Is it ok to have a cheat day?

The “cheat day” is the day many people on a diet look forward to the most. The day on which a person following a strict diet disregards restrictions on the amount or kinds of food they are allowed to eat. Celebrities like The Rock have boasted about their massive cheat days on social media. But is it okay to have a cheat day?

Senior Ryan McLaughlin, Head of Sound Body for Sigma Phi Epsilon at Saint Joseph’s University, is a “big fan of cheat days”. Ryan typically works out and eats a diet of low calorie meals like chicken, rice, and vegetables. As a typical college student though he finds reasons to indulge in the occasional cheat day once to twice a week, depending on whether he has no groceries or maybe just a stockpile of dirty dishes. 

While it makes sense from an emotional perspective to allow yourself a respite from the rigor of a strict diet, is a cheat day really OK? It seems the experts don’t all agree. There have been studies that suggest that a cheat day is not only ok, but beneficial to help them behave and stick to their plan to achieve their long-term goals. Essentially, the cheat day is a way to avoid burnout by allowing the occasional different and indulgent extras without disrupting your overall fitness and health goals. There are other fitness experts, however, who warn of the dangers of cheat days, like bloating, stomach aches, and lower activity levels. They also note that it won’t improve your metabolism.

So should you allow yourself a cheat day? It seems it’s really up to the individual. You know your body best. Practice moderation and allowing yourself a small indulgence during the week and a larger indulgence on the weekend may work for you to keep you happy while sticking to your health and fitness goals.