In today’s fast-paced world, it can be challenging to find time to prepare healthy meals and stick to a strict diet plan. This is why many people turn to flexible dieting approaches like the weekend cheat diet. This diet allows dieters to enjoy their favorite foods over the weekend while still seeing results from following a healthy eating plan during the week. Read on to learn more about how the weekend cheat diet works and whether it may be right for you.
What is the weekend cheat diet?
The weekend cheat diet is a type of intermittent fasting where you follow your regular, healthy diet Monday through Friday and then take the weekends off. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can enjoy whatever foods you want without strictly counting calories or macronutrients. The basic premise is that you can still achieve weight loss and other health benefits by maintaining a calorie deficit and eating nutritious foods for 5 days out of the week, even if you indulge on the weekends.
Here is a simple overview of how the weekend cheat diet works:
- Monday to Friday: Follow a reduced calorie, balanced diet focused on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
- Saturday and Sunday: Eat whatever you want without tracking or restriction.
- Monday: Return to your regular diet plan.
The idea is that if you’re in a calorie deficit most of the week, cheating for two days likely won’t completely reverse your progress. And being able to look forward to guilt-free weekends can make the diet more sustainable long-term.
Benefits of the weekend cheat diet
Here are some of the proposed benefits of the weekend cheat diet:
- Allows for flexibility and sustainability – The opportunity for weekend indulgences makes the weekday diet plan easier to stick to. Knowing you have an outlet coming up can help you avoid binges and burnout.
- Lets you enjoy social eating and rewards – For many people, weekends are full of social events, restaurants, parties, and temptations. The cheat days allow you to enjoy these without derailing your goals.
- Can boost metabolism – Cycling in and out of calorie restriction may help prevent metabolic slowdown and plateaus.
- Reduces feelings of deprivation – Food restrictions can sometimes increase cravings and obsession with forbidden foods. Cheat days provide a release valve.
However, it’s important to note that these benefits depend on taking a healthy, moderate approach to the cheat days. Going overboard can easily counteract the progress you make during the week.
Foods to enjoy on cheat days
On your weekend cheat days, you can enjoy all the foods that don’t normally fit into your diet plan. Here are some common choices:
- Pizza, burgers, fries, and other fast food favorites
- Pasta, breads, rice, and other carb-heavy dishes
- Desserts like ice cream, cake, cookies, and chocolate
- Chips, pretzels, crackers, and other salty snacks
- Juice, soda, sweet coffee drinks, and other sugary beverages
- Alcoholic drinks like beer, cocktails, and wine
Of course, the possibilities are endless. The key is focusing on the treats that feel indulgent to you specifically. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, maybe a cheat day means an extra serving of buttery mashed potatoes or apile of nachos. Choose the splurges that seem rewarding versus foods you could take or leave.
Sample weekend cheat day meal plan
To give you an idea of what a cheat day may look like, here is a sample high-calorie weekend menu:
|Breakfast||Pancakes with syrup, breakfast sandwich and hash browns, orange juice and coffee with cream and sugar|
|Lunch||Cheeseburger and fries, milkshake|
|Dinner||Spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread, tiramisu for dessert|
|Snacks||Chips, cookies, candy, soda|
As you can see, this allows you to enjoy large portions of calorie-dense favorites. Of course, your menu will be based on your personal cravings and preferences.
Tips for success with the weekend cheat diet
Here are some tips to help you get the best results from the weekend cheat diet:
- Stick to your reduced calorie diet Monday to Friday. Don’t “bank” calories to spend on the weekend.
- Weigh yourself Monday morning to assess weekend damage and get back on track.
- Aim for consistent workouts all week long to mitigate effects of weekend excesses.
- Drink plenty of water all weekend to stay hydrated and help minimize bloating.
- Be mindful of portion sizes on cheat days. It’s easy to overdo it.
- Focus your calories on foods you truly love rather than grazing all weekend long.
- Consider one higher calorie meal per day rather than an entire weekend binge.
- Get right back on plan Monday morning rather than extending your cheat days.
The keys are being strategic with your indulgences, limiting damage, and not letting cheat days turn into cheat weeks.
Potential downsides of the weekend cheat diet
While the weekend cheat diet may work for some people, there are also some potential downsides to consider:
- May undermine progress – It’s easy to overdo it on cheat days and consume far more calories than you burn, which can sabotage weight and fat loss.
- Can trigger cravings and bad habits – Regularly indulging in treats may make it harder to get back on track with your diet or lead to emotional eating.
- Blood sugar spikes and crashes – High carb cheat foods may disrupt blood sugar control, energy levels, and appetite signals.
- Doesn’t address emotional issues – Using food as a reward can reinforce unhealthy relationships with eating.
- Limited research – More studies are needed on the effectiveness of cheat days or meals.
- Not suited for everyone – People with certain health conditions, food sensitivities, or disordered eating patterns may do better with a more consistent regimen.
Ultimately, whether cheat days help or hurt depends on the individual and how well they are able to regulate their intake. They don’t work well for everyone.
Should you try the weekend cheat diet?
So, is the weekend cheat diet right for you? Here are some factors to consider:
- How well you’re able to control portions and limit excesses during cheat days.
- Whether you tend to crave restricted foods or have an “all or nothing” mentality.
- If you enjoy cooking and eating healthy foods Monday through Friday or find it very restrictive.
- Any health conditions that require careful regulation of blood sugar, sodium, etc.
- Your weight loss and fitness goals and how quickly you want to reach them.
- If you eat out with friends and family or attend many social events on weekends.
The weekend cheat diet requires self-control and works best for those who want flexible, sustainable dieting rather than fast results. Making healthy weekday choices is critical.
The weekend cheat diet allows weekends off from counting calories while maintaining a reduced calorie diet Monday through Friday. This intermittent dieting approach provides flexibility, allows for social eating, and makes the diet more sustainable for some people. However, it can backfire if you overindulge on cheat days, which could undermine progress.
Consider your relationship with food and ability to self-regulate before trying this diet. And make sure to choose nutrient-dense, satiating foods during the week to support your results. Overall, the weekend cheat diet may help you finally stick to a diet plan long-term if used strategically, but it’s not effective for everyone.
|What it is||Benefits||Risks|
|A diet allowing weekend cheat days after healthy eating Monday to Friday||More flexibility, sustainability, enjoyment of social events||Potential to overindulge and undermine progress|