Weekend indulgences can slow weight loss efforts and cause people to gain weight, say researchers from Washington University in St. Louis.
In this new 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 to 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. People who were exercising more in an attempt to slim down actually gained a small amount of weight 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.
For more tips on how to successfully lose weight while enjoying your weekend, check out Leslie Beck's No Fail Diet.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.