by Kevin DiDonato, MS, CSCS, CES
It is Friday night. You are meeting co-workers for a special time. This hour some people set their clocks for during the day. Everyone arrives and the evening begins. There are specials and half price appetizers. The conversation flows as freely as the drinks and everyone is rehashing the events of the week. The appetizers arrive, and suddenly the table is full of deep fried foods, creamy dips and sauces, and highly salted chips. Happy hour has arrived!
Many people engage in happy hour activities. It gives people a time to converse with fellow employees, discuss stressful situations, or just blow off steam. Happy hour is a time to rekindle lost friendships and take a stroll down memory lane. Whatever the reason for your visit, put up you feet and stay awhile.
Weekends are a cherished time of the week. Having no set schedule and no added work responsibilities, the time is yours and you get to do what you want. Time is spent relaxing with family and friends and throwing the alarm clock out the window. It is a sanctuary away from the stressors of work and allows you a brief, but much needed break.
However, weekends can be a perfect time to sabotage your weight loss accomplishments. Sacrificing all week, you watch what you eat, maintain proper hydration, exercise religiously and get plenty of sleep. Why do you think weekends are the perfect time to ruin the gains you made during the week?
Most of the time, we throw caution to the wind. We sleep in later than normal, change eating habits, avoid a reasonable bedtime and exercise slows down. Due to family demands, we change our schedule over the weekend to accommodate everyone. We want to be able to enjoy our time and do whatever we please.
For some people the weekends also mean a time to let go and go wild. Late nights at the bars and dance clubs can affect the way we lose weight. Three main things can occur over the weekend change our weight loss. Let me explain.
What We Drink (or don’t) Might Not Be A Weight Loss Friend
Friday and Saturday nights are a great time to get together with the guys or gals and let loose. Heading out to the bars or clubs you dance the night away and leave your stress at the door. This can be a common occurrence on Friday, Saturday or both nights.
Sometimes alcohol is involved, and sometimes it is not. I will get to the non-drinkers in a second. Alcohol has negative effects on weight loss. Alcohol is processed differently and is filled with empty calories. In a single night, a person can increase caloric intake by 200 to 800 extra calories, all from alcohol.
Wannamethee et al. confirms in their research alcohol can lead to increased BMI and obesity levels. The extra calories and associated eating behavior can lead to weight gain in adults. Furthermore, they concluded alcohol intake of 30g/day contributes to weight gain, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed. Not convinced yet, here is more.
It seems that college aged men and women have it the worst. Increased drinking can lead to poor diets, unhealthy weight control, body dissatisfaction and sedentary behaviors.
On to the non-drinkers out there! You also need to be careful of what you’re drinking. If you have been the DD on more than one occasion, you know what your night can lead to. Late night parties, after hour dance clubs and late night diners or restaurants looking to fill your bellies with high fat foods. Staying awake is crucial on late nights so instead of the usual soda or diet soda you opt for an energy drink.
Energy drinks provide extra energy due to high levels of sugar and caffeine. It can be like injecting 3 cups of coffee with loads of sugar straight into your system. The extra calories from the sugar can lead to weight gain especially when you consider what is next!
Dehydration is a killer for weight loss success. Water, is a person’s best friend! Water keeps your body hydrated and the fat eating machine alive all through the weekend. Make sure you maintain your water intake to allow all the systems in the body to work more efficiently. Proper hydration helps the body metabolize fat and lessens the stress of metabolic demands on the body. Increased intake of energy drinks and alcohol rob the body of water leading to increased weight and a harder time keeping it off.
Sleep Cycle Out Of Whack?
Staying out late or going to bed late can have lasting effects in your quest for a lean muscular body. Getting the right amount of sleep helps to boost hormones that your raise metabolism.
Two main hormones in the body are responsible for keeping our appetite in check and boosting our metabolism, Leptin and Ghrelin. When one is higher (Ghrelin) and the other is low (Leptin) our appetite increases. When reversed, the opposite occurs.
Not getting adequate sleep alters the hormone levels in the body. Research done by Taheri et al, clearly demonstrated that getting 5 hours of sleep or less, decreased levels of Leptin by as much as 15.5% and increased our levels of Ghrelin by 14.9%. This shift can cause increased appetite. Like shopping on an empty stomach, increased appetite makes us crave nutrient dense, higher fat foods to satisfy our appetite. This can lead to unhealthy eating patterns and poor food choices leading to extra weight and higher BMI levels.
Maintaining a normal sleep schedule and getting a full 8 hours of sleep will help lose more weight over the weekend. Proper sleep keeps hormones in check and decreases your appetite so you’re not eating just because you only got 5 hours of sleep.
Not done yet, there is more!
Scrambled Eggs And Hash, Please!
Late night eating alters the way we eat and lose weight. Eating later can lead to a higher calories intake later in the evening which leads to decreased hunger in the morning. As we all know, breakfast is the most important meal to jump start our metabolism.
Eating later can lead to different problems. Late night eating can hinder our weight loss success, and lead to other issues as well. Research by Gluck et al, tackled the effects of late night eating on the mind. People in a pattern of late night eating may experience: depression, low self-esteem, feel less hungry during the day and lose less weight. Did you know typical late night eaters take in almost 50% of their calories after 7pm? What does it all mean?
In The End…
The fact is this: we alter our lifestyles during the weekends to relax leading to weight gain and makes it harder to stick to weight loss. There are many different factors: late night eating, alcohol or energy drink intake and lack of sleep, which all change the way our bodies use nutrients to keep the weight on or off. Maintaining an active lifestyle, watching what you eat and alcohol in moderation will help balance your weekend and keep your metabolism boosting tissue working your weight loss on the right path.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES