How Unintelligent Cheat Days Can Destroy Your Progress
Take a look at this chart. I saw this online a long time ago & it's a fantastic visual representation of why people THINK they're in a calorie deficit, but then they never lose any weight.
Yes, you can have a "perfect week" when it comes to your diet & target calories, but if you screw up too much on just one or two days, it can be more than enough to derail your progress for the ENTIRE WEEK.
That's one of the reasons I don't suggest having a cheat DAY.
A cheat MEAL once a week can typically work out well, but having an entire day dedicated to saying "screw it" with your diet & routine is going to sneak up on you quickly, and then you'll be left wondering why you're still in the same place as last year.
If you want to make a change, you need to commit.
Make a deal with yourself.
If you stick to an acceptable range with your calorie goals during the week, allow yourself a little extra calories on the weekend, whether that's a guilty pleasure food or alcohol. Just keep yourself in check. Limit it to one meal, or one location, like a night out at a bar or restaurant. Don't "cheat" the entire day.
And only do it on one day.
(I suggest Saturday. Stay on track all week, take Friday night easy & stick to the program, and then enjoy your Saturday evening with a few extra calories, before rolling into a "lazy Sunday" where you cut back on your calories even more than your weekday calorie targets. A routine like this helps you stay sane while minimizing the chance of too many calories sneaking back into your diet.)
Picture yourself having completed a perfect week of hitting your calorie targets. You're in a calorie deficit for the week, and you're making progress. Great job. You can have some pizza and beer on a Saturday night. You just can't spend an entire Saturday eating pizza AND burgers AND fries AND finishing a case of beer.
Enjoying yourself a little bit isn't going to do much damage. But if you go crazy for an entire day, or worse... two or more... you're guaranteed to derail your fat loss for the entire week. Screw up too much, and you've derailed an entire month of progress.
It won't matter how much effort you put in at the gym, or how much cardio you did. If you have unintelligent cheat days, you're going to be left wondering why you're not making progress. As the saying goes, "You can't out-train a bad diet."
You have to approach these things with a plan.
Performing a high-intensity workout on the day you want to enjoy yourself is one of the best ways to make sure any extra calories are used by your body in a more efficient manner... and hopefully avoid any excess weight gain.
If you go to the gym and destroy set after set of legs and THEN go out for a night at the bar, your body is going to gobble up those calories much better than if you sat around all day playing video games and did the same thing. Of course, your body doesn't perform or recover as well on pizza and beer, but at least you'll avoid some of the fat gain if you approach it intelligently.
And there's plenty of little hacks you can use. Here's a few:
- Train with intensity on the day you want to have a cheat meal.
- Consume hard liquor over beer if you choose to drink alcohol.
- Eat less food during the day, or skip a meal, before having a cheat meal.
If you're constantly confused about why you're not losing weight, the problem is most likely discipline & consistency. You have to CONSISTENTLY make the right choices.
You don't have to make ALL of the right choices ALL of the time, but you have to consistently make the choices that will move you towards success.
And in order to do that, you need to know what those choices are...
How many workouts per week are you hitting? What kind of workouts are they? How long are they? How fatigued are you by the end?
How many calories per day are you eating? What kind of meals are they? How do you feel afterwards? What are you consuming that you know needs to go?
How much sleep are you getting? Is it quality sleep, or full of disruptions? Do you have any caffeine after 11am or noon? What's your sleeping environment like?
These are all questions you should have a clear and solid answer to. This is basic stuff...
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAILY BASIS?
WHAT ARE YOUR DAILY CHOICES?
That's why you are where you are. That's why you are the way you are. That's why you are who you are.
When you understand yourself and your habits, you're able to put together a plan that fits your lifestyle while still moving towards your goals.
When you don't have a clue, you stay in the same place & continue wondering why.
Time isn't going to slow down, and no one else is going to force you to achieve the dreams inside your head. It's on you.
Hope you're having a killer week. Hard to believe it's already January 31st...
Spartan Training & Coaching