We’ve all been there. You’re cruising along in your healthy eating routine, consistently making good food choices, and hitting the gym regularly. But then something happens to derail you- a birthday party, vacation, or just a bad day at work. Suddenly, you find yourself overeating and skipping workouts.
Before you know it, you’re right back where you started- or even worse off than before, because a cheat meal turned into a cheat day, then a week, etc. You get the point.
So how do you avoid this vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting? Well, Lately there’s been a lot of talk about cheat meals and refeed days in the fitness world. Some people swear by them, while others think they’re a waste of time. So which is it? Are cheat meals and refeed days good or bad for you?
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at both concepts and help you decide whether or not you should be using them in your own workouts.
What Are Cheat Meals?
A cheat meal or cheat day is a planned indulgence in foods that are typically considered unhealthy or taboo.
Cheat meals and cheat days can be helpful for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain their weight, as they can help prevent feelings of deprivation and allow people to stick to their diets over the long term.
However, it is important to note that cheat meals and cheat days should not be used as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods indiscriminately.
Rather, they should be seen as a way to enjoy unhealthy foods in moderation.
What Are Refeed Days?
Contrary to cheat meals/days, where the goal is to take a psychological break from the chains of dieting, refeed days are meant to be functional.
In the fitness world, people on a weight loss diet will frequently have a ‘refeed day’ where they consume significantly more calories, typically via increased carb intake.
The goal here is again, to get a break from dieting, but also, to stimulate the metabolism, so that it doesn’t excessively slow down like it usually does on a diet.
What’s The Difference?
Now, at first glance, cheat meals and refeed days may sound very similar, and to a certain extent, that’s true.
Both provide extra food to help you break the chains of dieting, but when you look deeper, they are also vastly different.
Why? Because cheat meals are typically, well, just one or two meals and are not really planned.
What this means is that as we said, cheat meals can easily turn into cheat days.
On the other hand, refeed days are way more planned and calculated, as your goal would be to eat at a slight surplus of calories, but not too big of a surplus, so you can avoid gaining excess weight.
Here’s Our Chunk Of Advice
The question here and now is, should you go for cheat meals or refeed days? And in our opinion, it doesn’t really have to be that binary.
Why not both? We know for a fact that the only mandatory thing for fat loss is to be in a caloric deficit.
What this means is that you can have a mini cheat meal every day, without affecting your progress negatively.
That is, of course, as long as the balance is in favor of nutrient-dense foods, rather than ‘cheat’ foods.
And we’re giving this advice a lot lately – Have some of your favorite cheat foods more frequently while maintaining a caloric deficit!
This way, these foods will become less special and thus, your cravings for them will decrease. Then, incorporate refeed days weekly, and the diet won’t even feel like a burden anymore!
So, there you have it. The cheat meal versus refeed day debate. Both sides have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what works best for your body and your goals.
If you do choose to indulge in a cheat meal every once in a while, make sure that it’s truly worth it – meaning that the majority of your diet is still healthy and balanced.
And if you prefer to stick with refeed days, be sure to plan them out carefully so that they don’t derail all your hard work.
At the end of the day, both methods are viable options for people on a diet; it just comes down to finding what is more sustainable for you!