Will a Cheat Day Boost My Metabolism? - The Muscle PhD

Will a Cheat Day Boost My Metabolism?

You’re probably sick and tired of eating salads, broccoli, chicken, or any of those healthy nutritious meals. What about eating something that’s a little bit unhealthy? Or high in calories?

If you’ve been doing your best throughout the week, then you probably feel like you deserve a cheat meal, maybe even a cheat day! Studies actually show that everyone has a sort of tolerance meter, once you go past its limit, you’re probably going to binge on all the meals you want, ruining all the work you put on so far.

However, you might be a little bit scared of a cheat day. You’ve been on such a healthy streak lately, and your body is close to being as sculpted as you want. Or maybe you have a bad experience from having a cheat day during your previous diets.

We all know the feeling: your body is close to what you want it to be and you feel like you deserve to let off some steam, you eat a cheat meal or day and suddenly you find yourself gaining so much weight!

You might’ve read before that having a cheat day is going to keep your metabolism high, but in the end, it all depends on your calories and your lifestyle. We’re going to show you just how!

Calories Aren’t Everything

Bodybuilder on diet

Maybe you previously convinced yourself that you’ve been losing so much weight, or gaining so much muscle mass over a long period of time, you can’t possibly gain a lot of fat in a single day, right?

Wrong. You’d probably have to spend the following week working extremely hard in order to compensate for what you gained throughout that one cheat day.

Seems counterproductive, doesn’t it? The thing is, your body has been used to a certain lifestyle. It doesn’t know what a diet is; in fact, it doesn’t care that you’re trying to reach a certain goal.

All it cares about is surviving. When you shock your body with a massive splurge, it’s going to inevitably store calories at a much higher rate than usual. If you’re used to eating food that has high fat and carb values during your cheat days, you might actually find yourself becoming insulin resistant. This further impairs your metabolism because it takes a few days to become insulin sensitive again.

You Can Actually Have A High-Calorie Day!

Yes, you can.

A previous study conducted on two groups put both of the groups on an extreme caloric deficit–perhaps a 500- or 100-calorie deficit–and they had to stick to it for 11 days.

One of the groups was allowed 3 days of eating at maintenance or slightly above it after those 3 days. What they found was that the group that dieted every day had their metabolism go down more than the group that cycled their calories!

Also, when they did stop the diet, the group that dieted every day regained their fat stores, while the other group didn’t regain their fat, because their metabolism wasn’t negatively affected.

So there’s a grain of truth to the belief that having a cheat day will boost your metabolism. However, calorie cycling needs to be done in context.

How Should You Calorie Cycle?

If you’re on your diet all day every day, why don’t you try dieting for only 5 days a week? During the weekend, you can have one day when you’re back to maintenance, and one day when you can have a cheat meal that’ll take you slightly above your maintenance.

You can also cycle your calories throughout the day. We recommend having two low-calorie days, where you’re essentially consuming 700 less calories than your maintenance, followed by a moderate-calorie day, around 200-300 calories below maintenance.

High-calorie cheat meal

And then have a maintenance day, where you’ll be taking your calories at or slightly above maintenance. Finally, end with one low or moderate day, and then one maintenance day. The point of all these techniques is to not let your body get comfortable with a caloric deficit.

We hope this article helped you decide whether or not a cheat day will hurt your progress!

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