The Biggest Causes of Weekend Weight Gain, According to a Nutritionist
Here's how your scale is leading you astray, she says.
It's not uncommon for a weekend of rest and relaxation to result in a couple extra pounds of body weight. Yet Taylor Grasso, RD, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and content creator, says that when you gain weight in two days' time, you should always be skeptical of the scale.
"In order to gain one pound of fat, you would have to eat 3,500 calories over your maintenance calories," Grasso explains in a recent TikTok video. "Now, I'm not very good at math… but that's a lot of calories that you would have to consume to gain a couple of pounds of fat over the weekend. You likely did not consume that many calories, and likely did not gain fat over the weekend."
Instead, Grasso says that the rising scale may actually reflect a more temporary weight gain, triggered by a few key habits that are more common on the weekends. Wondering what could be causing the scale to climb? These are the four biggest causes of weekend weight gain, according to the nutritionist.
You ate more sodium than normal.
According to Grasso, the first habit that could be causing weekend weight gain is eating foods that contain more sodium than you would normally. This can lead to water retention, which can cause the scale to climb without you actually gaining any fat. Besides noticing extra pounds on the scale, you may also notice bloating or swelling when a sodium spike is to blame.
While a temporary increase in sodium is unlikely to shift the scales long-term, it's important to note that diets that are consistently high in sodium do appear to trigger an increase in fat over time, research shows. A low-sodium diet, on the other hand, can help you maintain good heart health, lowering your risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
You ate more carbohydrates than normal.
With a "massive bowl of pasta" in hand, Grasso explains that an increase in carbs could also be behind your weekend weight gain—and that this is no cause for concern.
"Carbohydrates do not, themselves, cause you to gain weight. Eating any food or calories in excess could potentially cause you to gain weight," she explains. "With carbohydrates, they actually break down into glucose, which is then stored in your musculature as a glycogen, and glycogen holds onto water. So if you find yourself consuming more carbohydrates on the weekends, you're likely going to hold onto more water, which is going to cause that scale to go up on Monday."
You consumed more alcohol than normal.
You'll also want to consider whether you consumed more alcohol over the weekend than you normally do during the week. If so, this could definitely be the culprit behind your two-day weight gain.
Grasso explains that this is because alcohol can cause your body to become dehydrated. As your body attempts to counteract this effect, you may end up retaining water, while also feeling "inflamed and bloated," the dietitian says.
Your normal body functions are swaying the scale.
Your body's natural functions and rhythms may also cause a temporary change on the scale, Grasso says. She notes that women commonly gain weight before or during menstruation and that even one or two days of reduced bathroom frequency can cause weight gain in both men and women.
"Though the scale can be a great objective measure of progress, it should not be your only form of progress because there are so many factors—especially for us as females—which can influence what that scale number says," she explains.
Here's what to do about your weekend weight gain.
To anyone who's stressing over the scale, Grasso has a fairly simple solution. "I would love for you to throw it away but I know most of you won't be doing that," she says, before offering an alternative. "Take a little break from it, reflect on the fact that your weight does not equate to your worth, make sure that you are continuing to nourish your body today. Prioritize protein, prioritize vegetables, and make sure you're drinking lots of water," she advises.
Grasso adds that it's important not to let a slight uptick on the scale push you into reactive dieting or body negativity: "Focus on your core routine, focus on taking care of your body, and realize that there are a lot of things that can impact weight outside of just gaining fat in two days."
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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.