It’s Friday! Congratulations. On this day of celebration, the last thing you probably want to think about is talking about weight loss—you’ve worked all week and want to cut loose! While you should relax, know that the weekends can be a results-crusher after a week of great weight loss work: Studies have shown that dieters eat more extra calories on Saturdays than any other day and why, according to a study, people usually weigh in heaviest on Monday mornings—they’ve just finished a two-day binge. The solution? A weekend weight loss plan!
It doesn’t have to be all plates of carrots and drudgery, though.
Follow these six tips on Friday to set yourself up for weekend weight loss:
1. Start the day with a protein-rich breakfast.
Fridays can be full of temptations: Coworkers bring in baked treats, a cool manager might order pizza for the office or people might invite you to an extended lunch. You’ve only got so much willpower: Eating protein in the a.m. can make it go farther: Protein takes longer for your body to digest, so it stays in your system, making you feel fuller, longer, than a fast-acting carb breakfast. That’s probably why, in a 2013 study, overweight people who ate breakfast with 35 grams of protein ate fewer high-fat, high-sugar snacks in the evening compared with those who ate cereal or no breakfast at all. If you’re on the Nutrisystem program, you’re in luck: All of our meals and snacks are prepared with the best balance of protein, carbs and fats. So dive right in to one of our morning meals (and feel free to add one of your PowerFuel allotments with the meal for an added protein boost if you’d like!).
2. Hold off until Happy Hour.
Once you’ve got a good plan, the key to weekend weight loss success is compliance. But nobody’s perfect: That’s why many coaches and diets aim for an 85 to 90 percent compliance rate for success. So if you’re on-plan that percentage of the time, you increase your chances of seeing results. If you’ve got 21 meals per week, an 85-percent success rate is about 18 on-plan meals each week. So don’t use up all your splurges on Friday with a big, lavish lunch and trips to the vending machine, or else you won’t have any wiggle room for the weekend. Besides, Saturday is best for splurges: Studies have shown that’s the day dieters consume the most extra calories.
So on Friday, hold off until Happy Hour. Eat your normal meals on your plan, eating healthy snacks that you’ve planned for and enjoy a celebratory treat that evening as you remember the week’s success.
3. Gameplan: Look at Saturday’s menu now.
If you’re headed out to dinner Saturday, look at the menu for the restaurant online on Friday. If your Saturday meal isn’t planned as a cheat, look for options that will fit in with your weight loss goals, with lean protein, lots of veggies and in reasonable portions. If the restaurant’s a chain, you can probably even find calorie counts listed online for more precision in your decision.
If Saturday’s meal is a cheat, look at reviews: If you’re going to have your splurge, make sure what you’re ordering is going to be good. And once you’re there, even if it is your splurge, stick to a reasonable portion: Consult this Eating Out Guide to make sure you are sticking to your weekend weight loss plan no matter where you go out to eat.
Click on the link below to see the full Eating Out Guide with tips on how to eat at every type of restaurant you might go to this weekend!
4. Chop it up.
If you’re going to be spending some weekend time at home curled up watching movies or yelling at a football game with friends, be prepared: Spend a few minutes this morning cutting up vegetables and fruits into bite-size pieces in snack-sized containers to stock the fridge. Then, when it’s TV time—or just when you get snackish—there will be healthy options that are as easy to grab as any bag of junk. And the act of cutting them could be helpful overall: In a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, more time spent on food prep was associated with healthier eating habits—like eating more fruits and veggies—and with saving money on food. How’s that for some weekend weight loss?
5. Plan a longer workout for the weekend.
Come on, you’ve got the time and it doesn’t have to be a slog. Become a tourist in your own hometown: Look on sites like TripAdvisor for high-rated hikes, walks and parks you haven’t visited before and grab a friend or reconnect with your spouse over a longer walk than you’d normally do during the week. The walk will also help you create and retain new memories—literally: In a nine-year study, those who walked six to nine miles per week lowered their risk of developing memory loss by half compared to those who walked less. The study, published in a 2010 issue of the journal Neurology, found that the walkers had more gray matter in their brains.
6. Set your Saturday alarm for the normal time.
You may be tempted to sleep in, but shifting your wake-up time significantly can shift your sleep cycle—leading to worse sleep all week. A study of 2,700 high school students found that weekend sleep shifts left them “jet lagged” when they got to school on Monday, affecting their performance and weekly sleep schedule. Also, losing sleep can cause weight gain: Losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep every weekday can result in weight gain and have significant effects on insulin resistance, increasing your risk for Type 2 diabetes.
So set your Saturday alarm for the normal time: You might need an extra cup of coffee, but you’ll sleep better when the weekdays roll back around—and be better rested to stay on the weight loss path.