IT’S the news you’ve all been waiting for, especially if you find it hard to stick to a strict diet.
A regular cheat day can actually help you lose weight by encouraging your body to burn more fat.
“What, how does eating unhealthy food do that??” we hear you ask.
Well, nutritionist Susie Burrell has the answer.
Writing on her blog Shape Me she explains that a cheat meal after a period of calorie restriction tells your body it doesn’t need to go into starvation mode – when it literally hordes all the calories it can.
“Physiologically it has been shown that after periods of strict calorie restriction, a cheat (note not binge) meal, which contains significantly more calories actually helps to body to continue to burn body fat,” Susie wrote.
“It is thought after caloric deprivation, a flood of calories tells the body that it is not starving and can continue to burn, not store fat.
“Even more importantly psychologically there are a number of potential benefits associated with looking forward to a cheat.
“Factoring in a meal off a strict diet gives dieters something to look forward to; it helps take the pressure of the brain to continually have to maintain will power and helps to balance the demands of life with the goal of weight loss and calorie restriction.”
Science even backs it up.
A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that dieters who had a cheat meal once a week lost the same amount by the end of the week as those who didn’t cheat.
There is one slight catch though.
A cheat meal doesn’t mean you can go eating an entire pizza with a litre of Coke, washed down with a tub of ice cream.
That’s not healthy in anyone’s books.
Instead, your cheat meal should be going out to dinner, or a bowl of pasta once a week…anything that’s a simple meal that doesn’t contain thousands of calories.
“The key thing to remember is that a cheat is one meal, not a binge in which you eat everything in sight, or definitely not an entire cheat day,” Susie added.
“Rather it is one or two meals each week in which you can enjoy a few drinks.
“Have pasta or pizza or indulge in a restaurant meal. It helps you to factor in life events in which extra calories are likely to be consumed and if you do not overdo it may even enhance your fat loss attempts.”
So, it’s important to remember that a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t require you to stick perfectly to your diet 100 per cent of the time.
But don’t go over-indulging or binging on everything in sight either because then your diet goes completely out the window.
Just let yourself have a treat once a week, go out for dinner with friends or eat pizza while watching a film at home.
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