I argue, yes. Why else cheat? But this isn’t going to be a post about those gamers that lack the skill to beat a computer program. I’m talking about cheating in the fitness arena.
The topic of cheat days and cheat meals is a hotly debated one. Some argue that you must “dial in” your nutrition 100% to get the body you want. Others argue that you need to let loose on a regular basis. I’m of the latter persuasion, and here’s why.
1) Cheating keeps Cthulhu at bay. In other words, it keeps you sane. Have you ever noticed that you only really want something when you can’t have it? Sure, we have cravings (I could really go for some Taco Bell right now, actually). But, when you allow yourself tacos most of the time you find you just eat that meal out of habit. Now you’ve gained a lot of weight and go to drastic measures by cutting out tacos all together. I bet within a week you’re craving them so badly you drive yourself literally insane.
2) Less stress. Have you ever been doing really well on your way to a week of 100% clean eating, then you find yourself half into a bottle of wine or two sleeves into a bag of Oreos? What happens next? Well, for most people it’s beating yourself up mentally about it. The problem is you’re now compounding the amount of stress you’re putting on yourself (one from the cheat and one from the mental pounding). There are a lot of studies coming out linking stress to weight gain and common diseases. By allowing yourself that cheat/treat you’re reducing your stress and will be more successful.
3) No need to truly “diet”, just eat healthy. By allowing yourself cheats, or treats, you go from following a diet to learning how to just be healthy. Instead of thinking about how you’re going to sabotage all that hard work you can focus on eating according to your plan and sticking to a healthy living.
4) It’s just real life. Even some of the top people in fitness an nutrition go off the rails on occasion. Granted, it may not be weekly or even monthly, but it does happen.
But what about your results? How can you possibly get a 6-pack, ripped and shredded bod if you’re cheating on yourself? Well, you can. It just takes a bit longer and some more work but you’ll generally be happier and your results will even last longer (because you’re less likely to see the results and completely revert to eating like a broke college student). So there’s my point of view on the whole situation. Be healthy, work hard, but live life and love doing it.