7 Simple Ways to Avoid Weekend Weight Gain

By Mel Thomassian (RD)

Do you spend the weekend unwinding a little too much, only to find come Monday morning the needle on your weighing scales isn’t quite as favourable as you’d hoped?

According to researchers our eating habits change quite dramatically at weekends, particularly as we reach for more alcoholic beverages and calorie-dense foods. If this is the case for you it can certainly be very easy to gain weight over time.A study published in the journal Obesity reports, “Statistically significant dietary intake differences occur for different days of the week.” Researchers found that 19 to 50 years olds take in 115 calories per day more on the weekend in comparison to weekdays.

While that may seem like a small amount, over the course of a year it could add up to nearly 18,000 extra calories.

How to Prevent Weekend Weight Gain:

1. Be Consistent
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that those who successfully lose weight and keep it off long term are consistent in their eating and exercise routine, regardless of which day of the week it is. In fact, these participants were 1.5 times more likely to maintain their weight within 5 pounds over the subsequent year, than those who dieted more strictly on weekdays.

So, the message is clear, try to maintain good eating habits every day and you’ll see results.

2. Get A Move On
If you want to keep your weekends as stress free as possible try finding active ways to relax, rather than vegging out in front of the TV. Good alternatives include cycling, team sports, swimming, or even window shopping.

Look for as many opportunities as possible to move a bit more. This way any extra calories you do take in over the weekend will be offset by the increased activity.

3. Stock Up On Healthy Food
Don’t give yourself the excuse to eat poorly over the weekend by making sure your kitchen is well supplied with wholesome food. If you need to, check your fridge and pantry on Friday morning so that you can drop by the store on your way home to re-stock for the weekend ahead.

4. Start As You Mean To Go On
Get your weekend off to a good start by having breakfast. This will help you to naturally eat fewer calories during the day, and if your week’s normally pretty busy, it can be a great time for the whole family to enjoy each others company without feeling rushed.

5. Don’t Go Hungry
If you normally eat out on the weekends try to avoid skipping meals during the day to “save up for later.” This normally backfires, and you end up eating way more than you would if you’d simply eaten normally throughout the day. Instead, go for a few lighter meals earlier in the day to keep you going until later – this will help take the edge off your hunger, which means it’ll be easier to avoid overeating.

If you’re still concerned about overeating, choose a bowl of leafy green salad or vegetable soup as your entrée, then go for a lighter meal with plenty of vegetables, and share dessert or simply finish with a freshly brewed coffee.

6. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
It’s a well known fact that most alcoholic drinks are pretty heavy on the calories, so try to keep it to moderate amounts. In fact, cutting out just one drink could save you 150-plus calories (depending on the drink of course).

7. Keep Your Goals In Mind
Try to keep your lifestyle goals in mind over the weekend, but don’t get too obsessed – the weekend should be a time to relax, unwind and enjoy yourself!

Remember, it’s okay to make an occasional splurge. And, if your weekend doesn’t quite go to plan, tomorrow is a new day! There’s no need to give up altogether even if you’ve had your second or third bad weekend in a row.

Instead, try to get back on track quickly by having a healthy breakfast, bringing your lunch from home, snacking on whole foods, and making time for exercise after work.

What are your weekend survival tips?


  1. Laura

    I am very disciplined all week with food, so I do usually allow some kind of treat on the weekend. I couldn’t stick to my weekday diet if I didn’t.

  2. medimanage

    Great post and it really hits the spot for me. The reason I lost weight is because I started to pay attention to what I was eating and why. My weight gain was when I lost touch with this natural focus. Insightful and on the mark, thank you.
    There is a difference in being slim and being underweight. Being underweight means being unhealthy and malnourished.

  3. James

    Shift your thinking to think of the weekend as an opportunity to eat healthier! You have time to try out some new healthy recipes, and you can plan and prepare some healthy lunches to take into work the next week!

    This can be a great kickstart to a healthier lifestyle!

    To your health!
    James Reno (editor)

  4. 2eatwellRD

    Great ideas! Especially #7, jump right back into healthy habits as soon as possible — one or two setbacks don’t ruin the whole next week!

  5. Abhishek

    This is really helpful post..I also have this tendency to gain weight during the weekend as I sleep, eat out and spend most of the time in front of TV watching movies and all….These tips will be really helpful for me….

  6. Heather

    Races or long runs on weekends– I usually end up eating less and exercising more 🙂

  7. Jody - Fit at 51

    I know people that eat a lot more calories on the weekend than the article states. They ruin all their hard work during the week. Plus, drinking usually leads to more eating.

    Me, I don’t do a whole day or even weekend thing. I tend to eat healthy the whole day & allow a big ole cookie or something like that. OR, eat healthy but maybe do one meal out….. I keep to my exercise routine as well. I really think about how much it would take to work off what I am putting in my mouth!

  8. Ann

    This seems very counterintuitive to me. I am usually much more active on a weekend day than I am on a weekday (desk job), plus I get a bit more sleep, so I’m less likely to turn to food for a boost of energy (or boredom at work).

  9. Spectra

    I don’t drink any more on the weekends than I do during the week, so that tip doesn’t really apply to me. I do try to get a little extra exercise in on the weekends, though…sometimes I’ll add a long walk with my husband or a nice bike ride or something. 115 calories isn’t that hard to offset if you’re careful. You just have to keep track of what goes in and what goes out.

  10. drh1966

    An extra 115 calories per day on the weekend seems awfully low. That’s a beer or a handful of chips. Seems to me, people who do this are consuming much more than 115 extra calories. I’d guess its closer to several hundred.

  11. Trainer Shauna

    I agree, number 6 is so important! I know for me, if I have one too many on the weekend, I’ll end up eating double cheese nachos and pizza because I have drank away my self control. lol.

  12. Mike

    Point #6 is very good advice. Though I don’t really worry about the calories from the beer I worry about the hangover, the lack of focus and drifting away from my goals the next day.