After a week of spartan lunches, rigorous workouts, and sleep-depriving presentations, it's easy to feel you've earned a happy hour margarita and a plate of cheesy nachos. But topping off a tough week in this way can undo all your hard work and even pack on the pounds. According to a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, women consume about 115 more calories on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday than they do on weekdays. "Those extra 300 to 400 calories can leave you 9 pounds heavier by the year's end," says Barry Popkin, Ph.D., the study's lead author. Fortunately, when armed with the right advice, it's possible to avoid the most common dietary traps while savoring that delicious downtime. And you may even wake up on Monday a little slimmer. Not a bad way to start the week!
Overdoing It at Happy Hour
Alcohol isn't only high in calories, it also diminishes resolve—making it harder to keep your hands out of the pretzel bowl.
Your Slim-Down Solution
Pass on the two-for-one specials and skip the dessert-like drinks—which can contain 500 calories or more—and opt for a tart, spicy, or strongly flavored beverage instead. "You'll sip a Bloody Mary or Scotch more slowly than a frozen daiquiri," says Keri Gans, R.D., a New York City spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Another key factor to consider is where you sit, says Bonnie Taub- Dix, R.D., a dietitian in New York City. Position yourself right in front of the free bar snacks and you're tempting fate. It's a good idea to eat when you drink, but the calories in peanuts, chips, and buffalo wings can add up fast. A better strategy: Order an appetizer, or even a meal, says Taub-Dix. Chicken satay (92 calories each), bruschetta (100 calories a slice), and vegetarian chili (89 calories per cup) will take the edge off your hunger.