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

How Cheat Meals and Cheat Days Affect Your Weight Loss

115 Comments



  • Yep, I use this strategy myself to keep my sanity! I try to stay around 1400 calories a day during the week, sometimes a few hundred more calories on the days I do intense workouts, but on the weekends I seem to get really hungry. I figured that if I eat no more than 2000 calories one or two days a week it's not going to hurt my weightloss. Sure enough, I still am losing weight doing this! - 4/18/2016 4:45:14 PM
  • I read this article every once in a while and always find something new. Personally I don't have "cheat" days because nothing is really off limits. That doesn't mean that I don't choose less healthy foods sometimes, or eat more than I'd like other times. that is life.
    I track my food and look at the weekly balance; that helps me understand why I've lost, gained, or maintained right now I'm in maintenance and have been since April 2013.

    My approach works for me and it's important that we figure out what works for each of us. - 2/19/2016 9:03:20 AM
  • all diet advice has to be right for you and your lifestyle. Personally a cheat day for me becomes a binge eating session, but I know it is great for some. - 1/6/2016 2:06:46 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    I hate the word "cheat" when it comes to eating. It implies that you're doing something bad and should feel guilty. If you plan properly, you can include your favorite foods - in moderation.

    You can eat within your calorie range, and eat nothing but junk on a "cheat" day. But the after-affects aren't so pleasant. You might have water weight retention and bloating from too much salt, sugar cravings after too many sweets, an upset stomach from too much fried foods, a hangover from too much alcohol. Is it really worth the suffering the next day?

    Instead, if you plan for a treat in your daily program - regardless of whether you're counting calories, carbs, or points for a specific plan, you won't go overboard with any foods. - 9/20/2015 1:22:42 PM
  • STEPHIESMITH1
    Oh goodness, I didn't overeat yesterday until later in the evening. I don't know why I was so hungry, but I made myself three sandwiches and had some toast! I don't even want to calculate the amount of carbs I ate. I would probably estimate I ate 3,000 calories that day, and I was nervous to step on the scale. I'm glad to know I can budget for the rest of the week to make up for it. I'll try to stay strong over the weekend! - 8/14/2015 10:35:45 AM
  • HEALTHYNICOLE8
    Cheat days are awesome! And so effective, for the calorie spike and metabolic response but even more so for the psychological effects! Ive been pretty impressed with the idea of a cheat weekend that I read about, there is a pretty good program based around this idea, I reviewed it here if anyone is interested:
    http://healthylivingbynicole.com/CheatWe
    ekends - 7/2/2015 3:09:41 AM
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  • The word cheat is negative. So I call then special treat days. I have them on occasion. It is especially easy to have them when you can stop at just a one time deal. If you are a sugar addict best to stay away. For now I am staying away. - 3/5/2015 2:33:18 PM
  • I have found that I have my greatest success when I do not go in full denial mode. If I want something, I do but in moderation. I also no longer drink my calories. It used to be if I had a burger I had to have a shake, if I had pizza I had to have a beer, and at other times it was a soda. Now I drink water or carbonated water only, no matter what I am eating. - 2/6/2015 4:19:36 PM
  • Usually, I keep my Sundays as 'free' days from the diet I'm following. This doesn't mean I splurge or eat 5,000 calories in a day, I simply decide to eat what I enjoy most (let's say, pizza) and a little more treats, but I always be careful about not overeating. I track food everyday, so I can get an idea of the weekly balance. During my weight loss journey, I have realized the extreme importance of tracking, this is the real key of success! - 1/20/2015 9:52:15 AM
  • Sunday I had a "splurge" day. I made cookies for my family, and allowed myself to be "free" with my intake of them ('tis the season). I only went a tad over my daily calorie budget and was on target with protein and fiber. I actually lost a bit of weight and I was not craving cookies today. Today was 99.8% clean and on target for all areas tracked (I ate one cookie because my 7 yr old wanted to give me one) and I enjoyed the clean food a lot better than I enjoyed my cookie binge! I guess I've grown up. Anyway, I agree with this blog! Plan ahead, set aside, and indulge guilt free, in moderation. Fix your relationship with food. It's this dieting mentality that has us all messed up. Lifestyle change, people. - 12/16/2014 4:55:59 AM
  • Speaking of 'cheating', there's this great site I go to for recipes.. they're delicious and skinny style, so you feel like you're cheating but you're not. :) www.skinnykitchen.com. It's free and you don't have to sign up, but I signed up so I could save recipes for the future. I tried their 3 ingredient ranch which is DELICIOUS. Tastes like full fat ranch and only has lowfat buttermilk, light mayo, and 1 oz Hidden Valley Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix. It is SO good. Check it out, I love the site and you can find tasty skinny versions of everything. None of it tastes like diet food. :) - 7/19/2014 12:49:55 PM
  • I follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, I am on track. 20% of the time, I indulge. Absolutely giving any thing up, just sets me up for the binge. I am only three weeks in...but this strategy has helped me. - 6/23/2014 3:05:05 PM
  • I generally have cheat meals instead of cheat days. My motto for those meals is "Anything I want, not everything I want." In those meals I don't consider the nutritional or calorie content of the food like I do for other meals, but I also don't use it as an excuse to eat everything I've been craving for the past week. - 4/26/2014 2:58:03 PM
  • "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.

    - 3/25/2014 12:38:28 PM

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