Are you finding yourself constantly "eating healthy" but you can't seem to lose more body fat and achieve the physique you desire?
You may be experiencing what I call - The Weekend Paradigm. This concept may very well explain why you seem to be constantly "dieting to no avail, and in today's blog I explain it to you and how to overcome it.
One of the biggest misconceptions around calories that gets people stuck, is the belief that your daily caloric control is all that matters. This is actually not exactly true. The REAL truth is that weekly calories are JUST AS (if not more) important when it comes to achieving body composition changes.
If you want to succeed then you NEED to be looking at your weekly caloric control AS WELL as your daily calories. And with that let me introduce a concept I coined to help my clients reframe their strategy more effectively. Today I’m teaching it to you so you can gain more direction with your flexible dieting plan.
Introducing - The Weekend Paradigm.
This concept illustrates why total weekly calorie management is important, by explaining how the weekend can (and commonly does), offset your calorie deficits and prevent you from getting consistent weight loss results.
What Is The Weekend Paradigm?
Tell me if this scenario sounds even vaguely familiar:
You eat healthy Monday to Friday. You “eat clean” (I hate that phrase BTW) Monday to Friday. You don’t drink alcohol…(you guessed it) Monday to Friday.
Basically you feel like all week you are eating right and doing what “should work” to lose weight but the weight isn’t budging for weeks and weeks. Perhaps even months. And you can’t figure out why it isn’t working.
“WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?!” You may have exhaustingly asked yourself numerous times. Sound familiar yet?
Well, it may be that your nutrition and calorie awareness isn’t quite up to scratch. More specifically, the weekend may not be accounted for. That is what the weekend paradigm aims to explain.
The Weekend Paradigm = the phenomenon that occurs when you overeat calories on the weekend to such an extent, that the total weekly calories cease to be in a caloric deficit.
As I keep mentioning, total weekly calories play a part. Even if your daily calories are in check Monday to Friday. Week in, week out. If your weekend calories are VERY HIGH (not talking a cheat meal here and there), then that can override the deficits created on the other days.
Furthermore, if this is a regular occurrence then you will not be in a calorie deficit week after week, and this is when you stagnate and find yourself spinning your wheels. It starts with awareness - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.
Am I Living The Paradigm?
Now that you know what the weekly paradigm is, you may be wondering how you yourself can truly assess and determine if the reason for your weight loss woes is The Weekend Paradigm (after all there can be numerous different reasons to explain plateaus).
Luckily for you, it’s actually a lot easier than you think. Assessing whether your weekends are the ones leading you astray starts with acknowledging that it COULD be a possibility - as most of us live day in day out going through the motions and not reflecting on our process and strategy nor the specifics of our nutrition. And we tend to be oblivious to the obstacles staring us in the face.
So here is what you do:
Step 1: Start tracking your food intake on My Fitness Pal (or similar app), if you haven’t already been doing so (if you already track consistently then skip to step 3).
Step 2: Track consistently for 4 weeks (even on weekends - especially on weekends) but make sure you aren’t consciously changing what you are eating (we have a tendency to do this as a way to justify ourselves - human response).
Step 3: Audit your app calorie logs and look at what your weekend calories are doing - look for basic trends at this point to see if the weekends tend to be more ‘calorie heavy’.
Step 4: Grab your daily calorie target and multiply by 7. This will give you your weekly calorie target.
Step 5: Add up your daily calories for each week and compare this data to your weekly calculated target.
If your weekly calories turn out to be more than 10% over your calculated target weekly calories, your weekends are the “high calorie days”, and this happened at least 2 of the 4 weeks - then you can say that you are likely being influenced by The Weekend Paradigm.
Make sense? Please get in touch if you want more insight from me personally. I want to help you out.
Ok, so what should you do if you have now discovered the weekend is leading you astray?
Well time to dial down your approach, refine your strategy and get a whole lot more consistent with your tracking. This starts with the above audit then continues with weekly planning and reflection.
Each week you should be planning out meals as you usually do, but extend it to the weekend as well. You don’t need to be rigid here as that defeats the purpose of flexible dieting and also may burn you out. However, you want to at least plan some meals and be conscious of total calorie intake.
However, the number one strategy you can’t pass by is literally starting to track and then proactively tracking calories on the weekend too. Even if you eat mostly high-calorie foods, still track. The name of the game is calorie control. Obviously, as you get more seasoned you can be more flexible and relaxed but as a beginner, your power is in the level of consistency and control in your technique and method.
As you can see, the reality is that awareness is not an intrinsic human ability and we all need help at some point or another. In fact, I have a saying that goes: Everyone can benefit from tracking their food once in their life. However, if you have or have had a history of eating disorders then please DO NOT go down this road.
If you haven’t been tracking and you feel you eat healthily, but the results seem more distant than Hogwarts…then perhaps it’s time to consider using it (even for the short term).
Time to dust off My Fitness Pal and see if the weekend has been pulling a sly one on ya! Once you have that awareness you can easily address it. As the saying goes: once you know what the problem is, the solution becomes clear.
I do hope this blog post has been helpful in getting you to think about your nutrition in a different way. While it may seem so logical and simple, many of us tend to disregard the weekend food intake as we naturally want to “relax”. However, as you now know the reality is that it's structured flexibility that underpins the flexible macro approach - not random flexibility without awareness.
That is why the Flexible Macro System works. It embraces food freedom but does it in a way that considers behavioural change and structure as a means to dial down nutrition for the desired result.
Awareness is inevitable when my approach is implemented properly - that is why clients overcome the weekend paradigm and regain control over their food without sucking the fun from the weekend. Even I live by what I coach.
If you want to see for yourself, how the Flexible Macro System can help you become the athlete you want to be. Become the athlete who can eat any food and still lose fat and gain muscle. Eat any food and still perform better. Then let’s chat to see if you are the right fit.
If you are an athlete or weekend warrior who wants to elevate their nutrition so that you can elevate your results and performance, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me the following:
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Accredited Sports Dietitian
Hi there! My name's Aleksa Gagic - i'm a Brisbane Dietitian & Nutritionist. The aim of this blog is to provide value and spread quality evidence-based nutrition information to counter the BS floating around.