How useful is cheat day?

More and more people are declaring Saturday or Sunday Cheat Day. He is the exception in the week, which is characterized by strict dietary rules. Cheat Day is all about carbohydrates and sugary foods, without a guilty conscience. Sounds like gluttony? In many cases it is. Nevertheless, sinning should serve the training success and a slim, defined body. FITBOOK explains what’s behind it.

The term Cheat Day has become a household word. Ambitious athletes in particular rely on the eating day for a well-trained body, also called load day in their circles. Not everyone can understand why figure-conscious people consciously go overboard once a week and swear that they owe their attractive body to this routine. Amazing: It really works!

How do people who cheat once a week eat?

People who cheat once a week typically go on a low-carb diet for the other six days, or cut out those fuels altogether. Noodles, (wheat) baked goods, rice and comparable filling side dishes are not served at all or only in moderation. Sweets and even fruit – due to the high fructose content – are strictly avoided. Only low-calorie salad or steamed vegetables are allowed as an accompaniment to protein suppliers such as meat, tofu or fish, but no high-carbohydrate representatives such as potatoes, red peppers or carrots.

Also interesting: fructose is not as healthy as many believe

effect on metabolism

This low-carb diet in combination with regular training makes the pounds tumble. This is confirmed by Sven-David Müller, medical journalist and nutritionist, in the FITBOOK interview. «The energy that the body needs for athletic performance usually comes from glucose,» i.e. blood sugar, explains the expert. The organism normally obtains this from the carbohydrates ingested with the diet – i.e. the macronutrient that “cheaters” deliberately omit during the week. “The cells therefore have to look for alternative sources. In the long term, the body changes its metabolic processes.” Nutrition experts and strength athletes call this process ketosis, the so-called “Starvation metabolism”, which leads to the required energy being obtained from the fat in the body. The consequence? «One picks up!»

Also interesting: The benefits and risks of the ketogenic diet

Why do you need Cheat Day?

The cheat day – its followers are convinced – refills the energy stores again. It is supposed to work like a kind of kickstarter and remind the body how to deal with carbohydrates: they help it to build more muscles. Strength athletes who train in the ketogenic phase for years are proof of the effect. Many of them eat extreme amounts of sweet and high-fat fast food on the day of loading and can literally watch their muscles grow. The cheat day helps some on a psychological level: the anticipation of the feast day enables them to stick to the diet for the other six days. A study by Dr. Paul Arciero (Skidmore College) also proved that the majority of subjects gradually lost their desire to overeat on Cheat Day, since the switch to conscious eating reduced their cravings for junk food and sweets.

Also interesting: What happens in the body when you do without carbohydrates

Expert Opinion on Cheat Day

Sports scientist and personal coach Felix Klemme has been working as a (weight loss) coach with overweight people for ten years and has repeatedly found that sensible changes in diet hardly inspire most people. «They want extremes,» he says. The fitness expert doesn’t think much of the Cheat Day concept, as he finds that most people overdo it: «They eat all sorts of junk that puts a strain on their bodies!» You can also do it sensibly. To find out if you’re overdoing it on Cheat Day, Klemme recommends mentally dividing the Cheat Day ration over seven days, especially the sweets. If so much comes together that you can hardly describe the diet for the entire week as conscious, the Cheat Day binge is simply unhealthy and increases the risk of diabetes.

Consequences of overloading with fats, carbohydrates and sugars

Prof. Hans Hauner from the Institute for Nutritional Medicine at the Klinikum Rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich is even more critical a Day of the week when everything is allowed when it comes to nutrition. According to Hauner, overloading with fats, carbohydrates and sugar can cause blood sugar levels to rise sharply. For digestion, a lot of blood has to be directed into the digestive tract, which is then missing elsewhere. «This leads to us feeling weak and not able to perform,» says Hauner. Constipation can also occur. Above all, he advises overweight people and people with diabetes or metabolic diseases not to eat the “feeding day”.

Consequences of a meat- and fat-heavy diet

Various actors – including «Bridget Jones» actress Renée Zellweger (48) – have already used the low-carb principle to lose weight for or after a film role. Nutritionist Robert Atkins († 72) popularized this form of dieting in the late 1990s. Even without the Cheat Day, experts were already advising that the extremely meat- and fat-heavy eating behavior should only be carried out for a short period of time and under medical supervision. There is said to be a risk that it will lead to deposits on the vessels and, as a result, to a stroke or heart attack. Another disadvantage: the production of uric acid in the body, which increases with the consumption of (especially red) meat and is said to increase the risk of gout. In addition, the global consumption of resources by raising livestock is a factor that is included in the recommendation of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) to consume «a maximum of 300 to 600 grams of meat and sausages per week».

Another problem: In terms of the carbohydrate-free diet, fruit and various types of vegetables are taboo six days a week. And these are usually not made up for on Cheat Day, when the really nasty treats are allowed. The ketogenic diet is accordingly one that is particularly low in vitamins and minerals.

cheat day light

Sports enthusiast Klemme also cheats himself – but not with four portions of junk food, sweet pastries and dozens of chocolate bars in between. «On my cheat day, for example, I have a roll with jam and a croissant for breakfast, maybe a piece of brownie after lunch and a few pieces of chocolate for dessert in the evening.» Here, too, he sinned in terms of calories and sugar, but in moderation.


The ketogenic diet may work, but it’s not a good plan in the long run. However, the idea of ​​treating yourself to something at regular intervals is basically a good one, as it leads to greater awareness of nutrition. But you should make sure that snacking does not become gluttony.