How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Cheat Day?

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Cheat Day?

Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: February 23, 2022

Being on a diet plan is one of those parts of life that are necessary but difficult at the same time. It’s important to understand how your body functions to fine-tune the experience but what if you’re not into it for a day or two?

What if you decide to take a cheat day during the week? This is one of those predicaments most people deal with at one point or another.

Just the idea of having a piece of cake or perhaps your favorite beverage is difficult to resist. This is more common than you think and it’s important to know what the process entails as you recover from the effects of a cheat day.

Here is a look at what happens after a cheat day.

What is a Cheat Day?

a woman deciding if she wants pizza for her cheat meal

A cheat day refers to a day during the week when you end up eating as you please. This means pigging out on desserts, beverages, and almost anything that is packed in calories. You are going to end up eating way above what you are supposed to during the day.

This is noted as a “cheat day” in a diet plan and it’s common for people to have them once or twice a month – if you’re cheating on your diet all the time, that is something different, and may require further evaluation on your part to get to the root of the problem.

In general, there is nothing wrong with having one of these cheat days as long as you are planning things accordingly. If you don’t do this, you are going to end up overdoing things and eating way too much without going back to your diet plan.

This is why it’s important to take the time to understand the effects are of a cheat day.

The Effects of a Cheat Day

1. Immediate Increase in Calories

This is the most expected effect of having a cheat day. If your caloric count goes way over the top, this is the main impact that is going to be seen.

Most people will have a set number of calories they are supposed to eat during the day. This is going to be listed in their diet plan and it is important to stay within those requirements to lose weight. Unfortunately, that goes out the window when you are having a cheat day.

During a cheat day, most people overshoot their calories and eat far too much food. This leads to a sudden burst of calories that will throw the weekly caloric intake out of order too [1].

2. Feel Sluggish

You are also going to start to feel sluggish all of a sudden. This is due to not eating the number of calories your body has gotten used to and dining on foods that are not healthy. These foods are going to be filled with empty calories and unhealthy fats.

When you pig out on these types of foods, you are going to be dealing with major energy issues.

The reasons include:

  • Too Many Empty Calories
  • Difficult To Digest All Of The Food

When the body is not prepared to eat these kinds of foods, you end up paying the price. It is not ideal to feel sluggish all the time but it can happen if you are not careful.

This is why paying attention to your energy levels is one of the most important things a person can do. Even when you have a cheat day, you should keep tabs on these things.

3. 3-5 Day Recovery Phase

You will have to go through a 3-5 day recovery phase where being on a strict diet plan is mandatory. You can’t make any mistakes because the cheat day will do a bit of damage to your weekly caloric intake.

By following your diet plan to a tee, you can reel things back in again.

It is all about being consistent and ensuring the cheat day doesn’t come around again for a few weeks. This is the best way to ensure you are on top of your diet and things don’t spiral out of control.

This is why most experts state it is okay to have a cheat day as long as you understand its effect and still tone down how much you are eating during that specific day.

If you control things, you will eat well and can recover within a few days.

RELATED READING: Does DoFasting Really Work?

4. Lack of Nutrients

It is the lack of nutrients that can be difficult to manage for most people.

You are going to be eating foods that are low in key nutrients and will not add value to your body. This can leave you feeling unstable and unhealthy throughout the day and sometimes well into the next week too [2].

The reasons include:

  • Too Many Unhealthy Meals
  • Minimal Nutrient Balancing

It is important to stay on top of things at all times. This means focusing on what you’re eating and which nutrients are going into your body.

Just because you are having a cheat day doesn’t mean it’s okay to eat without reason. You will still want to account for what is going into your stomach to ensure it does not end up doing more harm than expected.

5. Can Lead To Bloating

This is one of the more underrated effects of having a cheat day.

You are going to feel bloated because most people overeat and also eat too much salt. When you are eating a lot of salt, it becomes easier for the body to start bloating.

Salt has this type of effect and it is going to make you feel bloated from face to your stomach. When this happens, it’s important to drink more water and also get back to your diet plan as soon as possible.

The cheat day itself is not a bad thing but it is going to have these short-term effects that you need to be ready for. If not, you are not going to feel healthy at all.

6. Dehydration

This is commonly seen in people that stop drinking water during the cheat day and only focus on other types of beverages.

Drinking teas and other beverages are fine but not when you start including a can of Pepsi or beer into the mix. This is when you will drink too many calories and they will be packed with unhealthy ingredients including excessive sugar.

You have to ensure these things are toned down as much as possible. If not, your cheat day is going to have a substantial effect on the rest of your diet plan for the coming week.

This includes you feeling sluggish because of your body not getting enough water during the day. Always make sure you are getting in a good amount of water even when you are having a cheat day.

This is one way to offset some of the negatives associated with having a cheat day.

Wondering what other people do on their Cheat Days? Here’s The Rock talking about his legendary Cheat Meals:

Final Thoughts

These are the main issues to think about when it comes to having a cheat day. Remember, there is nothing wrong with having a cheat day and it often comes down to staying healthy.

If you take the time to maintain a consistent diet plan then one day is not going to have much of an impact. All of the positive days throughout the year will make sure you are still trending in the right direction. This is the real beauty of changing your lifestyle as a whole.

If you are someone that has a cheat day here and there, it’s okay to do so. Just make sure it does not become an extended issue where you are having cheat weeks or months.

References:

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/cheat_days
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-cheat-meals-help-or-hurt-your-diet/