Review: Joel Marion's Cheat Your Way Thin Diet Program -

Review: Joel Marion’s Cheat Your Way Thin Diet Program

Joel Marion is a former Body for Life champion, personal trainer, established author (he’s written for Men’s Fitness, Muscle Media, Woman’s Day, SELF, Muscle & Fitness Hers, MuscleMag International, Oxygen and more) and the brains behind the new “Cheat Your Way Thin” diet program.

As you and I know, there are precisely a bazillion diet programs available these days. So the most obvious question I had, as I sat down to review the program, was…

“What makes Cheat Your Way Thin different? What makes it better, worse, or more likely to lead its practitioners to success—or failure? Does Joel Marion really have a unique approach to weight loss?”

Interestingly enough, the theory behind this diet is a little different than what you may be used to; Joel’s program is designed to manipulate the hormone leptin—a hormone that plays a critical role in weight loss/gain.

Put simply, Joel postulates it is this hormone that is largely responsible for the slowing of weight loss that occurs on any diet program.

Believe it or not, Joel is not pulling this out of the air—there is some evidence to support this theory. In one small study (see J. Clin. Invest. 115(12): 3579-3586 2005), individuals were placed on a 800 calorie per day diet on which they remained until they lost 10% of their initial weight.

At this point, it was found that levels of both leptin and thyroid hormones had dropped significantly, as had the participants’ respective metabolic rates (not surprising; we both know how the weight comes off quickly on any diet initially, but then begins to slow, until any further progress is almost impossible).

The next stage of the study saw participants receive twice daily injections of leptin, which brought thyroid hormone levels and energy expenditure back to normal.

Participants then went on to continue losing fat mass, while retaining their lean muscle.

Of course, since leptin can only be administered by injection (it is broken down if taken orally), supplemental leptin is not an option for most people. Thankfully, Joel proposes an easier, cheaper, and less painful solution.

Joel argues that leptin levels can be raised by short periods of over-feeding coupled with the cycling of carbohydrate consumption (this, in essence is the core of the program; cycling nutrients (carbohydrates, mostly) and calorie levels, interspersed with periods of over-feeding).

Hormone manipulation through calorie cycling is not a new concept; bodybuilders have been playing around with this for years. And yes, there is some evidence calorie cycling can effect critical hormones—specifically testosterone, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor (see American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 49, 608-611).

Other evidence suggests diminished leptin levels can return to baseline levels within 12 hours of “re-feeding (see The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 82, No. 2 561-565), giving credence to Joel’s argument that “cheating” can effect leptin levels in a way that encourages weight loss.

At this point, you’re probably thinking this diet is bogged down in theory and you’ll never get through it.

Not so.

Joel does provide an overview of his leptin theory in one of the audio files that accompanies the program, but the actual program manual is extremely short, concise, and simple to follow. I’ve provided this background information here only to establish that Joel’s program is credible, and to show there is some real, verifiable science behind his theories.

Here’s the gist of the diet program, and what you can expect on it. To begin with, you start off on…

1. The Priming Phase: A three-week phase that begins and ends with a cheat day, and consists of a blend of low carb days (where you consume minimal carbs) and low glycemic index (GI) / low glycemic load (GL) days (on these days, you eat more carbohydrates, but you stay away from the high glycemic carbs that can spike your insulin levels).

A full description of low glycemic index (GI) / low glycemic load (GL) carbs is provided in the manual, along with a list of food resources for each.

This first three week period is the most restrictive of the program.

Next, you move to…

2. The Core Phase: Here you have 5 different options to choose from, depending on your tolerance to carbohydrates and your own preferences. There are ton of options here, so I’ll just give you a breakdown of the “standard” week in this phase.

It consists of…

  • Two low carb days, followed by…
  • Two low GI/GL days, followed by…
  • Two higher GI/GL days, followed by…
  • A cheat day.

You stay on the Core Phase until you reach your weight loss goals.

3. The Maintenance Phase: A repeating 7-day plan, that consists of…

  • 1 low-carb day, followed by…
  • 1 low GI/GL day followed by…
  • 2 higher GI/GL days followed by…
  • 1 low GI/GL day followed by…
  • 1 higher GI/GL days followed by…
  • A cheat day

And that’s basically the gist of it. Of course, I have simplified things for the sake of this review. The “Cheat Your Way Thin” manual will show you exactly what are acceptable meal choices for each and every option listed here, so there’s absolutely no guesswork involved. Despite its apparent complexity and complication, there’s really not much to this, short of meal preparation.

What do you get for your money? I reviewed the “deluxe version” of the program, which included…

  • 4 PDF files:The program manual, a recipe manual, a workout program, and a program checklist.
  • 3 audio files:GameChanger, Confessions, and Strategies files
  • 2 Microsoft Excel files:A calculator (which determines your caloric requirements for the various elements of the diet), and a journal, to track your progress.
  • 1 Microsoft word document: The “cheat your way thin” quick reference cards.

In short, everything you need is here—a roadmap to success, if you like. All in all, Cheat Your Way Thin is a diet definitely worth experimenting with; even if you don’t buy the whole “leptin thing”, the fundamentals of this diet are sound, regular cheat days do allow you—at least on occasion—to eat whatever you want, and calorie cycling is a well-established means of combating the whole “weight loss” plateau thing.

Bottom line?

If you’re in the market for a solid diet-plan, Cheat Your Way Thin is definitely worth investigating. You can learn more about the program here!

Author: Paul

Paul Crane is the founder of His passions include supplements, working out, motorcycles, guitars... and of course, his German Shepherd dogs.

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