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.” 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?
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. 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.”
Genetics is amazing. It tells us so much about humanity and it’s a minefield of information. Admittedly, it’s a minefield that has only just been touched upon, but scientists argue that genetics is the answer to everything – so does that include diet and fitness? Companies like DNAFit say yes. They argue that the results of a DNA test will allow you to develop a personal gene-based diet and fitness plan that works for you – and that brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘tailor-made’. It may sound like a futuristic way to develop a fitness plan, and the possibilities are nothing if not intriguing, but there are some questions of the efficacy of these tests. So can they really help you improve your diet and fitness? And are they worth the money?
What They Do
At a very basic level, our genes dictate everything. Like a computer code written into us before we’re even born, our genes influence everything we do in life and how we respond to different external stimuli – and that, of course, includes how we respond to different foods and exercises. It makes sense, then, that a DNA test could tell us what foods are best for us to eat and which exercises will have the best results. Companies like DNAFit are now branching out from working with only professional athletes to providing home-testing kits and the results can provide information about your sensitivity to carbohydrates, salt, saturated fats, lactose, and gluten. You can find out about your specific requirements when it comes to anti-oxidants and vitamins, and your ability to process things like caffeine and alcohol. Not only that, but you can discover which sports suit you best – endurance sports or power sports? These tests even claim to tell you how likely you are to injure yourself during training and how long it will take you to recover.
In recent years the popularity of green tea has skyrocketed, due in large part to its perceived health benefits. In several peer-reviewed studies, drinking green tea has been linked with health benefits in key areas ranging from increased metabolism to reduced memory loss. Participants use of the leafy plant during clinical trials also demonstrated preventive properties, including decreased LDL levels, reductions in heart disease, and lower rates of certain cancers.