Cheat on Weekends and Diet During Weekdays Can Lead to Weight Gain – Not Weight Loss

A few years ago the belief was that it was possible to watch your food and drinks from Monday to Friday, and eat what you wanted on the weekends, or at least one or two weekend dinners and still lose weight. That was then, when restaurant meals were not 2500 calories or more. Now it’s not possible for most typical dieters. Even working out 3 or 4 days a week is not enough to make up for some of the very bad “cheat meals.”

“Cheat meals” were the the meals we could all look forward to let our hair down and give in to urges. We used to think having a “cheat meal” would satisfy cravings and lower the pressure to be careful every day.

The problems are due to the really high calorie, large portion meals some of us eat. Here are more details:

How many calories to maintain our body weight: just multiply weight in lbs. x following factor:


women………………………10 x weight…….12 x weight

men………………………….13 x weight……..15 x weight

Example, a women who weighs 160 lb. and is inactive needs to eat 10 x 160 or 1600 calories a day. It would rise to 1820 if she was active.

Effect of one “cheat meal” a week without exercise:

A typical inactive women dieter weighing 160 lbs. needs to reduce her calories from 1600 to a little over 1100 a day to lose 1 lbs. per week: (1600-1100 = 500 calories less a day, 500 x 7 days =3500 calorie savings a week), this works out to a little more than 1 lbs. a week weight loss. A man who weighs 200 lb. needs to cut calories down from 2600 to 1500, which then would save 1100 calories a day. Over a week that represents about 2 lb. weight loss.

Many meals eaten in Italian, Mexican and other restaurants can easily top 2500 calories or even more. Using 2500 calories as an example, subtract 800 calories for a meal that could have been eaten instead of the “cheat” and you get an extra 1700 calories for the one “cheat meal.”

Take the extra 1700 calories and think in terms of how many calories does the one cheat meal add to the daily intake over the week: 1700 cal/7 days or 240 calories a day. For women the one cheat meal a week reduces their 500 calories to only 260 calories and cuts their weekly weight loss down.

Add two cheat meals a week, say Saturday and Sunday, and the total calorie savings per day is reduced to almost 0– thus no weight loss.

Effect of one “cheat meal” a week with exercise:

As one would expect, adding exercise provides a little more room for the “cheat” but not as much as one might think. If the dieter were to burn 400 calories three times a week( 40-50 minutes on a treadmill), the daily average calories would be 1200 divided by 7 days, or 175 calories a day. Not enough to make up for the single “cheat” meal.

Here are some of the factors making cheating so difficultt

* Our metabolism slows down as we age, lowering our daily calorie requirements. Yet 1 lb. remains 3500 calories and walking one mile consumes the same 100 calories.

* Restaurants are serving larger and larger amounts, and people are eating these huge portions

* Compensation by exercise is usually exaggerated, and the calories are almost always less than what one might think.

*Exercise often increases hunger and sets up a “reward” system where the dieter exercises all week, and thinks that gives him license to pig out on the weekends.

Think “Cheat Meals’ are not so bad? Here are the entrees without the salads, drinks, butter, bread and deserts:

– Tony Roma’s ribs, fries and onion rings- 2800 calories
– Chili’s Big Mouth Bites with French fries – 2,350 calories
– Olive Garden Tour of Italy, with lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and fettuccine alfredo- 1,450 calories
– The Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese- 1,570 calories
– Macaroni Grill- Pasta and meat balls- 1400 calories
– PF Chang’s Pepper Steak and rice: 1900 calories
– Uno Chicago Grill’s Mega-Sized Deep Dish Sundae-2,800 calorie
– Outback Blooming Onion: 1900 calories
– The Cheesecake Factory’s Chicken and Biscuits- 2,500 calories
– Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger with fries-1,820 calories
– The Cheesecake Factory Philly Style Flat Iron Steak with fries- 2,320
– Apple bee’s Quesadilla Burger -1,820 calories
– T.G.I. Friday’s BBQ Chicken Wrap -1,720 calories C
– Cheesecake Factory Kids’ Pasta with Alfredo Sauce-1,803

Remember these are just the entrees, many of these meals can top 2500 or even 3500 calories. All of this adds weight gain. More important the dieter has not learned anything. The secret to having fun on the week end is to learn to go out and make better choices which are just as appealing.

For most people there are “cheat days”–birthdays, Christmas, important family gatherings, Thanksgiving.

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