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Cheat Day Weight Loss

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Updated October 31, 2014 at 3:39 AM
Created May 02, 2012 at 12:56 PM

I've begun to notice something about my cheat days - they typically seem to cause more weight loss than regular days. I've seen as much as half a kilo drop off (and stay off) after a cheat day whilst plateauing for a while on regular days. I have 2 main questions connected to this - Has anyone noticed the same phenomenon? Can anyone think of a reason behind it or is it more likely to be a coincidence?

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0 · October 28, 2013 at 2:50 AM

I had something similar happen to me. On days when I consumed more calories, I lost weight compared to days when I consumed less. Like, I usually ate four small meals throughout the day, but at one point, I started eating two small meals without any snacks in between. By doing this, I actually gained a little bit of weight. I think this happened to me because my body thought that it was going through starvation mode so it tried to hang on to fat.

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1320 · May 02, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I agree with Sam. Day to day weight changes are largely meaningless. You would have to have a significant change in your diet (1750+ calories) to even make a 0.5 pound difference. It is more likely you altered your eating patterns and simply have less water/food in your system than on strict diet days. Example: Those that restrict calories often drink on 'cheat' days and intentionally consume less calories elsewhere to allow for alcohol. Drinking dehydrates you. Less water content would explain the difference in weight.

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8757 · May 02, 2012 at 1:52 PM

I don't know the 'science' of it but it could be your body needing the extra calories to work at a high level. Its probably along the lines of a refeed, but if you are doing it too often I think you might see fat building back on if they are cheats rather than 'refeeding' with good carbs...etc.....I'm sure someone will have some sort of official explanation, on occassion if you aren't reacting badly to it, it could just mean your body is working well and hard to rid the bad in a right way (versus a violent digestive reaction)

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1304 · May 02, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I have noticed the same thing and I don't know what to make of it. One thought I had is that I consume more carbohydrate on cheat days and so maybe I'm retaining more water in the days after that which causes a plateau. I doubt the french fries are causing me to drop fat. Then again a lot of body builders to carb re-feeds. Good question.

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19120 · May 02, 2012 at 2:10 PM

"Having carbs" does not a cheat day make. If that's your only "cheat", then keep doing what works for you. I eat between 40g and 180g of carbs a day, depending on what my activity levels were like that day or the day before or planned future activity. As you noted, carb refeeds are a technique people use.

I do not (well, no longer) have "cheat meals" or "cheat days."

A "sensible cheat day" for people that make it work for them tends to be one non-paleo meal per week, usually a big one, and usually one with a high reward feeling - e.g. pizza with friends, a night out drinking and a late night falafel, or something like that.

I've known people who have "a cheat day" that is actually just a complete binge. Enough to stall either weight loss or body recomp in its tracks.

If having "low quality" but really-fun food can fit into your lifestyle, and you're still hitting your goals, then I say go for it!

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1186 · May 02, 2012 at 6:15 PM

This happens to me when I am overtraining or undereating for show (not on purpose, but it is a fine line).

Your body goes into some starvation, and then you eat a bunch and it says "yay, the famine is over". It starts running on high again. Note: my cheat meal was usually a steak, salad and baked potato at the Keg).

Could be a combo of things working in your favour; the excess calories, the added carbs, or even the salt if you don't use it much to cook your own meals.

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3794 · May 02, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I vote for coincidence.

Day to day changes in total weight aren't likely to reflect changes in fat-mass.

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1320 · May 02, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I agree with Sam. Day to day weight changes are largely meaningless. You would have to have a significant change in your diet (1750+ calories) to even make a 0.5 pound difference. It is more likely you altered your eating patterns and simply have less water/food in your system than on strict diet days. Example: Those that restrict calories often drink on 'cheat' days and intentionally consume less calories elsewhere to allow for alcohol. Drinking dehydrates you. Less water content would explain the difference in weight.

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65 · October 09, 2012 at 8:44 PM

i've noticed this phenomenon too. when i was yo-yoing in my high school days, i'd break a big weight loss and underweight time by bingeing, not intentionally, but you know how it happens... and i could never keep back on the weight loss train after that binge day. i would actually lose in the first few days, but about a week after over eating, my clothes wouldn't fit, i'd be gaining, and a few weeks later, more weight would hit me, as much a surprise as when weight was dropping. i don't have a healthy relationship to food: the idea of a splurge day isn't one that i can do, walk ahead and eat healthily and without guilt. i still have the woes of possible weight gain and wasted time, splurging. i've been seeking treatment, though, for overeating and a few nights ago i splurged.. the first time eating sugar, wheat, chocolate, everything... in months. and i didn't feel guilty, but powerful, like, 'yeah, i ate all of this crappy, indulgent food, but i will be fine, and i don't need to eat another bite.' using the splurge day allowed me to see why the paleo diet wasn't a restrictive platform, but Vital for my optimum health. that avoiding sugars and low quality was not for weight loss, but happiness. i read on Mark's daily apple that someone did a splurge day every 4 weeks, to tell themselves Why they are on a paleo diet. one moment of eating poorly, is not a big deal, i try to tell myself, in the scheme that i hope to be alive another 70 years, eating right!

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0 · October 12, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Aww. Come on, y'all. If you stick to paleo 6 days a week, you can enjoy your cheat day. And you should enjoy it. As long as you don't go crazy on cheat days, you will continue to lose weight and feel great. Geez. Enjoy your life, and don't take too seriously@tommy123.

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78422 · October 09, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Could just be your state of mind. You get down in general, especially if you are really low-carb and really low-calorie and focus on the highest number of the week and after a splurge your neurotransmitters are up, your metabolism is kicking over and you are feelin' good and pay attention to the lower number.

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2029 · October 09, 2012 at 10:32 PM

That happened to me when I was losing weight on Weight Watchers. I always lost more the weeks I went over my allowances. In my case, the small allowance I was given was simply not enough to nourish my larger frame, so I lost weight better on more calories. Other than that, I don't know. But I can relate.

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1376 · May 25, 2012 at 4:54 AM

Yes, I have noticed that mixing it up is the only thing that will bust through a plateau. Randomizing my diet due to travel and activity level: a week strict paleo w high fat, moderate protein restricted calories, followed by 1-2 carb heavy higher calorie days, then and 18 hour fast broken w protein and (being honest here) wine and I recently saw a big jump on the scale, and fit into smaller clothes. My guess is that it is analogous to the idea of muscle confusion in training. Varying macros and calorie levels keeps the body out of conservation or famine mode so it is burning fat as needed. No science to back this up, just my guess. Furthur, I'll postulate that this random pattern of food availability was what our ancestors experienced Pre-agriculture.

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