It's the weekend! Time to go out and have some fun with your friends, right?
Weekends are one of the main reasons that can sabotage our diets. You can go all week meal prepping, working out, saying no to office cakes and yes to snacking on veggies, but when the weekend is right around the corner it's harder to stay strong.
See, you can stay on track and lose body fat during the week, but destroy all your hard work by Monday morning.
Don't want this to happen anymore? Here's how you can stay on track on the weekend, while still enjoying it.
1. Eat like it's a weekday
It's very easy to slip into the state of mind that allows you to overindulge on the weekends. Stay safe by committing to eat the same healthy foods and portion sizes as you did during the week.
Think about it. It doesn't really make much sense to eat differently on the weekend, especially if your food choices during the week kept you fueled and energised!
Stick to the 80/20 rule
Your diet shouldn't be too restrictive because restriction most often leads to binge eating as soon as Friday night hits.
Be realistic. It's the weekend. You're allowed to enjoy yourself. Have a glass of wine and a meal out with friends. Enjoy what you're craving, but do it smart. Watch your portions and make sure to get enough protein in.
It's so important to remember that no hyped food trend should eliminate certain food groups from your diet. Nothing ever is black and white. If you love it, build it into your diet. After all, no single food can be seen as "clean" or "unclean", "healthy" or "unhealthy" (except for trans-fats and alcohol). Too much of anything is unhealthy for you! Heck, you can die from overconsumption of water!
Rule of thumb: Always go fresh, best is to use whole foods and make a delicious dish out of them. Keep it simple! Get 80% from unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods, and 20% from whatever the hell you like to eat (I love to fit in a Snickers bar or some ice cream in every now and then).
2. Be smart about the booze
Drinking regularly with your mates on the weekends? No, it's not a bad thing. However, mind that alcohol might sabotage your fat loss efforts.
Alcoholic drinks provide no nutritional value, just empty calories - and often times a lot of them. And let's be honest, it's not just that 'one drink', is it?
Another problem is, that alcohol loosens inhibitions. Hence, you're more likely to overeat on food and snacks.
Furthermore, alcohol also suppresses fat burning. Consumed with a high-caloric meal, your body will burn the 'poison' first, which contributes to more body fat storage. Alcohol decreases fat oxidation for up to 3 days after a good drinking session. Yes, 72 hours! If you drink every day, you're setting yourself up for fat gain, bad nutrient absorption and alcohol-related deceases.
What's best to order?
- Don't drink too much, because every pint counts
- Focus on low-carb alcohol, such as spirits like vodka, gin, rum or tequila. The worst choices would be cream based drinks. Dry white wines are also great
- If you want to drink a beer, try the low-calorie alternative. Also, try diet sodas with spirits
- Don't order another drink until your current one is empty, and always order a large glass of water together with your drink. Enjoy your drink and make it last about an hour
- Focus on a healthy meal or small protein-packed snacks, with a lot of fibre and good fats before you're consuming alcohol. This will slightly minimise the damage of drinking too much
- Keep your goals and health in mind
Moderate consumption of alcohol can improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, even when you suffer from type 2 diabetes. Moderate is the operative word here!
If you're a non-drinker, just keep it that way. It's just not worth starting, especially if health and fitness are amongst your goals.
3. Don't skip your workouts
It's the weekend, so you usually have plenty of time to squeeze in a workout, even if it's a quick one.
Skip the long cardio sessions. Doing hours of cardio will put too much stress on your body. Being under stress leads to an excess release of cortisol. Instead, lift heavy weights!
Don't go crazy on the treadmill. Rather add a couple of extra sets to your weightlifting routine and hit a few personal records.
Think about HIIT
If you still have some gas left in the tank, think about HIIT. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique where quick, intense bursts of exercise are followed by recovery periods (e.g. 45 sec high intensity followed by 60 sec low intensity).
This type of training gets your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. 20-30 minutes tops!
4. Keep up the mental game
They're everywhere: those "all or nothing" approaches to achieving a healthy lifestyle.
You can have some unhealthy snacks at a party and - believe me - your diet isn't ruined! We're all humans, we're not perfect. Of course, you can have a cheeseburger too every once in a while (moderation and balance is the key).
Don't even think about following a fad diet. Generally speaking, every diet program that promises a weight loss of 5 lbs (2 kg) per week on a constant basis is utter nonsense! Why? It's almost impossible - unless you weight A LOT - to lose so much fat every week. Nor is it healthy.
You already know what works for you. Believe in yourself.
5. Keep calm, you can't gain too much weight from one weekend off
Instead of thinking of the day as ruined when consuming "forbidden food", try to put the past behind you and keep going. Get your head back in the game. Learn for the next time or learn to enjoy your treats mindfully. That's much better than knocking yourself down and start binging, because of your frustration.
A few off-plan treats really don't make the difference in the long run, as long as you know how to balance them right.
Relax, one cheat day won't make a major difference on the scale. You can't gain that much fat in one day. Especially if you consume most of your calories from carbohydrates.
After a good feast, you will weigh more. But if it's not fat, what is it then, you may ask? It's mostly water weight!
Ever heard of glycogen? It's an energy source that is derived primarily from carbs (and in small amounts from protein), that has an interesting characteristic: it bonds really well with water. For every gram of carbohydrate, you'll store about 3 to 4 grams of water.
So, for example, if you consumed 300g of carbs on your cheat day and your glycogen stores were almost empty (as it's often times the case on a diet), you're now holding up to approximately 2.2 lbs/1 kg more water. This, in fact, is what causes the large increase in weight after your cheat day.
However, glycogen is not the only substance which can cause water retention. Excess sodium (eating too much salt), which is present in processed food, can also contribute to water retention.
Do yourself a favour and don't step on the scale the next day! Some of the weight gain will be fat, but only a very small portion. Most people need 2-3 days to be back within the same "water range" as they were pre-cheat.
Nobody's perfect. A cheat every once in a while will definitely not destroy all your hard work. Being lean isn't about being 100% perfect all the time. It's okay to give yourself a break.
However, if your cheat day becomes a cheat weekend or even a whole week, you have to reconsider your diet.
Use the aforementioned tips and stay strong even on the weekends. By the time Monday morning comes around, you'll thank yourself for it!