Weekend Weight Gain: How to Break the Cycle

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weekend weight gain

Does this sound familiar? Lose weight during the week. Gain it back on the weekend.

Rinse, repeat, and you have a lot of frustration that can often lead to you quitting your diet completely.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails and questions over this common phenomena. People ask me why this happens and what they can do to stop the cycle of weekend weight gain.

Why Do You Gain Weight Every Weekend?

There are a several reasons for weekend weight gain but the most common is that you are eating more calories than you should be.

I understand this tendency, because you might feel as though you deserve to eat more after being “good” for five whole days. That’s what usually happened to me.

I’d suffer through my diet from Monday through Friday and then head to Weight Watchers for my Saturday morning weigh-in. Right after the weigh-in I’d swing through McDonald’s for a quick sausage biscuit and a few hash browns. Later that day I’d eat a big lunch, have a big snack, eat a bigger dinner, and have some dessert after that big dinner.

That certainly didn’t help my weight loss efforts because even if I had lost a pound during the week, I gained it right back over the weekend. After a few weeks of this, I’d quit.

So, feeling deprived definitely contributes to weekend weight gain. Another reason is that you may spend time socializing with friends and family and that almost always involves food. It’s easy to throw your diet out the window when faced with your favorite foods and friends who like to see you eat.

Stop the Cycle of Weekend Weight Gain

Only you can stop the cycle of weekend weight gain. When I lost weight the final time I tried to ignore the calendar. Of course I knew when it was the weekend, but I consciously tried to keep doing the same things I had done during the week when it came to healthy eating.

If we went out to dinner, I made careful choices. If we did something with friends, I didn’t overeat and wasn’t afraid to tell someone “No, I don’t want that.”

I exercised at least one day over the weekend as a way to keep myself focused and burn a few calories. It didn’t hurt that the weekends were the times when I didn’t have to exercise at the crack of dawn. :)

Other things I did to avoid that frustrating cycle of weekend weight gain was to keep busy, not bake, and weigh myself. I know that a lot of people don’t like to weigh everyday, but it’s always been a good strategy for me.

If you are frustrated with always gaining weight over the weekend, don’t give up! It is not easy to break this habit, but it is certainly possible. The important thing to remember is that once you hit weight maintenance, you will need to maintain your weight through the weekend or else you will begin to gain weight.

Have you ever experienced weekend weight gain? How did you break the cycle? Diane


  1. Mandy Cat says

    I’ve been retired for more than five years and I STILL find myself in the weekend versus weekday mindset. It helps to make Monday your official weigh-in day.

  2. says

    Hi Diane,
    Great topic. I’m going to second your statement that when losing weight, it’s important to keep maintenance in mind. What you’re doing now, you’ll have to keep doing. It’s critical to make sure the changes you’re making now will be lifelong strategies that you can sustain.

    I have more time on the weekends, so I try to save Saturday or Sunday for my long run. Although those are the days/nights that I have more time to watch TV – not over-doing the snacking at the same time is my challenge!
    Tracy recently posted…Whatcha got cookin’?My Profile

  3. says

    I tend to splurge just a tiny bit on the weekend, by splurge I mean one chocolate chip cookie or dinner at a restaurant where I chose mainly healthy options, or a starbucks… Something like that but I don’t go crazy and every Saturday I do a 5-10 mile run. With all that said I am Abel to maintain my weight loss, I think it’s okay to treat yourself on occasion. But tht works for me and I know everyone is different. Doing what you describes Diane I think would sabataoge anyone weight loss efforts, even with a 5-10 mile run, I think avoiding binge eating is the key, which I know is so hard!! Practice makes perfect.

  4. says

    I have experienced weekend weight gain, but not for a while. My worse time for gaining (or turtling), is when I have company in the house over the holidays or during school breaks. I still struggle with putting everyone who stays over on the same diet I’m on, and don’t quite know how to address that. My most recent stay-over experience began with lots of good intentions on my part, but went downhill when I felt those old uncomfortable feelings about being hostess to a house full. I’ve never been good at that. :(
    L recently posted…Black Beans, Bypass, and SpringMy Profile

  5. says

    Weekends can be a mine field, but I am very alert as to what I’m eating over the weekend, so I don’t gain. A post that I would find helpful, and maybe others too, would be to cover what I’m experiencing right now. I am at the weight loss point where I’ve been several times before…and gained it all back. Right now. I’m feeling very vulnerable. I’ve gained my weight back for a variety of reasons, but what’s important is – I’m at that spot right now. I’d love to know if you ever experienced that and what you did to soldier on. Thanks, Diane!
    BlessedMama recently posted…GR’s 14th Birthday!My Profile

  6. says

    I do eat more on the weekend usually but I do count my calories and count my WW points and record them so I stay overall within my plan. I posted the other day on my blog about this study:
    Basically they found that people who weighed the most on the weekend and but weighed less during the week tended to be the people who lost weight. The one’s who didn’t show that reduction during the week didn’t lose weight. That might seem counter-intuitive but I can see why that would be. If I eat more on the weekend, when I’m losing weight, my weight does temporarily go up on the weekend and right after it. But, if I’m then careful the rest of the week, my weight goes down and hits its lowest point when I weigh in at WW on Friday. And, I do this every week.

    When I’m not following my weight loss program, though, I overeat the entire week and so my weight doesn’t go down during the week and stays the same or, even worse, goes up over the course of the week.

    So, I think eating more on the weekend is fine as long as you stay within your overall plans for the week and you compensate for it on the other days of the week.
    Kitty recently posted…Friday Weigh-In 2/28/14My Profile

  7. says

    I eat basically the same calories 7 days a week but on the week-end I try to change my foods a little.For example instead of my usual scrambled eggs with spinach and whole wheat toast with greek yogurt, I will have whole wheat pancakes with greek yogurt and pb2. I’ve done this for 4 years in maintenance and it works for me. Diane, I know you are a power walker like me, and I easily walk 3 miles a day now but I do remember when Sunday was considered my “long” day (3 miles) and it makes me smile!

  8. says

    I know a lot of people who think that a cheat day is fine. I also used to think like this also but it will all snowball to going back to your bad eating habits. I am now more focused and disciplined on my diet and exercise even if it the Holidays.

    It’s kind of hard at first but once you notice the difference, you will really get the hang of it.
    Jenny recently posted…Yacon Syrup: The Holy Grail For Weight LossMy Profile

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