Is there anything more sacred in this life than a great cheat day? A great cheat day is when you channel your inner Jabba The Hutt, and eat everything in existence while having a Princess enslaved and chained next to you. Life doesn’t get better than that.
Unfortunately, some people frown upon cheat days. Which is fucking lame if you ask me. I guard cheat days as a sacred day. My own version of the Sabbath. A day in which I do nothing but rest, and eat.
I can understand why people would frown on a cheat day, however. Eating upwards of 5,000-7,000 calories in a day of some seriously delicious, yet not nutritious food, isn’t exactly seen as healthy.
But what if it is? What if cheat day can actually accelerate your fat loss?
First, a quick dieting lesson:
Diets generally work pretty fucking awesome at the start. You’re pumped. You’re losing fat, feeling leaner, and kicking ass. After a couple of weeks that feeling starts to subside. Progress starts to slow down, and you begin to question all of your life choices up to that point.
One of the reasons progress starts to slow is hormonal. Much like they fuck with your girlfriend, your hormones can fuck with you at certain times. Particularly a hormone known as Leptin.
Leptin is what’s considered a master hormone. It controls a number of metabolic processes related to fat loss, and influences other hormones – specifically thyroid hormones T3 and T4. These two are so powerful that bodybuilders will use them as drugs to accelerate fat loss.
Leptin has major influence in how fast you’re able to drop fat. To be concise, if your leptin levels are higher you’ll be able to drop fat faster. If your leptin levels are lower, dropping fat becomes much more difficult.
Leptin levels are influenced by two major things: How much fat you have on your body, and how many calories you’re eating.
If you have more fat, you produce more leptin. If you eat a ton of calories, you’ll produce more. If both of these start to drop, just like they do when dieting for fat loss, leptin levels drop.
This is where cheat days come in:
Cheat days go by a ton of different names. From strategic overfeed, a re-feed, or being a fucking pig. Whatever you want to call them, they act as a way to cause a dramatic increase in leptin, T3, and T4 levels for a short period of time, which can cause fat loss to pick back up.
Cheat days also cause metabolism to raise, partly in thanks to the leptin bump, and partly because when you consume more calories you’re metabolism responds by picking up.
All of this means that a strategic cheat day can actually get you past a fat loss plateau thanks to some hormonal and metabolic tricks, get you the look you want, and let you be a glutton. Seriously, does it get better than that?
A few rules on cheat days:
- The leaner you are, the more you can cheat. Bros who are under 10% body fat can usually get away with a cheat day about once per week. Bros who are in the 15% range should probably only use a cheat day every 10-12 days. If a bro is over 15%, a cheat day probably isn’t the best idea yet.
- Always check and see if progress has stagnated. If you’ve hit a plateau but it’s only been a week, then don’t automatically go to a cheat day. Give yourself a little more time. A good rule of thumb is 2-3 weeks of a true fat loss plateau before cheating.
- If you’re diet doesn’t call for a giant calorie deficit, you probably don’t need a cheat day. A dieter that cuts 500 calories below maintenance is way more deserving of a cheat day than a dieter who cuts 100.
- If you’re an IIFYM bro, cheat days aren’t necessary because you’ve probably figured out how to work in small treats every day.
Working in a cheat day doesn’t only help you from a physiological point, it’s also a massive help from a psychological perspective. For those dieters who do better with strict rules, like myself, knowing a cheat day is right around the corner can be a saving grace when the cravings hit.
Get your Jabba The Hutt on and enjoy your cheat day bros.