Let’s be honest — we live for our diet cheat days. And thankfully, research has shown that cheat days have their benefits; per Daily Burn, an occasional uptick in calories regulates leptin, the hormone that tells the brain when you’re full, which helps prevent binging or mindless eating.
But not all cheat day foods are created equal. There are some things that you really shouldn’t ever eat. Here are a few cheat day dos and don’ts from CheatSheet.
Pig out on this:
Carbs: CheatSheet says a cheat meal that’s high in carbohydrates causes less body fat storage than one high in fat. So go ahead and have some pasta. You’ve earned it.
Rich foods: You don’t get many opportunities to cheat, so don’t waste those precious calories on something bland. Instead of a candy bar, CheatSheet recommends reaching for fudge or a slice of dense chocolate cake. If you’d rather have something salty, sprinkle gourmet sea salt on your food. These so-called “big flavors” will make you less inclined to overeat.
Protein: Obviously. Studies have shown that pigging out on protein increases resting metabolism, affects energy expenditure and aids storage of lean body mass. Pass the bacon.
Quantity: CheatSheet encourages mindless eaters to snack on low energy density foods like fruits and vegetables, popcorn, cereal and soup. That way, you can eat more without worrying about consuming extra calories.
Processed foods: It’s no secret that they’re often full of preservatives, artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and other questionable substances. If you really want a cookie, buy one from a bakery — or, better yet, make your own. Do you know the secret ingredient for completely irresistible chocolate chip cookies?
Alcohol: Bummer, but alcohol is notorious for leading to overindulgence. It also blocks fat oxidation, according to CheatSheet; this accelerates the rate at which the body stores fat. A couple beers could undo days’ worth of hard work, so it’s better to leave the booze behind.