Why It's Okay To Cheat When Intermittent Fasting

There are countless wellness hacks and diets circling the internet that claim to be able to transform your body, but few of them tend to do what they promise. Intermittent fasting is a trending trick that many swear by. The most popular method of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, where you have an 8-hour window to eat in the day, and then fast for 16 hours until your next eating period. You may be wondering whether intermittent fasting really works and if fasting is actually good for you.


Aside from burning fat stores and calories, there are many benefits that come from intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting helps increase the human growth hormone as well as improve cellular repair and insulin sensitivity (via Healthline). And straying away from your fasting schedule and indulging in cheat days can be tempting, but will they hinder your progress? Fortunately, cheat days may not be all that bad.

Can an occasional cheat day be good for you?

On a typical diet, a cheat day consists of indulging in foods you wouldn't normally eat. But with intermittent fasting, a cheat day means changing the times when you do eat. If you schedule a cheat day for yourself to break your fast, it could actually end up benefiting your overall health when done right. A study in 2016 showed that when participants occasionally deviated from their plan with a pre-planned activity to reach their target, they were more likely to achieve their goal in the end.


While cheat days can help motivate you to stick to your intermittent fasting routine with a much-needed break, it's important to be mindful of when, and how often, you have cheat days. If you're not being intentional about cheat days and have them too often, they could do more harm than good and stifle your progress. Your cheat days should be planned rather than impulsively acted on for them to work as a break to give you that extra dose of motivation.

How to plan a cheat day

Thinking about treating yourself to a cheat day? First, plan out what kind of cheat day you want to have. Will you be extending your eating window, or skipping out on the fasting altogether for the day? Once you've decided on the type of cheat day, mark it in your calendar. According to WellTech, an occasional cheat day isn't going to derail your efforts to lose weight. During your cheat day, enjoy your day off and let go of counting calories and worrying about what you eat to let yourself reset. You can still reap the benefits of intermittent fasting without pushing yourself too far.


Make sure you're not having too many cheat days, as these can negatively affect your progress and undo the hard work you've been putting in. Per FitnessVolt, more than one cheat day per week could impact your progress — so try to limit your cheat days to one per week, or less if that better suits your plan.