What’s a Cheat Day?
Atkins stalls are frustrating. Diets don’t always cooperate. If you’re limiting carbs but the scale won’t budge, try a low carb cheat day.
- Why cheating on low carb increases fat burning.
- Your low carb cheat day plan: What and how to eat.
- What to do before, during and after the cheat day.
Cheat days are a simple way to bust a plateau, jump-start your metabolism and enjoy forbidden foods. But if you fail to plan, plan to fail.
Boost fat burning and weight loss by cheating on low carb in a sensible way. Save your calories for what matters most. Stay honest and track all the extra carbs.
If you’re cheating on low carb, here’s a simple plan to succeed. Be realistic – and please don’t go crazy.
When to Cheat
If you’ve just started Atkins or another low carb diet, a low carb cheat day is NOT recommended.
Give yourself time to adjust to your new way of eating. Wait a few months, see if your progress slows, then revisit the idea of cheating on low carb.
If you are in the Atkins Induction phase, low carb cheat days will sabotage your initial weight loss and efforts.
Why Low Carbers Cheat
We adapt to exercise and diet routines over time. Over time, our progress stalls and we reach a weight plateau.
If you’re not seeing progress, it’s time to shake up your metabolism.
How Low Carbers Cheat
Schedule six days on low carb, then have one low carb cheat day.
The low carb cheat day lets us eat extra carbs, but these are slow carbs, such as sweet potatoes, legumes, seeds and nuts. These cheat foods are only allowed after the Atkins Induction phase.
Why Cheat Days Burn Fat
Cheat days trigger rapid fat loss, due to their effect on leptin levels.
Leptin controls metabolism, hunger and cravings. Once we adapt to routine, leptin levels drop, our weight loss slows down and we store more fat.
Your cheat day outsmarts the sluggish body. Eating more carbs one day a week raises leptin levels, keeping your body primed for rapid fat loss the rest of the week.
Low Carb Cheat Day Plan
Here’s a simple plan for cheating on low carb, including warnings, solutions, and what to do before and after your cheat day.
Before the Cheat Day
Determine your cheat day calories. First, find out exactly how many calories your body needs. Use this simple online calorie calculator to find your baseline.
Jump-start weight loss with a 20% – 40% total calorie increase on your cheat day.
During the Cheat Day
Eat Only What You Love
When cheating on low carb, make your day delicious without going overboard.
- Don’t dive into a dozen Twinkie cakes.
- Do splurge on something healthier and savory, like creamy cheesecake.
Enjoy Foods with All Your Senses
On your cheat day, create a satisfying and mindful meal experience.
- Serve your meals with a garnish on a beautiful plates. Appreciate the eye appeal.
- Eat slowly. Take smaller bites and give yourself time to fully enjoy the flavor.
Eat Slow Carbs? Yes.
Slow carbs take longer to absorb and digest. Slow carbs keep you fuller longer and don’t cause abrupt insulin spikes.
Eat Fast Carbs? Not So Much…
Avoid or limit sugary and processed carbs like cake, bread candy and cookies.
Make smarter fast carb choices:
- Choose cheesecake instead of cinnamon rolls.
- Choose low carb dark chocolate in place of candy.
Eat Filling Foods
Eat foods that go the distance. Low carb foods with more protein and fiber keep you full and suppress the appetite.
- Try fresh, high fiber low carb fruit (like raspberries) with heavy cream.
- Bake sweet potatoes with onions and grass-fed butter.
After the Cheat Day
Cheating on low carb affects the rest of your week. After your cheat day, you’ll continue to see benefits for the next 5 – 6 days.
You’ll burn fat more efficiently all week long – if you stay on your regular low carb diet plan during that time.
Cheat Day Warnings
Here’s what to look out for after your cheat day, and how to deal with any side effects:
Low carb cheat days mean eating more carbs. And excess carbs cause water retention.
Fortunately, the extra water weight disappears in a day or two. To speed things along, burn off extra carbs with exercise.
No one is perfect 100% of the time. Every low carber slips up, and that’s OK. Don’t let a slip or cheat day turn into a long-term backslide.
If you backslide, go right back to your low carb way of eating. Don’t give up! You’ve worked hard to stick to your diet so don’t wreck your efforts over one cheat day.
Cheating on Atkins
If you’re worried about cheating on low carb or still deciding when to plan your cheat day, consider these pros and cons.
Cheat Day Pros
- Cheat days give you a chance to enjoy old favorite foods.
- Low carb is an on-going lifestyle. There are times I’ll need to eat off-plan.
- Cheat days are perfect for social functions, restaurants and celebrations.
- Low carb cheat days help you say “No” the rest of the week.
- Easily lose any cheat day weight by exercising and reducing carbs for a few days.
Cheat Day Cons
- Many low carbers report feeling bad physically after a cheat day. They are depressed, tired, bloated and irritable.
- Joint aches return temporarily due to inflammation from eating excess carbs.
- Eating too many carbs stops ketosis and its benefits for a few days.
- Cheating on Atkins temporarily undoes some of the progress you’ve made.
- Eating extra carbs leads to cravings – and possibly binges.
Cheat Day Advice
Many low carbers report taking a break from low carb eating works well for special or social occasions. They also say that one-day break helps them stick to their low carb diet long-term.
Other low carbers complain taking a low carb cheat day sets up future disasters.
How to Decide
- Wait at least six weeks after starting low carb and try a cheat meal early in the day.
- Plan the meal and extra carbs ahead of time.
- Prepare a Day-After plan that includes exercise and a calorie-restricted low carb diet. Use your calculated baseline for your total calories that day, and eat low carb.
- Spend the next six days sticking to your regular low carb plan.
- Measure or weigh to track progress.
- Notice how you feel about your cheat meal. If it was an easy, positive experience, try an entire day.
- If you are having cravings or experience tiredness or irritability, perhaps hold off a few months and re-visit the idea when you are in a different ‘low carb space.’
Almost Zero Carb Meal Plan
Three easy days, one aggressive technique and major fat loss.
The Almost Zero Carb Meal Plan is designed to break even the worst stall, burn large amounts of stored fat, and induce deep ketosis – in 3 days.
- The Technique
- 150 Recipes (100 under 1g net carb)
- Shopping List & Sample Menus
- Printable Meal Planner
If what you’re doing isn’t working, get your meal plan now.