10 ways to avoid weekend weight gain

We’ve all done it – eaten super healthy all week, determined to fit back into that favourite pair of jeans… only to let it slip at the weekend and devour an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a whole bottle of wine come Friday night! Weekends are times for socialising, enjoying yourself and having fun and eating and drinking are often part and parcel. Unfortunately however, it’s all too easy to overindulge. To avoid undoing all the hard work you’ve put in during the week, here are 9 ways to avoid weekend weight gain.



Many people indulge in a takeaway at the weekends. However, they are often laden with unhealthy oils, hidden sugars and undesirable additives. Why not try recreating healthier versions of some of your favourite takeaways at home, such as salmon with baked sweet potato fries and home-made mushy peas, or a big veggie curry and wholegrain rice? If you are ordering in, opt for freshly cooked options containing lots of veg such as Thai curries, salads or soups. Or alternatively make up a big colourful salad or bowl of green veg to eat alongside your takeaway and reduce your order to take account of the extra food. 



Whilst some see the craze for avocado and egg on the weekend as a bit of a fad, it’s actually a great healthy way to start the day. Studies have shown that consuming a high protein breakfast can help improve appetite control, food intake, and body composition and may decrease snacking later in the day. In particular, breakfasts containing eggs may help enhance weight loss, as part of an energy-deficient diet. Opting for wholegrain bread and adding extra portions of veg such as spinach, kale, mushrooms and roast tomatoes to your brekkie will add extra nutrition.



Another great thing about weekend brunches is they tend to be eaten later in the morning, giving the opportunity for a longer overnight fast. Time-restricted eating (where people typically only eat during 8 hours of the day and fast for the other 16 hours) has been shown in studies to be of benefit in preventing excess weight gain, along with a number of other health benefits such as improving sleep, supporting gut health and increasing longevity. With more flexibility at the weekends as to what times you eat, it’s a great opportunity to implement time-restricted eating habits.



The weekends are a great opportunity to get outdoors for a walk, run or cycle (especially if you spend the majority of your time at a desk during the week). Aerobic exercise has also been shown to help regulate appetite by temporarily suppressing ghrelin (our hunger hormone). Exercising outdoors in the fresh air will also mean you are exposed to a variety of micro-organisms which can help to diversify our beneficial gut bacteria. When you do come to refuel afterwards, make sure to include good quality protein to aid muscle repair and lots of antioxidants to reduce inflammation caused by exercise.



People tend to consume more alcohol on the weekends. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an after-work pint on a Friday night or a nice glass of red with your roast, drinking large amounts can play havoc with blood sugar balance and drastically increase your calorie intake, contributing to weight gain. So if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s best to go easy on the booze – limit the number of drinks you have and intersperse them with water to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary mixers and those which have been artificially sweetened, which can disrupt the gut microbiome. Instead try mixing spirits with soda water and fresh lime, or turning white wine into a spritzer. Just think how great you will feel when you wake up in the morning with a clear head!


Pimp your Sunday roast with lots of veg

The Sunday roast is a British institution, and can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet.  However, don’t let the veggies be a soggy afterthought. Instead, try experimenting and making them the star of the show with a variety of different types and colours. How about braised red cabbage, cumin roast carrots, stir-fried sprouts, and cauliflower steaks? Ideally vegetables (excluding potatoes) should make up half of your plate. If portion control is an issue, try eating your roast off a smaller plate and say no to second helpings.


The 80/20 Rule

It’s important to remember that it’s nigh on impossible to eat perfectly 100% of the time. Setting unrealistic goals or rules will likely lead to failure which is demoralising and often leads to people giving up. Meaningful changes to the diet need to be sustainable in the long-term. Following the 80/20 rule of sticking to a healthy eating plan 80% of the time whilst being more flexible for the other 20% (typically on the weekend) is much more manageable. That isn’t to say that for the 20% you should stuff your face with junk food. However, allowing yourself a pre-set number of treats at the weekend helps avoid feelings of guilt when you do indulge (and if you don’t use them all you can give yourself an extra pat on the back!)



Many people are under a lot of pressure with their work. Not only can this impact mood, meaning you make poorer food choices, but being constantly stressed can also contribute to weight-gain as cortisol (our stress hormone) disrupts blood sugar levels, leading to increased storage of calories as fat. Taking time to de-stress at the weekend (and throughout the week) is therefore important. Whether it’s taking a Saturday morning yoga class, having a magnesium salt bath, getting an early night, being in nature, or simply turning down some invitations to social events, make sure you carve out time for yourself at the weekend to unwind and build resilience for the week ahead.


Prep for the week 

Most people struggle to stick with healthy eating plans due to a lack of time and higher stress levels in the week. The weekend is therefore a perfect opportunity to prep for the week ahead to make sure you meet your health goals. Hit the farmers markets, your local green-grocers and health foods stores to stock up on delicious nutritious food. Preparing freezer bags of pre-chopped fruit and veg for breakfast smoothies, meal prepping lunches for the week and batch cooking healthy dinners to be kept in the freezer for evenings when you don’t feel like cooking are all great strategies.