If you’re finding your weight loss efforts are stalling, don’t take weekends off your diet. According to a new study out of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, weekend eating patterns could be a key reason for sluggish weight loss.
This is the first study to carefully monitor daily body weight, calorie intake and calorie expenditure for several weeks throughout a year, and to demonstrate that increased caloric intake is a problem on most weekends.
48 normal weight and overweight (but not obese) participants between the ages of 50 and 60 took part. Here are some of the details of the study and the authors’ conclusions;
Participants were broken into 3 Groups:
- Lowered daily caloric intake by 20%
- Increased physical activity by 20%
- Changed neither diet or exercise
Here are some of the study’s findings and observations:
- “Rats don’t have weekends the way people do” says Susan B. Racette, lead author of the study. “On weekends, human lifestyle patterns can be very different. People have social events, parties to attend, and if they have children who play sports, they might be at fields all day long, relying on concession stands for food.“
- Racette says people in the study didn’t always realize they were eating significantly more food on weekends.
- She also noted that the findings were consistent amongst the 3 groups and that it was surprising how dramatic the impact of weekends were on the progress of the participants.
- Saturdays seemed to be the worst day
What we can learn from this?
Weekends tend to provide all kinds of opportunities for overindulging. Whether it’s social gatherings, less structure or a more “relaxed” attitude – it’s an easy trap to fall into. Here are some way in which we can help avert a dieting pitfall on the weekends.
- Be prepared: Preparation is absolutely crucial. It’s so easy to go out for a few hours and all of the sudden getting the munchies. Bring some portable snacks with you on outings to help keep those munchies in check.
- Be a weekend warrior: Plan at least 1 active endeavor on the weekend. Take a couple of hours and go for a walk, hike, bike or play a sport. Doing prolonged activity will help take the focus off eating. Just be sure to pack snacks along with water.
- Keep a food log diary: This has been mentioned several times on this blog and is generally an excellent idea for many reasons – one of which may be to determine if you are overdoing it on weekends.
- Grocery shop close to or on weekends: Not an absolute necessity but from experience, we tend to run out of food by the weekend if we shop on Sundays or towards the beginning of the week. This can lead to “what the heck, let’s just go out”.
So if you find your fat loss efforts are stalling, it may be time to evaluate your weekend eating habits.