Understanding weekly fluctuations can help maximize weight loss

Researchers at Cornell have uncovered a natural weekly rhythm in weight changes that can help maintain a stable weight or even increase the benefits of a weight-loss program. They analyzed daily weight measurements in 80 people over a period of 15 to 330 days, and found that weight typically increased from Saturday through Monday and decreased from Tuesday through Friday.

The effect was strongest for people who maintained or lost weight and weakest for people whose weight gradually went up. The researchers conclude that it isn’t how much we gain over the weekend, but how much we compensate over the rest of the week that really matters to achieving a healthy weight. This kind of flexible eating pattern allows people to indulge over the weekend but then recover from minor weight gain, rather than “falling off the wagon” entirely.

The authors of the study propose that coaching people to understand these fluctuations and taking a long-term view of weight management could help them find more success in their weight loss efforts. And with the number of obese Americans exceeding 90 million and on the rise, this kind of strategy could be just what the doctor ordered.

(Source: Obesity Facts, 2014; 7: 36.)

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