A “cheat day” or “cheat meal” in terms of dieting is a pre-designated day or meal where you allow yourself to consume foods not typically included in your diet, usually ones that are higher in calories or less nutritious. According to a 2018 study led by Stuart B Murray from the University of California, cheat meals are a socially endorsed dietary practice, mainly used to manage food cravings and sustain strict dietary regimens.
Having a cheat day on Optavia refers to a day where you diverge from the standard Optavia plan, known as the “5 and 1 plan,” which consists of consuming around 800-1,000 calories per day.
Instead, during a cheat day, you consume significantly more calories, often around 3,000 calories per day. This increase in caloric intake rarely involves eating more of the Optavia Fuelings, but rather indulging in other foods not typically permitted on the Optavia plan.
When asked what happens if you have a cheat day on Optavia, we can point to a 2022 study by Kyle T. Ganson from the University of Toronto, which shows that frequent engagement in cheat meals can be associated with higher levels of overall eating disorder psychopathology, particularly among men.
Let’s explore the potential repercussions associated with deviating from the program, and, most importantly, identify strategies that you can use to recover from a lapse and accelerate weight loss.
What Happens If You Go Off Plan on Optavia?
These are the things that happen when you go off plan on Optavia.
- Your weight loss can plateau if you have a cheat day on Optavia
- Going off plan on Optavia can intensify your cravings
- Your energy levels may decline if you veer off the Optavia plan
- Having a cheat day on Optavia can amplify your hunger
- Bouncing back to Optavia post-cheat day is difficult
- Deviating from the Optavia plan often evokes feelings of shame and guilt
- Straying from the Optavia program can heighten stress levels
1. Your Weight Loss Can Plateau If You Have a Cheat Day On Optavia
Your weight loss can plateau if you go off the Optavia plan because indulging in foods not included in the plan or eating more than prescribed can disrupt the steady progress of weight loss.
Although I managed to lose over 40 pounds on Optavia, I had many instances when I deviated from the plan.
(Yes, weight loss is a challenging process, not an easy one.)
In my experience, this usually happens after seeing initial results and feeling like I’ve already accomplished my goals.
(Trust me, it happened to me a lot.)
A small snack and nothing gonna happen, right?
One extra snack can lead to one extra meal and so on.
The reality is that a consistent cheat day (without setting up appropriate boundaries) could have a negative impact on your weight loss progress.
Consuming more calories than your body needs can lead to slower weight loss, or even cause it to come to a halt.
One strategy that has worked for me in the past is to set boundaries – non-negotiable rules that you live by.
- Setting specific meal times
- Making a list of certain trigger foods and avoiding them
- Journaling and tracking your food intake
Setting up clear boundaries around how often and how much I can indulge allowed me to stay committed to the program and avoid going overboard with treats that could derail my progress.
2. Going Off Plan on Optavia Can Intensify Your Cravings
Indulging in a cheat day while following the Optavia program can actually increase your cravings and make you more tempted to eat foods that are not compliant with the program. Going off-track can have a negative effect on your ability to stay in the fat-burning state.
From my experience, the more I indulge in unhealthy foods, the harder it becomes to resist them.
It’s almost like the more I sample these foods, the more they stay on my mind.
(That’s a slippery slope.)
On the contrary, I’ve found that if I avoid these treats altogether, I have a much easier time sticking to my diet plan.
If I don’t see, try, or even think about any unhealthy foods, I’m much less likely to have cravings for them.
So far the easiest way to avoid even thinking about junk food is to get it out of your eyesight.
(Out of sight, out of mind.)
- Surround yourself with Optavia-friendly diet foods rather than unhealthy ones.
- Don’t keep high-calorie snacks in the house (or hide them away from your eyesight).
- Avoid restaurants and fast food chains (or choose ones that are mentioned in our Optavia restaurant guide).
- Plan your meals ahead and organize your weekly meal prep for one day per week.
Allowing yourself to go off-track can lead to a cycle of indulgence that can be tough to break.
For me, it’s much better to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
3. Your Energy Levels May Decline If You Veer Off the Optavia Plan
If you go off plan on Optavia, you may experience decreased energy levels.
From my experience, a drop in energy can lead to a vicious cycle.
I start feeling weak, so I reach for coffee to give me a boost. However, before I know it, I’ve had three or four cups and then experience a caffeine crash.
This makes me feel sluggish and sleepy, so I reach for sugary foods to stay awake.
All of this can be prevented by avoiding going off track in the first place.
I find that consuming high amounts of unhealthy foods can make me feel sluggish and less energetic, which can impact my ability to be active and focused.
4. Having a Cheat Day on Optavia Can Amplify Your Hunger
I can tell you that having cheat days on Optavia can lead to increased hunger.
Consuming high-calorie foods can cause your hunger levels to spike, making you more likely to consume more calories than your body needs.
While I love having cheat days, I’ve learned to schedule them and have a plan for the next day to balance the additional calories.
This typically involves something like an intermittent fasting day or active recovery day to help me get back on track.
5. Bouncing Back to Optavia Post-Cheat Day Is Difficult
For me, the worst thing about going off plan on Optavia is the “getting back” part. Basically, the longer I stay off the plan, the harder it is to return.
(It’s like going back to work after a holiday.)
To avoid this, I’ve learned to indulge in small treats and snacks rather than entire days or two.
This makes it easier for me to stay on track and get back to my diet plan.”
6. Deviating From The Optavia Plan Often Evokes Feelings of Shame and Guilt
Going off track during a diet can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, which can have a negative impact on mental health and well-being.
According to a 1990 comparative study from Kaiser Permanente published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “eating too much can leave people feeling bad about themselves.”
“They might think they are not good enough or think badly about themselves,” states the journal.
It can make you feel inferior and inadequate, especially if you were making good progress before the slip-up.
Losing weight is a long process and it’s natural to be emotional about it.
Now, I don’t have a magic wand or a silver bullet for this problem.
The only thing I know is that to avoid these feelings, I try to remember that one mistake does not define my entire journey, and I focus on getting back on track as soon as possible.
7. Straying From The Optavia Program Can Heighten Stress Levels
Deviation from the Optavia diet plan can result in heightened stress levels, which in turn can impact both mental and physical health.
Personally, I’ve experienced a mix of stress and frustration when I go off track.
I mean, one day, I might feel in control, but the next day, it feels like everything has fallen apart.
To overcome this, I find that reducing overall stress (aka allostatic load) helps a lot.
This could include:
- Deep breathing
- Yoga or stretching
- Meditation or mindfulness
- Time in nature
- Taking a warm bath
- Listening to music
- Journaling or writing
- Spending time with loved ones
- Reading a book
Some strategies are better than others so it’s important to try and find whatever works better for you.
How To Recover From a Cheat Day on Optavia?
After indulging in a cheat day on Optavia, it is important to be kind to yourself and avoid criticizing yourself.
Remember to focus on other healthy behaviors you have been practicing, such as exercise, drinking water, and getting enough sleep. Avoid turning a cheat day into a cheat week or month and instead return to your regular healthy eating habits as soon as possible.
What’s The Fastest Way To Start Losing Weight on Optavia After a Cheat Day?
For those wondering how to lose weight faster on Optavia, it is advisable to incorporate more protein in your diet, ensure adequate hydration, and commit to a regular workout regimen. Remember, however, that exercise should not be seen solely as a way to burn calories. It’s also key to balance your meals with ample non-starchy vegetables, and good carbs.