By Madeline Vann, MPH
Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig
Researchers tracking 48 adults in a weight program for a year found that they ate, on average, 200 calories more on Saturdays, the most dangerous day for weight management. Over time, those 200 extra calories add up to a few pounds gained over the course of a year — not the goal of a maintenance program!
While everyone deserves a day off, you need to be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to consume too many calories and slip back into the patterns that caused your weight gain in the first place. Maintaining a healthy weight means keeping up with the smart eating habits and lifestyle changes that enabled you to drop those pounds in the first place. The lion’s share of your daily maintenance calories should be spent on nutritious foods every day.
Weekend Calories: Indulge in Moderation
“Sometimes we need it. If you have been really good during the week, it helps to know that at least one day a week you can eat those foods you are avoiding on those other days,” says Donna L. Weihofen, RD, MS, health nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc.
So how do you splurge without destroying your healthy habits? Weihofen, who admits to having a sweet tooth, advises keeping an eagle eye on calorie counts. Your reward can make or break your weight-management plan. A rich chocolate fudge sundae, for instance, can easily add up to 1,000 calories or more — calories that probably equal half of your daily allotment. That’s a large number to compensate for with extra exercise or cutting back on calories at other meals.
Don’t let your weekend turn into a food wasteland. A few smart steps can help you indulge without the calories or guilt:
- Share that fudge sundae with your spouse or kids.
- Go for tiny tastes, like a mini-cheesecake instead of an entire slice, or a single square of chocolate instead of a whole bar.
- Eat a healthy breakfast to control your appetite.
- Eat more whole grains, fruit, and veggies as your day gets started so that you’ll feel full longer and feel satisfied with small splurges.
- Split an entrée or skip the bread basket when eating out, especially if you want a taste of dessert.
- Limit your alcohol — drink water or another calorie-free beverage between drinks — or apply those calories to a food you’d enjoy more.
Weihofen adds that it is important not to allow yourself to feel so deprived of the foods you love that you throw calorie caution to the wind come Saturday. “If you really have a taste for something, budget it in,” she says. This may require a little research in terms of calories and portion sizes, but is worth it in the long run if you are able to stick to your game plan seven days a week.
I thought this was a very good article and some tips to keep in mind on that splurge day!
Clifta Coulter Perez
Reno Personal Fitness Trainer and Nutrition Coach