Cheat days may help dieters lose weight, research finds

Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses what to know about a new study that found that those who took cheat days during diets lost more weight than those who consistently restricted themselves.
3:05 | 09/21/17

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Transcript for Cheat days may help dieters lose weight, research finds
We turn now to our "Gma" health alert. New research breaking down cheat days and whether they help or they hurt your diet. If turns out they could be the key to helping you lose that weight. Pizza, candy, junk food galore. Cheat days are the indulgent break from the chore of dieting and frequently shared all over social media. Jen aniston goes for Mexican fare. Hugh Jackman reaches for timtam cookies and the rock banana chip pancakes. It may improve weight loss long term and scientists found people who dieted for two weeks then paused for two weeks lost more weight and fat than people who dieted continuously. Why would indulging help you diet? It's the diet catch 22. To lose weight you need to eat less. But then your body responds by burning fewer calories. It's a protective measure that goes back to caveman days to conserve energy when you don't have enough to eat so diet cheaters rejoice. Breaking your diet may convince your body it's not starving so you can have your cake and eat it too. Our senior medical contribute Dr. Jennifer Ashton is here now. So tell us what your thoughts are on this study. The cheat days are actually helpful. Okay, couple of caveats. This particular study very small numbers. We need to study it more with more people and even the group that had those reset periods of time had their calories restricted to the new lower amount of body weight so, again, it needs more research but let me show you what the theory of this diet approach is. We have two audience members. Alessandra will represent the person who gets a reset day so if you think of those bags like the number of the days of the month as she picks them up. Go ahead. Let's say she's doing six days on, one day of reset. When she gets through day six you can eat the whole plate of jelly beans. That doesn't do damage to your diet. It could potentially but Jeremy who will do this indefinitely. You can see it gets harder and harder to pick up the bags if there is no reset or cheat period. By the end of six day, 14 day, 30 days, he's physically, psychologically and metabolically getting -- Your body can adjusting to the fewer calories, correct? Look, your body is a very smart machine and it adapts both in ray metabolic standpoint. Keep going, Jeremy. No. So if you are going to cheat, I mean are there downsides and I would imagine eating all of that would derail your diet. It obviously potentially could when you reset you eat very poorly. You could undo all of the good that you've done and, again, making new habits is about making things -- you're doing great, Jeremy. Making things a habit. I always tell people my prescription for weight loss or sustaining a new weight is simple. For anything to work it has to be safe, it has to be simple and it has to be sustainable because any diet approach could work in the short term. That's not going to work. All right, Jeremy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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