How to enjoy your weekends and still lose fat
Let’s be honest, the majority of us like to socialise with friends, eat crappy foods and drink alcohol on weekends. A lot of the time people will throw away their weekly progress by a weekend of binging which in turn leads them to spin their wheels each and every week and make next to no progress with their fat loss. So, can you enjoy your weekends and still make progress?
Absolutely! However, it needs to be done in a somewhat strategic way to ensure everything is kept in check and that calorie consumption isn’t over the top.
Why People Fail
The biggest downfall for the majority of people I speak to is the dreaded ‘Monday to Friday’ mindset. What is this, you might ask.
This is where an individual will be spot on with their calorie intake Monday through to Friday because they have some sort of routine. They don’t feel any need to consume crappy foods or alcohol.
As an example, let’s say you need to be consuming roughly 2000 calories each day to achieve a weekly loss of around 1 Lb. As mentioned above, you stick to this calorie number spot on throughout the week. You’ve managed to lose 0.8 Lbs so far which is pretty close to the 1 Lb weekly target. Then Saturday comes around and you get that weekend feeling of wanting to go out with friends or stay in with a takeaway. Next thing you know you’re 5000 calories deep in fast food and alcohol. You wake up on Sunday and the guilt (and the hangover) kicks in. You order that Dominos pizza to help cure the hangover and say ‘Screw it, I’ll start again on Monday.’
All of a sudden, you’re back to square 1 and you’ve gained the 0.8 Lbs back and then some! As you can see, it is pretty easy to ruin 5 days worth of progress with just a weekend's worth of booze and fast food.
You may be thinking now, ‘Well it doesn’t seem like I am going to be able to enjoy my weekends and lose weight based on what you just told me, Jamie?’
You have every right to believe that but don’t you worry! I am here to save the day. No, you won’t be able to binge on weekends but I will give you some pretty easy guidelines to follow to ensure you can have some leeway on weekends whilst staying in your weekly calorie deficit and not ruining your progress.
Weekly Calorie Goal
To make this whole thing work we need to use a weekly calorie goal rather than a daily goal. Most of the time when people create their own nutrition plans or start tracking their calories, they will usually follow a set daily calorie/macro target. This is absolutely fine for the majority of people. However, it’s not so great for the people who struggle with overeating weekends.
Let's say, for example, your daily calorie target for weight loss is 2200 calories. Add that up over the week and that gives you 15,400 calories. So, if you consumed 2200 calories Monday to Friday you will lose fat (this is just an example, calories needed will vary from person to person).
You’re probably thinking ‘Well yeah, you’ve given me a weekly target. What the hell do I do with it?’
Patience, my friend. I am getting to it.
Based on the above example we need 15,400 calories per week to lose weight. So, rather than having a set daily goal let’s change up how we set up our week. It is pretty simple to do this. All you have to do is borrow a small amount of your calories from one day and add it to another.
I am going to base this on the assumption of someone wanting extra calories Saturday and Sunday. Here is how your week could look:
Monday – 1800
Tuesday – 1800
Wednesday – 2000
Thursday - 1800
Friday – 2000
Saturday – 3500
Sunday – 2500
Weekly Total = 15,400
BOOM! There you have it. Just like that, you have opened up some extra calories for your food-filled weekend. The above layout is purely an example. You could lay it out whatever way fits your week best. You could drop that extra 500 from Sunday and add it to whatever day you’d like. The possibilities are endless.
I do however have some ground rules. It is easy to take things too far and borrow too many calories from each day so that you end up suffering throughout the week. This isn’t the goal and if that’s what you plan on doing then I highly recommend you DO NOT do this and follow the ground rules below.
The Ground Rules!
You still want to be eating an adequate amount of food throughout the week to ensure hunger doesn’t take over your mind! This is why having these ground rules is important to ensure this is sustainable.
1. Only borrow 200 to 400 calories from each day throughout the week. For example, if your goal daily calories are 2200 then I don’t recommend dropping below 1800 on any given day. If you know you have a social event coming up on the weekend, then aim more towards dropping each day by 400 so that you can be a bit more lenient with the event when it comes around.
2. DON’T assume that because you have dropped calories throughout the week that you can just binge over the weekend. This just isn’t true. Weekly calorie balance still comes into play here. It is still ridiculously easy to ruin a week's worth of progress over a weekend if you’re not mindful of your calorie intake on your higher days! Ensure that you stay pretty close to your adjusted weekend calorie intake when following this approach.
3. You still need to get your fruits and veggies in! Yep, that’s right. You still need to be hitting the health gains. Aim to consume at least 2 servings of both fruit and vegetables on your higher calorie days!
There are my 3 ground rules for making sure that higher calorie weekend eating is a sustainable and manageable way to approach your nutrition plan!
Of course, don’t think that you have to do a weekly calorie goal (however, if you’re reading this I assume that it is of interest to you). A daily goal is absolutely fine if that is what works for you and for the majority of people this is fine. This is just another method you could use here and there for when you have that weekend away planned or just feel like trying something different.
Tips For Social Events
It gets to the weekend. You have saved up all those extra calories for your social event. You realise that 3500 calories actually isn’t that much when you spread it throughout the whole day. So, how do you set up your day to ensure that you have plenty of calories left over for the actual event?
The whole point of this strategy is to ensure you stay on track with fat loss and to avoid a massive blowout because you have saved extra calories.
I have a simple method to ensure that calories can stay in range for the day. I call it the 30/70 method. This means that you save 70% of your daily calories for your social event and then use 30% beforehand.
How should you use this 30%? Well, you still need those health gains and we still need to ensure you are consuming an adequate amount of protein. For this 30% I recommend splitting it into 2 sittings. You want these meals to consist of lean proteins (or vegan alternatives) and plenty of fruits and vegetables. For example, you could have 2 large meals consisting of chicken breast and a bowl full of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, and then a couple of servings of fruit. That way we are ensuring that vegetable and fruit requirements are hit for the day so there is no need to worry about that later. As we are hitting a decent amount of protein, we are also ensuring that protein requirements are close to being hit for the day too.
This is just a guideline. You can set up your meals whatever way you like! This is just how I have found to work best with myself and clients.
Now don’t worry, you don’t need to get too caught up in the percentages. Those are just a rough guide. If it ends up being 40/60 or 35/65 that’s fine! If you really wanted to, you could try a 22/24 hour fast up until the event itself. The world is your oyster, do as you please.
Hopefully this article was useful to you and has given you some ideas on how to enjoy calorie filled weekends without sabotaging your progress. This doesn’t have to be followed every week. It can be utilised for the times when you do have plans on weekends and you know a lot of food will be consumed. You may not even want to use this strategy at all and again that’s fine! It all comes down to personal preference and you’ve got to find what works best for you.