Keep a full day from spinning out of control.
Although Olympians and professional athletes often describe bacchanal cheat days in interviews, non-pros might do themselves a disservice by consistently going with the latter interpretation. That’s because the body will compensate and keeps things stable to prevent weight gain or loss when you eat a bit below your caloric needs or a bit above, says Ryan Andrews, RD, a coach with Precision Nutrition. “The concept of a balanced diet has become distorted, and the cheat day is a good example,” adds Nicole Groman, RD.
An easy way to shift your thinking: While eating healthfully all week long, have a regularly scheduled cheat meal instead of a full-fledged cheat day, Andrews suggests. “I would challenge people to think about the difference between eating a bit more than usual on Saturday night versus an all-out cheat day with forced overeating," he says. "It's when one meal becomes a day that things often spiral out of control.”