Do Diet Cheat Days Work? Some Experts Say Yes, But…


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During the week, most of us are busy eating healthy and working out so that when the weekend rolls around we can treat ourselves to that coveted “cheat day,” where we get to eat to our heart’s content and indulge on all the good-bad bar food we’ve been craving all week.

But is the “cheat day” good for our health? Does one day of indulgence reset the system and give us a boost heading into the new week?


Surprisingly, some leading nutritionists are saying “Yes,” but the answer’s a bit more complicated than that.

“You can feel motivated to stick to your diet plan because you know that you’re going to have a day where you get to eat a little bit of whatever you want,” nutritionist Maya Feller told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

GMA also notes that some experts say cheat days can help spur weight loss by increasing leptin, a hormone which decreases one’s appetite. Some experts also say a cheat day may increase metabolism and thus burn more calories.

Source: Jordan Viney/Twitter

Source: Jordan Viney/Twitter

But taking it to the extreme is never a good idea.

“When I counsel my patients, I actually don’t talk about using cheat days,” said Feller. “I talk more about moderation, have one meal that is a little bit more decadent.” Feller told GMA that if one of her client’s wants to do a cheat day, she says not to go to the extreme and eat thousands of calories.

ABC News’ chief women’s health correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, told GMA that a cheat day isn’t something for everyone, and that the amount somebody “cheats” will depend on the person.

“For one person it may be one cookie ever,” she said. “For another person, it might mean the entire bag of cookies.”

J.D. Roth, author of The Big Fat Truth and executive producer of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, however, does not see any benefit to a diet cheat day.

“The people I deal with are food addicts,” Roth told GMA. “They need to change their relationship with food and to have a ‘Sunday Funday,’ which is a day full of comfort food, usually comes with a side of remorse after it’s over. It’s a slippery slope.”

Roth’s comparison can best be summed up as an alcoholic jumping off the wagon and having a drink, GMA shared.

So, while it seems like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might be able to get away with a massive diet cheat day, for the layman, it’s best to stick to a light snack or maybe some mozzarella sticks, but that’s about it.


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