Is Weekend & Holiday Eating Killing Your Progress?

YES! Finally it is the weekend (well it is as I write this). Time to kick back, relax and indulge! You’ve worked hard all week, been to the gym, been meticulous with your food (even bringing tupperware into work to the chagrin of your colleagues) and tracked your calorie intake on MyFitnessPal (you even included that little biscuit they serve you with your daily coffee).

So, now the weekend is here you DESERVE a break.

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Chances are, it is this kind of thinking that is killing your weight loss efforts.

A study by Racette et al (2008) found a “consistent and significant increased in body weight from Friday through Monday morning” which was “due to both higher dietary intake and lower physical activity on weekends relative to weekdays”.

The resultant weekly weight gain was just 0.077kg on average, but this rate would see an annual increase in 4.0kg per year. This is significant because it seems that obesity occurs as a result of a slow increase in body weight over time, rather than just a dramatic shift.

So, is it time to re-think your weekends?

Given the large increase in the prevalence of obesity throughout the past two decades, it is important to understand the influence that weekend lifestyle patterns have on long-term weight control. The main finding of the present study was that weekend dietary indulgences contribute to weight gain or cessation of weight loss.  (Racette et al, 2008)

Getting outdoors and being active should be part of your weekend if weight loss is the goal

Getting outdoors and being active should be part of your weekend if weight loss is the goal

So what can you do to off-set these weekend increases in weight?

  • Schedule training sessions as weekends - utilise Saturday’s and Sunday’s to do some training, freeing up some time during the week

  • Schedule some active time outdoors - go for walks/hikes/bike rides etc

  • Continue to eat the same way you do through Monday to Friday - try to maintain a similar calorie intake, hit your protein requirements etc. Stop seeing weekends as being vastly different from weekdays

  • Do your meal prep on a Thursday or Friday to ensure you have plenty of healthy food at home. One of the big trends I see is that people will do their food prep at the beginning of the week, meaning that by the time Friday rolls around there is nothing in the fridge. This increases the likelihood of eating out or getting home deliveries which will invariably mean more calories

So, both studies and my own anecdotal evidence of training people for weight loss over the past decade indicate that the more control you can exert over the weekend, the better your chances of succeeding at weight loss in the long term.

Some food for thought this weekend.