(Image courtesy of someecards.com)
So a new weight loss study came to this not-so-shocking conclusion: Dieters tend to eat a lot more over the weekends, often without even realizing it.
This was just one finding from a study with a bigger goal, to explore the anti-aging effects of calorie restriction. Does calorie restriction provide the amazing benefits for humans that it does for rats? Alas, we may never find out.
"Rats don't have weekends the way people do," complained one of the researchers.
Reading between the lines, it appears that the researchers are having a hard time studying the benefits of calorie restriction in humans, because unlike rats, you can't get humans to actually restrict their calories. They kept eating more over the weekends than they were supposed to.
Rats are easy--they have no access to refrigerators or vending machines or drive-through fast food joints. Unfortunately, pesky ethical guideline make studying humans much harder.
Please just bring me a burger...
(Photo by Justin McPhee)
(Photo by Justin McPhee)
And if you try to slice humans up when a weight loss study is done to see exactly what happened in their brains and organs? All kinds of fuss!
But while this makes studying the anti-aging aspects of calorie restriction harder, it does provide some "you're not alone" reassurance if you find that weekends are more of a struggle when it comes to eating healthier or trying to restrict your calories.
It's interesting, because theoretically, it could be just the opposite, right? You might think that with more free time and flexibility, people who would be more likely to plan, shop, cook and eat healthy meals.
But apparently that's not the way it works.
I'm of two minds about this: I think it's a shame when people sabotage their hard-won gains during the week without even realizing it--mindlessly making bad choices because "it's the weekend and I worked hard all week." (Those of you who find this sort of thinking sounds vaguely familiar may want to check out the entitlement post).
On the other hand, I'm not a big believer in "go on a diet temporarily" camp. I think any diet or lifestyle change needs to be sustainable for the rest of your freakin' life. Or else you're gonna end up right back where you started a few months after your "diet" is over.
So in my mind, there needs to be some wiggle room for treats and cheats and indulgence. For many people, weekends are a more natural time to get wiggly. But if you're going to take this approach, perhaps it might make sense to still stay conscious and accountable about weekend behavior?
This is of course much easier said than done. But if you find you're doing the black & white, all-or-nothing thing about weekends versus the rest of the week, it may be time to start writing stuff down again.
The researchers also stressed the benefits of advanced planning. "Packing healthy food if you're running errands, eating a little something so you aren't starving when you arrive at a party, even packing a light lunch before going to the kids' ballgames so that you have a choice other than junk food at a concession stand," were some of the suggestions.
Sounds very sensible.
Or, you could just pretend you're a rat and build yourself a big wire cage and lock yourself in!
So what do you folks find: is it harder to watch what you eat on the weekends, or during the week?