I'm a big fan of having a 'Junk Day' or 'Treat Day'. Here's why...
This short-term indulgence may be beneficial for fat loss because on the ‘Treat Day’ people eat more food (overall calories) than normal and this tells the body that it is being well fed and there is no need to slow the metabolism down. As a result, your metabolism remains elevated, maximising fat loss.
Another fat-loss benefit of the ‘Treat Day’ is the fact that your metabolic rate will increase because more food has been consumed and therefore more energy is required for digestion – the ‘thermic effect’ of food increases. This boost in the body’s metabolic rate burns up many of the excess calories consumed, so an increase in the body’s fat stores is unlikely.
There are also psychological benefits to having a ‘Treat Day’. A ‘Treat Day’ pacifies your cravings for ‘forbidden foods’ and may also make you feel a little guilty for over-indulging, so getting back to following the Nutritional Plan will be easier.
Remember of course, the ‘Treat Day’ is only for one or at most two meals. It certainly doesn't mean you should set your alalarm for 5am and have a feeding frenzy until midnight!!!
The main reason why most diets don’t work is because they preach total abstinence from good tasting foods. I believe allowing yourself one day a week to eat and drink whatever you want makes it much easier to follow a healthy eating plan and also maintain a lean, athletic body.
In order to see permanent changes in your body you need to make some permanent lifestyle changes. Following this pattern of eating should become a permanent habit. Eat healthy six days a week and indulge yourself once a week. This is much better for fat loss than indulging here and there during the week.
When you first commence your new Nutritional Plan, stick to it for at least one month before having a ‘Treat Day’ to establish the habit of good eating. Then, when you do have your ‘Treat Day’, you probably won’t eat as much as you first thought because your body and your tastebuds won’t be used to the high fat and high sugar foods. Also, because your taste buds are replenished every week or so, you’ll probably find some of the ‘Treat Day’ foods too rich to overindulge in and therefore your intake will be substantially reduced.
Most people find if they are strict with their eating for one month and then have their first ‘Treat Day’, they usually find themselves feeling a little sick afterwards because their bodies aren’t used to eating ‘junk’ food.
Overall, plan your ‘Treat Day’. Set out to eat the foods you really enjoy and go for it!
Stephen is the part-owner of Body Concepts and Focus On magazine. Stephen has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 18 years and has a science degree from UWA.