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In Defense of Cheating on Your Diet

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    You Could Reduce Cravings

    How many times have you sworn off ice cream, thought about it all day, then snapped and ate half a pint of Ben and Jerry's for dinner? You're better off indulging from the start, says a study out of Tel Aviv University. Turns out, people who ate dessert with breakfast lost more weight than those who didn't. Researchers say that treating yourself earlier in the day can reduce your cravings later on. Bring on that coffee cake.

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    You Won't Feel Deprived

    First off, several nutritionists and fitness experts advise their clients to indulge in a cheat meal versus a whole cheat day. "A cheat meal is preferable to a cheat day because people tend to eat a week's worth of calories in a day when they are given such carte blanche," says Jennifer Cohen, a celebrity trainer and author of Strong Is the New Skinny. "It's way better to have two cheat meals per week, spaced out a few days, so that you don't start feeling deprived and obsessing over that one meal." Plus, that allows for sporadic events that don't fall on your designated day, like your best friend's weeknight birthday dinner (cake included).

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    A Cheat Meal Can Boost Your Metabolism

    Your body expends extra energy in response to a cheat meal (yay, digestion!), says a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Still, the calories burned by your body only represent a small portion of the additional calories, so it's not necessarily license to pig out.

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    Indugling Can Increase Your Libido

    Along with temporarily spiking your metabolism, a cheat meal has been shown to increase the libido and the amount of dopamine (aka the happiness neurotransmitter) the body produces. Again, it's a case of a little going a long way: You want to satisfy that craving for ice cream, but you don't want to down a whole pint of gelato, which could leave you feeling guilty instead of giddy.

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    Flexible Diets Last Longer

    If you're constantly stressing about staying within the confines of a particular diet plan—and only what's on that plan–chances are, you're counting the days till it's over. Translation: It's something you can only keep up for so long.