If you're feeling a little bit leaner as the weekend nears, it's not all in your head. The latest research shows that most people actually weigh less on Friday than any other day of the week. No, it has nothing to do with Earth's gravitational pull, and it's not because we're all dieting to get ready for a hot weekend date. It has more to do with the regular eating patterns that many people may not even be aware of.
Why You're Skinnier on Friday
According to a recent study published in Obesity Facts, people tend to eat more on Saturdays and Sundays because that's when they gather with friends for dinner and drinks, or lounge on the couch snacking all day. Come Monday morning, they may have added up to five pounds to their frame. Over the week, they engage in compensatory behavior, eating less to make up for the weekend binging.
Here's where it gets even more interesting: People who are most likely to gain weight over time don't show the same compensation patterns. Their weight doesn't fluctuate based on days of the week because they're probably overeating all of the time. Therefore, people who lose weight throughout the week are most likely to maintain a healthier weight overall.
You Shouldn't Worry About Weekend Weight Gain
If the thought of gaining five pounds each weekend scares you, you should know that it's highly unlikely that you're gaining that much fat. One pound of body fat contains about 3,500 calories, so you need to eat 17,500 more calories than you burn to gain five pounds of fat. Unless you're entering butter-eating contests in your spare time, that's probably not happening on your days off.
In reality, most of the weight you gain over the weekend probably comes from water, in addition to the weight of the actual food you're eating. Weigh yourself before and after a large meal, and you'll see a significant difference.
If you're filling up on salty fare, expect even greater temporary gains. The sodium from an extra gram of salt can lead to an extra two pounds of water weight, because sodium makes you retain fluids. That weight disappears as your body flushes the excess, and drinking more water will help you drop it faster.
How to Think About the Fluctuations
Although these daily weight fluctuations are normal, they can be frustrating if you're trying to lose weight. That's one reason why it's best to only weigh yourself once a week, on the same day every week. Doing so will give you a far more accurate picture of your progress.
It's also important not to use the weekend as an excuse to pig out on fries, chips and cake, thinking that you'll simply make up the difference over the rest of the week. Nutrition still matters on your days off, and if you eat far too many calories it will become impossible to neutralize the damage throughout the workweek.
So even at Friday-night feasts and Sunday brunches, it's wise to fill your plate with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and eat only small portions of fattening fare. Learning healthy eating habits will help you avoid the bloat, and maintain a healthy weight for life.
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Nina Kate is a certified fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She also studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has contributed to numerous major publications as a freelance writer. Nina thrives on sharing nutrition and fitness knowledge to help readers lead healthy, active lives. Visit her wellness blog at BodyFlourish.com.