I was going to leave a comment to the blog to give the other perspective because she had so many comments embracing the 80/20 rule (eating clean 80% of the day and 20% on whatever you want) as the most optimal way of eating. BUT before I clicked to send it, I felt it was a little abrasive for a first time comment. It is not a good way to introduce myself! LOL …and the author may very well be on the same page as me but in the context of her post I would like to clarify what I believe to be as optimal.
1 million percent YES, HAVE A CHEAT DAY!!!!!!!!! (If it makes you feel better psychologically call it a free day… I have clients that have a much easier time with that verbiage)
So what about the 80/20 rule? This rule is absolutely fine if you are a male and in the 6 – 10% bodyfat range, or a female that is in the 12-18% bodyfat range and at an ideal weight. Anyone who is not at an ideal weight, or just plain over weight would benefit greatly with a cheat day. They should also not focus on 80/20 and more on 90/10. And do it in the context of eating clean 6 days and having two or three cheat meals on the 7th day to keep the ratio 90% eat clean/ 10% eat whatever. (The two or three cheat meals in this context is assuming they are eating smaller meals every few hours – 5 or 6 smaller meals daily)
The reason I strongly disagree with casually slipping bad choices in everyday of the week (for people outside the ideal weight/ bodyfat) as long as the ratios remains 80/20 is it doesn’t allow the body to get in to a complete optimal metabolic environment like eating clean for 6 days would do. The momentum and speed of results will be so much better if they allowed the body to completely get in sync with all the healthy choices for 6 days! But in doing so it is also just as important to allow yourself the cheat day so the body doesn’t catch on. Let me explain.
Taking a cheat day will actually combat that down regulating of leptin levels by up regulating leptin levels to allow continued progress. Why is this important, and what the heck is leptin? Well leptin controls a number of metabolic processes in the body which has an indirect effect on how fast we lose fat. The correlation to leptin levels and fat loss is very strong… better said, the higher the leptin levels, the faster you will get rid of fat.
So, lets say you have been eating clean, and losing fat… its going great, why change? Well because as you lose more and more fat the baseline leptin levels drop, and throw a major calorie deficit in the mix and your talking a big time drop in leptin.
Now why the cheat day (free day)? Because the change in calories and the type of calories will actually help upregulate leptin levels. This is how you can keep the momentum going.
SO HAVE YOUR CHEAT DAY!!! If you are already lean and at an ideal weight you can get away with the 80/20 rule. Even though I am in the ideal range, I still prefer the cheat day over the 80/20 rule. But when you get there, the choice is yours… you earned it!