The Science of the Healthy Diet ‘Cheat Day’

We’re only human, which is why as good as our intentions might be, it can occasionally be nigh on impossible to stick to our carefully planned diet regimes. The cheat day has long been a diet staple for many, a delicious guiding light at the end of a salad-filled tunnel, but how does taking a healthy diet break work in the long run?

It Gives You a Mental Boost to Continue Your Diet

As nice as healthy food can be if done properly, a good piece of cake, a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate is sometimes the only thing that will do to curb your cravings. By allowing yourself to cheat on your diet once a week you give yourself a mental break from the same foods, as well as giving you something to look forward to. Basically, if you know you have that tasty burger or cream bun coming in just a couple of days, you are far less likely to go of the rails at any other point during the week.

It Could Actually Help You to Lost Weight

If you stick to the same healthy diet regime day in, day out, there is a risk of your body actually becoming used to the routine. However, by shaking up what you eat one day a week, you can actually help your metabolism kick itself into gear.

This can be explained partly through the cheat day’s influence of your body’s leptin levels. Leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells, is what tells the brain when you have enough energy; so when it drops below a certain amount, your hunger can go into overdrive, causing you to binge eat. Unfortunately, if you reduce your calorie intake for long enough, your leptin levels will also decrease. It seems strange, but eating a little bit more once in a while will actually help you to keep that weight off!

But Make Sure You Don’t Cheat Too Often

The occasional unhealthy snack is one thing, but it’s important to remember that it’s all too easy to start overeating again on the premise that you’re counting five days of the week as cheat days! So restrict it to once a week at most, and if you know you have an event coming up like a wedding, birthday party, or you just have friends coming round, work your week around it and make that your cheat day!