Are cheat days really good for you?

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Are cheat days really good for you?

UAE influencers voice their opinions

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Published: Thu 28 Dec 2017, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Jan 2018, 9:58 AM

The idea of a cheat day has been around for long. The premise is simple - eat strict for six days a week, and on the seventh, eat absolutely anything. We all know how tempting it is! You've been eating great and you want to treat yourself to a burger and crispy fries when the weekend hits.Some experts think cheat days are totally necessary to keep one sane. Others think they are a recipe for disaster, leading you to overeat, jeopardising your weight loss and fitness goals. 
There's a common misconception that cheat days can help boost your metabolism. Here's why this is not true: When you eat less, your metabolism slows down to "conserve" energy; when you eat more, it speeds up to use this energy. This, in theory, should allow you to stick to your strict diet for the remainder of your week.
The "cheat day", in fact, actually does nothing for your metabolism. Eating more to burn more isn't how it works. Your metabolism does increase after you eat, but if you binge on an additional 1,000 calories worth of pizza or ice cream, your metabolism doesn't jump to 1,500 calories. Also, overeating can lead to other
unhealthy habits. 
I don't normally recommend cheat days, because people abuse them to the point where all the hard work gets wiped off. I recommend enjoying a meal of your choice outside of home. It could be a steak and veggies or a red sauce pasta - it doesn't have to be a huge milkshake with fries. That being said, cheat days can have an advantage. Indulging occasionally and sensibly has the potential to help some people stick to their diets.
Personally, as a dietitian, I am very careful during the week but I also love food, occasionally indulging in smaller portions. That way, I treat myself a few times a week, rather than eating three big meals an entire day and feeling bad about it. To stay on track, only 10 to 20 per cent of your calories should come from those meals. Either way, one meal or snack is never going to make or break your weight loss goals. You need to look at the big picture. Eating should be enjoyable and not a punishment. If you're considering an entire cheat day, it is likely that your diet is too strict.
- Hala Barghout
Is a clinical dietitian and founder of Colour My Plate. You can follow her on Instagram @colourmyplatedubai and Facebook at Colour My Plate Dubai or keep up with her on the website 
Cooler days are upon us now and staying warm with our favourite comfort food is how most of us cope. If it's the weekend, and you're in your pajamas, watching TV while snuggling into a comfortable blanket, it's impossible to not crave a slice of cheesy pizza! And once you've demolished all eight slices, the only way to pacify yourself is by saying, 'hey, it's cheat day - all is well with the world'.
As a food blogger, I always get asked how I deal with eating heavy meals. And, to be honest, I wake up the next morning, drink a tall glass of water and just have a normal breakfast. Just because I eat a double cheeseburger the night before doesn't mean I'm going to starve myself the next day. I believe that cheat days only become harmful when you start depriving yourself the next day. I'm a believer of enjoying all types of food - carbs, vegetables, dairy, meat and oil - without anxiety. The key is to listen to all cravings - be it fruits, salads or chips - and to eat smart. If I attend one too many food tastings in a day, my body always craves veggies when I get home. 
If I give my body balanced meals that keep me energised throughout the week, I've come to observe that I'll feel 100 per cent better and am less likely to binge on Friday brunch. When I do this, I don't get many cravings. It's when you start depriving your body of certain specific items throughout the week, come the cheat day, you'll have way too many cravings, and before long, you've be bingeing on cheesecake. So, have the things you want in moderation and the rest of your eating habits will fall into place. That's worked best for me - better than any restrictions I've put on myself. 
I'm all for treating yourself with food, but I'm also a big proponent of listening to your hunger cues and treating your body right. 
Nikki Carbonell
Is a Dubai foodie and influencer. You can follow her on Instagram @hungrykhaleesi

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