Although there is no scientific evidence available so far, fasting after a cheat day is known to help switch your body into a fat-burning mode, just the same way intermittent fasting does. It can help you stick to your weekly calorie intake limit. Your blood sugar will start to stabilize and you will be able to control your cravings better if you fast after a cheat day. Plus, you won’t feel the emotional guilt that you usually experience the day after eating a binge meal!
While fasting after a cheat day sounds like a perfect solution to deal with those extra calories, fat, and sugar that you consumed to satisfy your taste buds (and your soul!), you need to be careful not to push yourself too hard. Going on an almost no-calorie diet may put your body in stress mode. You may experience fatigue, headache, dizziness, lack of concentration, etc. It can even trigger the onset of a binge eating disorder.
In this article, I will explain why you should fast after a cheat day and how you can do it right to prevent any physical, emotional, and mental stress.
📖 Related Article: If you are trying to lose weight, you may be interested in fitness trackers, also known as weight watchers. They are weight loss programs that calculate your nutritional requirement using various parameters such as your weight, height, overall activity level, etc. They help you stick to your calorie/weight loss goals. Here are some of the best fitness trackers for weight watchers.
Benefits of fasting after a cheat day
Fasting after binge eating has numerous benefits but the most obvious one is that it helps reverse the harmful effects of overeating or eating a high-calorie diet. It prevents your body from storing the fat that it got from the previous day’s meals. It also regulates the spikes in insulin and blood sugar level. When done the right way, fasting after a cheat day can even promote weight loss!
Cheat meals promote the secretion of insulin which further promotes the storage of fat
When you binge eat, the sugar and carbs present in the food increase your blood sugar level, which stimulates the production of insulin. Insulin triggers the liver to start storing the excess blood sugar as fat for later use. In short, insulin promotes fat storage.
Fasting after a cheat day can control the secretion of insulin
When you skip your meal (or eat a low-carb meal), your blood sugar level starts to normalize. It may go down even further in the afternoon. The insulin level also starts to fall, which triggers your body to start using the stored fat as energy. But, instead of the fat that's already within your cells, your body will first use fat that is yet to be stored i.e. the extra calories that you consumed the previous day. In short, fasting after a cheat day will help you counter its adverse effects.
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Risks of fasting after a cheat day
Skipping breakfast is OK but if you go on a 24-hour fast, you may trigger the onset of a binge-restrict cycle.
Binge-restrict cycle is different from binge eating disorder; although both involve eating a lot of food; often high-carb and high-sugar food items. In this condition, you binge eat, then go hungry for a long time to compensate for the extra food eaten, and then you end up eating another binge meal because of cravings!
The longer you fast, the higher the chances of falling into the binge-restrict cycle.
The extreme, uncontrollable cravings that you experience after such a type of fasting is known as ‘primal hunger’, our body’s biological drive to eat without being mindful.
So, the risks of fasting after a cheat day often outweigh the benefits.
💡 Quick Tip: When you fast after a cheat day, you may experience numerous digestive issues such as bloating, gas, stomach discomfort, etc. These issues can make fasting even more challenging. Don’t forget to take Physician's CHOICE Probiotics after your binge dinner and in the morning the next day to prevent these issues.
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How to fast after a cheat day?
Here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from falling into the trap of a binge-restrict diet.
Don’t go on a strict 24-hour fast
The guilt you experience the day after having a binge meal is completely OK. But, don’t let that guilt drive you mad. While there are numerous benefits of 24-hour fasting, if you are not used to fasting at all, it is safer to start by skipping breakfast because that's when your insulin level starts rising again. You can follow a low-carb or a keto diet for the rest of the day. If you are diabetic or have health issues where you are required to take medicine after breakfast; don’t worry. You can eat a healthy, protein-rich breakfast without feeling guilty even for a second. Food should make you happy; not anxious or guilty.
Once you get used to skipping breakfast, you may start taking longer breaks before your first meal the day after your binge meal.
💡 Quick Tip: While it is good to fast after a cheat day, it is also important to provide your body with the very basic nutrients it needs to function. Fasting Salts Capsules such as the ones by Nutri-Align can help you with this. They are flavor and additive-free supplements containing a very calculated portion of sodium, magnesium, and potassium; the three basic components our body needs even when we are fasting.
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Drinking plenty of water will help you flush out the toxins that you may have consumed while overeating or overdrinking on your cheat day. It will also help prevent bloating and other digestive issues that you may experience when you go without food for a long time.
Other than water, you may have unsweetened herbal tea, black coffee, sparkling water, unsweetened lemon water with a pinch of salt, etc. LMNT Keto Electrolyte Powder Packets and Dr. Berg's Original Keto Electrolytes Powder are great options for people who travel a lot. They are specially designed to help with cravings, weakness, fatigue, and other issues associated with fasting.
📖 Related Article: Adding protein to your diet can help restrict the number of calories you consume the day after you binge-eat. Protein shakes are life-savior but read this article to find out if it is OK to Drink Two Protein Shakes a Day.
Go for low-intensity exercises
Unless you are diabetic or have certain diseases and conditions that can trigger hypoglycemia i.e. extreme drop in the blood sugar level, it is safe to exercise while fasting. But, instead of pumping iron in your home gym, you should go for a brisk walk or a yoga or swimming session. Doing high-intensity exercises while fasting can increase cravings, especially if you are a newbie.
Get plenty of sleep
Numerous studies have concluded that sleep deprivation is the primary reason associated with binge eating. It increases the production of ghrelin and leptin; the two hunger hormones. So, do not feel guilty if you feel like taking a nap or sleeping a few extra hours.
Fasting after a cheat day is definitely going to be difficult and risky but if you do it the right way, it can help you stick to your health goals and still enjoy junk food in a moderate quantity.
Have you tried it? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? Do you have some tips that you would want to share with others? Please feel free to leave a comment or email me.