Is weight loss on your weekend menu?

21 February 2016

If you're like most people ... you do really well during your work week with counting calories, carbs, fat, chemicals -- or whatever your dietary lifestyle of choice is.

However, once the weekend comes, it's mimosas and french toast at brunch, then margaritas and pizza at dinner.

Next thing you know, the two pounds you lost came back on Monday with friends!

Weekend indulgences can slow weight loss efforts and cause people to gain weight. That's according to researchers from Washington University in St. Louis. In this study, 48 healthy men and women tracked their diets for one year using food diaries. To determine the effects of their weekend eating habits on weight loss efforts, they were assigned to one of three groups.

The first group decreased their caloric intake by 20 percent; the second increased their physical activity by 20 percent; the third group made no changes their diet or exercise habits. Prior to starting their assigned regimes, researchers noticed that people often gain weight on the weekend – and lose some, but not all, of it during the week.

The accumulated effect of weekend weight gain translated into an increase of nine pounds per year. While attempting weight loss, people would continue to overeat on the weekend.

Researchers found that those who were trying to lose weight by cutting calories would stop losing weight on weekends. On average, people who were exercising more in an attempt to slim down actually gained a small amount of weight (0.17 pounds) on the weekend. People who were not trying to lose weight experienced no loss or gain after a weekend of indulgence. These findings, published online in the July 24, 2008 issue of Obesity, may explain why many dieters may not experience their desired rate of weight loss.

Nutrition experts advise dieters to remain conscious of portion control and healthy food choices on the weekend in order to keep small indulgences from turning into large setbacks. When faced with a weekend full of celebrations, try eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables for breakfast, or as a mid-morning snack, to reduce the impulse to overeat at lavish meals later in the day.