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Exylem

Cheat day or nah?

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm currently trying to improve my diet. I've returned to boxing 3 times a week, and i'm trying to eat junk food (which i absolutely love - pizzas, hamburguers, sushi with lots of cream cheese... you name it) less than before.

 

My goal is maybe a bit too general - I don't want to get tons of muscles and, honestly, I'm comfortable with my body the way it is now. I could lose a few pounds, but if i don't lose anything, i'm happy - i just don't want to gain more. Also, i know appearance isn't all, and I'm worried that if i continue the lifestyle I had, my body won't be able to maintain a good balance as i become older.

 

Long story short, my plan is: Keep going boxing 3 times a week, and eat junk food once per week (on saturday, a "cheat day"). I won't mind eating some ice cream in the middle of the week, or a pastel/coxinha (fried brazilian foods), as long as i don't overeat - and, on saturday, i'll allow myself to eat a bit more without feeling guilty.

 

There's the issue: I've read a blog post and some opinions here on nerdfitness talking about how cheat days aren't a good idea, and how "cheating" is a bad word to use when referring to your diet, and how just changing your diet and allowing yourself to eat junk food occasionally, without cheating, is better.

 

Well, on one hand, I agree - it is taking a huge amount of mental effort to eat things just on saturday (the day i choose to "cheat"). The first days are easy, but now, on Thursday, i'm already craving a hamburguer. On the other hand, however, i've tried the "oh, no cheat day, i'll just eat less junk food but i'll eat when i feel like it". Well, truth is, i feel like it all the time. I need a concrete plan to help me with this - Eating once/twice a month didn't work, and "eat less when you want to" is too broad for me either. The cheat day thing is the thing that worked best to me for now - i'm definetely improving my diet. However, i feel like i won't be able to resist eating these things just once per week.

 

Any tips about what should i do? Thanks a lot! :)

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25 minutes ago, Exylem said:

Any tips about what should i do?

 

At the end of the day, if you are happy with the way you currently look, whatever keeps you at that point is what you should do. You are actually in a really good spot because it doesn't seem like you'll have to do anything too demanding (unlike people who has significant changes to make)! The thing about cheating or no is that it really depends on calories. You aren't going to gain weight if you are eating at or below your maintenance calorie number. There are absolutely some nuances around what types of food you are eating, but if you are satisfied with your current state, they aren't as essential if you were trying to lose fat or gain muscle.

 

So the idea of eating "less junk food" or "when you feel like it" IS really relative and would totally be hard to follow! Most people who subscribe to the idea of changing their diet to allow for occasionally eating junk food do so through calorie counting and budgeting (If It Fits Your Macros or IIFYM). It's not free reign on eating all of the hamburgers you want. What it allows a person to do is say, "I want to eat a burger today, so I'm having a low calorie salad for lunch" or something similar. 

 

Something else you might consider is Intermittent Fasting (IF). This would give you an eating window of (for example 8 hours). This can help people naturally eat fewer calories (because if you don't eat breakfast for example, then eat a normal lunch and dinner, you've automatically decreased calories) and can also help offset higher calorie dinners through decreasing earlier calories. 

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Hey Sylvaa. Thanks for the quick answer!

 

I thought about intermittent fasting, and i might try it. I'll also need to study a bit more about calories it seems, so i can make better choices.

 

Thanks! If anybody else has other tips, i appreciate it! :)

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If you're happy with the way you look and already eat junk food (and I agree it is delicious) I don't see anything wrong with one cheat day a week, although I would caveat that with; be careful not to eat more than you usually would on this day. My problem with cheat days was that mentally, if I'd gone a week without junk food, I'd then order more than I usually would because I was 'treating' myself and that's when the whole thing can become problematic (for me, at any rate).

 

You might also consider cooking healthier versions of your favourite junk food at home. Burgers, for instance, can be relatively easy to make and cook yourself without sacrificing flavour or fitness goals.

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9 hours ago, Exylem said:

It is taking a huge amount of mental effort to eat things just on saturday (the day i choose to "cheat"). The first days are easy, but now, on Thursday, i'm already craving a hamburguer. On the other hand, however, i've tried the "oh, no cheat day, i'll just eat less junk food but i'll eat when i feel like it". Well, truth is, i feel like it all the time.

Cheat meals, cheat days, treats, etc. are all great - if you have the discipline to limit them. But, as you've experienced, one can turn into many very easily.

 

My 'real talk', not-fun, 'life sucks, but that's how it goes' advice? No treats. Period. For at least 6-8 weeks.

 

By removing the 'option' of eating cheat foods entirely, you are giving your willpower a rest - you've set a hard line, and you aren't allowed to go past it. Having to say 'less', or 'just' can be more difficult for some people (eg. myself, maybe you too?) than simple, straight up abstinence. Take the choice off the table.

 

After 6-8 weeks of hardcore healthy eating, you may also be surprised at how much less frequently you even WANT the junk food - and there's a good chance you'll eat less of it afterwards as well. Junk food can often taste great in the moment, but with a quick 'reset' focusing on vegetables & fruit, it may not be as tempting. An interesting exercise is to hold a bite of your 'junk food' in your mouth for 30 seconds - really focus on the taste; you may be surprised at how gross some of those 'treats' may actually be, if you have to stop and focus on them.

 

The combo of fat/salt/sweet can also encourage more consumption as time goes on - the parts of your brain that perceive 'rewards' want more; which is to say, the more junk you eat, the more you want to eat junk. Hence the 'reset' recommendation.

 

 

Alternatively, you could just go with the 'If It Fits Your Macros' idea, while paired with calorie counting - that is to say, you have to eat all the good stuff for your nutritional needs, and maybe limit treats to 300kcal/day without going over your TDEE. But that requires more thought/work than you may enjoy.

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4 hours ago, GodzillaKong said:

You might also consider cooking healthier versions of your favourite junk food at home. Burgers, for instance, can be relatively easy to make and cook yourself without sacrificing flavour or fitness goals.

That's a good idea, and may help me to fit more tasty meals and less "dangerous" meals on my diet, at least for now. Thanks!

 

35 minutes ago, Defining said:

Cheat meals, cheat days, treats, etc. are all great - if you have the discipline to limit them. But, as you've experienced, one can turn into many very easily.

 

My 'real talk', not-fun, 'life sucks, but that's how it goes' advice? No treats. Period. For at least 6-8 weeks.

 

By removing the 'option' of eating cheat foods entirely, you are giving your willpower a rest - you've set a hard line, and you aren't allowed to go past it. Having to say 'less', or 'just' can be more difficult for some people (eg. myself, maybe you too?) than simple, straight up abstinence. Take the choice off the table.

 

After 6-8 weeks of hardcore healthy eating, you may also be surprised at how much less frequently you even WANT the junk food - and there's a good chance you'll eat less of it afterwards as well. Junk food can often taste great in the moment, but with a quick 'reset' focusing on vegetables & fruit, it may not be as tempting. An interesting exercise is to hold a bite of your 'junk food' in your mouth for 30 seconds - really focus on the taste; you may be surprised at how gross some of those 'treats' may actually be, if you have to stop and focus on them.

 

The combo of fat/salt/sweet can also encourage more consumption as time goes on - the parts of your brain that perceive 'rewards' want more; which is to say, the more junk you eat, the more you want to eat junk. Hence the 'reset' recommendation.

 

 

Alternatively, you could just go with the 'If It Fits Your Macros' idea, while paired with calorie counting - that is to say, you have to eat all the good stuff for your nutritional needs, and maybe limit treats to 300kcal/day without going over your TDEE. But that requires more thought/work than you may enjoy.

Thanks for the suggestion, but that doesn't work for me. I have tried even less hardcore things, like "i'll only eat junk food once a month!", and i simply failed before completing two weeks. Tried again - failed again.

 

Some people (like my ex) have the willpower to do that, and, thus, i appreciate the suggestion, but that isn't me. Yes, i know, it's not ideal, but that's just not me. I think i'm improving, but i'm doing it slowly.

 

EDIT: To explain it better, i have no intention to totally stop eating these things. I like pizza, hamburguer, etc., and i want to eat them. I just don't want to eat these things as much as I do - i want to eat them because i choose to, not because i crave them all the time.

 

Yeah, the ideal thing for my health would be to totally stop, but, honestly, i don't wish to do that completely.

 

Thanks everyone! :)

 

 

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On ‎9‎/‎13‎/‎2018 at 3:14 PM, Exylem said:

Some people (like my ex) have the willpower to do that, and, thus, i appreciate the suggestion, but that isn't me. Yes, i know, it's not ideal, but that's just not me. I think i'm improving, but i'm doing it slowly.

Fair enough, you've gotta do what works for you. Bear in mind, every time you tell yourself "I can't", it's reinforcing that belief; don't underestimate the power of self-talk.

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