Every dieter knows that eating well Monday through Friday is the easy part.
But when the weekend arrives—you know, the two days that are practically synonymous with junk food and Netflix—that’s when willpower is truly tested. While indulging a bit on the weekends won’t do too much damage to your waistline, going overboard can easily erase a week’s worth of your hard-earned weight loss. To keep those pounds flying off—without feeling deprived—we checked in with some of the nation’s top nutrition experts to see how they keep their diets in check over the weekend. Below, they share their top Saturday and Sunday slim-down strategies that can help you say sayonara to those pesky pounds—for good.
“Most restaurant portions are completely distorted, offering twice as much food as you should actually eat. To keep calories in check, I typically order an appetizer and a veggie-based side dish as my entree. If I’m eating at a Mexican restaurant, for example, I may share some chips and guac as an appetizer and then order a single taco and small salad. The vegetables are key; they help fill you up with fewer calories.” — Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families
“I often sleep in during the weekends, which throws off my entire eating schedule. If I’m not careful, this can lead to overeating. To ensure I stay on track—no matter when I roll out of bed—I eat within an hour of waking, eat every four or five hours thereafter and stop noshing two hours before bedtime.” — Lisa Moskovitz, RD, founder of Manhattan-based private practice, The NY Nutrition Group
“Instead of seeing a movie or lounging around with friends on the weekend, do something active together. Visit your favorite museum, go window shopping, hit a rock climbing gym, try a new fitness class, or go biking or hiking.” — Miriam Jacobson, RD, CDN of Food Coach NYC
“I use the weekends as an opportunity to eat clean foods—but this wasn’t always the case. I had to stop being influenced by my friends and family and play the role of the influencer instead. If I want to eat someplace healthy, I’ll suggest it. If I don’t want that cheese plate with dinner, I let my friends know I’m okay without it, but that they should order whatever they want.” — Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD, CDN of Middleberg Nutrition
“Focus on getting a good eight hours of shut-eye each weekend night. Even though ‘catching up’ on sleep is not the recommended way to approach a sleep schedule, I find that allowing myself extra rest on the weekends helps reset my appetite and helps me control my food and drink intake. It also supports my metabolism and gives me energy to be active Saturday and Sunday!”— Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City
“Don’t go to social events or dinners hungry. It makes it more difficult to say no to unhealthy temptations. Speaking of which, when I’m dining out, I’m also the first one to order. It’s all too easy to be swayed by someone else’s unhealthy choice when you’re on the fence between the salmon with veggies and the chicken alfredo.” — Weight loss dietitian and personal trainer, Stephanie Brookshier, RDN, ACSM-CPT
“I often have more time for meal prep on the weekends than I do during the week and I use that opportunity to make really wholesome foods. For example, I’ll often start off the weekend with a whole foods-based breakfast of eggs, avocado, fresh fruit and even a homemade muffin or pancake. Starting Saturdays nourished and satisfied sets the groundwork for a healthy weekend ahead.” — Katie Cavuto MS, RD, the dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers
“I wake up around the same time on the weekends as I do during the week. This keeps me on track to sleep well come Sunday night into Monday and throughout the week. I also use Sunday evenings to get a head start on healthy weekday eating by making a big batch of slow-cooker black beans, steel-cut oats or quinoa, which I mix with veggies.” — Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD. of Marisa Moore Nutrition
While even the greasiest burger won’t save you from that pounding headache the morning after your night out with friends, there are foods that, if eaten before your drinking begins, can prevent or lessen hangover symptoms that keep you from enjoying the rest of your weekend. You should still stick to no-brainer rules like drinking plenty of water, but if you know it’s going to be a big night, pre-game with these 7 Pre-Happy Hour Foods That Prevent Hangovers.