“Is it ok if I have a “Cheat Day” while eating one meal a day?
The concept or idea of a “Cheat Day” is one that has been around for decades.
A Cheat Day may have a different meaning or approach to each person who considers cheating on their Omad Diet plan.
But, no matter how they are done it’s important to know how they can affect your Omad Diet and important things to know.
Let’s take a look at why someone has a “Cheat Day” if you should do them on the Omad Diet, and cheat day alternatives.
Why do People have Cheat Days on the Omad Diet?
After going through weeks or months of sticking to the Omad Diet, many people turn to a cheat day as a way to have more fun with their diet.
Instead of eating one meal they decide they are gonna eat multiple meals or snacks throughout the entire day.
Some may even decide they are going to extend their eating window and eat more food in a longer time frame.
There are many reasons that someone would have a cheat day on the Omad Diet or at least consider it.
Here are some common reasons why someone would consider having a cheat day.
Cheat Days are Fun
According to Dr. John Eastwood, author of the “Unengaged Mind” boredom has been associated with many harmful behaviors such as overeating, depression, and anxiety.
“All instances of boredom involve a failure of attention,” says Eastwood.
Feeling like you are in the same routine or patterns everyday can create a sense of needing something new as well.
What someone may think as being happy to them will be different to someone else.
Some may think of this happiness as snacking throughout the entire day on their favorite candy or junk food.
Others may be happy just eating out with family or friends and enjoyable sizable portions throughout the entire evening.
Whichever may be the case, wanting to have fun is one of the most common forms to many for justifying a cheat day.
Cheat Days are a Reward
“If I can just make it through this tough week, then on the weekend I can reward myself for the entire day”
You don’t want to make a habit of rewarding the good with the bad.
It’s really like taking a few steps forward only to take a few steps backward.
This point is somewhat similar to the first but is caused by different psychological influences and creates different mental effects.
Changing your relationship with food on the Omad Diet starts by stopping the mentality of binge eating and cheating.
Cheat Days Let You Eat More Types of Food
Most diets have a pretty restricted range of foods that you are allowed to eat.
The Omad Diet does not have these common restrictions.
But it is common for people to ‘want’ more of their favorite foods or snacks ‘more often’.
Cheat days are a way to give into these desires or cravings for ‘more.’
Cheat Days Increase Your Leptin
People who have more seriously studied dieting science may believe that cheat days increase their leptin levels.
They likely think that increased levels of this hormone will naturally burn fat off of their bodies and get them into better shape more quickly.
If you’ve never heard of leptin, you aren’t alone.
Leptin Controls Your Hunger
Leptin is a hormone for people who are trying to lose weight.
It is naturally produced by the fat cells in your body and helps to control your metabolic rate and your hunger levels.
Beyond that, leptin also helps to keep your energy levels balanced. However, the major role that leptin plays in your diet is that of keeping you from starving or from binge eating.
As a result, leptin can help you maintain a healthy diet that keeps your levels of fat low.
In fact, high levels of body fat will trigger an increase in leptin as a way of helping you lose that fat.
However, dieting causes the leptin in your body to decrease. When this happens, your body will then think that you are starving and will do two things that drive dieting people crazy: lower your metabolism and increase your hunger.
If you’ve ever felt incredibly hungry after dropping 10-15 pounds in body fat, leptin loss is the reason why you feel that way.
And if your weight loss peaked after a certain point, leptin may also be to blame.
This problematic reaction has caused many people to try to counteract it with a cheat day.
The idea here is that the extra fat and unhealthy foods you eat during a cheat day will satiate your body and naturally increase your leptin levels.
Why Cheat Days are not a good idea on the Omad Diet
WEIGHT-LOSS RESEARCH MAKES A CASE AGAINST CHEAT DAYS
Can Cheat Days enhance your weight loss in the long-term?
This is a question that researchers asked with the National Weight Control Registry, which is an organization that studies subjects who have had weight loss of more than thirty pounds and did not gain it back for at least a year.
Their research found that the subjects who maintained consistency were more likely to maintain weight loss over the next year than those subjects who remained inconsistent.
Here are some reasons on why Cheat Days are so problematic for the Omad Diet:
1. Cheat Days are Psychologically Damaging
When you alternate a strict diet with cheat days, you are creating what psychologists call a fracturing in your mind.
This term refers to defining your behavior using multiple terms.
In this case, you are stating that your diet is the “good” way to eat while the cheat day is the “bad” way to eat.
You are creating labels and off-limit behaviors that can be very damaging to your mental health.
For example, a cheat day will feel like you are breaking the rules of your regular diet.
And while the human mind does like specific rules and regulations for their behavior, we usually buck against rigorous routines.
In fact, a cheat day often activates the rebellion mindset that lurks just beneath the surface of most people after their teenage years.
This mindset occurs if people feel too controlled by an authority figure and react against it in rebellious ways.
Often, this rebellion goes against their well being and is merely a reactive way of asserting authority and control over their lives.
While it might seem hard to believe, people may feel this way towards a diet that they are voluntarily following.
As a result, they will use their cheat day as a rebellion against the “authority” of their diet.
That sense of rebellion is often contagious and may cause them to start cheating here and there during their regular diet days.
And slowly, but surely, their diet will start breaking down because they had to rebel against the strictness of their routine.
Without a cheat day, this issue is almost non-existent.
2. Binge Eating is Addictive
Binge-eating behaviors may seem hard to understand for those who have never fallen victim to them.
That’s because they can be classed as an addictive behavior that requires either great willpower or even treatment to manage.
It might seem hard to believe, but multiple studies have showcased the fact that people who binge eat regularly can’t help themselves.
In a study published by “Scientific American,” it was found that binge eating activated many of the same impulses and biological reactions that drug addiction triggered.
There were a few reasons for these reactions. Some people were reacting to the chemicals and fat that are common in most junk food eaten during a binge.
These items are designed to compel you to eat as much as possible in a short time. They are also addictive and can cause cravings when you don’t eat them for an extended period.
However, the study found that most binge eating activated the pleasure centers in a person’s mind in a way that triggered addictive behaviors.
The reasons behind these pleasurable feelings varied. For example, some people connected binge eating with positive experiences in their life, such as a family vacation or spending time with their parents and overeating at a restaurant.
Others directly experienced great pleasure in the act of eating, so much joy that it creates a very addictive cycle of behaviors.
And falling into these patterns is much more likely to happen if you use a cheat day. This problem is particularly exacerbated if you are prone to overeating in general and are trying to lose weight because of poor dieting choices in the past.
3. Cheat Days Trigger Emotional Eating
While cheat days may seem harmless to people who enjoy them, they are a form of emotional eating.
I touched on this concept a little in a previous point, but it needs to be discussed in more depth here. Emotional eating is caused by an attachment to certain types of foods.
These foods are then eaten by people who use them to soothe their emotional pain.
For example, you may find that ice cream helps to relieve your anxiety at the end of a tough day.
Or maybe you love eating pizza every Friday because you used to do it with your family. These emotional foods trigger the same emotions that are connected with these memories.
As a result, you can find yourself feeling better just by eating a particular type of food.
Even worse, cheat days are a connection to your old way of eating, behaviors which caused the increased weight in the first place.
It is also an admission of defeat, in that it tacitly states that your stricter diet is not sustainable.
If it was viable, you wouldn’t need a cheat day to get through your week. Even worse, it reinforces your old patterns of eating and reminds your body and your mind of how pleasurable they felt to you at the time.
4. Cheat Days Operate on Will-Power and Discipline
Many people believe that they lack the willpower and discipline necessary to be successful on a diet.
For example, a study in “Stress of America” found that 27 percent of people believed that willpower and discipline kept them from success.
However, willpower and discipline are learned attributes, not inherent personal qualities.
Cheat days inhibit your chance to improve your will-power and discipline by allowing them to break down temporarily.
Sticking with your Omad Diet will naturally improve your willpower and discipline and make it easier for you to achieve long-term success.
5. Cheat Days Ignore Your Body
When you binge eat on a cheat day, you are doing what your mind is telling you to do.
You aren’t listening to what your body wants.
The body naturally craves healthy foods and wants you to eat food that is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, people often confuse what their body wants with what their mind wants.
And if you are used to binge eating or enjoy junk food, cheat days are giving your mind precisely what it wants.
As a result, you think that you are doing your body a favor when you only satisfy your mental cravings and not that of your body.
Don’t be too hard on yourself for this mistake.
After all, the mind is part of the body and controls your behaviors in ways that can be hard to manage.
6. Cheat Days Lead to ‘More’ Cheat Days
Binging on the cheat day makes it very challenging to confine these cravings and cheat-day foods into a certain day of the week or monthly routine.
The mentality of “I’m only going to eat these snacks or junk food on Sunday,” can easily turn into a more frequent behavior that leads to increased cheat days.
When someone uses the term “cheat meal” to describe their behavior, it is like prescribing a moral value to food.
This is when we begin to inaccurately label foods as “good” or “bad.”
While it’s important to have a good understanding of the nutrition in the food we consume, labeling certain food types leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.
In turn, this leads to a continuous cycle of binging.
8. Cheat Days Undo Your Progress
Remember how good it felt when you worked all week and made strides when you stepped on the scale?
By staying true to your goals and commitment, you want to keep moving forward and never look backward.
By dedicating a day to unnatural eating behavior, you will be undoing all the significant progress you made in your Omad Diet.
Even worse, it will begin to affect your emotional health by feeling guilty about it the next day.
By the time your body starts to feel great again, you will be ready for your next cheat day and go through the cycle all over again.
9. Cheat Days Don’t Work for Leptin Management
Cheat meals are often very high in fat and essentially become ineffective when trying to raise leptin levels.
You may wonder why this even matters.
If all you want is a mental break during the week then why does it matter at all if the meal is high in fat?
This is a simple answer.
When you want to raise leptin levels, there is research that shows that carbohydrate overfeeding is far superior than fat overfeeding. In turn, this has no significant impact or effect on the leptin levels at all.
Another study also measured effects of isoenergetic meals(carbohydrate and fat) and fasting with the leptin levels of twenty-two subjects.
They found in both genders that the leptin response was much higher after the carbohydrate feeding when it was compared to the higher fat meal.
10. Cheat Days Can Disrupt Structure
One of the frequent things I talk about with the Omad Diet is the importance of structure and discipline.
Developing the right mentality is a key for long-term success.
By altering your usual routine, you will put your long-term goals and motivation at risk.
A research study was conducted that divided subjects into 2 groups.
One group was told every time they faced a temptation, they would say to themselves “I CAN’T do X.” An example would be every time they were faced a temptation such as cookies they would say, “I can’t eat cookies.”
The other group were given instructions to say “I DON’T do X.” An example of this would be when they were faced with the temptation of cookies would be to say “I don’t eat cookies.”
When every subject walked out from the room, after they handed in their answer sheets, they were offered a treat. The subjects were given a choice of a health bar or a candy bar.
The researchers would record their snack choice on thier answer sheet.
The subjects who said “I can’t eat X” had chose the candy bar 61% of the time.
The subjects who said, “I don’t eat X” chose the candy bar 36% of the time.
What to Do Instead of Cheat Days
Carefully Plan Your Meals
Instead of overeating during a cheat day, you can try to integrate a few fun foods into your Omad Diet.
Planning a few fun diversions in this way can keep your diet more diverse and avoid boredom and fatigue.
When planning one of these minor dietary changes, make sure that you don’t go overboard.
Finding a new recipe that you never tried before and trying new foods with your Omad Diet can be a great way to divert the urge to cheat and keep your journey interesting.
Approach Food the Same Each Day
The Omad Diet is about enjoying your food without daily restrictions.
Don’t wait until a special day, occasion, or weekend to enjoy your favorite foods.
Eat the foods that you want and find a way to build them into your daily menu.
The purpose of this is to satisfy yourself enough to not feel feel deprived and prevent overeating and cravings later on.
Try a Refeed For Your One Meal
A good refeed is a bit like a controlled, structured, and focused cheat day. It’ll be a time during which you eat more calories than normal but not in a random way that only reinforces your weight gain.
Instead, refeeds are centered around healthy foods that raise positive hormones in your body.
Specifically, they are designed to boost your leptin levels.
They do that by increasing the number of carbohydrates that you eat in a day.
Healthy carbs, and not random fats, are the key to improving this hormone level. In fact, your fats need to be kept at minimal levels.
The extra calorie levels have to be appropriate to your diet and your body consumption.
You also need to choose fiber-rich carbohydrates that naturally promote a healthy level of leptins.
Here are some foods that would be ideal for a refeed in your one meal a day diet.
- Pasta, high grain meals
- Fruits and starchy veggies
Find Support In Your Journey
If find yourself tempted to try a cheat day, you should seek support from like-minded individuals.
These groups should consist of goal-oriented people who have the same motivation and seek similar results.
This collection of people will make your Omad Diet seem more fun and activates the natural group mentality that is common to everyone.
And while studies have shown that this group mentality can be used to promote negative behavior, it can also be used for the powers of good.
Make sure that you find people who are genuinely dedicated and who are naturally positive about life.
The Importance Of Staying On The Long-Term Journey
Never lose sight of the ultimate long-term goal when it comes to your weight loss journey.
These are the changes that become permanent and also changes that you don’t feel like you are restricting yourself.
These are changes that don’t cause cravings or lure you into wanting to break from your normal Omad Diet routine.
These changes build a healthy relationship food with a way to fuel the body and not satisfy the mind.
You want to have changes that get you excited about your long-term future and it starts with changing your mentality.
Do you use cheat days while on the Omad Diet?
Leave a comment below or visit the Omad Diet Community Forums.