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Updated: November 3, 2012 17:02 IST

No more weekend woes

CHARU DUA
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Eat wisely and well. Photo: K.R. Deepak
The Hindu Eat wisely and well. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Enjoy your weekend indulgences without the spectre of weight gain haunting you.

For 27-year-old Shikha Malhotra, a call centre manager, weekends are not just a breather but also the only time she has a normal life. “As soon as I step out of office on Friday, my friends call and we usually go to our favourite hangout where we eat, drink and talk. I sleep for about 12-13 hours,” she says.

Although this helps replenish her stamina for the next week, she also feels guilty at having wasted a week’s effort of sticking to a strict diet and workout regimen. “Weekend bingeing washes out all my hard work during the working days. For years, I haven’t been able to get into half my wardrobe, but I don’t seem to be able to do much about this.”

Rising trend

Lately, the trend of weekend bingeing is making a significant contribution to the rising obesity problem. Many people control their diet throughout the working week and splurge on high-calorie foods and drinks during weekends. This upsets their calorie intake balance and makes them eat even more, leading to excessive weight gain in the long term. Luckily most do realise the ill effects almost immediately but don’t know what to do. “Is there any way out?” asks Soumya, a 25-year-old executive.

Experts believe that drastic changes in lifestyle and eating habits, at least in the long term, is very difficult to achieve. A restrictive fitness regimen rarely ensures adherence. If people control their diet on weekdays, they tend to let go during the weekends. This nullifies all the effort, leading to frustration and disappointment.

The solution is not to focus on diet control. Instead try to bring changes in the body metabolism. Interestingly, all those who have a tendency to put on weight usually have low basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the amount of energy we spend while doing nothing. This means that if your BMR is high then you will burn more calories even while sitting still. If your BMR is low then you might burn an equal number of calories only after some brisk walking or similar physical activity. BMR is also directly linked with muscle mass. Crash dieting and cutting down on food (without nutritional counselling) might lead to muscle loss and could lower BMR further leading to long-term weight gain.

The effective management of weekend bingeing is not at all difficult if you can keep your BMR high through the day and keep yourselves full with some high-fibre food. This will allow you to enjoy your favourite weekend indulgences without the spectre of weight gain haunting your conscience.

Quick tips

Increase BMR by having small frequent meals, exercising and having bioactive components in food like flavonoids.

Go for a low calorie nutritionally rich diet.

Include fibre rich foods that help control hunger pangs.

Drink lots of water. Avoid carbonated drinks.

Avoid fried food and bakery products.

Control fat intake. All fats, good or bad, contribute 9 kcal/gm.

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