Opinion: Dr Keith Souter - Controlling diet at weekends

Dr Keith Souter
Dr Keith Souter

Most people look forward to the weekend.

After a hard week of work it is understandable that you may want to indulge yourself with a few luxuries.

If you are trying to control your weight, however, those indulgences may be when the whole diet goes pear-shaped.

A recent study looked at this to see if weekends are difficult when you are on a diet to reduce weight.

To do this they followed up 48 men and women who ranged from healthy weight to the verge of obesity.

They divided them into three groups. The first third were called the calorie restriction group, and they were asked to restrict their calorie intake by 20 per cent.

The second third were termed the physical activity group and they were asked to increase their daily activity by 20 per cent.

The last third was a control group and they were instructed to make no change to either their dietary intake or their physical activity.

They were all asked to keep food diaries and wear devices to measure activity.

Before the study itself started they recorded baseline data and found that there was a tendency in all of the participants to indulge themselves during the weekends and that most people did gain weight at the weekend.

Before the intervention, participants ate an average of 2,200 calories on Saturday compared to just 2,000 during the week.

Also, the average activity on weekends overall did not significantly differ much from average weekday activities.

It seemed that it was the food, not the lack of activity that was to blame for the weight gain.

Over the year they found that the calorie restriction group lost weight during the week, but stopped losing any at the weekends.

The physical activity group put on a small amount at the weekend. The control group did not significantly alter.

The researchers concluded that the indulgences that people allow themselves at weekends tend to put weight on, and also account for the slowing down of weight loss in people on diets.

The 200 calorie increase on Saturdays, which they refer to as ‘indulgences’ can over a year amount to a nine pounds weight gain.