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Weight Gain

Cheat Days: Heaven-Sent or Wishful Thinking?

Cheat Days: Heaven-Sent or Wishful Thinking?

Dieting is hard. It’s as simple as that. You are depriving yourself of the things you love and if you are new to dieting, there is a chance that you could be suffering withdrawals from sugar and processed foods too. If only there was a way to maintain a healthy diet and eat the things you love. Well perhaps there is. Many now argue that having a ‘cheat’ meal or even a whole day can actually help rather than hinder your weight loss goals. What this means in real terms is that whilst you continue your dieting struggles, you can still indulge in your favourite things on a regular basis, albeit once a week rather than once a day! Some go on to argue that not only is a cheat day enjoyable, but it’s also vitally important to the success of your regimen. Carolyn O’Neil, co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous, explains that “sensible splurging is really the key to being able to achieve a healthy lifestyle.”[1] Sounds good right? But is it too good? Can a cheat day really be good for your diet or is it all just wishful thinking?

Motivational Donuts

Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits to a cheat day whilst dieting is a psychological one. It can be tough when you are stuck eating things that perhaps you don’t enjoy whilst seeing everyone else tuck into your favourite foods. The idea of never getting a taste of that delicious treat again can be devastating – and could potentially de-rail even the most determined dieter. So the possibility of a motivational donut or other treat at the end of the week could really help keep you on track. Joe Vennare, creator of Hybrid Athlete, says just that. “It’s a reward for hard work in the gym and adherence in the kitchen,” he claims[2]. Jillian Guinta, professor of Health and Physical Education at Seton Hall University agrees with him, stating that “oftentimes, it may take several weeks to see the scale budge, so knowing that a cheat day is coming up can help keep up motivation.”[3]



“It’s Not My Fault!  It’s in my DNA!” Are Your Genes Really Making You Fat?

“It’s Not My Fault! It’s in my DNA!” Are Your Genes Really Making You Fat?

‘Nature vs. Nurture’, the debate that has been with us for years, has reared its head again.  So, the question on everybody’s lips is “can our environment be blamed for obesity or are some people really born to be fat?”  David Geffen, of UCLA, recently published findings that suggest the latter (Red Orbit, 2013).  After a two-year study, Geffen concluded that obesity is less about what you put in your mouth and more about your DNA, meaning that maybe your genes really are making you fat.  But is he right? 


In 2007, New Scientist reported a University of Oxford study which showed that around half of the 39,000 people tested had a defective FTO gene (Roxanne Khamsi, 2007).  This defect made them 30% more likely to be obese.  Moreover, 16% of those tested were found to have a double defect, or the defective gene twice, leading to a massive 70% chance of developing obesity.  These are startling statistics, especially given the high regularity of the defective gene.  What’s more, this study isn’t alone in supporting nature’s side of the debate. 

Timothy Frayling of the University of Exeter examined further research, when he declared that the link between obesity and genetics is stronger than we might think (Timothy Frayling, 2012).  Frayling looked into adiposity rates in twins (the rate in which they store fat) and found an extraordinarily high correlation.  Similarly, he compared BMI levels of adoptive children to both their adoptive and their biological parents.  The biological association was significantly stronger than the adoptive one, suggesting that nurture has less to do with obesity than nature.  In fact, Frayling concluded that around 60-70% of weight gain is related genetics rather than environment.  With findings like these, it is easy to blame nature for your spare tyre.