Research shows that on average, a person’s weight peaks on Monday and bottoms out on Friday.
Whether it’s throwing back too many beers at the bar or skipping a morning workout because of a hangover, many people undo the effects of healthy habits during the week when quitting time arrives on Friday.
Making small tweaks to your routine could help prevent the weekend weight-gain and make it easier to get back into the swing of things on Monday.
Daily Mail Online spoke to three health experts for their top tips on food, exercise and lifestyle rules to follow this weekend.
Many people tend to forgo healthy habits on the weekends as a reward for making it through the week. Health experts weigh in on tips and tricks to making healthier choices
1. Follow the 80-20 rule
A study by researchers in Finland found that on average people weighed the most on Mondays and least on Fridays, which nutritionist Marie Detillier attributes to a lack of balance.
‘When you over-restrict Monday through Friday, you then mentally feel owed a reward for being “so good” all week long,’ Detillier said.
‘This then leads to over indulgence on the weekends which usually nets more calories, fat, sugar and sodium than you would have eaten during the week if you had just followed the moderation mentality all along.’
To practice moderation seven days a week, she recommends the 80-20 rule.
‘For 80 percent of your day, choose foods and drinks high in fiber, lean protein, lots of different colors and lower in saturated fats, trans fats and sodium.
‘The other 20 percent of your day, go ahead and consume a food or drink you enjoy that may be higher in sodium and/or fat than usual,’ she said.
Marie Detillier, a nutritionist at Texas Health Plano, recommends the 80-20 rule: make healthy choices 80 percent of the time and indulge for the 20 percent
2. Nurse each drink for at least an hour
Studies show people drink significantly more alcohol on the weekends than on the weekdays, largely because of social events and not having to worry about work the next day.
Dr Gary Malone, medical director at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Behavioral Health, said: ‘Enjoy the company of friends without the need to over-eat or especially over-drink.
‘It’s easy for people to think they don’t have to limit themselves with alcohol on the weekends because they don’t have to get up early the next day or because they “deserve it”. The same rules on alcohol apply on the weekends. Count your drinks and be sensible,’ he said.
A good rule of thumb for drinking at outings or events is about one drink per hour, not exceeding three or four.
Dena Champion, a registered dietitian at Ohio State University, added: ‘Don’t forget that alcohol has calories and often leads to over-eating food because it lowers inhibitions.
‘It can also create a downward spiral of poor decisions. For example, sleeping in and missing your regular morning workout because you drank too many cocktails with dinner,’ she said.
Studies show people drink significantly more alcohol on the weekends than on the weekdays. Dr Gary Malone insists on paying attention to how many drinks you’ve had
3. Set an alarm
It can be tempting to shut off your alarm on the weekends when there’s nothing begging for your attention before 10am.
However, changing your sleep schedule on the weekends, usually by staying up and waking up later, can cause what’s been referred to as ‘social jet lag’.
Researchers at the University of Arizona studied the effects of social jet lag using data from a survey about sleep habits and overall health from nearly 1,000 participants.
The findings showed that social jet lag is associated with poorer health, worse mood, and increased sleepiness and fatigue.
Additionally, each hour of social jet lag, or hour of change from a person’s usual schedule, is associated with an 11-percent increase in the likelihood of heart disease.
Instead, Detillier recommends making time for a short nap in the afternoon.
Set an alarm on the weekends to keep a consistent sleep schedule and avoid ‘social jet lag’
4. Plan a longer, more creative workout
Having more time on your hands over the weekend means that you can take your workout a little further, whether that be in intensity, length or just location.
A study by researchers in Scotland and England found that people who fit one or two workouts into the weekend saw similar benefits to people who worked out every day during the work week.
For those who aren’t big fans of the gym, Champion said: ‘A workout doesn’t have to be at a gym if that isn’t your thing.’
‘Get out and ride bikes with the kids or play on the monkey bars. Go swimming, have a dance party, or jump on a trampoline.’
For those who aren’t a big fan of the gym, Champion recommends trying a different outdoor activity like biking or swimming
5. Set yourself up for the week with food prep
In the middle of a busy week, doing takeout for lunch or dinner can seem like the only option.
Preparing foods on Sunday afternoon so it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to throw together a healthy meal on weeknights or pack a lunch in the morning.
Champion said: ‘This is one of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for good decisions all week.
‘Plan your menu for the week and wash and chop vegetables so meals come together quickly after a long day at work,’ she said.
‘I also love to make big batches of soup and freeze in lunch sized portions for days I’m in a rush.
‘Packing lunches the night before is a good way to make sure you are fueling your body with something nutrition instead of going to the cafeteria where options may be limited. It also saves you money.’
Prepping food for the week on Sunday can make it easier and quicker to throw together a healthy meal on weeknights or pack a lunch in the morning
6. Limit TV time to three hours
While it may be tempting to unwind from a long week by planting yourself on the sofa and having a movie marathon, starting the weekend lazily means you’ll have a harder time getting moving later.
Dr Malone says to limit TV to no more than three hours per day – even on the weekends.
‘Binge-watching TV on the weekends can affect you for days. Do you ever notice having a headache after watching Netflix all day? Or not sleeping well the night after binge watching TV?
‘Your body is not meant to sit and watch electronics all day. Get out and move and let your mind – and your eyes – relax,’ he said.
Dr Malone says binge-watching TV on the weekends can negatively impact your brain for days
7. Put work on the back burner
While it may seem like work is never-ending, it’s important to have work-life balance and take a break from the week’s worth of stress over the weekend.
A study from Indiana University found that people who had less work-life balance were more likely to die earlier.
Dr Moe Gelbart, a psychologist with Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California, recommends that for those people who can’t go the whole weekend without checking their emails, it can be helpful to set a strict time limit on how much work they’re going to do.
‘Give your email 100 percent attention for that time and then shut it down,’ he told Prevention.
Leaving work at the office on the weekends is important for work-life balance, experts say