A cheeseburger, ice cream, a decadent chocolate brownie – they’re all temptations that beckon you to bite into them. If you’re like most people, you’re more likely to yield to these temptations when the weekend rolls around, especially if you’re exercised and watched your diet all week. A cheat treat or a cheat meal here and there can be therapeutic, and an occasional treat won’t expand your waistline. But be forewarned. Too many weekend indulgences could derail your plans to slip into a smaller pair of jeans.
Weekends and Cheat Meals: How Much Damage Do They Do?
According to a study carried out at the University of North Carolina, people consume an average of 82 more calories on Saturday and Sunday than they do on weekdays. That may not sound like much, but the damage adds up over time. Some brave souls go all out and turn weekends into a two-day dietary splurge. To add to the problem, they also lighten up on their workouts on Saturday and Sunday.
What accounts for increased calorie consumption on the weekends? The usual suspects – eating meals in restaurants, indulging in desserts and drinking alcohol.
It’s Better to Plan Your Dietary Indulgences
Of course, a treat here and there or a cheat meal won’t derail your weight loss plans. Some experts believe eating an occasional carb-rich snack or meal “shocks” your body and keeps your metabolism primed. But if you don’t plan them, or you do them too often, you could end up taking in more calories than you anticipated and watch it show up on the scale.
When you plan a cheat, think in terms of a treat here or there or a single cheat meal rather than a weekend of wild culinary abandon where you completely let down your guard. Planned cheating is better than taking carte blanche to eat whatever strikes your fancy. Even regular workouts aren’t enough to compensate for this. Remember, you can’t out-exercise a poor diet or compensate for too many cheats and treats.
Another thing to keep in mind. Too many cheats and indulgences on the weekend can make it harder to tighten up your diet when Monday rolls around. Grilled salmon, salad and steamed vegetables aren’t quite as appetizing after a weekend of pizza, cinnamon buns, macaroni and cheese, and wine. And don’t tell yourself you’ll cut back the following week to make up for your transgressions. Most people don’t do it. Some are so discouraged after a weekend of cheating that they give up on healthy eating entirely.
Cheat the Right Way
Cheating here and there is okay, but plan your indulgences ahead of time. Think in terms of a cheat meal or a cheat treat not an entire day or weekend of cheating. If you splurge on a meal of pancakes with butter and maple syrup on Saturday morning, don’t order wine and dessert when you go out to dinner in the evening. And watch out how much you eat at parties and social events. It’s easy to lose track of how many appetizers you’re nibbling on when you’re socializing. Even small treats add to your caloric bottom line if you let them get out of hand. Treat yourself, but don’t let it expand your waistline.
IDEA Fitness Journal. Volume 1. No. 2. “Weekend Waist Land”