So What’s With Cheat Days?

In Health and Nutrition, Weight Loss by Rachel Smith

What’s the deal with cheat days?

Firstly, what is a cheat day?

The premise of a cheat day is that you eat healthy food all day for 6 days a week, and then on the 7th day you eat whatever on Earth you like.  In some people’s eyes, it’s not only allowed but it is actively encouraged to binge on that one day per week.

The theory is that eating junk 1 day per week makes it easier to resist it on the other 6 days of the week so you don’t just get into the habit of having it every day, and also that it (can) raise your metabolism to keep your energy burning faster on the other 6 days.

Does it hold up?
I’m not so sure.

Hey, if you find that the only way you can keep junk food to a minimum is by having one set day per week to eat it, then go right ahead.  The problem is that we are social beings and if you’ve already had your cheat day, what happens when your mates call you out for a pizza night?  BYO chicken, rice and salad, along with lemon mineral water?  Hmm maybe not.

Does a cheat day raise your metabolism?

Your metabolism isn’t purely dependent on the number of calories you eat in a given period.  If it was, then everyone would be a healthy bodyweight, right?  You can’t just speed up your metabolism by eating junk, sorry.

Your metabolism is dependent on a variety of factors, such as hormone balance, muscle mass, exercise levels, sleep cycle, gut health, hydration, vitamin and mineral availability and toxicity.

Can you “hack” your body to make it lose weight?  Well, yeah, sort of, especially in the short term.  But your body is SUPER sophisticated.  And it may come as a surprise to you that your body will always be trying to keep its systems as healthy as possible.  Which means that when you are stacking on weight, that’s for the purpose of keeping you healthy.  (What?) *follow this link*

Yes.  Weight gain does not (directly) cause ill health, except in extreme circumstances – such as reducing circulation and making it harder to exercise.  Rather, the opposite is true.  Ill health causes weight gain.

Let me repeat that.
Ill health causes weight gain, NOT the reverse.

Your doctor told you you need to lose weight to get healthy?  Nope.  Get healthy and your body will achieve a healthy body weight.

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So what does that mean?

Don’t bother counting calories.  You can eat as much healthy food as you like.  Just make sure that it’s ACTUALLY healthy, and not just what “health food companies” tell you is healthy.  Use your intuition here, not what you are told by TV and radio commercials.  Your body will use all that healthy food for the purpose of good – getting rid of excess toxins and weight.  And you will find that when you are eating good food, you tend not to overeat – our bodies tend to be self-limiting in that capacity.

So should you have a cheat day?  Well, that’s up to you.  I wouldn’t do it for the purpose of speeding up your metabolism, but if you find that it stops you from eating junk on the other 6 days of the week, then it has merit!

About the Author

Rachel Smith


Rachel completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the University of South Australia in 2006 and left private practise to open BodySmith Fitness with her husband, Matt Smith, in 2014. Rachel was awarded her Black Belt and Diploma from the Japan Karate Association in 2012. Rachel spent 6 years in competitive Olympic Weightlifting and in 2006 was ranked 7th in Australia in her class. Rachel spent 10 years in Gymnastics growing up, which set her up to springboard into her other pursuits. ;-) Rachel has extensively researched Health and Nutrition and this is her passion; to help people in their Fitness journey.