Which is better for your clients, a cheat meal or rest day? The answer to that frequently asked question will depend on a variety of factors. Ultimately, it is between you and your client to decide. Taking all things into consideration will help you to give the best suggestions. This will further build on the trust level between you and your client.
A cheat meal can offer your hard working client a much deserved mental vacation. Since the mind is really what is craving the cheat meal. The cheat meal could serve as a reward for putting in some hard workouts. But I like to utilize the cheat meal not as a reward, but as a means to allow the client to feel better about training. By giving them a break from a diet it allows them to enjoy themselves. If they are new to training it will serve as a bridge from their past routines to their new ones.
Since it is near impossible for anyone to eat strict every day of the year, putting in a routine cheat meal will also break up the monotony of the diet. Incorporating a routine cheat meal may help your clients stay on track longer and inspire them to work that much harder! Remember, a cheat meal is just that, a cheat. Anything your client wants to eat they can eat. It may even help spark their metabolism into high gear.
What about an extra rest day? Depending on what workout schedule you have your client on will dictate if an extra rest will be of value or not. If you are training them 3 days per week and having them do a home routine or other form of training on the other days, a rest day might come into play.
If you notice your client is losing enthusiasm and does not seem as driven, a rest day might be just the thing for them. Overtraining can lead a client to stop training just as fast as it can lead to an injury. When your client is feeling down, give them a deserved rest day. They will come back rested and more motivated to train hard.
The cheat meal and rest day can both serve as benefits to your clients. When they are used appropriately they will enhance the overall quality of your service. Use them as an aid with client programming. As long as they are used properly, no harm will come from them.