Question MarkA smart reader of Fearless Fat Loss brought up a very interesting topic in her comment today on my post What Does Eating Clean Really Mean?

Sarah asked about “cheat days” because she’d heard that they are supposed to boost your metabolism but she wondered about how they would affect her fat cells.

I’m not really concerned about fat cells – unless you get liposuction (which I Do NOT recommend!) your fat cells are hanging around with ya but to me it doesn’t matter. When you lose weight and reduce the amount of fat on your body your fat cells release the fat they’ve been holding on to.

Cheat Days

I want to focus on the topic of “cheat days” instead of fat cells, have you heard this theory before? I bet you have, there’s even a book about it and it basically goes like this – you stick to your healthy eating and exercise plan for 6 days and on the 7th day you eat whatever you want, followed by the next day going back to your healthy eating and exercise plan. Actually, the book tells you to make your whole weekend “cheat days”!

I’ve heard of people liking this way of life and on the surface it sounds good I guess, but here’s what I see the problem would be for me and anyone else like me who has issues with food and/or food addiction.

The story goes something like this….

There you are, bipping along with your clean eating plan (what I’m describing here is the 6-Week Body Makeover weight loss and lifestyle plan), ridding your system of the processed foods that contain the loads of refined sugars, white flour, unhealthy fats, excess amounts of sodium, additives, and all of that stuff.

You’re drinking 100oz of clean water each day, walking, building muscle with strength training, journaling, and feeling your emotions instead of using food to cope with life’s ups and downs. In essence, you’re doing fabulous and you notice that your clothes are getting looser!

Perhaps you’re even doing what I suggest and using Shrink Yourself in combination with the 6-Week Body Makeover plan; either way you’re doing just great and you’re in a healthy groove.

After a Month of Clean Eating per the 6WBMO

Ok, so everything’s great, especially since you see that your food cravings have dropped off and while you used to eat tons of sugar-filled foods, now you’re craving fresh fruits and veggies and you love to move your body – who would have thought?

Then you hear about “cheat days” and decide to try it, not that you need help with your metabolism because you’ve already got it in high gear by eating smaller portions every 2.5 to 3 hours and doing your regular exercise. 😉

So, You Do It….

You decide to go for it and give yourself “cheat days” but here’s the big problem, or problems I should say, in several different areas:

Note: “cheat days” are not a part of the 6WBMO weight loss plan unless you choose to eat like that after you reach your goal, and then you’re not losing weight anymore.


You’ve effectively cleansed your system of the addictive ingredients over the past month, those ingredients that cause the endless cycle of food cravings. If you then start doing cheat days you now introduce all of that gunk back into your system and you’re back at square one.

Now your food cravings are back, and you don’t really want your whole foods. You’ve gotten a taste for the processed stuff again and you want more, and more…


You’ve been doing so well over the past month and while you thought the “cheat day” would be great, you might be regretting it now. If you’re an emotional eater you could easily turn to food to try to make yourself feel better and the food you turn to will more than likely be the processed stuff. This will deepen the hooks of your food cravings and intensify the desire for more.


You may find yourself thinking some stinkin’ thinkin’ and a bit of negativity may be brewing. This could easily lead you further into the cycle of emotional eating and that one or two days of eating whatever you wanted could turn into a week of off plan eating and very little exercise.


After awhile, there’s only so many times that you can do this to yourself before you start to doubt if you’ll ever make it out. Going back and forth between the addictive foods and the clean, whole foods can put a strain on your belief in yourself.

You might start to feel like giving up on the whole darned thing and wonder why you can’t just eat whatever you want but eat in moderation. Well, if you’re addicted to sugar and white flour, it’s very hard for you to stop once you start eating that stuff.

What About Metabolism?

The argument for the “cheat days” is that it keeps your metabolism up, but you know what? With the 6-Week Body Makeover plan you eat every 2.5 to 3 hours, you eat foods that naturally speed up your metabolism instead of the processed, metabolism draggers, and when you do hit a plateau (you’re doing everything right but the scale isn’t moving) then all you need to do is eat more of the whole foods you’re already eating!

You simply increase your protein and carb portions proportionately for a few days and then go back to eating your regular portion sizes. I’ve done this myself and it worked.

So, are Cheat Days Worth It?

In my opinion, it’s not worth it to go for these “cheat days“, and anyway, I really don’t like the word “cheat” because it implies that you’re being naughty on your diet and I don’t believe in dieting or in criticizing yourself for what you eat – neither will get you the long term results that you want.

Now is it possible that some people could do well eating 6 days on plan and one day off plan? Sure, anything is possible, but I would not recommend that anyone who has issues with food addiction, emotional eating, food abuse, binging, or any other food and weight issue to go for the “cheat days”. I think that you stand the risk of doing more harm than good to yourself.

What about you? Do you eat like this and if you do, I imagine that you aren’t addicted to sugar or white flour and that you don’t have any food cravings after your “cheat days”?

Or, have you tried this and learned that it wasn’t worth putting the processed foods back into your system after you’d already cleansed yourself of them?