It might surprise you that cheat days aren't all that bad. In fact, these planned indulgences can actually help you reach your long-term goals and avoid weight-loss plateaus. However, moderation is key.
Video of the Day
Having a few healthy but indulgent recipes in your back pocket can help make cheat day a day of delicious moderation. Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness has the ultimate recipe for cheat day — chocolate peanut protein butter balls.
The Rules of the Cheat Day
The idea behind "cheating" is to eat clean and get your physical activity in for the majority of your week, but then allow yourself to indulge in the not-so-healthy foods you may be craving. This keeps you sane and helps control your cravings.
There are different philosophies, such as the 80/20 rule (eating healthy 80% of the time) that might be right for you. Since you know your own limits better than anyone, you need to decide which cheat strategy works for you and your goals.
Remember, "cheating" is NOT a license to binge eat junk food and totally go off the rails. When planning a cheat meal, carefully consider what option works for you to enjoy it without sacrificing your results.
If you're just starting out, allow yourself a single cheat meal each week. This gives you something to look forward to while you stay focused and earn it.
How to Plan Your Cheat Strategy
- Make your cheat meal something you truly love and plan for it in advance.
- Practice portion control and moderation.
- Don't feel guilty.
- Enjoy your splurges, but don't lose sight of your fitness goals.
- Track the cheat meal with the LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Calorie Tracker — available on desktop and for iOS and Android devices — so you can see how it impacts your macros.
- It's a part of your journey — which resumes after your cheat day.
How to Join the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge
1. Download the MyPlate App
Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!
Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it, you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.
- Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
- Exercise and activity
- BMI (Body Mass Index)
2. Print Out Your Daily Calendar
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge, you're accountable for five key steps: tracking breakfast, lunch and dinner; tracking your water intake; and either walking or running.
We created a helpful calendar to keep you on task for all 30 days. Print it out and check off each activity as soon as you complete it.
3. Stay Connected on Facebook
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Read All About Cheat Meals
- The Art and Science of "Cheat Meals"
- Will One Night of Binging Ruin My Diet?
- How to Burn Off a Heavy Meal
Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge? If so, what's your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight-loss challenge group before? How did it go for you? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know.