There is a little mathematical calculation I like to call upon when it comes to weekends. The calculation is 5 – 2 = 0. This means that five good days of eating through the week minus two days of poor eating on the weekend, will equal zero results.
The Math Explained
During the week, if you are trying to lose weight, you might get to a 200 or 300 calorie deficit in the day. This will depend on the number of calories you eat daily. Assuming you are only eating a few hundred too many, cutting down to 200 – 300 in the hole might leave you on the verge of hungry come nightfall. Five days of 200 – 300 calorie deficit is a total of 1000 – 1500 calories negative in a five day week. That’s less than half a pound. If you push your diet you might be grumpy but you could hit 500 calories in the negative. Any more than that and your body starts to go into starvation mode (you hold on to sugars and calories and store it as body fat because your body doesn’t know when it will get its next meal).
500 calories over 5 days is 2500 calories.
There are 3500 calories in a lb of fat.
Five good days of eating might see you to almost a lb of weight loss from fat at absolute best. Any more than that and you also risk losing muscle and water, just like you do during high intensity intervals.
If you hit the weekend and have a few slices of pizza, a latte at Starbucks, a couple of alcoholic beverages with friends and maybe a small french fry, you are already far over what you worked through the week to lose. That means zero gains or losses.
If you are trying to get more powerful, stronger and build muscle, you will not benefit from cutting calories. Being at a negative calorie count will reduce your results. Optimum power, strength and muscle gains come at roughly 100 calories in the positive every day. Plan carefully and decide what matters most to you when you planning where to head with your nutrition. Eating good food at a couple of hundred extra calories a day might be best for your goals. It’s up to you.
My advice is to lose weight in the off-season if you are in a performance based sport. You want all the energy and strength you can get during the season when you’re competing and trying to get your best results.
The challenge for the week (assuming you are still trying to lose weight as your primary goal) is to eat as well on the weekend as you did during the week. It’s not just about + / – though, so don’t starve all day and eat at McDonald’s for dinner. You still need good food to fuel your body properly. Don’t fill up with toxins by abusing alcohol even if it works out mathematically on FitnessPal. Enter the weekend with the right mindset and get out in nature if you are bored. Being outside could help curb your boredom eating.