Common Questions (FAQ) about Cheat Day

Cheat Day is an amazing time of the slow carb week, but sometimes you might have some worries and concerns about whether you’re doing just right. After all, it’s the one time of the week when you might gain some fat back. So it’s important that all your questions are answered, and you can rest easy.

Q: Does cheat day go from Friday midnight until Saturday midnight?

No. Cheat day is a single day – preferably from lunch time until bed time (usually around 12-14 hours).

Q: Should I eat a cheat breakfast, or should I have a slow carb breakfast?

A slow carb breakfast is best, with beans/lentils, and protein. The protein will make you less likely to eat beyond what you want later in the day. The legumes will give you energy so you don’t feel starved by lunchtime.

Q: Do you have to do ice baths on cheat day?

No you don’t. Some people do, as they can help burn fat (generally as part of a longer-term cold exposure program though).

Q: Why do you do the GLUT4 exercises before AND after eating?

AThey open up pathways to the muscles, so food can be stored there, instead of fat cells. Doing them before means even the first bit of food coming in will go to the muscle, and doing them again 60-90 minutes later reinforces this right when most of the energy is hitting your bloodstream.

Q: How could tiny little exercises done for 120 seconds each possibly change whether I gain fat?

The science is a bit heavy, but basically that amount of exercise flips a switch so that energy gets directed to muscles, not fat cells. Do that enough and you will never be able to gain fat.

Q: Is there a limit to the amount of food you can eat?

No there isn’t. It is recommended, however to eat as much as you want, not as much as you possibly can – there’s a difference.

Q: Why do you recommend eating away from home?

This way, you don’t have any leftovers to tempt you the next day. It’s also much easier to order just a single portion of what you’re eating, rather than getting a larger supply in storage at your place. Think ice cream cone, not ice cream pail.

Q: Can you balance cheat day over a night – for example, start Saturday evening, and finish it with breakfast on Sunday?

This wouldn’t work out too well, as it would actually mean the time period would be longer than is ideal. Also, it would disrupt the rhythm of slow carb food to other food, and it can be very difficult to go back to slow carb food if you’ve started your morning with a blood sugar spike, which practically any cheat breakfast carbohydrate will do.

Q: Can you have cheat day on another day?

Definitely! Choose a day that works for you. If you’re thinking of switching temporarily, see below.

Q: Can you switch your cheat day from Saturday to another day?

You can! If you’re thinking about just one weekend changing to Sunday, that’s fine. The only time this doesn’t work is if it’s been less than 5 days of slow carb meals. So if you switched to Sunday, then decided you wanted your next cheat day to be Friday.. count up your days and you will discover Saturday is the earliest your next cheat day can be. Plan accordingly.

Q: How do you possibly gain 10lbs from one day of eating?

It’s not all fat. Most of it, in fact, is water. Which is why it will disappear over the course of the days after cheat day. The reason water is gained is due to the change in carbohydrate intake – it prompts the cells to store more water.

Q: Will I lose the weight I gained on cheat day?

Almost definitely. In some extreme examples, people only get back down to within 1 lb of their pre-cheat day weight, however this is usually due to another factor, like eating something that’s not slow carb during the week after.

Q: Can I skip a cheat day?

Yes and no. Tim recommends that women shouldn’t try to get by with too few cheat days, or cheat meals. Men can probably skip 1 in every 2, or so, or reduce to a cheat meal, not a cheat day. Doing this, if you’re a woman, however, could cause problems in the mid to longer term.

Q: Can I spread out cheat day treats over the week? (Budget/save)

Unfortunately not. The slow carb diet relies on the consistency of meals during the week to help you lose fat. Adding in a treat every day will disrupt that, and render the diet pretty useless. At worst, it may even result in weight gain, as the carbohydrates consumed in beans may be stored as fat, instead of being burned for energy.

Q: How can all that sugar, oil, grease and starch possibly be good for you?

The short answer is that it’s because it’s helping you lose fat, which overall is a healthy journey. Specifically, obvious arguments can be made against sugars and simple carbohydrates especially, fats and grease less so. At the end of the day, however, slow carb is about success with losing fat, and cheat days help you achieve that by making the eating program easy to stick with over months and months.

Have another question? Ask below and I’ll add it to the list!

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28 Responses to Common Questions (FAQ) about Cheat Day

  • Karenina says:

    Should one still do cheat day even if one hasn’t lost a significant amount of weight during the week? I went completely bananas last week (1st cheat day) and don’t feel like I’ve lost it all again. I feel very bloated and I’m a little worried about tomorrow’s cheat day because of that. The “cheats” I’ve had over the course of this week have been 2 tbsp almond butter, about 1/4 cashews, so I should have been losing weight? I’m eating tilapia, chicken breast, lentils, broccoli, spinach, eggs and salsa w/o sugar + some carrots during the week…

    • Luke says:

      Hey Karenina,

      Cheat day is about finding your own balance. Eating until you feel bloated and/or sick isn’t ideal – its more about eating foods that you really enjoy and don’t have during the week.
      So, over the next few weeks, you’re likely to find what works best for you. Keep up the cheat days though – skipping them leads to bad routines, it’s better to stick to the plan and not modify it.
      Your food choices sounds excellent, though personally I tend to stay away from carrots and go for more green veges like green beans and cabbage.
      If you’re feeling bloated, try hot lemon juice water, and you might want to consider a partial-day fast after cheat day, where you simply don’t eat until lunch time, or even dinner time, and just have regular slow carb food that day. It can help alleviate stomach discomfort.
      All the best,

  • Fatty Arbuckle says:

    Hey guys,

    I’ve been on the diet for about 3 weeks and have lost about 10 pounds total.

    I’ve noticed that my fat loss seems to pick up towards the end of the week, just as I’m approaching cheat day. So, if the process is working and I’m burning a pound per day would it make sense to put off cheating until the loss stalls? As I recall, Tim said one main reason to cheat was to reset the metabolism. But if pounds are still dropping, do we need a reset?

    I will say that psychologically cheat day has been essential. I’m fine with the diet most of the week, but by day 6 I never want to see a bean, vegetable or even an egg ever again. However, 1 cheat day does get junk food out of my system and I’m right back on board.

    It’s just so frustrating to watch the scale cover old ground for 3-4 days.

    • Luke says:

      Hey thanks for your comment.

      The key to the changes in weight over the week is that the ‘gain’ after cheat day isn’t all fat – nothing like it in fact. Generally speaking, most of it is water. Most people may only gain around 1/2 pound of fat from cheat day, while they may gain 3, 5, or even 7 pounds of water. This is due to the change in carbohydrate intake. I recommend sticking with what’s working – skipping a cheat day may well result in your going backwards over the longer term. Though you might get some increase in fat loss that particular week, the effects physically and mentally of missing the cheat day can end up making the next few weeks more challenging. Keep to the routine, and remember that slow and steady fat loss is what you want – it’s more likely you’ll keep it off in this case.

      All the best,

  • Bob Blankshain says:

    I’ve recently had a total knee replacement, the exercise on cheat day will bother my knee. Can i substitute a session on an eliptical … which doesn’t hurt? i like my beer … that is ok on cheat day, right? also, what is best to take to prevent constipation? thanks

    • Luke says:

      Hey Bob,

      All the best recovering from that knee replacement. I hear that can be a challenging road, but well worth it in the long run. You can definitely sub-in a session on an elliptical. I would suggest doing interval training, rather than just steady-state pedalling. That means going up and down in intensity from minute to minute, for a 20 minute session. See if you can wear yourself out by that time!
      Beer is definitely ok on cheat day! To prevent constipation, on cheat day, your best bet is things like tea, coffee, salsa, hot sauce, chilli, curry, etc. During the week, if this is a problem try backing off the beans a little for a few days and slowly increasing the quantities, while you keep drinking plenty of water. You also might want to purposefully add some fat to a meal, if you’re eating very low fat protein (like chicken or tuna).

      All the best!

  • Amanda says:

    I think that i was given some misdirection with thisdiet and may have caused more damage than good. i was told cheat days lasts 24 hours whether it starts Saturday at noon and goes till Sunday at noon and that you can eat anyththing till you feel incredibly sick which is what I have been doing. Since being on this diet for the past almost 5 months I’ve gained about 7 pounds! Is it too late to reverse what I’ve done? Also, I’ve been told it’s possible to exercise too much. Is that true?

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hi Amanda, a little bit of misdirection can definitely have some implications.
      Cheat day definitely isn’t 24 hours, and shouldn’t span a sleep time. So, the ideal cheat day goes from around 11am to 9pm, or so.
      You can definitely reverse what’s been going on, no problem at all.
      And as far as exercise goes, yes, you can definitely exercise too much. 2-3 intense exercise sessions per week is the optimum. Any more and you’re pushing into overtraining territory, especially if your sleep isn’t ideal.
      All the best,

  • Martine says:

    Hello! I am just starting the diet and I was doing a good job of sticking to it until I had a date last night and had 4 glasses of wine instead of 2. Oops! It was a long night… Anyway, I started my 5 SCD days on Monday. If this is my only slip up, can I still do cheat day on Saturday or do I have to scrap the diet and start from scratch again next Monday?

    Thank you!

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hi Martine,

      I hope you’re doing well with slow carb at the moment. 4 Glasses of wine isn’t the end of the world, though try not to make it a habit! Still do a cheat day if this happens in a week.

      All the best,

  • Jessica says:

    Hi! I just found this website and will be subscribing! I just started slow carb a little over a week ago, I am javing my first cheat day today and am sooo worried about possibly gaining! But thank you for this one and the answers on it. I have lost between 5-6 lbs on the diet so far (weight fluctuates each day), but live the way I feel on it! I have more energy and feel healthier. I haven’t lost any inches on my stomach, which is where I really want to lose, but have lost a little in my arms and legs. Any tips on losing the belly fat? I plan to continue the slow carb diet and hope to see some success on it. I turn 30 in 10 days and it would be awesome to lose a few more pounds by then! I have a lot of baby weight to lose, so hopefully this is the diet for me! To tell the truth, cheat day isn’t as great as I thought it would be. We ordered a pizza for lunch and I had some chocolate milk and a cookie and I feel way too full and a little sick! Thanks again
    For you let website, I look forward to exploring it more and learning more about the diet and hopefully gaining more inspiration!

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Jessica, thanks for your comment!
      You probably will gain after cheat day, but it’s temporary! In fact if there’s no gain, you probably didn’t have enough of those foods.
      Feeling great is an awesome motivator, glad to hear it’s working so well for you!! As far as losing belly fat goes – keep losing fat. The body will select where you lose fat from. You may need to reduce arms and legs down to a very low level before the belly starts shifting. This is somewhat dependent on hormones and your individual genetic makeup.
      Next cheat day, try some nachos – they’re my fave!!
      All the best,

  • Eliza Cuthbert says:


    is it it ok to just eat eggs, and lean meats and some salad? i’ve been doing it for the past 2 weeks and feel find and not lathargic, do the legumes have an extra effect on the fat burning?

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Eliza,

      Different people react differently to what you’re talking about. What you’re eating is in fact a low carb diet. You still should do cheat afternoons, because otherwise your body will acclimate to the weight loss and make some changes. You may also want to add in some more foods with high healthy fat, like avocado and macadamia nuts (both in moderation).

      All the best,

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