Have you gained 6 pounds after a cheat day? I am not sure why, but this seems to be the prevailing number for cheat day gains. Everyone I have talked to about cheat day seems to say that they gained 5-7 pounds after that day. And I am no exception.
I am here to tell you that this is normal. But, you must consider some things before you continue your cheat day madness.
A cheat day is a day that we can eat whatever we want without thinking about the diet that we are currently on. Whether we are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, cheat days are a good time all around.
Cheat days keep us enjoying the process, and giving us a little break from what can be a difficult challenge.
Why cheat days are important
Cheat days are important for many reasons. The main reason that I find useful is that cheat days are a great psychological break from the monotony of a diet plan.
You can just pig out on whatever you want, and not think about your diet. This is obviously the most appealing part of a cheat day. Of course, the frequency of your cheat day matters. If you have a cheat day every other day, your diet probably isn’t going to work out.
I prefer to have a cheat day once a week, and if I am being really strict, once every 2 weeks. Everyone is different though, and I understand a lot of different perspectives. But, all in all, you want to make sure that you are having so many cheat days, that they affect your goals.
Why you gained 6 pounds after cheat day
When you eat a ton of food, you also drink a ton of water to compensate for the amount of calories that you just consumed. Calories need water to distribute the calories throughout your body and help aid in digestion.
All that makes sense, but how does this all lead to gaining 6 pounds after cheat day? Let me walk you through a recent cheat day I had that will leave your head spinning. I am also calculating everything in pounds, so you can see how much each item contributed to daily weight.
- Breakfast: 1000 Calorie Protein Shake (1.23 Pounds)
- Lunch: 2 Chick Fil A chicken sandwiches and a cookies and cream milkshake (1.81 Pounds)
- Dinner: Medium Papa Johns Pepperoni Pizza (2.29 Pounds)
- Water Throughout the day was 1 gallon (8.3 Pounds)
- Total Weight Consumed during the day: 13.63 Pounds!
As you can see by my calculations, the liquids that you drink play a major role in the overall weight of consumption. When you consume carb heavy foods like sandwiches, pizza, and sugary things, your body is going to require more water.
Also, those carb heavy meals are going to absorb a lot of that water. Of course, you will urinate out a lot of the water, but let’s do some quick math. 13.63lbs (total weight consumed) minus 6lbs (how much you gained) equals 7.63lbs.
After seeing that, it’s fairly obvious why you gained 6 pounds after cheat day, right? It’s mostly just what you are carrying around in water weight. The weight will dissipate.
Why you need to know total calories consumed on a cheat day
If we go back to my example of what I ate on my cheat day, I consumed a total of 5,101 calories that day. This is a TON. And since my maintenance calories are 3,000 calories per day, I may have taken this cheat day a little bit too far.
Learn how to calculate your maintenance calories if you don’t already know how to do that.
If you are trying to lose weight, and your target goal is 2,000 calories per day, you might have just blown your whole entire week in one day.
Our body goals are decided by our overall calories over an extended period of time. And not by how much we eat in one day. Cheat days are fine, as long as you factor in the total calories into your week, month, and year.
Here is what that looks like. If you want to lose weight, and your goal is 2,000 calories per day, you want to make sure that on your cheat day, you don’t go over 2,000 calories. Seems pretty simple, right? But then that kind of ruins the point of a cheat day.
This is what I recommend instead. Let’s say you know on your cheat day, you are going to eat 3,000 calories. Simply borrow from your daily calorie intake. So, 6 days out of the week, eat 166 calories less than 2,000 (which is 1,834).
That way, your total calories consumed, on average per day, is still 2,000. Once you understand this concept, you will be in a better place with your dieting.
What happens if you don’t factor in your cheat meal calories
Too many people stick to their diet plan perfectly throughout the week. And then blow it on a cheat meal without thinking about the total calories consumed over time.
Let’s use the same goal from above. Let’s say you have been crushing it this week, eating exactly 2,000 calories per day. Life is good. Then it comes to cheat day. You eat your 3,000 calories, and then get back to your regular scheduled programming tomorrow.
When you average it all out, you are now eating the caloric surplus of +142 calories per day. 15,000 (total weekly calories) divided by 7 = 2,142 Calories per day.
It is not possible to lose weight while in a caloric surplus. Just like it is not possible to gain muscle while in a caloric deficit.
Main Point: Gained 6 pounds after cheat day?
If you have gained 6 pounds after cheat day, you are not alone. It seems like it’s that number you see on the scale and you are absolutely terrified that you have destroyed your diet.
Do not fret! Most of that is water weight. And since you probably ate a ton of carbs during your cheat day, they are just holding the water hostage in your body.
Within a day or 2 back to your normal diet, your body will level out to its standard weight. Don’t become obsessed with the scale. If you are going to become obsessed with anything, become obsessed with knowing your calorie intake.
If you are going to have a beastly cheat day like mine, be sure to factor those calories over your goal into your weekly plan. Don’t think that you can eat great 6 days out of the week and then go nuts on your cheat day.
Everything must equal out throughout the week, months, and year. It’s not about how many calories you eat today or tomorrow. It’s all about creating an environment in your body that is either a caloric deficit (losing weight) or a caloric surplus (gaining weight).