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Is it possible to cheat too much on a cheat day?

So I finally reached my goal weight on Xmas day (a cheat day). I cheated a lot that day - probably about 6,000 calories. I finished the rest of the week on SCD, then on my next weigh-in (New Year's) I had gained 4lbs!!! I cheated on New Years too (same amount - a binge) and haven't weighed myself yet. I'm nervous though - did I undo the last 10 weeks of work in one day? Is it possible to cheat too much on a cheat day?


The Best Answer

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To put it bluntly- yes. It's soo easy to clock up a large amount of calories and carbs/fat in a short space of time. :-)

I know I go all out on cheat days- literally. I had 2 cheat days on Christmas Day and Boxing Day- both added up to around 15,000 calories. I definitely don't recommend doing this though, except for times like Christmas- it's always best to stick to the once a week, even when your at your goals (you just add a few more carbs in the week until you stabalise over time).

The upside however, is that this diet is very powerful and changes your metabolic pathways in order to blast through any fat gain gain in a few days. It's been a week since my last cheat day and my results are I have lost 4lbs, and I am only 2.5lbs from my goal weight of 133lbs. I am down a total of 26.5lbs in 11 weeks. Not bad for the holiday season !

This is why I have found this to be the easiest, most enjoyable and sustainable ways of eating I have ever tried. I did Atkins last year and lost 104lbs from 228lbs, but it's unsustainable in the long run for most people. I gained back 35lbs but restarted SCD/TLM in October.

The amount you gained is totally NORMAL :) It's mostly a lot of fluid retention from the carbs and salt. See my blog post on water retention for more info and how to combat it. :-D

I can definitely say that the secret to avoiding fat gain and using cheat days are your advantage are doing ALL the damage control -it really does help. In fact , doing damage control, I have actually lost weight after a couple of cheat days, or stayed mostly the same after most of them so far. I only have them once every 8-14 days though, when I feel I 'need it'. It helps to adopt this thinking too.

Another secret behind cheat days are that is boosts your metabolic rate up again by spiking leptin and thyroid hormones- so it reverses any metabolic slowdown from carb/caloric restriction on all other days and tricks your body into the 'just started dieting' mode over and over again. So they are are necessary in this sense.

So don't worry- you DIDN'T undo any progress, and you will see even more progress this coming week! ;)

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    Wait-but when I weighed myself it had been 1wk past the last cheat day..so the weight should have been gone & then some. I'm surprised I gained 4lbs instead. Do you restrict your calories during the week as well as follow the diet? I don't b/c the book said it's not @ cals. I generally eat ~1600 cals and I'm 5'4",125-130lbs. My cheat days prior to the Holidays averaged ~4,000 cals -but I definitely exceeded that on Xmas and New Years.

    What damage control do you do besides PAGG? I'm not really one for supplements. The book makes it sound extremely involved & I really can't schedule my day in 15min increments. Is there a way to make it easier to follow? Like what are the key things to do on that day?

    Also, do you exercise throughout the week as well? If so, how much?

  • Sam Green commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    You said you were eating a lot of cold cuts, which are loaded in sodium. Try cutting back on the salt for a few days, and make sure you aren't eating too many legumes (1/2-3/4 cup per day is fine) and aren't having any sweeteners or domino foods.

    Also, when is your monthly cycle? Hormones, especially in women, play a huge part in water retention. Keep weigh ins separate to when you're likely to retain fluid from this.

    Your calories are perfectly fine- anywhere from 1300-1600 is perfect for your frame and height.

    It may also just be taking your body a little longer to drop the 'excess' from Christmas- doing the above will help drop this weight faster.

    I take cissus,do the glut-4 exercises prior and within 90 mins of cheat meals, or every 90 mins/before eating..

  • Sam Green commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    You really don't HAVE to do all the damage control, but taking the supps mentioned do help a lot to limit/prevent fat gain and even just doing the exercises 3x on cheat day will help a lot too.

    Also, drinking grapefruit juice before meals (pure, not concentrated- Tropicana is the best retail brand for this), drinking caffeine/yerbe mate tea, green tea, lemon juice and cinnamon also have a big effect.

    I do exercise, but only 2-3x a week interval training type workouts a week as well as kettlebells and free weights. I haven't worked out since the 17th December though, just stayed very active throughout the day.

  • Sam Green commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    Are you taking measurements too? The scales can be a really blunt and inaccurate measure of body fat loss.. You can fluctuate 5-10lbs at any time of the day, as cheat day well proves. That's why it's best only to weigh in the morning of cheat days and take measurements beforehand so you don't get discouraged if the number on the scale hasn't altered as much as you thought it would.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    My measurements were up also :( I can add in GLUT 4 exercises 3xs a cheat day I guess, how long do you do each and what do you do?

    Yes - I ate like 4-8 slices of turkey or ham per day that week. (Normally it is sauteed chicken and broccoli but we didn't have time to cook snacks that week). The coldcuts are very high in sodium.

    As for my period - I have not gotten it since I started the diet. I think maybe I don't get enough calcium but I'm not sure. Anyway, that wouldn't affect the water now since I don't get it.

    I could further reduce sweetners as well. I've cut out almost all diet soda (maybe I drink less then 3ozs a day) but I still have sugar free jello cups (about 5 a day). I don't use sweetner elsewhere though - not even in coffee or tea.

  • Sam Green commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    You need to drop the sweeteners,they make your body recognize them as sweet and releases insulin/ screws up metabolism , especially with 5 a day..

    Like I said, reduce sodium, reduce legumes or see what impact not eating them or only at one meal has a day, make sure your eating enough fats, plenty of water.

    The glut-4 only take 90secs each. It's 30-50 wall presses, air squats and chest pulls before and after meals.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    Thanks - I think I'll add in the exercises on the cheat day if it is only 90secs a pop. I will definitely reduce the sodium and attempt to lessen the jello. I can also decrease consumption of legumes a little, but not totally or that would be an Atkins diet which apparently makes you gain everything back afterwards.

    I really don't eat much fat b/c most of the protein I consume is lean. Will this have an adverse affect on the diet? How much fat should I be consuming a day?

  • Sam Green commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    That's a misconception though- that you gain it back after Atkins. We have cheat days to control our insulin sensitivity and leptin, they don't :D

    Seriously though- drop the jello entirely , and if it doesn't pick up your weight loss/break addictions, along with other tweaks then sue me lol :)

  • Sam Green commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    Yes it definitely sounds like an imbalance of some sort to me.. Have you checked with your doctor yet?

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    I'm eating enough calories but maybe not enough fat - how much do you need a day?

    I don't exercise at all so it's definitely not that. I haven't checked w/ my Doc b/c their guess is always as good as mine and they cost a lot of $. My period has always been a bit wacky and I remember once when I exercised a lot and was too thin I didn't get it for 16mos. This may have to do w/ the lack of fat I think. Should I add nuts to my diet?

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    @SamGreen - Is sugar-free gum ok here and there?

  • Sam Green commented Jan 4th 2012:

    No it isn't I'm afraid. It contains sweeteners and hidden carbs, which spikes your insulin levels and stalls fat loss. Your body still recognizes the fake sugar as sweet and gets confused, so releases insulin. Time to break the sweetness addiction and change your tastes! :)

    At least half your calories should come from fat- log into fatsecret and your macronutrient ratios should be 50-60% fat, 30-35% protein and 5-15% carbohydrate. This ensures your body is burning fat for fuel ;)

    You don't have to add nuts, but you can. Only eat 5-10 a day if you want to continue weight loss as they are a 'domino' food and can stall in larger quantities.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    This is helpful but I'm still unsure as to how I can work in 50-60% of my diet as fat. Right now I'm eating egg beaters, spinach, beans and salsa for breakfast, 2 snacks (mid-morning and mid-afternoon) of grilled chicken and broccoli, For lunch, salad with a scoop of black beans, broccoli and baked chicken and for dinner it varies between:

    - 2 turkey burgers w/ mustard, 1 cup of beans or edamame & broccoli

    - leaf spinach, ground turkey meat w/ taco seasoning & 1 cup of beans/edamame

    - sauteed turkey sausage and broccoli & 1 cup of beans

    - Grilled chicken & broccoli (no beans)

    Sometimes I have a late night snack of a few slices of turkey (cold cuts).

    Most of the meat I buy is lean to avoid a high caloric intake

  • Sam Green commented Jan 4th 2012:

    It's not that hard. Fat has more calories than protein per gram so if protein grams for the day are slightly higher than fat grams ( say 80g fat and 90 protein ) then you should fit into the 50-60% fat range :)

    Log what you've eaten today into fatsecret.com and look at the pie chart percentages/ calorie breakdown :)

  • Sam Green commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Try frying the turkey meat in oil ( coconut, macadamia and olive are best- avoid processed vegetable / corn oils/ canola - trans fats!) , have more' fatty' meats- chicken thigh, beef , pork. The fat will help satiety more so you might only need 3 meals a day adding up to around 1300-1500 calories per day. And eat half an avocado a day, as well as use butter/ghee :)

  • Sam Green commented Jan 4th 2012:

    See my weekly meals here - http://4hourpeople.com/question/6707/so-im-gonna-post-my-typical-me...

    eating this way will help! It'll stop hunger so you won't snack anymore.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 5th 2012:

    I don't mind snacking - it keeps my metabolim always active. I think Tim even recommends this in 'the last mile' chapter. I like your idea about the fattier meats and/or adding Olive oil. I love avacado's too - but I don't see myself buying them and cutting them up - would pre-packaged guacamole suffice?

    Also, where do you incorporate butter and/or ghee? Which do you use more often (butter or ghee) and does it make a difference which?

  • Sam Green commented Jan 5th 2012:

    'Stoking the metabolic fire' is a myth.. The 'Last Mile' frequent feedings are designed to keep the energy and protein going to muscle to prevent atrophy from extended caloric restriction.

    You only need 3-4 square meals a day, that's all you should need. If you stop snacking, unless you're on a ketogenic diet like TLM then you'll see better results and be able to add more fats to your meals- which is what you need to do.

    I use butter/ghee with my eggs in the morning. I either scramble them with butter/ghee or fry them in butter/ghee. Plus you can add to green veggies for flavour.

    Ghee is basically just clarified butter with all the solids removed. It is nicer , but it doesn't really matter which one you use because butter has minuscule ( if any) lactose in it.

  • Sam Green commented Jan 5th 2012:

    Also the frequent feedings are because you completely deplete your glycogen reserves on TLM, unlike on SCD where there is still JUST enough to fuel them so you don't need any continuous fuel other than your 3-4 meals a day.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 5th 2012:

    I could potentially cook w/ a little butter and oil to get in some more fats. Thanks!

    I think there is a lot of controversy over whether or not eating small, frequent meals is better for your metabolism or not. Currently, I'd estimate over 80% of Doctor's/Nutritionists believe it is a good thing. Before this diet I'd done extensive reading on diet and nutrition and this is pretty much recommended across the board. I don't think it's horrible not to eat frequently on this diet, but I certainly don't think it will improve results. I eat when I'm hungry, and only until I'm full. I don't overeat at any one time to try to extend my time between meals/snacks. To me that's just not healthy. My body tells me when I need to eat. Sadly, I don't always listen to it - LOL

  • cutsh commented Jan 6th 2012:

    Whoah nellie, quite the thread. Sam's got this wired, and as for the 80% of Doctors and Nutritionists, well, parking lot science.

  • Sam Green commented Jan 7th 2012:

    Thank you so much O:) haha, really , I'm just sharing my knowledge and advice to help as much as possible :)

  • Sam Green commented Jan 7th 2012:

    And @4hbwoman- if you're eating the right foods at each meal, a quarter legumes, a quarter veg, and half protein/fats like I've suggested then you should not feel hungry in between meals and will not feel the urge to eat as often. 3-4 meals a day , like Tim says. Works the best for this plan ;)

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 8th 2012:

    Might very well be what's best on his plan - just maybe not for me. But I agree I need to add more fats to my diet - I bought avocados yesterday and ate steak tonight!

  • Sam Green commented Jan 8th 2012:

    Yay :) See how it goes this week!

  • arctichacker commented Jan 6th 2012:

    I know. Sam is a 4HB Rock Star Super Hero. Thank goodness he's using his power for good =)

  • arctichacker commented Jan 5th 2012:

    Check the ingredients list. Many pre-packaged guacamoles have starch fillers.

    I cook with ghee and coconut oil. I often will melt a bit and drizzle it on my foods (eggs in the morning, mashed cauliflower). I also have the occasionaly spoonful of almond butter if my meals are bit too lean.

  • arctichacker commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    The aspartame in the jello may be stalling your progress.

    Also, you said that you haven't gotten your period since starting SCD. Ummm that sounds to me like there's some sort of imbalance. Are you getting enough fat?

    Some women's cycles shift which is normal when changing your diet however not having your period at all is not good.

    I would actually wonder if you're getting enough calories/fat. I found in the past when I trained too hard and cut my calories, my periods would cease. Not good.

  • arctichacker commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Instead of gum, I occasionally chew/suck on whole cloves which are naturally sweet.

All Answers


Canada flag

I held onto my Christmas cheat day bloat for nearly a week. I was in the same calorie range as you.

Your weight is only part of the picture. What are the rest of your body measurements doing?

There may be different things at work.

It may be hormonal (eg. water retention from PMSing or TOM).

It may be water retention on your muscles from exercise.

It may be excessive salt that hasn't been flushed out. This is likely if you've had a lot of cold cuts. They're basically salt marinaded meats.

Up your water intake to 4-5 litres/day and watch your salt intake.

Here's what I am doing for cheat day:

I do a SCD breakfast (40-50 grams of protein) on cheat day.

Then before my first cheat meal I have half a grapefruit with a cinnamon coffee.

I drink at least 5 litres of water (with lemon and ice) throughout the day.

I also drink green tea/mate throughout the day.

I'm eat more frequently during my cheat day so I basically throw in GLUT4 exercises whenever I go to the washroom.

I limit my cheat period to 12 hours with the main eating occuring before 8pm.

The next day:

I drink 5 litres of water at least. 1 litre green tea

-Only have 1/2 cup of lentils with lunch. The rest of the meals I have only veggies and protein. This was not a conscious effort initially as there was no way I could stuff lentils into me for breakfast the day after Cheat Day.

This time I've upped my water and I've gotten most of my cheat day bloat down in 48 hours.

I don't think you've undone your hard work. I know it's a bit nervewracking but have faith. You've done so great so far. A large part of SCD is trying to figure out the quirks of your own body and applying that knowledge to losing the weight and maintaining the weight loss.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    Unfortunately my body measurements where up too - so it wasn't muscle weight. I can try to drink more water and maybe add in the grapefruit juice. Do you only do this b/f the first cheat meal?

    What GLUT4 exercises do you do and for how long each time?

    Last question, after the day after the cheat day, do you go back to eating a normal amount of beans?

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Ok - so 60air squats and ~45 air press each time?

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Ok that sounds like me too - it's no holds barred on a cheat day - I am eating pretty much all day. Thanks for your advice. I'll see do this and see if it works

  • arctichacker commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    I only have grapefruit and a cup of coffee with my first cheat meal. I add lemon juice to my water throughout the day.

    I do 60 air squats & 40-50 wall presses (I'd do more but my shoulder is still recovering).

    The day after cheat day I only eat 1/2 cup of lentils with my lunch. I am now normally having 1/2 cup of lentils/legumes for breakfast and lunch each. I do not have legumes for dinner. I just have extra veggies and protein and fat (if needed).

  • arctichacker commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Yep. Tim suggests doing them before a cheat meal and 60-90 minutes afterwards. However, I'm pretty much a grazing machine on my cheat day so I do them whenever I to the washroom.


United-States flag

Not to brag, but I hit 10,768 documented (Livestrong) calories on my second cheat day and lost 3.5 pounds of fat the next week. I think I can say without fear of contracdiction that I would NOT, after 10 months of this regimen, be able to do that again. I felt perfectly OK, too, at the end of the day. the next week I couldn't get to 7,000 before I went into toxic shock.

Tim shares that its not a bad idea to consider dropping out breakfast from your binge day and stick to a protien rich one more in line with the diet. Thankfully for me it hasnt come to that yet, but its going to.

Good job on getting to your goal weight! At 53 I am unsure its possible to meet my goal but I fully intend to try.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    Wow - that sounds fun :) I found that the first cheat days I cheated the least and would always feel so sick after. Over time, I think my body actually got used to cheating more and I can eat more and feel relatively ok. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

    Just to clarify, I was at my goal weight until after the Xmas cheat day - then on the next weigh in (1 week later) I was up 4lbs.


United-States flag

Only 6000? What, were you sick or something?


I once had a 7200-calorie Cheat Day and lived to tell the tale. I don't think you can have too much food on Cheat Day without making yourself sick.

And @SamGreen is right; fluid retention is normal, and you will retain fluid when you change your intake of protein, carbs, and sodium very suddenly like that. I've not been on the diet since shortly before Christmas, and I'm 20 pounds above my last weigh-in (of which I know at least 15 is fluid), so don't feel too bad about 4 pounds.


  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    LOL - I could've gone for more than 6,000....but I still restrain myself a little - LOL. Again though, the weigh in date was after 6 more SCD days (not after the cheat day). That is why I'm surprised I gained 4lbs

    You mentioned fluid retention - do you think maybe I gained the weight b/c that week I had a ton of cold cuts? They are pure protein so they fit well in SCD but they do have a lot of sodium.

  • 42Wired commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    The sodium would definitely make you retain fluid, especially since the food companies love to load everything with it.

  • 42Wired commented Jan 3rd 2012:

    They also love to load things with sugar. Make sure the brands of cold cuts you eat do not contain any sugar products. If you can, avoid processed meats altogether.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Ok - I'll try to cut down on them dramatically. It's hard though when I'm starving and need something b/f I can prepare a meal.

  • 42Wired commented Jan 4th 2012:

    I usually cook all my meals for the week on either Saturday or Sunday so all I have to do is pop something in the microwave.

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Yeah - we try to do that w/ our snacks (grilled chicken and broccoli) but sometimes I am more hungry than usual and don't have a snack left. I guess cashews may be better than coldcuts

  • 4hbwoman commented Jan 4th 2012:

    that's a good idea as well - thanks

  • 42Wired commented Jan 4th 2012:

    I agree; turn to protein and fiber before carbohydrates; they fill you up longer.

    If you're getting hungry between meals, you may not be eating enough.

  • arctichacker commented Jan 4th 2012:

    Try having a couple of hard boiled eggs on hand in the fridge for a snack to take the edge off the hunger pangs.

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