The Cheat to Lose Diet
By Joel Marion Three Rivers Press (2007) Reviewed by: Sari Greaves, RD, CDN
The author says "cheating on your diet can actually accelerate fat loss." The diet includes a simple weekly plan leading up to the "Cheat Day," when you'll cheat big with your favorite foods.
Synopsis of the Diet Plan: This diet is based on the premise that optimal fat loss occurs when the body has high levels of the hormone leptin. According to the author, continual calorie restriction causes a drop in leptin production, sending a signal to the brain to preserve fat mass and slow metabolism. The diet is designed to circumvent this process and boost leptin sensitivity through a weekly routine of alternating between low-carb, low Glycemic index/Glycemic load, higher Glycemic index/Glycemic load foods, plus strategic high-calorie "cheat days."
Phase one: "Priming" lasts three weeks. The first week emphasizes a low-carb diet consisting of one portion of protein per meal/snack, one serving of fat per meal/snack and zero servings of carbs. Protein choices include skinless poultry, eggs, fish and milk protein blend. Fat choices include natural peanut butter, nuts, olive oil, cheese and fatty meats.
The second week focuses on a low GI/GL diet consisting of one portion of protein per meal/snack, one serving of fat per meal/snack, two portions of low GI/GL carbs with main meals (one must be fruit) and one portion of low GI/GL carbs with snacks. Low GI/GL carbs include light yogurt, whole grains, legumes, sweet potatoes and select fruits.
The third week consists of higher GI/GL diet consisting of one portion of lean protein per meal/snack, one portion of higher GI/GL carbs per meal/snack and minimal fat. Higher GI/GL carbs include pasta, new potatoes, cereals carrots and bananas. Throughout this phase, readers eat three main meals and two snacks daily to preserve calorie-burning muscle mass, curb hunger and stabilize leptin. All three weeks allow "free" non-starchy vegetables as desired.
Day 21 of this phase is a celebratory cheat day and readers are advised to enjoy a day full of favorite foods, to eat to the point of satisfaction and not discomfort and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Phase two: "Core" is the main phase and lasts until goal weight is achieved. It differs from the Priming phase in that the types of days now shift more rapidly and more frequent cheating is implemented on Day 7 of each week.
Phase three: "Maintenance" is a phase of less structure that allows you to keep the weight off for good. The only general guideline is to have at least three low GI/GL days per week and consume three "cheat meals" each week.
Half the book consists of sample menus for 12 weeks with recipes. Metabolic Drive products are encouraged as a meal or snack replacement on busier days. One chapter of the book is devoted to doing an 18-minute workout of mixed interval training three or four times weekly.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
The Cheat to Lose Diet advocates frequent feedings, balanced meal composition, choosing fibrous, unrefined sources of carbs and unsaturated fats. The author provides portion control guidelines, strategies to plan and prepare healthy meals and encourages exercise.
Although severe calorie restriction can adversely affect metabolism, the author's proposed formula for dieting can make adherence difficult. Moreover, designating a day to "cheat" may trigger additional days of overindulgence and set the stage for unhealthy binging behavior. A sudden grease-, beer- and salt-fest may also cause bloating and stomach upset. The author also unnecessarily discourages soy as a source of protein.
If they can stick to it, some people could lose weight on this diet through eating smaller portions and increasing lower-calorie foods. However, the low-carb days in the first two phases of the diet overly restrict many healthy foods and frequent shifts in low- to high-GI/GL days may confuse the average consumer and encourage them to rely on the suggested meal replacement products more than whole foods.
Science has taught us sustained weight loss is achieved through a moderate calorie deficit, regular physical activity and small dietary indulgences versus full-blown "cheat days."