How Strict Do You Need To Be On A Diet?
As a general rule, it’s best to stick to your diet 90% of the time in order to see results. Also called the 90/10 rule.
This rule applies to the amount of healthy food you eat compared to the amount of “junk food” you eat. Often, eating junk food is referred to as a “cheat meal” or “cheat day”.
A cheat meal is any meal that isn’t part of your regular healthy meal plan. It could be obvious junk foods like cookies or ice cream. Or just eating out at a restaurant.
While there’s nothing wrong with cheat meals in moderation, just make sure they don’t account for more than 10% of your calories on a given day. For example, if your target is 2,000 calories per day, then the cheat meal should not be more than 200 calories.
When you start getting over the 10% threshold, it’s better to consider it a cheat day.
A cheat day is any day where you eat multiple meals that aren’t part of your regular meal plan. Usually, you’re not tracking calories or macros on a cheat day. It’s more like a day off from your diet.
As with cheat meals, cheat days are totally fine in moderation. In fact, it’s necessary to take a break from dieting once in a while. However, the same 90/10 rule applies to cheat days.
In this case, for every cheat day you have, you should stick to your diet for 9 days in order to get back on track. Yes, this means you can’t have cheat days every weekend!
Cheat Day vs Refeed Day
A cheat day is when you indulge in junk foods that aren’t part of your diet. Whereas a refeed day is a strategic high-calorie day with mostly healthy foods.
Therefore, a refeed day is not considered a cheat day. Unless you go overboard or include too many foods that aren’t on your meal plan.
While it’s possible for alcohol to derail your diet, it doesn’t have to be off-limits. Again, the key is moderation.
The reason is that the calories in alcohol can’t be used as healthy building blocks for your body. And when you consume alcohol, any other calories you eat are more likely to be stored as fat.
So you should treat alcohol the same way you would junk food. Typically, a drink or two won’t account for more than 10% of your daily calories. But any more than that, and you should consider it a cheat day.