I knew many people would not like this post, but I do want to stress that cheat days can be good and even necessary for some people. I choose not to do them because a) I want to be single digit body fat and b) I feel much better without them. I am NOT saying that you should not do them, what I am saying is that they are not required, and it could be beneficial not do to them.
I “Cheat” Everyday and Feel Better With Even Less Body Fat
Cheat days seem to be the most beloved topic of people starting out on the Slow-Carb diet as prescribed by Tim Ferriss in the 4 Hour Body. People seem to live for their cheat day talking about it all week and rejoicing when it comes. A I talked about before this was never really an issue for me. My initial thoughts were that if I keep thinking about cheat day then I will never break the physiological hold that sugar has on me. None the less I continued to do cheat days on Saturdays, sometimes starting early on Friday night.
I often speak to one even that seemed to be my “harajuku moment” of cheat day. I had 2 birthday parties to go to in one day, one at lunch one a diner. I gorged myself on deep fried food at the first party, then ate a ton of desert at the second party. The next day was not a pleasant one, I will spare you all the details. Since then I have not had a full cheat day, I have also cut back and had very little gluten products. This was huge for me as I leaned out very quickly after that.
So I did not stop cheating completely in regards to what is “allowed” on the slow carb diet. I have fruit regularly, when I first started I cut back on it drastically and only had a little, then after I stopped cheat days I stated being more free with it, once I got on the Paleo band wagon and listened to Robb Wolf’s podcast and started lifting heavy I used it for pre/post workout energy and restoring glycogen.
I also eat way too much dark chocolate. It is a regular nightly occurrence for me and my wife to have dark chocolate fondue with fruit, usually bananas and strawberries. I also snack on it sometimes at work. Recently I have dialled it back and eat it much less in an effort to get to single digit body fat.
How I Deal With Social Situations
This is probably the hardest part of eating healthy. The peer pressure to eat cake, friends that don’t care about their diet and are fat and out of shape make fun of me for eating healthy. And free food, who can say no to free food? I remember it very clearly the first time I said no to free donuts at work, it was fulfilling, I felt like I accomplished something. After that point saying no to food got easier and easier. I rarely give in to social pressure these days. I will have very small piece of cake every once in a while, or maybe a small scoop of ice cream. If people pressure me too much I just tell them I am allergic to gluten and it is as easy as that. Is it a lie? not really because gluten does make me sick.
People on 4hbtalk.com often talk about foods to add after they reach their goal, increasing sweets or adding an extra cheat day. I am have been a bit over critical towards these people but here is my point. That is not the point of the diet, that does not make it sustainable and you will probably put the weight back on and you will probably be unhealthy too. Refined grains and refined sugar have been compared to tobacco or alcohol, they are addictive physically and mentally. I think people need to start thinking of them this way in order to realize how detrimental they can be. An alcoholic can’t have a drink for a reason, it has a domino affect. Just like Tim talks about domino foods like almonds, refined sugar and flour are 10 times worse than almonds.
Hopefully you don’t see me as being one of the over zealous, dogmatic Paleo types. I do think that everyone is different and there is no one perfect diet. I am pretty adamant about refined sugar and refined flour, I really don’t think there is anything positive about them. I suggest trying breaking the physiological control of sugar, slowly. If you need cheat days to do then thats is fine. I just don’t see the point of lowering your sugar intake until you reach a certain weight and then start increasing it. If you have cravings for sugar that is normal, small amount of fruit should not be an issue as long as you work on lowering the quantity. If you are trying to get really lean and in the last mile stage then you will need to avoid fruit. If you need a cheat day, I highly suggest keeping it gluten free as well.
See a good article on cheat day/meals by Vince Delmonte here.
What is your take on cheat days? Do you need it? Like it? Hate it? Leave a comment and let me know