Weekends are hard for flexible dieters. You’d think it would be the opposite; During the week you’re busy, stressed, rushing around and probably on your feet and burning more calories, so you’d imagine you’d be hungrier, and more prone to over-eating then, but this isn’t so in 99% of cases.
See, while weekdays are busy, you’ve got a lot of distractions, and I know from personal experience that if I’ve done a 14-hour day, I’m not as ravenous as I’d expect come the end of it, and sometimes I’ve been so frantic I’ve even forgotten to eat throughout the morning and afternoon.
It’s the same for many flexible dieters. We find the weekends harder.
Aside from having more downtime, and more opportunities to think about food, we’re also far more likely to go out and drink or see friends at the weekend.
I don’t know about you, but most of my friends aren’t that into keeping healthy, and I think a zombie apocalypse is more likely than any of them signing up to My Fitness Pal.
If you’re on high macros and bulking, then fitting in weekend treats and higher-calorie meals isn’t too tough, but if you’re dieting and having a hard time sticking to your set macros, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
So this article’s for you.
If you find you always start the weekend with good intentions, then quickly succumb to snacking while you watch a movie, grab a sugary coffee as you’re out shopping, or hit the booze at the bar on Friday and Saturday night, and completely blow your macros then these seven tips could just about save your fat loss.
Tip #1 - Make Weekends a Re-Feed
If you’re on a non-linear or carb cycling diet that includes re-feeds, by far the best thing to do is shift these to the weekends.
There’s argument for separating your re-feeds by three to four days, but there’s also a case for having them closer together.
Physiologically it doesn’t much matter, but psychologically, it could make sticking to your weekly macros a heck of a lot easier, and it means you don’t have to grab your calculator and do any complicated sums.
Tip #2 - Modify Macros
There’s no huge harm in taking some macros off a couple of days each week and adding them to your weekends.
Say for instance you really want an extra 300 calories on Saturday and 200 on Sunday, this works out to 500 extra calories, so you could simply deduct these from Monday to Friday and eat 100kcal less each day to account for the additional 500 on Saturday and Sunday.
Preferably, you’ll still track specific macros, so that extra 300 might be 50 grams of carbs and 10 grams of fat, but if you choose to just go with total calories, that works okay too.
Tip #3 - Aim for Weekly Calories
You’ll get better results from tracking daily macros, but to take flexible dieting to an even greater level of flexibility, you could track your macros over the course of a week and make sure you’re still on track.
For example, if your daily macros are 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs and 70 grams of fat, that gives weekly macro of 1,400 grams of protein, 1,400 grams of carbs and 630 grams of fat. If you hit this between your first meal on Monday and your last on Sunday, you’ll get by just fine.
Tip #4 - Add Cardio
Cardio should never be a punishment for eating (just like food should never be a reward for training) but occasionally, it’s okay to offset excess calorie intake by doing a little more activity.
You could opt for a short, sharp HIIT session on a Saturday and Sunday, or go for a longer steady state session, such as a walk, swim or cycle. Provided you don’t get into the habit of doing this every single day, and spending 4 hours in the gym, it’s an effective method of keeping yourself in a deficit.
Tip #5 - Hit the Weights
Some might say that if you’re going to be eating extra calories, you may as well put them to good use. Ergo - building muscle.
The calorie burn here is harder to monitor than it would be if you were doing cardio, so this tactic suits those who are around maintenance or in a gaining phase a little better, as you don’t need to be quite so precise and can have more leeway.
Tip #6 - Intermittent Fasting
Unless you’re going out for a huge weekend breakfast, chances are most of your calories will be consumed later in the day, so why not go lean earlier on?
You don’t have to necessarily fast (and in fact, complete fasting isn’t the best idea) but you could stick with just lean proteins and veggies, such as a vegetable egg white frittata with some low-fat cheese for breakfast, a chicken or turkey salad for lunch, and protein shakes or bars for snacks.
Doing this will mean you can then have the majority of your calories later in the day or at night.
Tip #7 - Just Say No
Without sounding like a hardcore bodybuilder, you kind of have to ask yourself how much you want it.
Nearly every restaurant has lower-calorie, macro-friendly options on the menu, and you can pick lower-calorie drinks too, such as spirits with diet mixers. Or get this - you don’t even have to drink alcohol!
When you’re offered something, think whether you really want it or not.
If you’ve been invited to the best local steak restaurant that has fantastic wine, and are going with friends you’ve not seen for years, then it’s probably worth going over your calories for the sake of lifestyle gains.
But if it’s just a work party, full of cheap booze and greasy buffet food, you might be best just to go along and have a few Diet Cokes.
Bonus Tip #8 - Balance
Always keep your goals at the top of your mind, and decide what matters more to you - going over your macros for the sake of the fact that it’s the weekend, or sticking to the plan and reaching your goals faster?
All seven tips here work great if you’re struggling with your weekend eating, but at the same time, the beauty of flexible dieting is that with a few tweaks, you shouldn’t need to veer off track all that often.