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The Truth Behind ‘Cheat Days’

We often hear people in combat sports or even bodybuilding using the term cheat day, but what actually is a cheat day and would it really affect a fighter?

What are Cheat Days?

A cheat day is when a fighter or other fitness person has a strict healthy diet and they have one day where everything goes out the window and eats anything they like, which they describe as their cheat day.

They will generally eat more fatty, higher calorie foods, which they have deprived themselves of to maintain their weight. Let’s face it, some of the higher calorie foods do taste so good.

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So, what is the issue with a cheat day?

To be honest, not a lot really. A single day of richer foods will not be the end of the world, especially if that person is extremely fit and eating clean.

A higher calorific day will not do any harm. If their diet is too strict, it may even do them some good. Fighters in all combat sports disciplines have to fight in a specific weight class and they may take extreme weight cutting in order to make it into the lighter weight class.

Read our article about fighters cutting weight here.

Top Tip: A great way of treating yourself, without over-binging- is to keep a food diary. A healthy nutrition plan will account for snacks and treats. This means that you can track your small indulgences and know how much you can consume whilst still working to achieve your health goals. Remember, everything in moderation is the way to go!

Someone would need to consume approximately an extra 3500 calories to gain a pound in weight, however, that all depends on the individual.

Also, fats are a critical source of nutrition, but in fact it is one of the most essential things to eat. However, eating fats is not something we need to add to our diets, as most foods have more than enough that we need.

However, cheat days can help you stick to your diet. Healthline suggests that:

‘Some people can effectively resist temptation knowing that their cheat day is coming up, but not everyone can regulate their own eating behaviors in the same way. Thus, the same results cannot be guaranteed for every person’

Why do we need some fat in our diet?

A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients.

Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.

Any fat that’s not used by your body’s cells or turned into energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrates and proteins are also converted into body fat.

So, if a fighter is trying to lose too much weight in a short time to make a specific weight, their body might not be getting enough nutrients, so their body may crave for extra fuel.

Take a look at this video below for some more information of weather you should take cheat days:

When to avoid having cheat days?

If a fighter has a target weight to make in a certain time, maybe sticking to their usual daily routine to stay on track with their goals.

Also, it might be best to indulge a little bit every day (small indulgences liker one cookie), rather than binging for a full day once a week. Men’s health suggests ‘let’s be real: while the idea of sitting down and slamming an entire pizza may sound appealing, the feeling of fullness after you chow down isn’t.’

The BBC suggests that:

‘A review suggests the most effective strategy for long-term weight-loss and heart health is a healthy dietary pattern that’s compatible with what you like to eat and your lifestyle. It’s about finding what works for you. Hunter agrees: “When I’m asked, ‘What’s the best type of diet to help you lose weight’, my reply is always the same: ‘the one you can stick to’.

Take a look at this video below for some more information of weather you should take cheat days:

Final thoughts.

It’s OK to indulge once in a while! Eating your favorite meal can help keep you motivated. (But contrary to popular belief, cheat days don’t boost your metabolism). Any sudden weight gain is not fat. Just make sure after you’ve had your fun, you get back on your fitness journey and keep working towards your goals.

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