Are you a weekend warrier?

18 04 2011
Sean Fitzpatrick

Sean Fitzpatrick

The idea behind this blog, people eat more on the weekends, seemed like a no brainer to me. Of course people eat on the weekend. I know I often have and still often do. Weekends bring Friday night pizza, Sunday brunches, tailgating during the fall; essentially, weekends often bring about times to eat and eat a lot.

I was tempted to just start writing about this topic, but being a sometimes diligent graduate student I decided to first see if I could find any data on the subject. I found an article by Dr. Khare, out of the University of Texas Arlington and Dr. Jeffrey Inman from Pitt. After getting over the fact that someone from Pitt was involved, I read on. And to my surprise, among the 600 people they studied, the average individual eats 37 more calories on a Saturday or Sunday compared to a weekday. To me, this was a surprise as I thought the number would be much higher. I thought that my blog topic was dead. But as I read on and went deeper into the data I found some interesting results.

While the individuals in the study averaged a caloric increase of only 37 calories, there was a large subset that consumed significantly more calories. Around 39% of those studied increased their calories between 150 and 410 calories per weekend day. To put it another day, these individuals took in an extra 300 to 800 calories each weekend. We can take these numbers a few steps further to highlight the potential effects of this overindulgence. If the individuals in the highest group, the 800 calorie group, kept up this pattern for a month they would consume an extra 3,200. Over the course of a year this would equate to 38,400 calories—almost 11 pounds worth of calories (3,500 calories = 1 lb).

Most likely there are two types of people that fall into these groups that take in these extra weekend calories. One group may consist of individuals who truly believe the weekend is a time to splurge. These individuals really take this belief to heart, and to their stomachs. The other group probably consists of individuals who don’t even realize they are eating more on Saturdays and Sundays. It is easy to fall into this second group. If you’re one of these individuals who eats more on the weekends despite not purposefully splurging (if you’re unsure whether or not you take in more calories on the weekends, log your intake and find out (link), try planning out a meal or two this upcoming weekend. If you have something to celebrate, find a way to celebrate besides taking the family out for a meal.

The weekends are different from the weekdays and if you’re going to be successful on the weekends you may need different strategies. Many participants report that the routine of the work day actually helps them regulate food intake, whereas on the weekend they are left to their own vices! As with everything in weight loss, you are best advise to come up with a set of strategies to help you manage the different (or lack of) routine on the weekends. If you don’t, then your weekends will manage you and it could cost you up to 11 pounds a year.

If you have strategies that you’ve found work for you on the weekends we’d love to hear about them! Feel free to leave a comment with your best strategy.

Sean Fitzpatrick



2 responses

28 04 2011

Sean — really liked your article.

I know that I have more problems on the weekend. I “should” have more time for exercise but seem to get side tracked. Less structure for me — I seem to allow myself less structure with food.

I’m a planner for my meals through the week and packing lunches etc. I need to come up with a plan for the weekend and build if some flexibility for the “what ifs” — because during my weekends — things will come up.

18 04 2011

You are right Sean, the weekend is full of opportunities to take in more calories! Something I wanted to add is that the weekend is also full of opportunities to be more active, which may help a little. With warm weather on its way, we can walk to sunday brunch instead of driving or take the kids to the park or for a nice 40-60 minute walk. Decreasing calories a little while still enjoying ourselves, and adding in more physical activity may be the happy medium that will work for us.

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