No surprises then, that a weekend of bingeing can have disastrous effects on our attempts to lose weight. Indeed, more research published in journal Obesity, found that Saturday is actually the worst enemy for slimmers.
The study followed 48 adults, aged 50-60 years, and found those who followed diet or exercise programmes over a year lost weight more slowly than was expected because they ate more at weekends.
In other words, much of their good work carried out over the week was undone at the weekend through eating considerably more.
Lazy Sunday Afternoons
But it’s not all down to what we eat at the weekend that hinders our weight loss attempts. Lazy Sunday afternoons really do exist according to other research, especially if we’re overweight or obese.
A study published last year in the International Journal of Obesity measured the number of steps taken every day by more than 100 adults.
The study found that overweight people were consistently less active, taking an average of 2,221 fewer steps on a Sunday, when compared to the rest of the week.
In contrast, those adults who were a healthy weight had little variation in the number of steps they took on weekdays and at weekends.
Why Oh Why?
So just why do we end up jeopardising our weight loss attempts at the weekend when we’re so strict about our diet and exercise routine during the week?
As is often the case, it’s usually a combination of things. After being ‘good’ all week, many of us feel we deserve a treat at weekends – and, in many cases, actually plan to have our treats at the weekend.
The problem is, unless we’re really careful, even a few treats can easily provide more calories than we’ve saved during the week.
Calorie Loaded Treats
For example, cutting 500 calories a day during the week, saves a total of 2,500 calories from Monday to Friday.
However, have a chicken korma with pilau rice and naan bread on a Friday night and that’s already 2,000 calories.
Then add a chocolate muffin and latte whilst you’re out shopping on Saturday and that’s another 700 calories – already more than you’ve saved during the week.
If we have a few unplanned treats, many of us end up thinking we’ve ‘blown our diet’, so give up on it and eat whatever we want, regardless of the calorie content.
But whilst we might always ‘start again on Monday’, a weekend of bingeing can easily provide more than enough calories to find ourselves 1lb heavier when we get on the scales at the start of the week.
The result: we spend the whole week struggling to lose a pound, only to instantly put it on again over the weekend – and so ultimately, our weight stays the same.
At weekends, our daily patterns also differ considerably from our week days and this may give us more opportunity for eating and drinking.
Going shopping may mean we stop for lunch or a coffee; watching our children or partners playing sport may leave us heading to the bar or vending machine; and not wanting to cook may result in us ordering in a takeaway.
Sunday Lunch Downfall
In contrast, some of us actually spend more time cooking at weekends or at least sitting around the table together as a family and this means we may make more effort with meals and serve up more courses – for example, Sunday lunch is often the only time we make or buy a pudding.
Plus, if we’re having friends around for dinner, we’re more likely to use ingredients like butter, cream, chocolate and pastry in our cooking – and indulge in drinks and nibbles as well as three courses.
How To Stop Weekend Overeating
So just what can we do to make sure we don’t end up undoing all our good work during the week?
If you want to avoid the weekend bringing your diet to a standstill, the golden rule is to make sure you stick to your daily calorie allowance.
However, if you know you like to indulge at the weekend, it makes sense to ‘bank’ some of your calories each day and then ‘withdraw’ them at the weekend.
The easiest way to do this is to have, for example, 200 fewer calories than your daily allowance allows each day from Monday to Friday.
This will leave you with an extra 1,000 calories (200 calories a day x five days = 1,000 calories) to splurge at the weekend.
Use the History Report in the Food Diary which will keep a day to day record of your calorie quota and actual calories consumed managing your calories over a weekly period.
It’s even more important to pay attention to exactly what you’re eating and the quantity you’re eating at the weekend, especially if you don’t have access to nutrition information – we’re talking takeaways, dinner at friends, popcorn at the movies and that pastry and cappuccino at the coffee shop!