Can You Gain 10 Pounds in a Weekend?

Can You Gain 10 pounds in a Weekend

Many of us try our best to achieve or maintain a healthy diet. We try hard to stick to an exercise program. But there will always be days when you consume ridiculous amounts of food, especially on weekends. And this begs the question, can you gain 10 pounds in a weekend?

Can You Gain 10 Pounds in a WeekendAnd it’s okay if you blow it on the weekend, because we are all bound to go overboard sometimes! Even those of us who are very serious about our health and fitness still have cheat days. So don’t feel guilty. But many people wonder, “Can you gain 10 pounds in a weekend?”

Let’s make the following reasonable assumptions, and then do the math on calories to find out if we can really gain 10 pounds in one weekend.

Assume you burn 2,500 calories each day in your 3-day weekend (which assumes a lot of sitting around for a weekend). So we are using a conservative number.

Let’s assume you really pig out all 3 days – Friday, Saturday, Sunday:

  • Huge Breakfast – 1,500 calories (5 eggs, bacon, home fries, 3 pieces of toast)
  • Big Lunch – 2,000 calories (Double cheeseburger, fries, chocolate shake)
  • Afternoon Snack – 1,200 calories (15 Oreo cookies)
  • Lots of Alcohol with old friends – 1,200 calories
  • Huge Dinner – 2,000 calories (Lasagna, Garlic Bread, Pasta Salad)
  • Dessert – 1,000 calories (Chocolate cake with ice cream)

TOTAL DAILY CALORIES: 8,900 (and this is a CRAZY binge!)
CALORIE EXCESS: 6,400 calories x 3 days = 19,200 calories
19,200 / 3,500 = 5.5 pounds

So even if you pigged out the entire weekend – and that is an enormous amount of pigging out – you would gain 5.5 pounds of actual fat. And eating that much junk would be more miserable than dieting!

So How Much Weight Can You Gain in a Weekend?

To gain 1 pound of body fat, you need to consume 3,500 calories more than you burn. So you need to have a calorie excess of 3,500 calories to gain a pound of fat, whether it’s over 1 day or 1 week.
3,500 calories = 1 pound of body fat
Even if you really overeat from your normal intake, it would likely be in the range of 1,000-2,000 excess calories per day. So for a 3-day weekend, that would be a total body fat gain for the weekend of only 1-2 pounds.

A group of researchers from Virginia State University asked men to eat an extra 1,000 calories every day for eight weeks. By the end of that period, the men had gained an average of 11 extra pounds. That is 11 pounds after eight weeks of indulging in too much food. So, no matter how much you overeat this weekend, it’s nearly impossible to gain 10 pounds. (1)

What happens when you overeat for one weekend?

Cheat DaysAfter a weekend of consuming junk foods or foods containing simple carbs, your body will retain water. The high sodium and carbohydrate content causes an increase in fluid retention in the body. And that’s why you feel bloated and bulky. It’s nearly all extra water weight, and not actual body fat that you have gained. But it feels much the same, and your clothes will certainly get tight.

Junk food lacks vitamins, minerals, and fiber and only provides you with immediate energy. As a result, your blood sugar and moods are altered. That is why 20 to 30 minutes after overeating, you feel the need to take a nap. The weekend binge can also make you feel sluggish into the next week. (2)

The Solution to Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

Healthy FoodsThe next time you overindulge over the weekend and are shocked to discover that you are a few pounds heavier, keep in mind that it’s mostly water  weight. Simply focus on getting back to eating healthy, and your body will bounce back within a few days. Incorporate more superfoods including fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole and natural foods in your diet and cut on foods that are high in sodium and carbohydrates.

And don’t feel guilty! Everyone has cheat days, and even cheat weekends. We are all human, and we all have food cravings.

And if you’re wondering what your baseline calorie burn is in a given day, click to find out with our BMR Calculator. This calculator estimates you daily calories burned on a typical day based on your current height, weight, and activity level.

The key is to get back on your healthy diet as soon as your weekend ends. It’s not easy, but you’ll be glad you did! You will return to your healthy weight within a few days, once the extra water has dropped.

You Won’t Gain 10 Pounds of Fat in a Weekend!

Don’t be scared to indulge in great food sometimes. Cheat days are perfectly fine…and necessary for your mental sanity. After all, can you gain 10 pounds in a weekend anyway? No, you really can’t, and it would take a concerted effort to even try. 

Keep in mind that nearly all of that weight gain is actually retained water, and so even though your pants don’t fit and you appear to have gained a lot of weight, the damage is only a fraction of what you think! And it’s easily fixable with a few days of clean nutrition!

Click to return to more diet and nutrition.

David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. Ballantyne, C. (2018). Can you gain 10 pounds in a weekend? Men’s Health.
  2. Van De Walle, G. (2019). Should You Completely Avoid Junk Food? Healthline.

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