How to Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

Adults Eating OutIs chillaxing Friday night through Sunday trashing your diet? If so, here’s how to put a lid on it to avoid weekend weight gain.

Weight fluctuations are normal, a pound or two up or down, here or there, is absolutely normal. But for many, the shock and horror of what the scale says on Monday a.m. is likely due to what you’ve eaten since Friday.

In fact, by the time you get home tonight (Saturday), you’ll likely eat and drink around 230-350 more calories than you normally do. In fact, research shows that Saturdays are the worst days of all for our diets, and may be partially to blame for any weight gain you notice year-after-year.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis followed nearly 50 overweight adults for a year and published their findings in the journal Obesity. At baseline, the researchers tracked daily food intake and weights the subjects and found a striking difference in what people ate during the week compared to the weekend. The researchers saw that subjects ate fairly stable Monday through Thursday then ate more Friday-Sunday, with Saturday being the most piggish day of all. In addition, the day with the least amount of activity was Sunday, so there was no compensation for overeating on Saturday with additional exercise on Sunday. Not surprising, subjects were also their heaviest on Mondays and lightest on Thursdays.

The subjects in the study were gaining weight at a rate of about .17 pounds per week, due to their weekend indulgences. Over a course of a year, that could add up to almost nine pounds gained.

There are several reasons why we eat and drink more over the weekends. Duh, it’s the weekend! If you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, getting a handle on your weekend eating and exercise habits is essential. Below are the major weekend diet wreckers and what you can do to combat each.


How to Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

The Problem: Alcohol. The extra glass of wine at dinner or a cocktail at a party can pack a calorie punch. A 12-ounce beer is 150 calories, light beer is about 100, a shot of a distilled spirit has 80 calories and 4 ounces of wine has around 100 calories.

Weekend Rx: Allow yourself no more than two drinks on each weekend night, and be conscious that alcohol can stimulate your appetite and decrease your inhibitions (I’ll have a sliver of that zillion-calorie-cake) at the same time. When you drink enjoy ultra-light or light beers and drink distilled spirits with seltzer or diet soda.

The Problem: Lack of daily structure. While doing nothing is the ultimate weekend, having nothing to do or no place to go can lead to overeating. Many people need some type of schedule to follow to stick to their normal diet, and when they don’t have one, they snack all day long.

Weekend Rx: Stick to your regular meal and snack times that you have during the week to stop between-meal noshes. Stay out of your kitchen when you’re home. If you must, keep a journal if you must to try to be mindful of what and why you’re eating…are you even hungry? Probably not.

The Problem: Eating to decompress. You eat more because you feel you deserve it for putting up with your horrific brow-beating boss, having to travel all week or fill in the blank reason.

Weekend Rx: I’m the number 1 fan of chilaxing, but diet indulgences feel good only in the short-term and usually make you feel worse in the long-run. Instead, think about weekend “treats” that are non-food related. How about treating yourself to a massage or spa treatment or a new group exercise class? They’ll help you relax—calorie-free.

For related articles: Put the Brakes on Booze to Lose, Post Pig-Out Diet Plan and Winning at Losing.

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