Does cheat day make sense & what impact does it have on training progress?

Ist der Cheat Day sinnvoll & welche Auswirkungen hat er auf Fortschritte beim Training?

The German Cheat Day translation...

What is actually behind that? Term cheat day ? The English word "cheats" means something like in German "deceive" and is often used in the context of relationships when one person has "cheated" or "betrayed" the other.

In relation to nutrition and diets and in the context of the article described here, a different kind of "cheat" is meant:
It's basically about cheating yourself by taking a day off from your healthy eating routine or diet. You can also see it as cheating on the diet itself. So like in a relationship where you can do whatever you want with other partners for a day. The next day the relationship continues as usual. You can see from this – admittedly slightly exaggerated – comparison that the whole thing can cause some problems.

One cheat day per week? How often does Cheat Day take place?

How often a Cheat day takes place and how many calories in one Cheat day are consumed is determined very differently. First of all, a few related terms should be differentiated at this point: There is the Cheat Day mentioned here, on which cheating is free for an entire day. Then there is also the option of just one Introduce a cheat meal , i.e. a single meal, into your diet. The second can also be used as Freemeal be referred to as this term does not appear to have such negative connotations. Other diets allow you to treat yourself every now and then, which still meets some of the requirements of your nutritional routine.

There are also variants of cheat days in which the total calories of the day are still taken into account so that everything doesn't get completely out of hand. How many calories you consume on a cheat day can - depending on how often these days occur - have a significant impact on the success of your diet or diet. Anyone who completely restricts themselves for 6 days during the week and consumes 2000 Kcal daily with the correct macro distribution, but then goes overboard every Saturday on cheat day so that they are at 5000 Kcal, will have consumed an average of around 2430 Kcal , which is significantly more than what was planned

Does a cheat day make sense?

Whether the cheat day makes sense is very individual. What's the point of a cheat day? What speaks against it?

Motivation and anticipation

Especially for people who follow a very strict diet (often for sporting goals), the cheat day is a motivation to persevere: You can look forward all week to the day when you don't have to restrict yourself and do things " "save up" that you would otherwise avoid. This can often help you stick with it.
However, it can also be problematic for some people to give free rein to their cravings: especially those who eat excessively unhealthy and very sugary foods without listening to a feeling of satiety, just because they have the opportunity blood sugar level first mix it up for a day or two. This may trigger sleep problems, food cravings and an imbalance in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (the clock for the biorhythm in the diencephalon).
So if you always go overboard with Cheadays, experience abnormalities in your sleep and energy level, or experience untypical cravings or brain fog the next morning, you should instead incorporate a small conscious treat into your everyday life every now and then and make sure that your blood sugar doesn't rise got too confused. Simple hacks like taking a walk while eating ice cream or Eating some vegetables and protein before a cheat day can help here.

Training for the immune system instead of keeping everything sterile

With long-term iron discipline, a gut-friendly diet that eliminates potential lectin-containing allergens such as cow's milk, grains containing gluten, soy and sugar, you can regular cheats (every one to two weeks) train the immune system: If you have been eating extremely cleanly for many months or years, it is possible that your body reacts very sensitively to a lot of things because it is no longer familiar with anything that triggers small stimuli . Basically, a gut-friendly diet is important and for many people, after years of poor nutrition, they first need a reset in which the above-mentioned foods are strictly avoided for at least three months so that the intestinal mucosa can reform and the body is able to do so is to react to the stimuli.
For the intestine, every food is a foreign substance and there is always a minimal immune response (1).

That's not a bad thing, because a healthy body can easily inhibit these small inflammations. There is a misconception that inflammation is bad. However, some foods can place an extremely heavy burden on the intestinal mucosa and sometimes even destroy it. A consequence of this can be that Leaky gut syndrome be. Which of the potential food allergens are more problematic for whom and which are less so depends on individual genetics (including blood group), epigenetics and personal Microbiome starting at 2). However, it is now certain, especially when it comes to newly bred wheat, that it is not tolerated by the human intestine in large quantities - unless it is fermented, as in sourdough bread (2).

Anyone who has been eating a diet rich in lectin for years has little fiber, too little protein and too many omega-6 fatty acids The person who consumes it damages his intestines to such an extent that it becomes chronically inflamed rather than in the short term. So you no longer get stomach aches, but have internal problems with the formation of a lot of body fat, fatigue, skin irritation and many other non-specific symptoms. A healthy intestine reacts much more specifically and quickly to foods that are not good for us: feeling of fullness, stomach pain, diarrhea, brain fog or nervousness can occur shortly afterwards.

So if you really want to put your gut to the test for at least three months by avoiding all potential food allergens, you can use a cheat day. Everyone who is undergoing this intestinal reset should really stick to the guidelines completely clean and then prepare a healthy treat themselves. If you don't feel so good after certain foods, your immune system has a little work to do, but is also strengthened afterwards - but this only applies if you don't overdo it. Anyone who suffers from an autoimmune disease should definitely not have cheat days, because one stimulus is often one too many because the body reacts much more extreme than nature intended.

The refeed day for muscle building

For many so-called hard gainers, it is difficult to gain muscle; They have to eat a lot to put more weight on the scales and due to incorrect macronutrient timing, it is often the body fat that increases at the same time. That's why they are usual cheat days often only partially effective.

A refeed day once or twice a week - on the other hand, is a useful tool for people who want to gain a lot of muscle. This day is used to load up on carbohydrates - fats and proteins should still be consumed in the usual amounts. However, the carbohydrates should be timed well and so that they reach the muscles, there should not be too much body fat on the hips and stomach, as this is a sign of hormonally poor blood sugar management.

Breakfast should definitely be low in carbohydrates, but plenty of carbs can be consumed throughout the day and especially during training. This means you automatically get more calories on the refeed day by increasing your carbohydrate intake.
The Refeed Day can be carried out cleanly without any food allergens: oatmeal, rice, potatoes, maple syrup, fruits, sweet potatoes, millet or quinoa are suitable.

The perfect cheat day as an athlete – what can you eat?

Depending on what you choose, you can theoretically eat whatever you feel like on cheat day.

However, it depends on how often cheat days take place and how well the body can cope with them. In the best case scenario, it will still be clean that day Breakfast (Low carb, high protein, with fiber and good fats) eaten within an hour of getting up. This sets the basis for more stable blood sugar and can inhibit the possible problems mentioned above. It should generally be noted that enough protein is eaten, as protein contains the most important building blocks for the body and the development of muscles. Depending on whether the cheat day should be high in calories, you can use more fats and carbohydrates, but it is best not to eat the lowest quality foods:
A good stone oven pizza from the Italian restaurant, a huge organic beef burger and delicious ice cream for dessert are very good. Also include homemade treats such as bars Nut butter and maple syrup and pancakes are great Chead Day ideas.

Delicious cheat day ideas that won't distract you from your path

Anyone who carries the dangers mentioned above that a cheat day upsets the body's hormonal balance, wants to lose body fat around the middle of the body or is currently in the phase of intestinal regeneration should treat themselves to a healthy, conscious treat every now and then in their everyday diet . Here are some great recipe ideas that feel like a cheat, but actually aren't - as long as the amount of calories is taken into account in everyday life:
1. LC Hazelnut Chocolate Bars
2. Broken chocolate with cocoa nibs and raspberries
3. Salty Peanut Bars
4. Banana muffins with blueberry vanilla filling
5. Vanilla Raspberry Bowl
6. Almond slivers chocolate pralines
7. Mediterranean pizza muffins
8th. Banana chocolate muffins
9. Low carb coconut cookies
10. Low carb french toast

You can find more treat recipe ideas in the book FIT@HOME .

Intermittent fasting & cheat day – how does that match?

There are numerous variations of intermittent fasting. Whether it is a sensible nutritional method at all depends on various factors. However, if you can handle it well, you can use it to keep your intestines healthy and support your hormones. However, the basis for this is always a healthy, low-allergen diet and stable blood sugar.
No amount of intermittent fasting can compensate for a cheat day if the gut is not healthy! So: basics first! However, if you have a good base, you may even be doing something good for your body if your intestines have at least 16 hours of rest after the cheat day.

Conclusion: Cheat Day yes or no?

Whether a cheat day is good or not depends on many individual factors: genetics, epigenetics, intestinal health, blood sugar management, personal goals and current physical condition (body fat to muscle ratio) must be taken into account. If you occasionally have a cheat day, but have a healthy diet rich in protein and fiber as a basis, you can do something good for yourself mentally. However, a healthy intestine is a prerequisite for this.


(1) Ursinus, Lothar (2022): Holistic laboratory – basic seminar. Seminar documents from Würzburg 2022.

(2) Koch, Dr. Simone (2020): Autoimmune help: Living without symptoms through a low-lectin diet - 80 recipes against Hashimoto, irritable bowel syndrome & Co. Munich: Südwest Verlag.

Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in Biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for the understanding of physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors like Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as the constant exchange within the team, she can provide her customers with optimal advice about training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with a variety of successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

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