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Weekend Partier? Pay Weekday Penance...

Did you ever have one of those days when you just “feel fat”? Blame it on the mirror, on your mood… or maybe blame it on Monday! Indeed, new research shows that most of us have distinct weight cycles – our weight rises over the weekend and tends to fall over the course of the week. This may not be much of a surprise, given the more leisurely pace and indulgent meals enjoyed over the weekend. But what was noteworthy was how a stronger weekday compensating pattern – how quickly and consistently individuals reversed gear by eating less after weekend excess — was the best predictor of longer-term weight management success.

The paper published in a recent issue of Obesity Facts analyzed data from four previous studies involving 80 subjects to explore differences in self-monitored weight measurements between those who lost, maintained, or gained weight over the course of the respective investigations. Those categorized as relative weight losers (down 3%) were roughly 60% more likely to peak on Sunday/Monday and bottom out on Friday/Saturday. By contrast, relative weight gainers (up 1%) did not share this pattern of peaks and valleys, but fluctuated more evenly over the course of the week. In other words, “yo-yo dieting” – at least over the course of a week — was associated with better longer-term weight-loss results.

While being a “yo-yo” certainly is a “no-no” if taken to extremes – i.e., starving then binging — it can be leveraged for healthy weight management if you forgive yourself for mistakes and recommit to healthier dietary choices. This means filling up on high-fiber, high-water content fruit and vegetables, and incorporating hunger “speed bumps” like large, low-calorie salads and soups. Research indicates that women who eat a salad before the rest of their meal end up consuming one hundred fewer total calories.

So, what’s the best way to ensure that weekly ups and downs align with your longer-term health goals? A simple, cost-effective way is to connect the dots — literally! Get yourself a sheet of graph paper, then mark your weight on a daily basis, plotting a line through entries to make a chart. Research shows that this self-monitoring tool really works in helping you self-correct week by week, to keep you on the lifelong, long life straight and narrow!

Published April 1, 2014

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