For most people the beginning of the week starts on Monday or even for some on Sunday.  However, if you are interested in losing weight, you should consider Friday to be the start of your week.

In a recent study published in February 2014 in the European Journal  of Obesity Read Study..> a correlation between weekends vs. weekdays and the predictability of weight fluctuations was found. During the study, all participant’s bodyweight routinely increased following weekends and then decrease to their lowest levels by the end of the work week (Friday). This weekly weight fluctuation occurred regardless if the participants had lost weight overtime, made no weight change or gained weight.

People who made the greatest effort throughout the workweek to compensate for the weekend weight gain, through calorie controlling and increased physical activity, showed the greatest long-term weight loss.

The article’s main objective was to focus on the rhythmic weekly effects of weight fluctuations in groups of people. In the author’s opinion, it is a normal course of action for bodyweight to fluctuate from weight gain to weight loss throughout a week’s time. The predictability of this phenomenon appears to be mainly due to biorhythms, environmental and behavioral influences.

I found this study interesting because I too have observed the same type of weekly weight fluctuations with my clients. Many times my clients who are trying to lose weight, are often sidetracked during the weekends, inevitably erasing any weight-loss progress they may have made during the prior workweek. As a result, I always like to bring the issue to the forefront of their awareness by giving them some practical nutritional advice, which I would like to share with you now.

If you’re trying to lose weight, understand your “week” begins on Friday. Because what you do Friday, Saturday and Sunday (nutritionally speaking) can determine if you make progress towards your weight-loss goals on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or if you are simply paying back debt you created over the weekend.

For most people trying to loose weight, a reasonable nutritional plan usually produces satisfactory results in the beginning. However, over time these results tend to diminish to the point where there is little to no weight change from week to week. One of the problems is, in the beginning, people are very focused every day on their caloric intake, including weekends. However overtime, they become more and more complacent during the weekends, even though they may still be compliant during the workweek. This phenomenon sets people up to break even with their calories from week to week, eventually leading to frustration due to lack of results.

To be more mindful of this dieting dilemma, try the following advice:

1)  Weigh yourself once a week “only” on Thursday morning, right when you get up. Try to be undressed and use the same scale in the same place every time.

2)  Beginning Friday evening and throughout the rest of the weekend, pay close attention to the type of foods you eat, as they tend to be richer in flavor and higher in fat content. Social events and the personal desire to reward yourself for a “job well done” throughout the work week strengthens the justification for indulging in culinary delights. It is unrealistic for me to suggest or for you to assume that all temptations, whether self-induced or imposed upon by others, can always be resisted. Rather then attempt an all or nothing approach, try to play a game with yourself, in which you only choose those foods that are the absolute most desirable. In other words, don’t waste your calories on mediocre temptations. Not only will you find the number of choices you make much more limited, you will also find yourself being more resourceful with the amount you eat.

3)  Be careful with how much alcohol you drink over the weekend. This is, without question, one of the most disruptive behaviors you can do to your weight loss goal. Many people unwittingly increase their alcohol intake over the weekend. However, this can have serious consequences to a weight-loss plan. Alcohol is a toxin (it really is) and because it’s toxic to the body, it cannot stay in its current state for very long. In fact, immediately after absorbing the alcohol into your body, the liver quickly goes to work breaking down the alcohol to something less damaging. Basically, your body has only two choices— either the alcohol is used as immediate energy or it is converted into fat. So unless you are plan on running right after you drink alcohol, you can count on it contributing to your body fat. Moreover, when females attempt to drink as much as their male partners, such as sharing a bottle of wine, they put themselves at a huge disadvantage. As unfair as it may seem, most males (due to their size and physiology) can metabolize alcohol at a much greater rate than females. If you do choose to drink alcohol on the weekend, try to limit it to one or two days at best. I always tell my clients to either choose Friday or Saturday to drink and leave Sunday as an alcohol free day. Not only will you cut the amount of calories you consume over the weekend, you will find yourself in a better position come Monday morning when it’s time to hit your routine again.

4)  Weekends are a great time to increase physical activity, especially by introducing a variety of things to do. Use the weekend to find interesting, exciting and challenging activities that you normally would not do during the week. This helps guard against repetitive injury and allows the body to develop in a more balanced and complete way. Do your best to choose activities outside and in nature. This is how you achieve true functional training.

5)  The weekends are also a great time to catch up on any sleep debt you may have created during the week. Regardless of what your goals may be, weight loss, strength training or rehabilitation, sleep is paramount and an essential behavior that must be respected.

By following these simple 5 tips, you can make the weekends more productive towards a successful weight-loss program.