax times". Planning for and tracking the indulgences helps me stay within bounds, while still enjoying the benefits of freedom from a completely anal existence.

These days my blood pressure is starting to be within the normal range; blood sugar is coming down to normal; energy level is up; knee pain is abated; looking better in my clothes - eve buying new clothes! I will take that inconvenience any day of the week over the obesity that was killing me before.

Thanks for a great and encouraging article. It is exactly what I thought and I love your idea of the Calorie Bank. This is exactly the kind of thing I have been thinking of in my quest for balance in my diet - a way to indulge without cheating. I am incorporating this concept into my lifestyle immediately. It makes sense, doesn't it? :-D

KTRIBE808

11/3/2013 12:29:20 PM

KTRIBE808's SparkPage
I do not believe in cheating. Instead I calorie cycle. I save high calorie days for Sunday brunch, dinners with my husband, celebrations and holidays. After over 50 years on the planet, I have finally learned I can celebrate special events and no longer feel guilty as long as I IMMEDIATELY get back on track. On my low calorie days, I avoid carbohydrates as much as humanly possible. It works for me.


ANDI1984

10/22/2013 12:33:27 AM

ANDI1984's SparkPage
Using the word "cheat" really IS a horrible thing. I don't cheat. I indulge in moderation. Basically that just means that if I decide to have a soda today then I won't have another for at least another 3 days. It also means that I have just 1. No refills. No seconds. I only buy 1 can or bottle and that's it. Then, the next day, I work extra hard during my work out to help with the calories if it put me over my daily budget.

PURPLEPEONY

10/21/2013 10:38:07 PM

PURPLEPEONY's SparkPage
Everything in moderation. That way you don`t ever feel deprived.

HUNTSMOM96

10/21/2013 9:34:15 PM

HUNTSMOM96's SparkPage
I really don't like cheat day but I have been monitoring everything. My biggest issue is that I work out way more than I did in the past and I keep my calories at least 500 below where I am to be. I have had slow down week and this is frustrating however I am still getting compliments on my weight loss. I like to call it my reward day. My husband go out every Friday night before HS football game that is my reward for living my new lifestyle change. So try reward day. Seems to be working for me. FINGERS CROSSED FOR CONTINUED PROGRESS 53 LBS

JACOBS024

5/24/2013 10:00:34 PM

JACOBS024's SparkPage
I dont know about this article. Of course spark gives you a range of 1,200-1,550 but not only do I do 5 miles a day in steps (10,000 plus ) I also exercise which subtracts from that count So I honestly dont think if I use scenario 2 on one day that Im gonna derail anything

ROCKCOLOR17

2/24/2013 9:12:00 PM

ROCKCOLOR17's SparkPage
pick me up after the break down

CORRYNW

2/6/2013 11:17:41 PM

CORRYNW's SparkPage
I have always said that its better to eat smaller amounts of the 'bad' foods then to totally restircit yourself and binge out making yourself feel sick and horrible for overeating the 'naughty' foods. If i feel the need for chocolate I get a small bar and enjoy it!

GADGETCC

2/6/2013 8:13:49 AM

GADGETCC's SparkPage
Great article.... I admit, I don't usually love food and when I was young, they used to give me shots to try to make me eat. I just didn't want to. Now, I usually eat the same thing every day and it makes my calorie counting easier.

I think I am more lazy than anything else. Starting in high school, if someone put a pizza in front of me, I would eat a large pie in one sitting. My laziness was really my Achilles Heel. Now, I have my "cheat" meal since my family likes pizza once a week and I plan for it in my other meals. I also try to drink a big zero cal/caffeine free drink first so that I don't get too far out of control. One day, I'll plan it better and get a salad made in advance to keep me in check.

MIZTERY

2/6/2013 12:52:19 AM

MIZTERY's SparkPage
cheating helps. just watch the people on biggest loser, they pull out big numbers after an indulgence. probably their body stops thinking it is starving

GINGERVISTA

2/6/2013 12:06:51 AM

GINGERVISTA's SparkPage
Daily calorie counting is LESS a pain in the butt if 1) you eat mostly whole foods, rather than packaged (fruits, veggies, etc.), 2) you use the Nutrition Tracker (being Pescatarian, I enter my own food or meals ONCE & it's much easier) & 3) prepare SP recipes, which have all the nutrients calculated for you.

SNOWANGELDIVA

2/5/2013 10:12:00 PM

SNOWANGELDIVA's SparkPage
Your friend, Patrick's response was powerful. It took the feeling of deprivation out of the conversation and instilled empowerment.

I had a "Cheat Day" that was unplanned and it spiraled out of control (also unplanned), it left me broken.

I equate the experience to driving...if I plan on getting somewhere safety I need my hands on the wheel. Just because I can drive with my knees, doesn't mean I should.

GOLFCHICK2-0

2/5/2013 8:09:54 PM

GOLFCHICK2-0's SparkPage
I will never call it a 'cheat' day. I will call them Special Days. That allows me to have ONE day or ONE meal without the guilt. I am also not crazy about the scale right now. If I was in the mode to lose 2 lbs. every week, yep, a 'cheat' day might make me not make it. But I'm on the slow and steady lose it and NEVER find it again. and for ME to do that, I need to have a Special day every once in a while!

CMFARRELL36

2/5/2013 7:41:11 PM

CMFARRELL36's SparkPage
I think that life for us all would be so much simpler if we got rid of all these negative connotations like "cheat" or 'naughty" or even just "bad".

For example, I did something really bad the other day, and bought myself a coupe of bags of crisps.
Now using the word "bad" could scar me.
However, I ate some of each of the bags of crisps, that day, and thoroughly enjoyed them - having not had any crisps for about a year.
(Sorry - crisps = chips.)
I then had a handful of crisps the following evening.
And now, several days later, I still have the 2 bags with at least a third of their contents.
I had something that I really fancied, that was not in my diet plan for the day. I didn't beat myself up about it, just let myself really enjoy the novelty. And I have the remainder there - had some the second day, and I'm not needing any more just yet.

So I didn't and I don't feel naughty. I don't feel that I've cheated - the only person I can cheat is me, and I gave myself permission to enjoy. I didn't let myself feel negative about eating "bad" stuff. I even bought myself some dips just to make sure that i enjoyed my time out. I can't say that I will eat any dips like that again for a hugely long time - the tray went into the bin later that night, with at least half the contents still in it. But I enjoyed my wee binge, and I remembered why I don't do it any more, because the dips are so full of all the stuff I have rarely eaten in years - like chemicals.
Yes, my evening will have had an effect in my journey. But it is a positive effect, because (a) i enjoyed myself, for a small increase in stuff, and (b) I was reminded why I don't eat some of these things any more.

Negative ideas lead to more negativity. That is something we in SparkPeople do not need.
So pleasde - let's cut the negative comments and concentrate on the positive.

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