Sam Wood reveals how much damage a ‘cheat week’ actually does


As someone who loves a beer and rarely says no to a bit of chocolate, I am definitely a fan of a cheat meal, although I prefer to call it a ‘treat’ meal instead. I don’t ‘cheat’ on my diet; I incorporate a treat meal now and then because I’m all about balance and not depriving yourself of the things you love.

But do we really need a whole day, let alone a whole week of indulgence? What does this do to our body? I have seen many cases where a ‘cheat week’ becomes the beginning of the end for those who just can’t get back on the health bandwagon. I have also seen many cases where if people had put the same effort into their training and nutrition as they do their cheat week, they’d be in much better shape! So with all this said, let’s look at some of the real problems that a cheat week can create.

1. It can mess with your mentality

There are a few things that happen when you drop the ball on your nutrition. First and foremost, it’s your mindset that suffers. When you have a week of going bananas on greasy takeaway food and go hard on the grog and sugary treats, you tend to slip into an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. This can be a slippery slope and can make it even harder to call it quits and return back to your healthy routine. I find my clients get wonderful results when they’re in a state of positive momentum, rewarding the little wins and reinforcing the good work that they’re doing by starting to see results. A cheat week may have an initial feeling of reward or relaxation, but to do it for a whole week is going to have the opposite physiological effect, and that is going to come with some serious psychological consequences.

2. You’ll feel drowsy and lethargic

When you overeat and go hard on the treats, your body has to work hard to break down the large amount of food you have consumed. This process can make you feel tired, lethargic and sluggish and will make the thought of smashing out your workout the last thing you’ll feel like doing. Let’s also not forget: quality nutrition is about looking after ourselves and our health – not just what we look like. Too many people forget this.

3. Your workouts might be challenging

After a week of fuelling your body with plenty of high fat (not the good kind) and high sugar food, you might find tackling your workouts more difficult than usual. You’ll go back to square one with cravings, headaches, dehydration, and no energy for workouts or not wanting to workout at all. There is a real danger of this occurring. Remember – when it comes to training, food is fuel. You need to give your body enough energy to workout at an optimum level, and sticking to real and whole foods is the best way to ensure this.

At the end of the day, a week of overindulging won’t set you back if you don’t let it. I’m always one to turn a positive into a negative, so instead of beating yourself up, think of this cheat week as the perfect catalyst and driving force to throw yourself back into your healthy routine, and become more conscious about what you put in your mouth.

If you like the sound of going keto but can’t give up carbs, you need to try the newest diet: dirty keto. And a dietitian reveals the worst foods to treat yourself to at night, no matter how hungry you are.

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