By Robbie Durand Generation Iron
Sometimes it’s good to cheat.
The current prevalence of obesity is estimated in approximately 400 million people worldwide. The main issue with dieting is that its easy to lose weight, but keeping it off is the bigger issue. Lets face it, dieting sucks. For years, the concept of dieting has always been to stick to your diet, no matter what. Over the last few years, the concept of dieting has changed and previous research has found that incorporating periodic cheat meals in your diet not only helps out psychologically, but it can also boost your metabolism. No longer is sticking to a calorically restricted diet year round sound advice.
Cheat meals improve leptin production levels. Leptin is the hormone that encourages metabolism of fat and at the same time, it manages appetite. Normally, the leptin level in the body is reduced after one week of dieting, however, this level is restored to the normal level during cheat days. Therefore, the body is once again prepared to burn fat and to contain appetite for the next diet week. Cheat meals also lessen cravings during non-cheat days. Foods that can be eaten during cheat days reduce the desire to eat the same foods when dieting. Cheat meals are designed to keep you sane, as our natural compulsions usually take the better of us, a cheat meal helps normalize cravings and keeps you on track with your diet plan or exercise regime.
A cheat meal is a meal that has been designated to one day of any type of food you like. Some cheat meals include pizza, cakes and other foods that make eating and dieting more exciting. Previous research has shown that while on a caloric restricted diet, metabolic rate often drops but when a high caloric meal is consumed, metabolism increases. Strict weight loss diet works better if you bend the rules occasionally.
A new study demonstrates how powerful cheat meals can be to helping you achieve weight loss. The researchers did trials with two groups each of 37 women with a BMI of 25-37. The women were aged between 26 and 50.
One group followed a traditional – but strict – calorie restriction diet for 6 weeks. The women reduced their caloric intake to 55 percent of their resting metabolic rate. The resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories you burn while at rest.
The other group followed an even stricter calorie shifting diet (CSD), which consisted of 3 cycles of 2 weeks. The first part of the cycle took 11 days, during which the women ate only 45 percent of the amount of calories their body burned when resting. The second part of the cycle lasted 3 days, during which the women could eat as much as they wanted. The main theory of CSD is to change intake from high to low calories (e.g., to 11 days) to decrease weight, and then change it from low to high calories (e.g., to 3 consecutive days) to keep the RMR at higher levels.
At the end of the 6 weeks the researchers put the women on another diet for 4 weeks in which they were given exactly enough calories to maintain their new body weight. The women in both groups lost the same amount of kilograms. But after they had completed their weight-loss diets, the bodyweight of the women in the calorie restriction diet group [CR] increased more than did the bodyweight of the women in the calorie shifting diet group [CS]. The effect is even more dramatic if you look at the fat mass. After coming off a slimming diet the traditional calorie restriction diet group gained fat mass again fast, but the calorie shifting diet group did not. The women who lost weight on the calorie restriction diet started to burn fewer calories while at rest, whereas the resting metabolic rate of the women in the calorie shifting diet group remained constant. This means the CSD diet was able to maintain metabolism while dieting. The effect of CSD on RMR was reflected in sustained weight and fat loss and BMI reduction over the follow-up period, something which was not seen in CR treated subjects. This study just goes to show that the incorporation of cheat meals not only maintain metabolism but its also helped keep weight off over a longer time. The key is to use cheat meals occasionally for effective weight loss.
Davoodi SH, Ajami M, Ayatollahi SA, Dowlatshahi K, Javedan G, Pazoki-Toroudi HR. Calorie shifting diet versus calorie restriction diet: a comparative clinical trial study. Int J Prev Med. 2014 Apr;5(4):447-56.