Weekday meals are key to weight loss?
WHAT WE KNOW
It’s a common pattern for most people: their weight tends to fluctuate over the course of the week. Scientists have found these weight fluctuations are normal; people tend to weigh less during the week and more over the weekend.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A team of American and Finnish researchers analyzed the effects of weight fluctuations in 80 adults aged 25-62. Participants were asked to weigh themselves before breakfast every day for anywhere from two (2) weeks to nearly a year. Researchers analyzed the data, examining weight variations over the days of the week and the patterns across three (3) groups of people: those who maintained their weight, those who lost weight, and those who gained weight.
What Researchers Wanted to Know
- What do these weight variations mean, in terms of weight management?
- Given these common, weekly weight-change patterns, how is it that some people lose or maintain their weight while others gain weight?
- The data showed that people tend to weigh the most Sunday night and the least on Friday morning. (Weight increases were found to begin on Saturday and decrease beginning on Tuesday. The beginning of the weekend stopped the decrease and weight gain was reported after Friday.)
- Study participants who consistently lost or maintained their weight tended to compensate more strictly for weekend weight gain during their weekday meals (Monday through Thursday). In fact, 60% of the time, participants who lost weight reached their highest weight of the week on Sunday and Monday and their lowest weight on Friday or Saturday.
- People who maintained healthy eating habits during the week were successful in losing weight and keeping it off.*
It’s a common practice to splurge occasionally on weekends, holidays, and other special occasions. But it’s important to note that such overindulgence often leads to added weight, if it happens too often. As this study shows, those adults who were able to avoid long-term weight gain did so by finding ways to compensate for extra calories eaten over the weekend by following a healthy diet on weekdays.
5 Tips to Help Manage Weight Fluctuations
- Add more low-calorie, low-fat foods like fruits and vegetables to your everyday meals and snacks. It’s easy—just follow our Top 10 Ways to Cook Fruits & Veggies.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. It’s the best way to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs. And, it’s easy—no measuring involved! More about Half Your Plate
- Plan your meals in advance to avoid impulse eating. Start with a menu and a grocery list that includes lots of fruits and veggies. Use our Top 10 Meal Planning & Shopping Tips to create healthy meals and guide your grocery shopping.
- Practice portion control. This strategy is particularly helpful when eating out in restaurants, where portions tend to be oversized. Eat half and take the rest home for a second meal—that will save calories and provide you with a second meal, stretching your food dollars.
- Eat your favorite foods only occasionally and in moderation, if they are high in calories. How to Fit Your Favorite Foods into a Healthy Diet
Healthy Weight Management
Recipes with Lots of Fruits & Veggies
* Orsama, A. L., E. Mattila, M. Ermes, et. al. “Weight Rhythms: Weight Increases during Weekends and Decreases during Weekdays.” Obesity Facts
, published online February 2014, accessed March 5, 2014. View Article