How Could You Have Gained So Much Weight over the Weekend?

woman on scale


How many of you gained weight over the holiday weekend? Probably quite few (if you dare to get on the scale!). Let’s say the scale jumped up 3 pounds from Friday to Monday morning. Could you really have gained 3 pounds in 3 days? Is is possible to have really gained so much weight over the weekend?

Is it possible to gain 3 pounds of fat in 3 days? Probably not … unless you were eating massive amounts of food!  While the exact “formula” is debatable, it takes approximately an extra 3500 calories to promote a one pound weight gain of fat. So does this mean you ate an extra 10,500 calories over the weekend (in addition to the calories your body needs to maintain its weight)?  I guess it would be possible, but that is a lot of eating! Chances are that most of your Monday morning weight gain is due to fluid retention.

Causes of rapid weight gain in a few days

Your body is made up of about 60-65% water. Any increase in carbohydrate or sodium intake will cause your body to hold on to water. For example, lets say your normal diet is moderate in carbs. Then you overindulged on the weekend like carb-rich foods like bagels, pasta and dessert.  Your body does several things with these carbs:

1. some is used for immediate energy
2. much of it goes into energy stores in the liver and muscles.
3. some is stored as fat

man and woman running The muscles and liver store carbohydrate in a form called glycogen. These stores provide your body with energy as time goes on. Runners try to fill up their glycogen stores by eating pasta on the night before the marathon. They want to stuff their energy stores full of stored carbs to be used as energy during the race. Now here is the catch – in order to hold the carbohydrate in storage, your body needs to hold onto water. For each gram of carbohydrate, your body needs to hold onto 3 grams of water. This technical stuff may not mean much to you, but basically eating extra carbs will cause a temporary weight gain due to fluid retention. As the days go by and you go back to your normal diet, your body will release the water and you will lose a few pounds on the scale.

Keep in mind that consuming any nutrient – whether it be carbs, protein or fat – in excess of your caloric needs – will cause weight gain. It just looks like carbs cause more of a weight gain because of the fluid retention.

Don’t worry – you can get those weekend pounds off quickly!

grilled chicken on saladTips to speed the loss of your weekend weight gain:

  1. Follow a 3 day low carb diet. Here are 2 simple meal plans (pick one):
    Breakfast: (pick one)
    -2 eggs scrambled with veggies
    -1 cup low sodium cottage cheese and 1/2 cup berries
    – plain Greek yogurt + 2 T. pumpkin seeds
    Lunch: (pick one)
    – Big salad with 4 oz turkey, plain tuna or grilled chicken, 1 T. oil and unlimited lemon or vinegar
    – 4 oz grilled chicken, fish or lean meat, 2 cups veggies sautéed with 1 T. oil
    Snack: 15 almonds or a string chees
    Dinner: (pick one)
    – 6 oz lean meat, fish or poultry, large portion veggies, 1 T. oil
    – Steamed Chinese chicken/shrimp tofu and veggies, 3 T. sauce on the side
    Snack: 25 pistachios or 1/4 cup guacamole + veggies
  2. Limit your sodium intake
  3. woman drinking waterDrink at least 10 cups of water a day
  4. Exercise 30-60 minutes a day

Your weekend weight gain will be off in no time! Keep in mind that the goal here is to prevent a weekday starve weekend binge cycle. This not healthy physically or psychologically. While it is nice to take a break from always watching what you eat, the key should still be moderation on the weekends. More about this at a later post.

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