You just have to know, “Should I Weigh Myself After a Cheat Day?”
Whether you’re looking to gain, maintain, or lose weight, I’m sure you appreciate the benefit of a cheat day.
Cheat days are ideal to replenish glycogen stores and boost your metabolism.
Plus, they can reduce cravings and food binges, as well as giving you a mental break from following a strict diet.
However, you probably want to know exactly how much “damage” you’ve done.
But, is stepping on scales the following morning a good idea?
Or is it likely to completely kill your motivation?
Allow me to explain all about weighing yourself and cheat days.
Should I Weigh Myself After a Cheat Day?
It’s not a good idea to weigh yourself immediately after a cheat day. Even if you’ve only gone slightly above maintenance calories, the scales might not show a true reflection. Your weight typically fluctuates day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour. Plus, following a cheat day, especially if the food was sodium-heavy, you may have put on a lot of water weight. It is usually best to wait at least 3 days after your cheat day to weigh yourself once you have lost the additional water weight.
1. The Morning After Cheat Day SHOCK
It’s definitely not a good idea to weigh yourself the morning after a cheat day.
I know you probably want to know how much damage you’ve done, but the number on the scales is likely to shock you.
In fact, your weight gain probably won’t make any sense to you.
We typically view consuming 3,500 calories as an additional pound in body fat.
So, a lot of people will believe that having a massive cheat day, where they probably consumed 5,000 additional calories over maintenance, is an extra 1-2lbs on the scale.
However, you know as well as me that this is rarely the case.
It’s not unheard-of for people to see a 5lb plus weight gain.
In fact, I have even seen some people put on over 10lbs in a single day, depending on the severity of their cheat day.
And it’s extremely unlikely that they ate an additional 35,000 calories over maintenance.
So, weighing yourself immediately after a cheat day will never give you a true reflection of your actual weight.
In truth, much of this weight gain is down to water weight.
Plus, it will also depend on what you ate for your cheat meals.
Most of your water weight gain will come from high-sodium foods.
So, if you’re going the takeaway route for a cheat day there’s plenty of salt on offer.
The highest sodium takeout foods include pizza, Chinese food, and KFC.
In fact, not only will one meal typically take you over your entire day’s worth of calories, but you’ll get very close to your maximum sodium intake for the day too.
That being said, Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle, and even Taco Bell won’t contain nearly as much sodium.
Plus, the fast food restaurants typically have many healthier options to choose from.
2. When to Weigh Yourself After a Cheat Day
Unfortunately, you won’t lose all of this water weight immediately after your cheat day.
There are ways to speed the process along, and I’ll get to these in a moment.
So, in other words, don’t even expect to get a true account of your weight on the second day following your cheat day.
In truth, how long it takes you to lose the water weight from a cheat day will depend on many factors.
Obviously, the food you eat on your cheat day will figure high.
But, so will things like your metabolic rate, your activity levels, and what you eat and drink following your cheat day.
If you really need to know, I would still suggest that you wait at least 3 days after cheat day to weigh yourself.
However, some of you won’t get a clear picture for up to 4-7 days afterwards.
This is also why I think that you shouldn’t treat a cheat day like a complete free-for-all, i.e. anything goes.
Yes, it’s fine to have a cheat day, and even to eat well above your maintenance calories, but you still need to have some semblance of control.
I’ll explain in a moment the ideal way to structure your weekly calories in order to incorporate a cheat day.
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3. Is This a Better Way to Weigh Yourself?
Personally, regardless of your body composition goals, I think you should weigh yourself on a daily basis.
Okay, I understand that none of us wants to become a slave to the scales.
However, if you’re interested in monitoring your weight then daily weigh-ins are the way forward as far as I’m concerned.
You’ll often hear that you should only weigh yourself once a week, and always at the same time of the day.
The main reason for this is that your weight can dramatically fluctuate from day-to-day.
In fact, you can weigh a certain amount in the morning and then find that you weigh 2-3lbs more in the evening.
Then again, depending on your daily activities and calorie intake, it’s not unheard-of to weigh less towards the end of the day.
In my mind, by simply weighing yourself once a week you’re not getting a true reflection of these potential fluctuations.
Even if you weigh yourself every Monday morning at 7am, who’s to say that you’ll get an accurate figure each week.
So, I believe you should weigh yourself every day and then take an average for the week.
This will of course include cheat days when you’re likely to weigh more.
And then again, it could also include a massive leg day at the gym or a super-intense conditioning circuit, when you typically weigh less.
I agree that you should weigh yourself at the same time, but just make it a daily practice rather than weekly.
Once you have a weekly average, you can see if you’re moving in the right direction, week-to-week and month-to-month.
Maintaining your weight is obviously the simplest to track.
However, if you’re looking to cut or bulk then this could typically take a period of months to notice significant changes.
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4. How to Fit a Cheat Day in With Your Calories
Now, I’ve just spoken of weighing yourself daily and taking a weekly average.
I actually believe you should do the same with your calorie intake in order to incorporate a cheat day.
You’ll do the least amount of harm by following this protocol.
Let’s say you’re currently on a cut and therefore your daily calories are 2,600.
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This would mean that you have 18,200 calories to consume in a week.
You’re looking to have your cheat day on a Saturday when you’re going out to a restaurant for a meal.
What I would do in this case is actually lower my calories slightly from Monday to Friday, and for Sunday as well.
Let’s say that you lower your intake of these 6 days to 2,300 calories.
This would mean that you’ve consumed 13,800 calories for your 6 “normal eating” days.
Therefore, you have a total of 4,400 calories to eat on your cheat day, while still staying within your weekly limit.
I would even go as far as having much smaller, but high protein, meals throughout the cheat day, so I could get as many of those 4,400 calories into one massive and enjoyable meal.
Okay, you’re likely to feel quite hungry during the day and this may impact on your energy levels.
Perhaps, you have a 4-egg omelette in the morning and a small chicken salad in the afternoon.
This way you will have only eaten into around 600-700 of those 4,400 calories on your cheat day.
So, you can actually get to enjoy a huge meal at the restaurant, along with dessert, without having to feel guilty.
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5. How to Return to Normal After a Cheat Day
You have to ensure that you get yourself back on track after your cheat day.
Firstly, you must ensure that you drink plenty of water the following day, even more than you usually do.
Even though you’re probably carrying additional water weight you still need to flush toxins out of your body.
And the best way to achieve this is to drink plenty of water.
There’s no need to go on a strict diet the following day if you’ve followed the protocol I’ve mentioned above.
You just return the consuming the same number of calories as you did on the previous 5 non-cheat days.
I will also say that you can up your activity levels on and after your cheat day.
By this, I don’t mean that you have to get in two workouts a day, but simply up your step count for the day.
If you’re someone who regularly tracks their steps, i.e. 10,000 steps a day, then use the opportunity to take more steps on these days.
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This could simply involve going for a 15-20 minute walk a couple of times a day, or simply getting up and moving around more often.
However, it makes sense to be more active both on a cheat day and the day after.
So, as you can see, it’s definitely not a great idea to weigh yourself after a cheat day.
Depending on what you’ve eaten and the severity of your cheat day, the scales are unlikely to give you a true reflection.
And unfortunately this may strike panic into you.
You’ll typically be carrying some extra water weight, so it’s advisable to give yourself at least 3 days after a cheat day to weigh yourself.
With that being said, my personal preference is to weigh myself on a daily basis.
This way I can simply take an average weight for the entire week, which will give me a better idea of whether I’m moving in the right direction.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.