Will having a cheat day ruin your intermittent fasting results, or does it have benefits? If you want to know how you can strategically add in a cheat day to allow some indulgence while still getting results with intermittent fasting, then you’re going to want to read this.
Intermittent fasting can be an effective dieting method for losing weight, increasing energy, and boosting health. But sometimes, you just want an indulgence without sacrificing all the progress you’ve made.
Like all dieting methods, it can be nearly impossible to stick with intermittent fasting 100% of the time. Sometimes you need to have a day off and allow yourself an occasional indulgence. But you also don’t want to ruin all your weight loss results!
Imagine having a cheat day or having some cheat meals while intermittent fasting and still getting results. You don’t want to ruin all your hard work from dieting with intermittent fasting, but it still would be nice to have a cheat day here and there.
The truth is you can add in a strategically timed cheat day while intermittent fasting without ruining your progress. In fact, the right kind of cheat days can even enhance weight loss and your metabolism. I personally have a cheat day and still get results with intermittent fasting.
Here you’ll discover the benefits of adding a cheat day to your intermittent fasting routine. Plus, how to use cheat days and cheat meals to strategically get even better results with intermittent fasting. Time to start enjoying some guilt-free indulgences…
Can You Have a Cheat Day on Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a simple dieting solution for weight loss.1 And there are other health benefits to intermittent fasting like higher energy levels, better digestive health, faster metabolism, better blood sugar control, and improved mental clarity.2,3,4
On average, a person can lose 2 to 10 pounds in their first week of intermittent fasting. Of course, this will depend on how well you stick to your intermittent fasting schedule and what you eat during your feeding window. But you can expect some impressive results with intermittent fasting when you do it right.
Intermittent fasting is simple for many since you essentially just have to restrict the times you eat. You’ll naturally lower your daily calorie intake by an average of 550 calories by intermittent fasting.5 You’ll also improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, both of which play a big role in weight loss.6
Cheat days can work with any intermittent fasting schedule, even 16/8. Yes, you can have a cheat day when fasting. You can still get results while having a break from the fasting routine. The trick is to do your cheat days and then get back on your fasting routine.
What Happens if a Skip a Day of Intermittent Fasting
A cheat day can be beneficial when dieting to give you a break from the restrictive dieting routine and allow you some indulgence.6 Having some reprieve from intermittent fasting can give many a much-needed break and remotivate you to get back on schedule with intermittent fasting.
If you’re also lowering your calorie intake, your body could gradually lower fat-burning hormones such as leptin.7 Leptin is a hormone that helps to make sure your body can burn fat. It also helps you feel full and satisfied when you eat.8
But when you diet too hard for too long, leptin levels decrease since your body thinks you could not have as much access to food. Then by having a cheat day, your leptin levels could boost back up kickstarting the fat-burning process again.9
So you can have a cheat day when fasting as long as you stick to your fasting schedule and eat well the rest of the time. Instead of having one cheat day, you can have multiple cheat meals throughout the week if you like to spread it around.
Just skipping a single day of intermittent fasting won’t derail your progress. Having a cheat day could boost your results too. Make sure you get back on your fasting diet to keep progressing.
Cheat Day Once a Week With Intermittent Fasting
If you cheat once a week while intermittent fasting, then it’s best to make sure you’re in a caloric-restrictive state too. Restricting calories in combination with fasting will produce the best results.10
If you’re skipping breakfast and a mid-morning snack with your fasting routine, then you’ll cut down on at least 550 calories. So this will instantly put your body into a restrictive caloric state since you’re used to eating those meals.
Most pick Saturday or Sunday to have their cheat day and have some fun on the weekends. So you should be fasting the rest of the time, such as Sunday through Friday, if you have your cheat day on Saturday. It’s best to stick with the fasting schedule to force your body to get used to not eating during those times.
You don’t need to do fasting every day to get results. It’s best for most to skip breakfast and any mid-morning snack when fasting, but sometimes you just want some breakfast. So by having a cheat day once a week, you can drop the fasting schedule and eat some French toast for breakfast.
A cheat day will only ruin your results if you let it derail your routine. Sometimes you have a cheat day, which can quickly spread to the next day and then some. It’s best to keep the cheating to one day and not the whole weekend. Being assertive with your fasting schedule when having a cheat day is key to progressing.
Intermittent Fasting With Cheat Meals and Snacks
This can also work if you prefer to spread your cheat day to meals and snacks throughout the week. You have to time it strategically when spreading your cheats to meals and snacks.
Ideally, you’ll stick with your fasting schedule when spreading out cheat meals. But you can break the fast on a single day during the week with a cheat meal.
Try to distribute the cheat meals and snacks throughout the week evenly. An example would be having cheat meals on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Ideally, keep your cheat meals limited to 3-4 total throughout the week.
Then as long as you’re sticking with your fasting routine the rest of the time and eating overall good, you should keep getting results. But it is easy for many to throw their diet out the window after having a cheat meal that day. So this is why I prefer to eat cheat meals in the evening for dinner and stick with the diet for the rest of the day.
It’s best not to go too crazy when spreading your cheat meals and snacks. Sure, you can have 2 or 3 slices of pizza, but try not to overindulge and binge eat an entire large pizza.
Alcohol and Intermittent Fasting Cheat Days
You can have some alcohol on your cheat days without ruining your results. But there are some critical rules you should follow if you want to continue to lose weight.
The first rule is not to overindulge and binge drink alcohol. Instead, limit it to a few alcoholic beverages at most. Binge drinking is disastrous for any diet, and this includes intermittent fasting.
It’s easy to make poor food choices and overeat when drinking too much alcohol.11 You could also wake up hungover the next day and continue drinking or eating bad foods. Your sleep will also suffer, making it harder to get back on your fasting routine and eat good food choices.
The next rule is to make sure you’re drinking the best alcoholic beverages for weight loss. Be sure to avoid sugary cocktails and too many carb-heavy beers. Stick with dry wines, low-carb beer, or small amounts of pure spirits.
What Can You Have When Fasting?
If you accidentally ate while intermittent fasting, then it will break your fast. If you’re following a pure water intermittent fasting program, then anything other than water will break your fast. Even something as small as 10 calories or black coffee will break your fast following these strict protocols.
I prefer to follow a dirty fasting program that isn’t so restrictive. It allows some leeway with some approved beverages other than water. It’s key to keep it under 50 calories and low-carb to make sure you don’t break your fast.
But it should allow you to keep fasting for longer and even get better results by enhancing your metabolism.
Some approved dirty fasting drinks include:
You can add a little coffee creamer to your morning coffee. Ideally, use a no-sugar keto coffee creamer that contains C8-MCTs. These are converted into ketones by your body and help to kickstart the fat-burning process when fasting.
Support Many of the Keto Benefits Associated With Increased Ketones, & Support Them FAST, but Without the Difficulty of Doing Keto...
- 3X Better Than Coconut Oil, Butter or MCTs
- Heightened energy levels
- Reduced cravings & appetite
- Graceful aging
- Healthy metabolism
- Increased mental clarity & focus
- Heightened physical performance and recovery
An intermittent fasting cheat day is allowed and can still help you lose weight. Adding a strategically timed cheat day or cheat meals can play a vital role in your intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Cheat days can give you a break from the intermittent fasting regimen. Adding in cheat days can make it easier to stick with fasting in the long term. The longer your intermittent fasting journey then the better and more impressive the long term results you’ll have.
I regularly use cheat meals spread throughout the week and have gotten some great results. Just make sure you’re following the rules by sticking with your fasting schedule and not overindulging in your cheat meals. So it’s crucial to make sure you get right back into your fasting period when having cheat days.
So now that you know an intermittent fasting cheat day is allowed and can even get results, it’s time to get fasting and know you can still indulge in some of your favorite foods too.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.