Saturday, Oct 21, 2017 | Last Update : 02:55 AM IST

Diet hacks: Cheat to lose weight

THE ASIAN AGE. | KYATI RUPANI
Published : Oct 4, 2017, 2:11 am IST
Updated : Oct 4, 2017, 2:12 am IST

A cheat meal is also a very good reward or incentive that makes sure the other meals are healthy and as per the prescribed diet.

A recent study has revealed that cheat days during diets may help you lose more weight. Here are thereasons why this is so.
 A recent study has revealed that cheat days during diets may help you lose more weight. Here are thereasons why this is so.

A recent study has revealed that cheat days during diets may help you lose more weight. Here are thereasons why this is so.  

There is no dearth of diets that promise instant results. But they come with a lot of restrictions and are generally short-lived. It is practically impossible to be on a diet for a long time because it results in one feeling constantly deprived. Then one fine day we give up and eat all the wrong food. The consequence of this is weight gain despite being on a strict diet.

As a nutritionist and as someone who has lost 30 kg and has been maintaining it for over five years now, I actually advise clients to eat out at least once a week.

In fact, we have created a restaurant guide that helps a dieter make healthy choices while eating out. We even have an alcohol guide!

Apart from making the diet regime easier to follow, more sustainable, and therefore producing better results, there are many scientific benefits of a cheat meal. The hormones leptin and ghrelin are responsible for hunger pangs and appetite. Leptin is known as the appetite-suppressing hormone, while ghrelin stimulates the appetite. When we stick to calorie restriction, we may be causing our leptin levels to fall and our ghrelin levels to rise. This leads to an increase in appetite even when on a diet.

An occasional cheat meal helps the body regulate the levels of these hormones in the body, causing appetite to be in check. A cheat meal can be anything from chaat, pizza, Mexican or even the good old aloo paratha.

A cheat meal is also a very good reward or incentive that makes sure the other meals are healthy and as per the prescribed diet.

A cheat meal also provides the psychological relief that no food is forbidden. If you totally say “no” to junk, you end up craving for it even more. Cheat meals reduce cravings for junk and wrong foods by 60 per cent. A cheat meal once a week has a very positive effect even on the overall cravings as it gives the dieter something to look forward to. 

Lastly, the increased calories also help improve thyroid function, thereby boosting metabolism. This increase can last for days after the body digests the cheat meal, thus offsetting the drop in hormones that occurs when the calorie-deficit diet is again resumed.

How often is a cheat meal acceptable? 
Once a week.

How many times can I cheat on ‘cheat meal day’? Is it just one meal or can I eat what I like all day?
If one is on a weight-loss programme, it’s important to keep cheating to just one meal. You could choose to have your favourite cheese croissant for breakfast or have a Mexican meal for lunch. But all other meals need to be in sync with your diet. However, if you have reached the weight that you are comfortable with and are interested in just maintaining it, you can have two cheat meals.

How to deal with hunger pangs during a diet?
If you have hunger pangs during a diet it means your diet is not well balanced. Fad diets like fruit diets leave you feeling deprived. They can’t be followed for a long time. Even the recent keto diet is pretty much asking the body not to use carbs but use fat for energy. This is contradictory to what the body has always been doing and it can’t last long. They should be followed for two days at best.

What are healthy snacking options?
To satiate hunger when on a diet, hummus with salad sticks, apple and peanut butter are all good options. Another great option is yoghurt with low-fat muesli or oats and apples. It’s not necessarily low in calories, but it’s very nutritious. Yoghurt has good fat and oats has complex carbs for energy. Another good option is a cup of cold coffee with a handful of chana.
(The writer is a Mumbai-based nutritionist and founder of balancenutrition.in.)

Tags: lifestyle, lifestyle news, lose weight