Are Weekends Wrecking Your Diet?

What’s worse for your waistline: Five days planted at your desk during the week or two days parked on the couch over the weekend? If you relied on simple math, you’d probably go with five weekdays at your desk, right? Surprisingly, a new study suggests that lazy weekends may be more of a weight saboteur for people.

In an abstract presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Phoenix in March, researchers reported that cutting sedentary time by just 20 minutes during the weekend resulted in a loss of more than 2 pounds and 1.6 percent body fat after a year. When this same reduction in sedentary time was applied to weekdays, there was no weight loss benefit.

Most people view the weekend as a time to kick back (literally) and reward themselves with unhealthy foods. More calories + less activity = a double weight loss whammy. Even though many of us spend a chunk of our day sitting in an office or at a desk during the week, we’re more likely to eat less and often choose healthier foods, researchers suggest.

I’ve always recommended a 90-10 philosophy when it comes to eating—if you make an effort to eat healthfully 90 percent of the time, you can enjoy some wiggle room the rest of the time. So, there’s no need to totally avoid your favorite foods once the week comes to a close. Instead, simply spend a little less time on the couch, and take your dog for a quick walk, stroll through the park, or do some light housework. That slight increase in activity could help offset the increase in calories that often occurs over the weekend. It’s a small time investment that can have a huge payoff when it comes to your weight and health.

Click here for more ways to beat weekend waist-busters.