As I hear this debate over and over again I thought it’s a good subject to be discussed.
What is a “cheat” in terms of weight loss? A cheat is when you eat or drink something you’re not supposed to, as per the weight loss rules you decided for yourself.
Everyone cheats. Do not think you are / will be special. Even the most top performing athletes do, so we, amateurs don’t stand a chance. The rate of success is given by how we treat the idea of cheating.
Planned cheating vs. spontaneous cheating
Some people talk about planning their cheating times. It’s usually centered around a specific weekend day. So what they do is to plan to eat and drink whatever they crave, which is not part of their diet, on that specific day. My problem with this approach is that unless you’re a professional, you will not be able to direct your cravings on that planned day only. Normal people don’t have such a well-defined routine, in spite of the work week office schedule.
So what you can do in this case is to let your life decide when the cheat happens = spontaneous cheating. It could happen during an unplanned visit from a friend, or an unplanned eating out, or even a coworker’s birthday at the office. This makes your life looser than having a specific day for diet cheating.
Another advantage is lifting the pressure of not cheating in any other day other than the designated cheat day. We are not robots, which means the more rules we apply for ourselves for losing weight, the more prone to failure we are.
Now there are two key points to have in mind in order for spontaneous cheating to be successful.
- Count your spontaneous cheatings. When having this approach it’s easy to increase your cheating frequency by not sticking to a planned cheating schedule. In order to overcome this, keep a tab on every time you cheat. The system I used for years is that I allow myself a maximum of 20% cheat days counted on minimum 30 days. That equals to 6 days / 30 days. I just count them when they happen, and not how they are distributed across the whole month. That means I could, for example, have 6 cheat days one after another and then 24 clean days. I would still consider the whole month a success.
- Cheat days actually mean cheat meals. This is a BIG one. Make no confusion. If you treat your cheat days as a one whole day free pass to feasting, it’s gonna be very hard to advance in weight loss. Rather than that, try to do ONLY cheat meals. Eat and drink as much as you want, during 2 hours. Also, do not try to compensate your cheat by skipping future meals. You will assume your cheat meal and get back to normal life as soon as possible. This is very important. Return back to your normal eating as soon as on next meal after cheating. It will help you avoid binge eating and will make you feel in control of your diet.
How to lose weight with spontaneous cheat meals:
- Cheat meals of maximum 2h
- Maximum 6 cheat days in 30 days, in any order
- No meal skipping after a cheat meal
- Have a regular meal after a cheat meal, like it didn’t happen