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Honesty is a policy that does not extend to matters of weight loss. In losing weight, cheating is everything, or so the Cheater’s Diet: Lose Weight by Taking the Weekends Off says.

Written by weight reduction expert Dr. Paul Rivas, this tome concedes to the human tendency to slack off at one point or another in a diet. For Rivas, the question of whether or not you cheat is immaterial. What matters is the frequency with which you cheat.

In this view, the Cheater’s Diet permits you to cheat, provided you do it at the right time, i.e. the weekends. So long as you exercise and follow a nutritionally balanced diet, you can shed pounds even though you are essentially “lying to yourself.”

You would love the Cheater’s Diet if you adore Mediterranean cuisine. Better yet, you would love the Cheater’s Diet if you are not prepared to sacrifice your favorite food, most especially on a lazy Saturday night.

How the Cheater’s Diet works

Rivas sets apart cheating period as beginning on a Saturday at 9 in the morning and ending at 9 in the evening of the following day. This translates to 36 hours of eating whatever you want without binging. For the rest of the week, you must only eat healthy food in restricted portions and exercise as much as you can.

Rivas timed cheating on weekends when most people are apt to break rules. He believes cheating is necessary to fire up your metabolic rate for weight loss. That way, when you resume the non-cheating period, you will have been optimally burning calories.

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Such healthy eating averts a metabolic rate slowdown characteristic of many faddish diets. Those diets promote a yo-yo in dieting, which decelerates your metabolic rate and lowers the caloric needs of your body. On the other hand, if you follow a pattern of eating consistently during weekdays and splurging on weekends, your metabolism accelerates to tackle more calories than usual. Such high metabolic rate would continue working to your advantage for the rest of the week.

When cheating days are through, return to eating low-calorie food coupled with lots of physical activities. You are to eat three meals in one weekday, plus two smaller in-betweens.

You would not require much motivation to eat right during weekdays. The Cheater’s diet makes you habituate yourself to setting apart a right time for indulgences. In consequence, you would feel guiltless when you are cheating.

Weekend cheating should never be confused with outright binging however. Eat your favorite foods but always in moderation.

As an option, you may take diet supplements alongside the Cheater’s Diet. Rivas particularly recommends Yerba Mate, green tea extract, L-tyrosine 5 HTP, and Mucana Pruriens. Know however that the Cheater’s Diet by itself can make you lose weight.

What you can eat in the Cheater’s Diet

Cheating is not an option in this diet; it is imperative. You can cheat on the diet with such foods as pizza, chocolate, ice cream, wine, cake, cheese, peanut butter, nuts, bread, and meat. Eat other kinds of food if you want; only stay away from those that promote binging.

That does not mean you would enjoy non-cheat days any less. On the Cheater’s Diet, you are treated to Mediterranean fare, as suggested by the many recipes in the book. In general, expect lots of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, peanuts, and unsaturated fats on a typical weekday. Dairy is also allowed, particularly low-fat yogurt.

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To know how much you should eat, use the plate method. Let veggies and fruits take up half of your plate. Half of the remaining space you fill with whole grains, the remaining one-fourth with lean protein. For portion sizes, refer to Rivas’ measurement standards. For example, one portion of lean meat should always be as large as a deck of playing cards.

On a non-cheat day, eat three times a day, with two in-between meals. Those in-between meals ideally encompass fruits, nuts, protein bars, low-calorie iced treats, and low-fat yogurt. The book has a list of weekdays’ approved snacks as well as forbidden ones, e.g. alcohol, bread, sugar, and saturated fats.

Sample Cheater’s Diet menu


  • 2      eggs (fried with PAM cooking spray)
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • coffee/tea with nonfat milk and artificial sweetener


  • 4 oz. tuna on tortilla or whole grain pita, with fat-free mayonnaise/olive oil/mustard/lemon with salt and pepper
  • lettuce and tomato
  • 1 serving of any vegetable
  • diet iced tea with artificial sweetener and lemon


  • grilled strips of chicken breast
  • wild rice
  • steamed broccoli and peppers

Snack 1

  • 1 cup hot cocoa with artificial sweetener

Snack 2

  • fistful of dry-roasted or fresh peanuts (no oil or salt)

Experts weigh in the Cheater’s Diet

Experts note that the cheater’s Diet has an across-the-board approach, a problem for dieters with dissimilar calorie needs. They have estimated the Cheater’s Diet to range between 1,600 and 1,800 calories. This could be too small for a bodybuilder or too much for someone with a petite frame.

Others are quick to pounce on the glaring lack of clinical studies to shore up Rivas’ claims. To date, there is no research indicating the effectiveness of cheating on weekends to accelerate metabolism. Instead, there are cases of people, as documented in the National Weight Control Registry, who have “cheated” on weekdays yet still lost weight.

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Rivas’ suggestions in terms of diet supplements also stirred much discussion among experts. Not a few remarked about the relative hazards of taking the aforementioned supplements. According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, some of Rivas’ supplementary suggestions have harmful side effects.

Critics were also stupefied by one claim in the book associating cinnamon buns with lower levels of bad cholesterol and blood sugar.


Skip the Cheater’s Diet and get really healthy Dietary Guidelines for free online ( The 2005 Dietary Guidelines are all you need to follow if you want to cheat on occasion. Look for the part on “discretionary calories.”

Still you can be rightfully adamant about the merits of the Cheater’s Diet in terms of weight reduction. The Cheater’s Diet makes it okay for you to be less harsh on yourself.

If you should take any lesson to heart from the Cheater’s Diet, it is the importance of physical activity and a diet laden with veggies, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein.

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