Do Saturdays & Sundays undo your great week?

Sophie Edgington - Nutritionist | 14 Mar, 2021

Do you find it easy to keep on track during the week when you have the same routine, but weekends are a challenge? Can a couple of indulgent days really undo five days of hard work? The answer is yes, it can! It might not result in weight gain, but it can certainly slow your progress. The key to weight loss success is tracking your food every day of the week – it's perfectly fine to have a more relaxed weekend, just plan for it.

Plan ahead (you need to do this on Monday!)

Use Easier Days to allow yourself more calories for the weekend. Your target will adjust across the week to compensate – it will decrease on weekdays to allow for greater flexibility at the weekends.

In the App: tap on the blue menu button in the top right of your diary > 'Diary Preferences' > 'Easier Days'.

On the website: click the 'Settings' click above your diary > 'Set an easier calorie target for certain days'.

Tip! The Easier Days setting works in advance, from Sunday to Saturday. So it's best to tick your easier days on a Monday for the week ahead. This will ensure that when your daily targets are reallocated, it doesn't change previous days and make it look like you're over target when you were on track.

Lighter indulgence

We don't believe in banning foods, so you can include some treats in your diet. But a way to stretch your calories further is to swap your weekend takeaway for one of our lovely lighter versions. You can feel like you're indulging, but without the hefty calorie tag.

Homemade Fish & Chips and Healthier Fry-Up

Fab Kebabs

5 Curries under 550 Calories

5 Chinese Fakeaway Foods

Most supermarkets also tend to have lower calorie takeaway style ready meals that can hit the spot. M&S have a 'Count On Us Chicken & Vegetable Chow Mein' ready meal which contains just 262 calories for example... leaving calories over for a treat dessert!

Saturdays

Fancy something more authentic?

We know there will be times you'd rather reach for the takeaway menu. So if you're going for the 'real deal', just be smart with your ordering and pick the least calorific options. Here are our top tips:

  1. Share! Cutting down on portion size is the simplest way to cut calories. Split the main dish and order extra veggies on the side.
  2. Don't 'double carb'. Avoid having two portions of the starchy carbohydrate such as chips, rice, pasta, noodles etc.
  3. Skip high fat dishes. These are meals containing ingredients such as cream, coconut milk, crème fraîche, cheese, butter, breadcrumbs or batter.
  4. Healthier Chinese options include steamed dishes like Szechwan prawns, or prawns with ginger and spring onions. You should ideally always go for plain boiled rice (not fried) and only half a portion too.
  5. For Indian takeaways, the best bets are always drier or tomato based (not creamy) dishes. Tandoori chicken and other grilled options tend to come with a salad pot on the side too.

Other tips

It's not just takeaways that can derail your diet at the weekend. Here are some other practical tips to help you stay on track.

  • Continue to weigh food. Do this during the week and at weekends. It will give you a good sense of where the excess calories are coming from – and might surprise you.
  • Think damage limitation. Don't slip into the mindset that once you've started over-doing it, you might as well carry on. The sooner you stop, draw a line and get back on track, the less impact your slip up will have.
  • Increase your exercise. That way you'll feel good and have a few more calories to play with.
  • Go easy on the booze. This might be your way to wind down at the weekend, but alcohol is often a trigger to get the munchies. So try and limit the volume – swap your usual tipple to a spirit and slim line mixer to save calories, or dilute your favourite drink e.g. white wine spritzer with more 'spritz' than wine.
  • Don't set yourself up to fail. If you don't buy the foods you binge on, then you can't eat them. Allow yourself some treats in the house but keep these out of sight. (And maybe don't buy your absolute favourite).
  • Load your plate right. Fill up your plate at every meal with veggies or salad first (half the plate), then choose a lean protein (quarter plate) and finally add a complex carbohydrate (quarter plate). The fuller you feel after a meal, the less likely you'll be to snack.

The trick is to allow for extra calories at the weekend by careful planning, and being as healthy as possible on most days of the week. Live by the 80:20 rule – if you eat healthy 80% of the time, you can afford 20% to be more relaxed!

Nutritionist Sophie Edgington (ANutr), BSc Nutrition is passionate about practising evidence-based nutrition and debunking the multitude of inaccurate myths that so readily surround food and health information. Her goal is to ensure we are all able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding our health.