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I'm on a strict diet which consists of 3000 calories 50/30/20 (pcf) consisting of chicken or beef, green vegetables, eggs, bread, and rice.

I'm 5'7" and currently about 8% body fat. I have consistently been loosing fat and gaining muscle and I've been happy with my progress.

Is it better to polish off a tub of icecream in one sitting or across a cheat day? Is there any evidence that a cheat day is good for you? I've heard stuff that it keeps your metabolism ticking over or something. Is there any truth to this?

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A good answer would be based on this article: t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/… but the article is so good, that any answer that doesn't infringe on the article's copyright would be inferior. –  user3085 Jul 23 '12 at 4:12
    
Why would you want to eat the whole tub of ice cream rather than just a few scoops? –  Robin Ashe Jul 23 '12 at 7:13
    
because I do. I'm on no alcohol, and chicken, rice, and vegies day in, day out, now on my 4th month and I'm going nuts. –  Mike S Jul 23 '12 at 23:13
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Cheat days is God's way of saying that you should enjoy life a bit with your diet. It significantly increases your leptin levels which give you that "feel good" sensation for a few days. A full on cheat day MUST be followed by an extremely strict low carb day though. That is a rule of thumb I follow and it works wonders. –  Andreas Jul 25 '12 at 5:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm basing my answer entirely off of this article: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/in_defense_of_cheat_days

Supposed benefits

  • Increased thyroid hormone output
  • Increased 24-hour energy expenditure (up to 9% increase in metabolic rate)
  • Increased serum leptin levels (increased thermogenisis)

Counter-points

  • You're probably not leptin-depleted, and your metabolic rate probably hasn't actually slowed significantly.
  • Cheat days may be a gateway to full-on failure to follow your planned diet.
  • Cheat days will encourage eating of unhealthy foods.

Counter-counter-points

  • If you're not leptin depleted, you aren't dieting hard enough on non-cheat days, and even if you have a slight decrease in metabolism due to caloric deficit, this should be fought by cheat days.
  • Not everyone is addicted to food. A cheat day doesn't necessarily mean the end of your diet.
  • Cheat days just mean high calories, not bad calories... it's up to you to still eat healthy on a cheat day.

How to cheat

  • Decide that you need to. If your progress has slowed for a few weeks (you say that yours hasn't), try a cheat. If your caloric deficit is not that low, then you don't need to cheat that often.
  • Start with cheat meals. If they are not enough to stimulate progress, progress to cheat days.
  • Don't stuff yourself.
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