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Want to Keep Weight Off? Weekday Meals May Be Key

Study found most people weighed more after weekend, but those who cut back during week were thinner

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People trying to lose weight should pay close attention to what they eat during the week, and not worry as much about enjoying themselves during the weekend, a new study suggests.

Nearly everyone gradually loses weight during the week and then gains it back over the weekend, a team of American and Finnish researchers reported.

"Almost to a person, we weigh the most Sunday night and we weigh the least Friday morning," said study co-author Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University and author of the book Slim By Design.

But people who successfully lose weight and keep it off are those who maintain healthy eating habits during the week, the researchers found.

Those who consistently lost weight in the study tended to compensate more strictly during the week for their weekend weight gain, the researchers said. Their weight began decreasing immediately on Monday and continued downward until Friday, while people who tended to gain weight showed a weaker weekday compensation for the weekend's indulgences.

"The ones who are big winners are those who lose a little bit of weight from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday," Wansink said.

The study, published online Jan. 31 in the journal Obesity Facts, involved 80 people aged 25 to 62. Researchers asked them to weigh themselves before breakfast every day for anywhere from two weeks to nearly a year.

The study found that everyone -- whether they were losing or gaining pounds -- had fluctuation in their weight over the course of a week.

Wansink said he believes this occurs because weekdays are more regimented, making it easier for people to watch what they eat. Meanwhile, the weekends offer many temptations.

"There's a lot of variety and fluctuation in what you do during the weekend, but the weekdays have a pattern and a rhythm," he said.

But tracking weight day by day showed that what is a steep weekday decline for weight losers appears to be a more gentle curving slope for people experiencing weight gain.

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