Weekend warriors often climb grueling mountain paths, demonstrating their fitness prowess. But for many of us, rest and relaxation can lead to a calorie-filled road to weight gain and a jelly belly to prove it.
People on strict diet and exercise programs tend to lose weight more slowly than expected because they indulge on weekends, according to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The findings, published in the journal Obesity, demonstrate for the first time that increased caloric intake isn’t only a problem on holidays. Weekend jaunts to your favorite restaurants or eating larger quantities of home-cooked meals can pack on the pounds.
Researchers followed forty-eight adults between ages fifty and sixty for one year and ranked them as overweight or healthy depending on body mass index. They were separated into three groups: one lowered daily calorie intake by twenty percent, the second increased daily physical activity by twenty percent and the third group did not change diet or exercise routines.
Researchers found that an average of thirty-six percent of the participants’ total calories came from fat on Saturdays. The weekend weight gain would have resulted in an average increase of nine pounds per year.
A second phase of the study will look at subjects over a longer period of time. For now, researchers recommend participants weigh themselves daily in order to monitor weight loss and weight gain… particularly focusing on healthy eating on the weekend.