Ever notice that your jeans feel a little tighter after the weekend? It’s not your imagination; weight gain from Friday through Sunday is a real thing. A recent study from Cornell University found that most of us pack on a little on Saturday and Sunday, thanks to weekend socializing and indulgences. Granted, the same study found that we generally lose the weight by cutting back at the start of the workweek. But wouldn’t it be awesome if you could make headway on your weight-loss goals during the weekend, not just on weekdays? It’s totally possible if you make these expert-backed steps part of your Friday routine.
Plan Food-Free Social Outings
From Friday happy hour to Sunday brunch, weekends are filled with opportunities to consume calories – and even a few beers or fried bar snacks can run you hundreds of extra calories. The more social events you organize that have nada to do with drinking – such as a spa day, a group fitness class, or a movie outing – the less risk there is that you’ll overdo it, says Brittany Kohn, R.D., nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City.
If you tend to skimp on Zzzs during the workweek, nows the night to turn in early or plan to sleep in late Saturday morning – it may be the difference between healthy eating and a junk food bender later. "There’s a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and weight gain," says Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., a Boston-based nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Translation: The more rested you are, the better able you’ll be to fend off cravings.
Hit the Supermarket
Shop for the ingredients now, and you’ll have no excuse not to cook over the weekend. With the typical takeout or restaurant meal clocking in at way more calories and fat than the home-cooked version, you’ll almost always eat healthier if you prep and make meals yourself, says Kohn.
Don’t Go On a Friday Diet
When you know you’ll be faced with a buffet of party food on Saturday and an indulgent brunch menu on Sunday, you might be tempted to eat as little as possible on Friday, says Clark. Unfortunately, that’ll just set you up to feel super-hungry later on in the weekend – and lose control of your eating. Avoid a binge by eating healthfully – but not depriving yourself – on Friday, suggests Clark.
Stash Healthy Snacks in Your Fridge
Take 15 minutes out of your Friday to cut up fresh fruit and veggies and prepare other easy-to-grab healthy snacks, says Kohn. It makes it that much more likely you’ll eat them (and not, say, open a bag of chips) when you’ve got some downtime and are feeling snacky.
Ditch the "Weekends Don’t Count" Mindset
If you view Saturday and Sunday as a time-out period during which crappy eating habits get a free pass, it’s time you checked that thinking at the door, suggests Clark. Of course, kicking back and indulging a little are what weekends are all about. But thinking of the weekend as one 48-hour cheat meal will just thwart your weight-loss efforts.