The Ultimate Cheat Day... Should you have one too?
Cheat days get a bit of a bad rap in the fitness world. Some people say you should only have a “cheat meal,” meaning you go all out for only one meal to help keep calories down for your whole day so it doesn’t set you back too far. Others say you should have scheduled refeeds that are meticulously tracked by adding in more carbs than usual to boost metabolism to help with fat loss over time.
I usually follow one of these two principles each week dependent on what my goal is at the given time. I’ll do more efficient refeeds when I’m in a strict fat loss phase and when I’m being less strict with my nutrition I’ll have a given cheat “meal.” This week though, wifey and I decided to step things up a notch. Well, I decided, then had to talk her into it… Anyway, we were taking a trip for the night to Salt Lake City, and I thought that would be the perfect place to start off a full blown “Ultimate Cheat Day.”
Complimentary cinnamon rolls at our hotel. Man o’ man! These were a tasty way to start things off at 8:00 in the morning. I usually follow the principles of intermittent fasting and push my first meal of the day back to around 12:00-1:00 pm, but enjoying these first thing in the morning was quite the treat. I’ve always had a thing for cinnamon rolls.
Estimated Calories for each: 510
After finishing things up with the cinnamon rolls we got ready to head out for the day. We found a donut shop online called Banbury Cross Donuts that was a little over a mile away from the hotel. Instead of mindlessly hopping in the car and driving over, we thought it’d be a good idea to get in some extra activity. So we left the car parked and walked ourselves there. This donut shop doesn’t have a bunch of the crazy donuts you see these days on Instagram, but they had a solid selection. I ordered one glazed, one cinnamon coated glazed, and one sticky bun w/ pecans. The Mrs. ordered one glazed, one maple, and 6 mini beignets.
My favorite: Sticky Bun w/ pecans
Claira’s favorite: Glazed (she’s boring and likes plain things)
Estimated calories for my three donuts: 1628 calories
After walking around the city a bit it was time to hop in the car and get headed back to Idaho. We made a pit stop in Farmington, UT to do a little shopping and grab our next meal. We decided on Blaze Pizza and Baked Bear. If you’ve never been to Blaze I highly suggest it. It’s like a Chipotle but for pizza. You walk through the line as the person serving you is adding the toppings you choose to throw on your pizza. I went with pepperoni, chicken, bacon, pineapple, and onions. Claira had a chicken alfredo style.
Afterwards we walked next door to Baked Bear, another one of my favorites. Baked Bear is an ice cream sandwich shop with fresh baked cookies and amazingly creamy ice cream. I had a cookies and cream cookie and a funfetti cookie loaded with vanilla ice cream in the middle. Claira had a funfetti cookie and snickerdoodle cookie loaded with vanilla ice cream as well, topped with sprinkles. These things were amazing. If you are ever in Farmington.. GO. Don’t walk, run, and GO to Baked Bear.
Estimated calories for one pizza and one ice cream sandwich: 1650
CANDY. I don’t think I’ve walked into a gas station and came out with starburst and a chocolate bar since high school. Given this amazing day Claira Belle and myself had been having though, it seemed like the perfect treat for the rest of the ride home.
Back home to our small town Idaho, there aren’t many options on a Sunday night for dinner. Given we weren’t in the mood to go home and cook anything we were left with three choices: Burger King, Subway, or Wendy’s. Wendy’s it was. I got a Chicken Sandwich, 10 piece chicken nugget, and medium fry. Wifey went with some nuggets, a small fry, and a mini frosty. By this point she was almost done with food. She talks a big game like she can eat a lot, but somehow always ends up full way before I do???
After getting back home and letting most of the food digest from this marvelous “foodie” day. I had one thing left in my mind, and one thing only… CEREAL. I don’t know if anybody out there loves cereal as much as I do, but there’s just something about a little milk and some crunch out of a bowl. So naturally I loaded up one of the bigger bowls in the household to finish things off.
Total estimated calories and macros for the day:
Protein: 160 grams
Carbs: 750 grams
Fat: 290 grams
This blog post was mostly for fun and to give you all a little insight on what our first experience of a full blown cheat day was like, but there are a few main points that I think are important to touch on.
- Throughout this whole day I never tried to completely stuff myself and binge. At each meal I ate until I was satisfied and happy, not sick. This made the day so much more enjoyable and easier on my body. I was able to enjoy the company of my wife and all the sugar highs that came along with it.
- My regular daily calorie intake is roughly 3000 calories per day at the moment. My goal for this cheat was somewhere around 6000 calories. To offset a bit of the damage I knew was going to happen from eating so much food, I took a couple days before the cheat day and ate around 2300-2500 calories and will do the same for a day or two after the cheat day. This has nothing to do with punishing myself for eating so much, it is just an easy and maintainable way to offset some of the big caloric intake.
- My wife and I are both coming out of a semi strict dieting phase that ended roughly a month or so ago. Since then we have slowly been building our food intake back up each week and letting our leptin levels balance out (leptin is a hormone that tells your body how hungry you are). If we would have taken this cheat day right after our diets we would have done much more damage. I think I wouldn’t have been satisfied until somewhere around 10,000-12,000 calories. So if you are in a dieting phase, a full on cheat day may not be the best thing for you until the diet is over. I would suggest a cheat meal or refeed day instead.
This was our first attempt at a day like this. There’s something about food that can make your day so much better, but there’s also something about food that can make your life so much worse if we’re not mindful. Find that balance of discipline and enjoyment. Having a good relationship with food is so important mentally AND physically. We know that having our Ultimate Cheat Day will set us back a couple of days, but we also know that as long as we get right back on track the next day we will be just fine. If you have any questions or would like us to do another blog on our next cheat day let us know.
Chaz is the co-founder/owner and head coach at Lost & Lifting. He also owns his own gym - Fit Factory, located in Preston, Idaho (his hometown). Chaz works with clients all over the world to take control of their body composition through evidence based and sustainable strategies. His passion has turned from building his own body to educating and helping others do the same through his online coaching platform.
Lost & Lifting Talk
L&L Talk (hosted by Chaz), is the Lost & Lifting podcast where we dive deep into nutriton, training, and lifestyle to help you become more educated inside your journey to produce the result you want faster, and in a more sustainable manner