Can 'Cheat' Meals Help You Lose Weight?

Allowing yourself a cheat meal here and there could actually help your metabolism, according to Jillian Guinta, professor in the Health and Physical Education Department at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

In an article published on Medical Daily, Guinta suggests that "cheat" meals are a positive thing when it comes to weight loss, as they keep the body from becoming adapted to a certain amount of calories each day.

"There are significant weight loss benefits in changing your calorie intake for a couple days in a row,” Guinta told Medical Daily. “For example, keeping a 1,400 per day calorie diet for four consecutive days and adding on 200-300 calories for the remaining three days can aid in success. By occasionally boosting your caloric intake, you encourage your body to burn calories more rapidly instead of allowing it to adjust completely to the lower calorie lifestyle.”

Cheat Meal, Not Cheat Day

Guinta stresses that indulging in your favorite not-so-healthy foods should be a one-meal experience, not an entire day of reckless dietary abandon. A general rule is to eat healthy 90 percent of the time and allow the other 10 percent of meals to be "cheats."

Not only can a cheat meal help to reset the energy balance needed to regulate body weight and boost metabolism in chronic dieters, but it also delivers a much-needed reward that can inspire healthy behavior the rest of the time.

“There is a psychological component to the cheat day," Guinta said. "Without rewards, it can become mundane to keep a healthy lifestyle day in and day out. Oftentimes, it may take several weeks to see the scale budge, so knowing that a cheat day is coming can help keep up motivation."

Diabetics may have to be more careful with cheat meals, as blood sugar regulation is the main concern, but protein-based or fat-based indulgences can offer a reprieve from restriction while potentially helping with weight loss.

Source:
Medical Daily

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