When people go on diets, one of the first directions taken is changing their diet to "eating cleaner" followed by a once a week cheat meal/day. Is this the right route to take? I'd absolutely say no, and here is why.
What does eating clean mean? You ask any proponent of "clean eating" and rest assured they'll give you an answer that differs from the next. Undoubtedly, each description will likely include eating chicken breast, vegetables, rice, etc. Honestly, I'd have to say I agree with eating those foods when on a diet. So what's the problem then? My problem is when people claim that they eat clean, restrict themselves to only these foods, and expect that it will result in SUSTAINABLE fat loss, solely based on the fact that they are now eating "clean." Further, people go on these diets and then allow themselves cheat days, under the (mis)preconceived notion that it will help raise their leptin/metabolism, in essence returning their metabolism back to where it was before they even started, resulting in an increased ability to burn fat. In my opinion, this idea is flawed.
First of all, I think that a "cheat meal/day" is a good idea, but not in the way that is generally accepted. The generally accepted idea of a cheat meal is a "break" from "eating clean" in which the dieter can go on a tangent and arguably eat what ever they please, it is also generally believed that there will be no resultant fat gain from said meal. I don't agree with this and neither do the real experts. Here is an exert from Alan Aragon's recent research review:
"On the note of intermittent noncompliance, uncontrolled or unbridled cheat meals (and certainly cheat days) can easily erase a week's worth of caloric deficit. It doesn't matter if compliance is perfect during the weekdays, if for example on the weekend an accumulated 3500 kcal deficit is completely nullified (and then some) by the addition of a couple of 2000 kcal "YOLO" meals. Caution is further cast to the wind when these meals are accompanied by enough alcohol."
Lets just think for a second about how little of an amount 3500 kcal would be. Then think about how easily it would be to surpass that. Now are you catching my drift? This idea that the diet will go uncompromised and even benefit from such a cheat meal (usually consisting of junk, that I wouldn't even suggest consuming regardless of diet), is inherently flawed.
Assuming that the majority of your caloric deficit will be coming from carbohydrate sources (which is arguably the easiest, most effective way), Increasing carbs would likely be one of your best options for having a cheat meal/day. But there is a catch...
Aragon, Alan. "What Causes Weight Loss Plateaus, and How Can They Be Overcome?"Alan Aragon Research Review September 2014 (2014). Print.