Finally, a study proves that potato chips can help you get lean: cheat days may help you stick to your healthy eating plan in the long term, research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology suggests.
Scientists put study participants on a diet that was limited to only 44,000 kilojoules a week. (That’s compared to the average Australian man’s weekly intake of 60,000 kilojoules)
But half of the dieters were allowed to eat anything they wanted on Sundays.
After two weeks, the two groups had both reduced their average body mass indexes. While there was no significant difference in the amount of weight the two groups had lost, those who had taken Sundays off were happier and more motivated to continue working towards their weight-loss goals.
The reason: occasional indulgence makes dieting more sustainable, the researchers say.
Related: 7 Ways To Tame A Raging Appetite
Self-restraint wears you out, and if you’re drained and grumpy, you’re more likely to give up. But if you can look forward to a “free day” where you enjoy items that wouldn’t normally fall within your healthy-eating plan, you’ll be more likely to stick to your diet the rest of the week.
The key is to plan ahead and designate a specific day for your rule-breaking, says study author Dr Rita Coelho do Vale. That’s because giving in to a spur-of-the-moment doughnut can make you feel like you blew your diet and might as well abandon it completely.
But don’t confuse “cheat day” with “binge day”. The study participants kept their portions of pizza, ice-cream and other treats within reason so they could stay within their weekly kilojoule totals.
The bottom line: don’t swear off certain foods completely. Go ahead and enjoy that pizza every Friday. They may just help you finally move the needle on the scale.
Related: 7 Smart Moves For Weight Loss