Of course you try your very best to stick to a relatively healthy diet and exercise plan. But some days, you’re bound to go overboard—after all, you’re only human. Perhaps it’s that time of the month and you just can’t stop munching; perhaps you had one too many margs at happy hour and find yourself housing enough tacos at dinner to win an eating contest; or perhaps you’re so overtired that you double up on breakfast because your stomach feels like a bottomless pit. Point is, everyone overindulges on occasion. But while it’s easy to freak out and think you “blew your diet,” don’t—because you didn’t. We asked Samantha Cassetty, R.D., M.S., nutrition director at Luvo, just how much weight you can realistically gain in one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad (eating) day. And it turns out, you’d have to take in a ridiculous amount of food to gain even just a pound in one day.

“It’s virtually impossible to gain weight overnight, even if you really blew it on bar food,” says Cassetty. “The reason comes down to calorie math. Though it’s not 100 percent precise, the basic principle stands true: In order to gain weight, you’d have to eat 3,500 more calories than you typically eat and burn off to maintain your figure.” So let’s say you eat 2,000 calories per day on a normal day. You’d have to eat 3,500 additional calories, totaling 5,500 calories, to gain a single pound. And that’s not even taking any physical activity into account.

Can you recreate bar food with celery? We gave it a try:

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What does 3,500 calories look like, exactly? “To get 3,500 more calories, you could eat your regular diet and then also have three glasses of wine (370 calories), two chicken wings (110 calories), some onion rings (340 calories), a portion of chips and queso (290 calories), one burger with the works (860 calories), and a slice of chocolate cake (795 calories). That’s a lot of food—and you haven’t even hit the mark yet!” says Cassetty.

There’s even more scientific evidence that it’s pretty hard to gain real weight after one day of overeating: “Although people typically say they gain five to 10 pounds over the six-week holiday period, the best study to date, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that, on average, most people gained just one,” says Cassetty. “Fewer than 10 percent of the study participants actually gained more than five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.”

Of course, a bad diet day could leave you feeling incredibly bloated and just “ugh” the next day. “But as long as you course correct the next day—i.e., you eat responsibly and get back to your fitness routine—you’ll keep the real pounds from piling on,” says Cassetty. So as you go into the holiday season, remember: It’s okay if you love your mom’s cooking so much that you eat a lot of it. Just don’t make a habit of it, and be sure to stay consistent with your gym routine.

And if you do get off track in a more significant way, check out .

MORE: The 8 Best Bedtime Snacks for Weight Loss

Annie Daly Annie Daly is an NYC-based freelance travel and wellness journalist, and the author of the forthcoming book Destination Wellness, about various healthy living philosophies from around the world.


How Much Weight Can You Gain in a Day?

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s one cocktail too many that leads to a midnight pizza binge, or perhaps you just wanted a taste of something sweet and ended up eating a family size bag of candy. Or maybe you’re just coming out of the holiday season feeling utterly defeated. It happens. But how much damage have you really done? And will you survive the guilt and the food baby?

Here’s a complete scientific breakdown of how much fat you could potentially gain from a day of binging or overeating, and what to do about it.

Want to make sure you stay on track with your goals? Grab this free meal prep toolkit for weight loss. Complete with custom calorie and macro goals, menu planning tools and expert advice!

When a Cheat Meal Gets Out of Hand

The thing to remember is, no one food item can make or break your diet, just as it is pretty difficult to undo a month’s worth of hard work in a day or two. You may end up doing a little damage if you push it too far, but it’s probably not anything that will derail you completely or that can’t be fixed. Plus it’s alright to let your diet get a little off track every now and then. Heck, research suggests it might even help your progress in the long run (1).

Traditional wisdom claims it takes 3,500 calories extra to gain a pound of fat, but you won’t necessarily gain one pound of fat in a day, it usually takes multiple days of excessive intake to increase body fat storage. You will however, likely see the numbers on the scale go up and feel more bloated due to water weight.

Water Weight vs. Fat Weight

Fat gain or muscle gain happens slowly over time, whereas water weight gain can be rapid and more drastic. When you gain fat or muscle, your body has to capture, store and utilize nutrients accordingly – it is not always a simple process and can take days or even weeks. But with water weight, your cells are able to absorb excess water under a variety of circumstances including lack of sleep, high sugar or salt intake, hormones, and even the weather (2,3)

If you’ve found you’ve gained a few pounds overnight or even in a week, it could be that a lot of this weight is coming from changes in fluids (aka water weight or bloating). So take a deep breath and don’t freak out. Just as water weight can be gained quickly, you can lose it quickly to. So get back on track and give your body time to flush it out, the damage may not be as bad as you think.

Will One Cheat Day Ruin Your Diet?

While the benefits of cheat days are widely debated, most of the research on overfeeding involves small sample sizes over a week or more and only looks at sedentary individuals – currently, there is no research looking at effects from one day’s worth of overeating (4).

But, here is what we do know:

Excess Calories Leads to Weight Gain

However, the calorie equation is not a perfect science. The total amount of fat you could potentially gain in a day depends on many factors like your level of activity, metabolism, current body fat percentage, glycogen stores, the types of food you are consuming, and even your genetic make-up (4). One study showed that a higher starting weight could result in more fat accumulation than lean mass, regardless of how quickly weight is gained (5). And one study looking at overfeeding in twins suggested genetic make-up can significantly impact total body fat percentage gain (6).

Eating More, Increases Your Metabolism

But only temporarily. Ever get the meat sweats? Thanks to the thermic effect of food, your body burns calories to physically digest what you consume. And when you digest larger amounts, you use more energy, and generate more “heat” – which can sometimes make you feel physically warmer. The types of foods you eat can determine how much this phenomenon occurs. Protein is the most thermogenic macro, followed by carbohydrates. Fat has little to no thermic effect (7). Unfortunately, the increase in your metabolism is short lived and you will likely return back to your baseline by the next day.

The Type of Food You Eat Could Make a Difference

Research suggests eating more protein and “clean” foods may not cause as much weight gain, specifically body fat gain. In a study looking at thermic effect of processed foods, participants burned twice as many calories digesting more whole foods compared to highly processed options (8).

Macros: Carbs vs. Fat

Some research implies your body can accommodate a lot more carbohydrates than fat. In one study, a 2,000 calorie diet was increased to 4,000 calories per day with 86% of calories from carbs. Even after 7 days of overfeeding, carb oxidation for energy spiked and only 50% of the additional carb calories were stored as fat (9). Compared to a study looking at a small increase of 40g of fat overfeeding on a normal diet, where just about all additional fat intake was stored as fatty tissue (10).

But looking at a review of three studies on overfeeding comparing fats and carbs, there is not a clear difference between fat mass accumulation, and both diets lead to roughly to 60-70% of total weight gain as fat on average (4). A couple of studies suggest there may be a difference between the type of fats and carbs consumed, with saturated fat and sugar promoting more fat storage than unsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates from whole foods (11).

Eat More Protein Instead

Even more interestingly, overfeeding on protein may lead to increased lean mass instead of fat and less weight gain overall. A month-long study looking at 1,000 calorie overfeeding with 20% of calories coming from protein, compared to 10 to 14% calories from protein, resulted in roughly half the amount of fat gain with higher protein intakes (1.1 kg vs. 2.0kg) (12).

So… How Much Weight Will You Gain?

If you’re currently counting your macro intake from the cheat in your head, keep in mind your body has a limited amount of carbohydrate storage capacity – once you go over this you start storing carbs as fat.

The average person can store up to 400 grams of carbs in their muscles and 100 grams in their liver, totaling 2,000 calories of carbs (13). On the flip side, the body has an almost unlimited capacity for storing fat. Protein is stored differently, when consumed it is broken down and used for bodily functions, increasing muscle mass, used for immediate energy or stored as fat.

Breaking it Down:

Let’s assume you are fairly glycogen (or carb) depleted from dieting and will efficiently store almost all of the carbs you consume (up to 90%). And because you are likely active and do not have a large amount of fat to lose, based on the science, roughly 60% of any weight gain would be as body fat.

Will eating 3,500 calories more than your maintenance result in 1 pound of fat gain?

If you ate and drank 3,500 calories over your daily limit, with the following macro breakdown:

  • 2100 calories from carbs = 525 grams of carbs and 60% of you calories from carbs
  • 500 calories from protein = 125 grams of protein and 14% of you calories from protein
  • 900 calories from fat = 133 grams of fat and 25% of you calories from fat

And you did not compensate with added physical activity, the following would theoretically result….

  • 90% of 500 = 450 grams of carbs are stored with water in your muscles and liver.
  • 75 grams of carbs remain.
  • With the additional calories from fat and protein, this equals 1,700 calories towards weight gain.
  • Assuming 60% or 1,020 calories, are converted to fat, you could potentially gain 0.3 pounds of fat.

Bottom Line: While this scenario is not accounting for short term metabolism increase or increased output from higher energy levels, less than 1/3 of a pound of fat for a 3,500 calorie binge is not extremely terrible or irreversible. Nor is it guaranteed science, but just an estimate of what could happen. This calculation also doesn’t include any alcohol intake!

What to Do When You Binge or Overeat

While potential fat gain is one thing, going way overboard on your cheats can also drain your energy, dampen your mood and make you feel pretty bloated/icky. Luckily with a little time and patience, most of this will subside. But if you are looking for a few quick tips to soften the blow and getting you feeling back to normal sooner, here are some easy ways to bounce back.

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Even though you are probably retaining water, it still helps to keep flushing your system. Staying hydrated will prevent you from storing any more water weight and may help balance your mood and your appetite (14,15).

2. Get Some Sleep

Clock in a little earlier each night to get some additional rest. Sleep is not only important for maintaining energy levels, a better mood and overall recovery, it might also impact your fluid balance (16). Not to mention poor sleep is associated with weight gain in some people (17).

3. Eat Foods That Decrease Bloating

Just like water, fiber is a great way to flush the system and… ahem, get things moving again. But it is possible to get too much of a good thing and if you overdo, especially on insoluble fiber foods, you might end up making yourself more bloated and gassy. Instead opt for foods that help combat your bloat like spinach, parsley, celery, or lemon. You can also try omega-rich fish, like salmon, or probiotics.

You can also cut out artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, stop chewing gum and remember to eat and drink your food slowly to prevent sucking in any more excess air.

4. Exercise

No better way to drop some guilt and excess water than with a good sweat sesh. Not to mention, exercise can help improve your mood and energy levels. For bonus relief, add a short stint in the sauna after your workout.

5. Balance Your Electrolytes

By cutting your salt and sugar intake and increasing your intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Salt and sugar cause you to store more water, whereas other electrolytes help balance you out. For potassium try fruits and veggies, for calcium try low fat yogurt, and for magnesium try pumpkin seeds or spinach.

Get Back on Track

Take control of your diet and lose weight with a meal plan that fits your personalized macro goals and food preferences using meal prep. Get started today with this free RD-written guide, complete with calorie and macro goals, food lists, and menu planning tools designed to keep you on track.

Ready to drop the weight and the excuses?

Here’s why you need to stop worrying about vacation weight gain

  • Lots of people worry about gaining weight while on vacation.
  • But it’s good to remember that weight is not the only indicator of good health.
  • Registered dietitian Emily Fonnesbeck told INSIDER that weight naturally fluctuates all the time, and that a short period of indulgent eating won’t make a drastic difference in your weight.
  • She also said enjoying your vacation, relaxing about your food choices, and connecting with your traveling companions is just as good for health.

Reality weight loss shows, diet advertisements, and Instagram before-and-afters continually bombard us with different versions of the same misguided message: Weight loss by any means (even unhealthy ones) is cause for celebration, and weight gain is something to be feared at all costs.

So it’s not too surprising that many people are nervous about gaining weight when they go on vacation and find themselves surrounded by calorie-dense treats they wouldn’t encounter at home. The internet is awash with tips on how to avoid vacation weight gain — and how to lose any weight gained once you get home.

But registered dietitian Emily Fonnesbeck told INSIDER that vacation weight gain — if it happens at all — isn’t really worth all the worry it’s allotted. Here are four reasons why.

1. Weight is not the only measure of good health.

Weight is not the sole determinant of health. John Moore/Getty Images

Weight can be a helpful measure when determining someone’s health, but it’s not the only one that matters. Blood pressure, cholesterol, and hours of sleep per night, for example, are some of the many other numbers that help gauge your internal health.

Second, it’s good to remember that weight loss is not inherently good and that weight gain is not inherently bad. Sometimes people lose weight because they’re sick, and gain it because they’re getting well.

Even if you do gain weight on vacation, it won’t necessarily make you less healthy. Your weight doesn’t tell the whole story of your health.

2. It’s normal for weight to fluctuate.

Your weight is changing all the time. Ian Walton/Getty Images

“Weight fluctuates naturally from day to day from week to week from year to year and to try to control that — it really just causes distress more than being helpful,” Fonnesbeck said.

Your weight can fluctuate more than five pounds in a single day because of natural functions like sweating, breathing, peeing, eating, and drinking.

Refinery29 also reported that eating more carbs than usual, eating saltier foods, and traveling to warmer climates — all things that may happen on vacation — can make the body automatically retain extra water. This makes the number on the scale go up, even though your body mass doesn’t actually change.

“It’s like if you weighed a car on empty, and then filled up the fuel tank — the weight goes up, but the body of the car hasn’t changed,” registered dietitian Melanie Rogers told Refinery29.

There’s some amount of weight change that you just can’t control. It can be freeing to remember that.

3. A short period of indulgent eating won’t make a huge difference.

A few days of eating indulgent food won’t make a gigantic difference. Sydney Kramer/INSIDER

“We actually have much more flexibility and much more wiggle room than we’ve been taught to believe,” Fonnesbeck said. “One meal, one snack, one day, one month, isn’t going to make that big of a difference.”

Even if you do eat extravagantly on vacation, you might find that you want to eat lighter meals once you get home, without even thinking about it. Fonnesbeck said she’s seen it happen with her clients — and if you’ve ever craved a salad after a few days of fried food and pizza, maybe you’ve experienced it, too.

“I think the real a-ha moment for is when they experience this for themselves,” she said. “They have a week or more of indulgent meals, they come home from vacation and they find themselves naturally gravitating toward foods that may balance some of those choices out. Without having to put too much thought and effort into it, they find that they naturally self-moderate.”

But the key to this type of self-moderation, Fonnesbeck added, is actually listening to your body’s internal cues to decide what and how much to eat — as opposed to obeying diet rules that you’ve picked up from the outside world. (By the way: This the core habit in a practice known as intuitive eating.)

4. It’s also healthy to truly enjoy your vacation.

Don’t let food worries get in the way of a good time. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Sure, it could be considered “healthier” to forgo an ice cream sundae during vacation. But worrying about your food choices may distract from the reason you’re there in the first place: To relieve stress and (if you’re with other people) enjoy the company of others. Both of those things promote your health, too. In fact, decades of research suggest that social connections are linked to longer lives and better health, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Fonnesbeck acknowledged that it can be difficult to let go of vacation weight gain fears. One way to start is to subtly shift your thinking on the subject.

“Something practice is to really be intentional about noticing other ways that you enjoyed yourself,” she said. “Was it a nice break from work? Did you feel like you could have more flexibility with food choices and it made the experience more enjoyable? Were you more connected in conversations because you weren’t so busy worrying about weight? Did it cause less anxiety about traveling in general? Looking at overall wellbeing and not just the weight might help someone have perspective on the experience, versus feeling so stuck in that fear.”

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You come home from your vacation proclaiming a 10 pound weight gain. But a week later you feel back to normal. Diving into the math behind vacation weight gain will help you realize it’s not as dramatic as you think. Enjoy your trip knowing that your regular healthy eating patterns matter much more than a few days of indulging.

I still dream about that amazing 10′ sprinkle cake from the Nest County Fair!

Vacation Weight Gain: Weight (Wait) It Out

Over a decade ago when I had just finished losing my college weight, I used to weigh myself daily. But the scale started to control my emotions and I knew it was no longer serving me. I gave it up years ago. These days, the only time I hop on a scale is at the doctor’s office. My goal is to feel good in my body and in my clothes. A scale tells me my force against the earth, but it can’t tell me how I feel.

A scale can be a useful tool to track long term trends and motivate someone to lose weight if they have medical advice they need to. I don’t think that all scales need to be banished from society, as they serve a purpose for those whose health would benefit from weight loss. But if you’re healthy and happy at the weight you are, a scale will likely cause more frustration than cheer.

As I have made peace with my body over time, I realized that the number on the scale discouraged me more than it helped. Stepping on a scale after a vacation was one of those times. I have overheard folks report back from a week-long vacation, “I gained 10 vacation pounds on my trip to Italy!” I want to tell them to weight it out.

I’ve learned that it takes about 2 days into a vacation of eating more than I usually do, in both portion size and richer foods and alcohol, to notice that my body feels different. And upon my return it takes me about 4 to 5 days of regular meals and my exercise routine to feel normal again. Most of this extra weight is in the form of water. Remember that to gain a pound of fat you have to eat 3,500 calories more than your body needs to burn to function.

The Math

Consider a vacation to a big city where you might walk five miles a day sightseeing, visit a hip new fitness studio once during the week, and go for one run while you’re there. You are likely burning 2,200+ calories per day. That means you’d have to eat 2,200 PLUS 500 calories more every day to average a single one-pound weight gain on your trip.

If you came home from your vacation five pounds heavier on the scale, you likely didn’t eat 17,500 calories above your needs in a week – that would be an average of about 4,850 calories per day! Now I know I’ve probably come close to eating that number in one day before, but not seven days in a row. I find that my body usually wants to eat less the day after I eat a lot. #balance

All That Weight Is Mostly Water

The reason for the five pound “gain” is water retention. Not only do certain rich foods leave you retaining water, but you also have the physical weight of the excess food traveling through your system for at least 48 hours or so. Kind of gross, but it’s in there!

Once you’re home, just slip back into your healthy routine (you’ll probably want to!), stock the fridge with fresh produce, and wait it out. Do not weigh yourself. Wear your stretchy pants (so as not to get discouraged by tight jeans) and see how you feel a few days later. I bet the jeans fit perfectly. I used to feel more self conscious about my post-vacation bloat, but then I realized that no one else can tell. It’s more about how you feel than how you look. And the squiggly line effect will take care of the rest.

Fanny packs make great additions to vacations! Ha.

A few tips to FEEL your best on your vacation

  1. Aim for three meals per day. If you’re like me, you tend to eat more at each meal while traveling than when at home. But I find that because I’ve had a bigger lunch, I don’t really need a snack! My body is smarter than I think.
  2. Curb the booze. I know, I know. Drinking beer all day at the lake might be the best part of your summer! But at least for me, nothing makes me feel worse than dehydration or a hangover. Definitely enjoy some drinks, but just don’t get hammered ok?! You can probably easily drink a lot more calories than you can eat.
  3. Bring just one part of your workout routine with you. That could be just one run along a new city’s river or one power walk on the beach. Or yoga via podcast in your cozy cabin one morning. Or a trail hike in a new part of the world. Breaking a sweat will help you feel your best.
  4. Add in a little mindfulness. I am ALL FOR enjoying your trip and indulging in the most delicious foods you come across. But just make sure they are good ones. Don’t gobble down a gas station donut on your car trip. Visit that local ice cream shop that is known for their birthday cake ice cream and use your five senses to devour it.

How To Avoid Vacation Weight Gain: Don’t Worry So Much!

As a Registered Dietitian, I’m telling you to relax during your vacation. Knowing the math and how my body operates helps me truly embrace the trip. Remember that just a few days of healthy eating is all it takes to counteract a few days of overeating. Your long term eating habits in your regular daily life are way more important than those you adopt for a few days away.

More posts on weight change:

  • Weight Change: Density + Volume
  • Postpartum nutrition + weight loss
  • How to gain and lose 5 pounds
  • How to keep the weight off
  • The Crossroads of Happy + Healthy
  • 7 Diet Tweaks for Weight Loss
  • Then & Now

Here Are the Safest Ways to Lose Weight After the Holidays

It’s something that happens at the start of every year. After a month of shoveling holiday goodies in your face, it’s time to try every quick-fix weight loss program you can find online in order to meet your New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, many weight loss methods that pop up at this time of year are not only bogus but they’re also not very healthy. Thankfully, it’s possible to lose those extra LBs the right way. Here are the safest ways to lose weight after the holidays.

First and foremost: Think long-term

Woman using planner on laptop | iStock.com/Rawpixel

One of the biggest problems with trying to lose weight after the holidays is that many people try to lose too much weight too fast. (We’ll break that down a little more in just a bit.) But losing too much weight too fast can lead to a slew of health problems including nutrient deficiency, gallstones, and a weakened immune system — just to name a few. Instead of viewing your resolutions as a quick fix, look at it as an overall lifestyle adjustment.

Next: With that in mind …

Cut your resolution into smaller pieces

Healthy resolutions written on a piece of paper | Source: iStock

Turning your New Year’s resolutions into a long-term set of goals can make things a bit overwhelming. And the last thing you want is for your health-seeking resolutions to cause you stress and anxiety. Instead, take your big goals and split them up into smaller, more obtainable goals. This will help keep your stress level down — which is important since stress can cause weight gain!

Next: Always remember to …

Drink plenty of agua

Drinking water | seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

All this running around trying to lose weight may cause you to forget to drink plenty of H20. And trust us — you don’t want that to happen. As DripDrop.com tells us, chronic dehydration makes your heart have to work harder to pump blood and can put you at risk of having a stroke. Drinking plenty of water doesn’t just help your heart, but it can also help cut down on your post-holiday food cravings.

Next: On that note …

Continue eating, but …

Pencil lying on a meal planner | iStock.com/alexskopje

… change what you eat. Skipping meals will only slow down your metabolism and make your weight loss resolutions even harder to reach. All you have to do is change what it is you’re feeding yourself. If your holiday meals were chock-full of refined carbs and fatty meats — whose holiday wasn’t like that, let’s be honest — replace them with meals full of dark green leafy veggies, whole grains, and leaner protein like chicken or fish.

Next: Here’s some good news …

Don’t completely deprive yourself

An empty plate| AnaBGD/Getty Images

One of the biggest problems with starting a diet is that, no matter how hard you try, you will continue to be tempted by the foods you aren’t supposed to be eating. The healthiest way to tackle this beast is to allow yourself just a tiny indulgence or two throughout your week to keep you sane — and to keep you from binging later on.

Next: That being said …

Ditch the leftovers

Man going for a late-night snack | iStock.com

Wasting food is never a good thing. But keeping your holiday leftovers in the refrigerator is only going to make you want to reach for them again. What’s worse, is you may be tempted by that leftover holiday cheer after a long day of being disciplined. (Don’t even get us started on how unhealthy late-night eating can be if you eat the wrong things.) For your resolutions, start with a clean state by cleaning the leftovers out of your house.

Next: This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s the truth …

Go easy with the new gym membership

A row of people on the treadmills at the gym | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

January may be the time of year everybody signs up for that new gym membership complete with a full personal training package. But in reality, you should be approaching your new “gym lifestyle” at a slower pace. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is going all in on the first week of the year,” Kris Cueva, CPT, tells Shape. Ashley Borden, CSCS, adds: “If you’ve barely worked out for the last six months and now think you’re going to go five days a week nonstop, you are setting yourself up for failure.”

Next: Always …

Make sure to incorporate weights

Dumbbells on the gym floor | Source: iStock

“While doing cardio can help your fat-loss goals, in a lot of ways weight training is more effective and will also give you a more toned body shape,” BodyBuilding.com summarizes. “While lifting weights can help you build muscle mass, that muscle mass will, in turn, help you lose fat mass.”

Next: One habit you may not have known can be unhealthy …

Go easy on the scale

Weighing in | Ensuria/Getty Images

Sure, you’re going to have to weigh yourself in order to gauge if you’re meeting your weight loss goals or not. Just be careful how much you’re relying on the scale. “If you’re stepping on the scale before and after meals, or if you adjust the way you stand on the scale to tweak the numbers, this is a compulsive behavior that will only get worse over time,” Health.com warns. They suggest weighing yourself once a week.

Next: If you want to lose weight the healthiest way …

Be wary of weight loss supplements

Supplements | iStock.com/monticelllo

We get it — even when you try to spread out your weight loss goals and tell yourself the process will take time, it can be tempting to try to speed up that process. That’s when many people turn to weight loss supplements — and many of those supplements contain ingredients that are hazardous to your health. If you’re serious about adding something to your weight loss regimen, you should absolutely talk to your doctor first.

Next: Here’s a weight loss method everyone can get behind …

Get plenty of sleep

Senior couple sleeping | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

There’s no denying it. A lack of Z’s can make you gain weight. So the best additive to your New Year’s weight loss resolution is to get plenty of solid sack time. “Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike,” WebMD summarizes. “This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. Translation: You’re more apt to hang on to fat.” Long story short: Sleep helps keep those pesky cortisol levels down.

Next: You don’t have to do this alone …

Consider getting a workout buddy

Couple at the gym | LightFieldStudios/iStock/Getty Images

Having a designated workout buddy doesn’t just make working towards your weight loss goals more fun. FitBodyHQ.com also reminds us a designated fitness friend can help you maintain proper form without the stress of trying to impress a personal trainer. (And without the steep price tag, too.) So grab your significant other or close friend and get the extra support you need to safely meet your weight loss goals.

Next: As tempting as it may seem …

Ditch the desire to out takeout

Chinese takeout | iStock.com/Ekaterina Molchanova

Trust us. After cooking up a storm for family and friends over the holidays, the idea of cooking yourself healthy meals every night becomes daunting — especially if you’re tired from your new workout routine. But, whatever you do, beware of the urge to splurge on takeout. Ordering in from most places is basically as unhealthy as keeping those holiday leftovers in your fridge. It’s full of foods you should be nixing from your daily menu if you want to lose weight.

Next: Don’t forget …

Write your goals down

It’s that time of year | iStock.com

It may seem redundant, if not a bit neurotic. But writing down all of your weight loss tools and goals is the best way to stay on track. It’s also a great way to see how much progress you’ve already made. It’s also a good tool to help you decide if you need to make adjustments to your weight loss plan as you go along — especially if you hit a plateau — to make it work even better.

Next: Last but not least …

Don’t stop once you meet your goals

Trail running | BrianAJackson/Getty Images

Want your healthy weight loss results to last? Don’t stop once your New Year’s resolutions are met. “It takes bravery to attempt a new goal,” Whole Life Challenge says. “But it takes fortitude and courage to stay the course. Continuing beyond our initial goal and living a truly healthy life takes the right approach and, most of all, the willingness to face failure.” As you meet your New Year’s resolution goals, start adding onto them. This way, you have a better chance at sustaining the success you first aimed for when you made your initial New Year’s resolution.

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Weight gain: Does it impact performance?

Whether you’re a recreational or elite athlete, young or mature, your performance may be influenced by your body weight. Various diets and artificial means exist claiming to induce weight gain or loss, including nutritional supplements and oral or injected medications. However, these methods are not always safe or effective.

To determine optimal body weight and composition, consult with your physician or a dietitian. It is critical to your health to not gain or lose too much body fat.

Every individual is different, and a body weight for one may not be appropriate for another. Consult with a registered dietitian to determine the safest and most effective way to achieve your weight goal.

Healthy weight gain

The key to gaining weight is to consume more energy (calories) than you burn. As with weight loss, gaining healthy weight (primarily muscle mass) takes time.

Healthy weight gain of 1-2 pounds per week can be expected when reasonably increasing energy intake. It takes an excess of about 2,000 to 2,500 calories per week to support the gain of a pound of lean muscle and about 3,500 calories per week to gain a pound of fat.

As the scale goes up, the goal should be to add an appropriate amount of muscle mass, not simply fat. Resistance exercise is the key to increasing muscle mass; eating excess calories or protein alone will not increase muscle strength or size.

Make sure you make sleep a priority as well; adequate rest is also essential for your body to build new lean muscle mass.

Quality first

The secret to healthy weight gain is to make all your calorie choices as nutrient-rich and calorie dense as possible. When you consume empty-calorie foods like soft drinks, candy, chips and fast food, you are not providing your body with what it needs to build muscle, strengthen bones or repair tissue. You need the nutrient power of all the food groups.

There are just as many products advertising “miraculous” weight gain as weight loss. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is or it is not safe. At least 25 percent of supplements on the market either contain a banned or illegal substance or do not contain enough of the specified ingredient to make a difference.

Skip the expensive supplements and save your money for delicious whole foods.

Healthy ways to add extra calories

Eat five to six moderately sized meals throughout the day rather than two or three extra-large meals. For an overall healthy diet, choose your foods wisely and eat nutrient-rich foods such as whole-grain breads, pastas, cereals; fruits, vegetables, 100 percent juice; reduced- or low-fat dairy products; lean protein sources, nuts and seeds.

Don’t fill up on diet or regular soda, coffee, tea or energy drinks with few calories or little nutritional value.

Instead, drink smoothies or shakes made with milk and fresh or frozen juice. Sprinkle in some ground flaxseed to add healthy fats.

Choose calorie-dense snacks, such as, nuts, peanut butter, cheese, dried fruits and avocados. Eat a bedtime snack, for instance, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a wrap with avocado, sliced vegetables, meat and cheese.

Enjoy sweet treats too, such as muffins, yogurt, fruit pies, dark chocolate and granola bars.

Posted In Digestive Health, Health Information, Healthy Living, Sports Medicine, Weight Loss

SHN Staff

“Today is the day I stop ordering takeout and eat some kale for dinner,” says everyone constantly. We hear you: Our lives are basically an endless string of happy hours, snap-judgment fatty food choices, and stress eating. (What, sometimes a Snickers bar after a 12-hour workday is THE ONLY THING WE WANT.) But we know you’ve wondered, because we’ve wondered: On a particularly indulgent week, how much weight are you actually packing on?

It’s long been believed that approximately 3,500 calories is what a person would need to consume to gain a pound of weight—but that’s not necessarily true. A “calorie” doesn’t mean the same thing across all types of food. Sugar-loaded candies have empty calories, which get stored immediately as fat, whereas natural foods (vegetables, fruits, lean meats) have essential vitamins and nutrients that are burned and used throughout your body, says Keri Glassman, R.D., founder of Nutritious Life. Plus, everybody digests and metabolizes foods differently—which is why there’s always that one friend who can eat an entire shepherd’s pie solo and be like “what?”

And then there’s the double-edged sword: exercise. While you burn calories and fat during a workout, people tend to overestimate their gym efforts and consume more calories as a “reward” for just being active (guilty).

So here it is: If you live an entire week avoiding nutrition labels and making gym excuses, you can expect to gain about four pounds—one to two pounds of water weight (bloating) and one to two pounds of actual fat, Glassman says.

While your bloating will eventually subside, you have to clean up your plate to melt off that fat. The good news is that healthy, normal weight loss equals about a pound a week. So even if you eat all the Snickers, you can always make up for it next week. Booyah.

You should also check out:

The Truth About Thigh Gaps

18 Foods You Can Eat at Night That Won’t Make You Feel Bloated in the Morning

Is Waist Training Actually Healthy?

Kenny Thapoung Social Media Editor When I’m not stalking future-but-never-going-to-happen husbands on Facebook, you can catch me eating at one of NYC’s B-rated or below dining establishments—A-rated restaurants are for basics.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator

The Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator estimates a schedule for healthy weight gain based on guidelines from the Institute of Medicine.

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Recommended weight gain during pregnancy

Pregnancy can lead to significant changes to women’s bodies and daily routines. One of them is the body weight gain to ensure enough nutrients for the development of the fetus and to store enough nutrients in preparation for breastfeeding. While weight gain during pregnancy is normal and necessary, studies have shown that certain ranges of weight gain given a specific body mass index (BMI) result in more positive outcomes for both fetus and mother.1

Generally, it is recommended that pregnant women gain only 1-4 pounds during the first 3 months of pregnancy, and 1 pound per week during the remainder of the pregnancy. It is possible to achieve 1 pound per week by consuming an additional ~300 calories per day,2 which is roughly equivalent to eating an extra cheeseburger or half a sandwich plus a glass of milk.

The Institute of Medicine provides a weight gain guideline based on Prepregnancy BMI, which is shown in the table below. But note that these are only recommendations and that weight gain between women varies. As such, a health care provider should be consulted to more accurately determine each person’s specific needs.

Recommendations for total weight gain during pregnancy by prepregnancy BMI1

Weight gain during pregnancy is not just attributed to the weight of the fetus. Most of the weight gain goes to the development of tissues that allow fetal development, growth, and prepare the body for breastfeeding. The table below is a list.

Pregnancy weight gain distribution2

Enlarged breasts 1-3 pounds
Enlarged uterus 2 pounds
Placenta 1.5 pounds
Amniotic fluid 2 pounds
Increased blood volume 3-4 pounds
Increased fluid volume 2-3 pounds
Fat stores 6-8 pounds

Potential complications of suboptimal weight gain

There are adverse effects for either insufficient or excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Insufficient weight gain can compromise the health of the fetus and cause preterm, or premature birth; excessive weight gain can cause labor complications, giving birth to significantly larger than average fetuses, postpartum weight retention, as well as increase the risk of requiring a caesarean section.

What to eat during pregnancy?

What a person eats, or doesn’t eat, during pregnancy can significantly affect the health of their baby. Although what a person should or shouldn’t eat during their pregnancy is often heavily debated, and can be different between cultures, there is no particular formula that guarantees a healthy baby, and though a parent should be careful and cognizant of what they choose to put in their bodies, it is not absolutely necessary to follow some heavily strict, nutritional guideline during pregnancy. General advice for eating healthy applies, such as eating a balance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Certain nutrients can however be particularly helpful for the growth and development of a healthy baby. Some of these will be discussed below.

Folate and folic acid:

Folate and folic acid can help prevent birth defects. Folate in particular protects against neural tube defects as well as potential abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord. It has also been shown to decrease the risk of premature birth. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin, and can be consumed in the form of supplements, or fortified foods. Aside from using supplements, folic acid can be consumed through eating certain leafy green vegetables (spinach), citrus fruits (oranges), dried beans, and peas.


Calcium helps support strong bones and teeth, and is also necessary for the proper day to day functioning of the body’s circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems. Calcium can be found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. It can also be found in non-dairy foods such as spinach, salmon, broccoli, and kale.

Vitamin D:

Like calcium, vitamin D can help promote bone strength while also building the baby’s bones and teeth. It can be found in fortified milk, orange juice, fish, and eggs, among other foods.


Protein, while being important for your own health, is also highly important for the growth of the baby throughout pregnancy. Good sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, and soy products, among others.


Iron is another nutrient that is highly important for the development of your baby. A pregnant person should consume double the amount of iron than they otherwise would, because iron is essential for the body to produce more blood to supply oxygen to the baby. In the case where the mother is not consuming sufficient iron, the mother could suffer from iron deficiency anemia, resulting in fatigue, and increasing the risk of having a premature birth. Iron can be found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, iron-fortified foods, beans, and vegetables, among other foods. Iron from animal products is most easily absorbed though pairing iron from plant sources with foods or drinks that contain high amounts of vitamin C can increase the absorption of iron.

Most of the nutrients listed above can be obtained through some form of supplements, and taking prenatal vitamins is fairly common. Depending on your diet, you may consider speaking to a healthcare professional to determine if you should take a prenatal vitamin or any other special supplements.

Foods to avoid:

It is as important to avoid certain foods and activities during pregnancy as it is to consume foods with specific nutrients. Some of these include foods that are high in mercury, like a lot of seafoods. Generally, the bigger and the older a fish is, the more mercury it likely contains. The FDA recommends that pregnant women avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Seafoods that are generally considered safe include shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, anchovies, trout, cod, tilapia, and light canned tuna, among others.

Pregnant women should also avoid consuming foods that are raw, undercooked, or of course, contaminated. These include foods such as sushi, sashimi, and raw shellfish like oysters, scallops, and clams. Similarly, undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs should also be avoided, since pregnant women are at higher risk of food poisoning due to bacteria in undercooked foods.

Unpasteurized foods, which includes many dairy products, should also be avoided since they can lead to food-borne illnesses.

Pregnant women also should not eat unwashed fruits and vegetables, again because of the potential for consuming harmful bacteria. Certain sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean can contain disease-causing bacteria, and should be cooked thoroughly and not eaten raw.

Excess caffeine should also be avoided, since it can cross the placenta, and the effects on the baby are not well known. Herbal teas are also not well studied, and the effects they may have on the baby are not well known.

Under no circumstances should a pregnant woman consume alcohol, as no study has found a level of alcohol that has been proven to be safe during pregnancy. Alcohol increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. It also can cause fetal alcohol syndrome which can result in the development of intellectual disabilities as well as facial deformities.

Smoking should also be avoided before, during, and after pregnancy, as smoking during any of these periods can negatively affect the baby, as well as the mother. Smoking during pregnancy can result in many detrimental health outcomes including premature birth, fetal death, caesarean section (which can cause maternal hemorrhage), and more. It has also been found to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, birth defects such as altered brainstem development and lung structure as well as cerebral palsy. Some studies have further shown that smoking during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of the child being obese as a teen, and obesity has numerous undesirable implications for mortality and morbidity.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, and if unsure, consult a medical professional. Generally, keeping yourself healthy while paying special attention to foods that are known to be beneficial or detrimental to babies in particular, will give your baby a better chance of being healthy.

How to Get Fat in a Week

Gaining weight in a short period of time may be required for sports like wrestling, or it might be desirable to recover from a fast 1. Whatever the case, it’s possible to gain a significant amount of fat in the course of a week 2. For most people, gaining weight quickly requires a dramatic change in lifestyle and it will be an around-the-clock effort, but for those who enjoy food and relaxation, the experience can be an enjoyable one 1. According to nutritionist Alison Dempsey, the amount of fat that one can gain in the course of a week varies dramatically based on factors like the individual’s metabolic rate at the beginning of the week (the faster the person’s metabolic rate, the longer it will take to slow it) and how much food the individual can consume 2. For an individual who goes into this week of weight gain with a slow metabolism and a body that’s accustomed to eating large meals, Dempsey says it’s possible to gain one pound per day or more 12.

Take weight gain supplements daily. The precise dosage and frequency will vary depending upon the specific product. These supplements contain calories and vitamins to promote the development of fat and muscle. They are different from the protein supplements that are typically used to gain muscle mass, though weight gain supplements often contain protein as one of the ingredients 2. Examples of these weight gain supplements include Weider’s Dynamic Weight Gainer and Twinlabs Gainers Fuel.

Eat a meal every eight hours. The meals should be high in carbohydrates like bread and pasta, fats like dairy foods, and high in protein, which is found in meat and eggs. Eat as much as is physically possible during each meal.

Drink beer or wine with each meal. Beer and wine is high in calories and alcohol slows the central nervous system, thereby slowing the metabolism and allowing for more weight gain 1.

Drink a glass of water with each meal to prevent dehydration from the alcohol.

Sleep for four hours immediately following each meal. Sleeping slows the body’s systems, so the food moves through your body at a slower rate. This means the food is in the digestive tract for a longer period of time, allowing for the absorption of more calories, fat and nutrients.

Drink a high-protein shake and eat a high calorie snack (like an energy bar, potato chips or ice cream) immediately after waking from the four hour nap.

Relax or sleep until the next meal and repeat steps two through five. It’s vital that you avoid any sort of physical activity or exercise, as this will cause the loss of calories and fat.

Smoke cigarettes to trigger an increase in the production of cortisol, a stress-related hormone that is also activated by alcohol consumption and a lack of sleep. Cortisol causes the body to gain weight–fat, in particular 2.

Watch scary or suspenseful movies or television shows while relaxing. This causes the body to experience stress, triggering the production of the hormone cortisol.


Avoid eating low fat foods, vegetables and fruits. This will take up space in your diet that you could use to consume high calorie fats and sugars.


Rapid weight gain is unlikely to be permanent. Long-term weight gain is best achieved by forming new habits and lifestyle changes that are consistent with weight gain. Healthy weight gain involves gaining fat and muscle over a long period of time.

Weight Gain Tips: 19 ways to gain weight fast

The biggest myth in today’s time is that gaining weight is easier than losing weight. A misconception going on for a while, gaining weight the healthy way is extremely tough and is a task for those heading towards this journey.
This is because the stomach size of a ‘thin’ person is small and increasing appetite is a challenge. Secondly, even if the thin person has a proper appetite, where they indulge in all sorts of foods possible, yet they are not able to gain weight. Many a times they end up gaining unhealthy fat, which is way more dangerous for them than gaining weight.

One primary concern for our thin friends is that gaining weight the right way can be a daunting task for them. This is because, when they do gain weight, it should be evenly spread in their body and not only concentrated in the abdominal area.
There are various reasons due to which one may be underweight: Inadequate eating habits, prolonged meal time gaps, poor selection of foods, no proper amount of calorie in and calorie out, malabsorption of foods that they are presently eating, prolonged diseases and suffering from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
It is important to understand that gaining weight the right way and not by hogging on unhealthy foods is a better choice for your body to save yourself from being prone to diseases like diabetes and thyroid, which even the thinnest person in a room can get. This is because by indulging in unhealthy foods, you are also creating a nutrition deficiency, which can lead to lifestyle issues like thyroid and diabetes.
Following are tips and tricks one should keep in mind while wanting to gain weight in a healthy manner.
1. People may be underweight due to various reasons: Like mentioned above, understanding your body before starting anything is important. The first thing is to get to the root of the problem. Knowing why your body is not able to gain weight is necessary. Consult your nutritionist and your family doctor to analyse the core problem.
2. Healthy weight gain: As Indians, if we are thin, we are often told to eat anything and everything, because ‘nothing gets used in our body’. However, this perception needs to stop. A gradual weight gain is permanent and healthy one. Increasing your daily intake by 500kcal per day can lead to your body gaining 0.5 kgs every week. However, this entirely depends on how your body responds to various foods, you gender, present body weight and height.
3. Exercise: The biggest mistake a thin person can make is to think that no food will affect their body. Even the thinnest bodies tend to get an unsightly paunch and it is important to not get to this stage. This is because a paunch simply means that the visceral and the subcutaneous fat in your body are increasing, which is not a healthy sign. Along with this, it is also a sign that you may gradually be leading towards weaker muscles. Therefore, it is important to participate in a mix of cardio, weight training and flexibility enhancing exercises every day.
4. Lift weights for lean mass: In other words, this means the amount of weight your body carries, which isn’t fat. Therefore, the ultimate aim is to increase lean body mass. For this, you will have to indulge in some heavy weight lifting. This should include exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, rows, dips, snatches, cleans and jerks. These exercises will help in engaging multiple muscles while triggering your hormonal response systems.
5. Exercises for beginners:
Squat 5×5
Pull-ups 5×5
Overhead Press 5×5
Squat 5×5
Deadlift 1/2/3×5 (your choice; deadlifts can be incredibly taxing, and with exhaustion comes poor form, so be careful; sometimes it’s better to do a really heavy load for a single set)
Bench Press 5×5
Squat 5×5
Pull up 5×5
Overhead Press 5×5
Do this sequence every week (maybe Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and steadily increase the weight each session. Once you’re making progress, feel free to add in other exercises like dips or more Olympic lifts.
6. Healthy diet: The market is loaded with dietary supplements, which may promise you weight gain in no time. But it is important to remember that many of these dietary supplements are full of synthetic nutrients, which may gain weight temporarily but ruin your health permanently. Therefore, consult your nutritionist or family physician before consuming anything. Secondly, these supplements will only come in handy when your diet is in place. Your body requires the right amount of proteins, fats and carbs. Sticking to a healthy diet inclusive of nuts and dairy products and exclusive of alcohol will help you get faster results.
7. Healthy heart and weight gain diet: A major mistake most of us end up making, in our effort to gain weight is eating foods that may harm us. We need healthy fat in our body and consuming empty calories full of unhealthy fats will only deplete our health. Therefore, include healthy snacks in your diet. This means nuts, dry fruits, fruits, dry snacks like roasted chana will be extremely helpful in gaining weight in a healthy manner. Other than this, you can also indulge in multigrain breads, soy sticks, hummus and peanut butter (all of which are rich in protein). Choosing fiber rich foods will also be beneficial for you. The most important thing to remember is that the size of your appetite should increase gradually.
8. Eat less: Another big myth for thin people that needs to be busted right way is consuming foods in large quantities to gain weight. Consuming junk foods in huge quantities and assuming that your body will be unaffected by it is foolish. The best way to go about gaining weight is to divide your meals into smaller bits, to avoid unhealthy snacking. It is a better option to go for foods which are nutrient and calorie dense than for foods which are loaded with unhealthy calories. A thin person who indulges in unhealthy eating habits is as prone to lifestyle diseases as any obese person.
9. Indulge the right way: As mentioned earlier, indulgence should be done the correct way. When getting on any fitness journey, whether to lose or gain weight, our ears will be filled with a variety of opinions. One such opinion for thin people is to eat as many sweet foods as they can. Not only will this increase the visceral fat (fat around your organs), but will also lead to malabsorption of nutrients from other foods in our body. The biggest concern for a skinny person is to get fat in the wrong areas.
10. Include vegetables and meats: Vegetables and meats are rich sources of proteins, minerals and fiber. These are essential for a person looking to gain weight. Including vegetables and meats will also help you to stay away from unhealthy snacks as these help to curb hunger pangs. We need to provide our body with enough protein for the hormones to synthesize.
11. Eat healthy fats: The best way to include healthy fats in your diet is by eating egg yolks, meats with animal fats, coconut oil, and other healthy fats. Including fruits like bananas and sapodilla will help as well. However, the consumption of these should be in moderation.
12. Increase protein intake: The ideal consumption for any body, despite being thin or obese or healthy, is 1 gm/kg. This is the basic requirement which should be fulfilled on a daily basis. Not only will this curb your unnecessary hinger pangs which make you hog on unhealthy foods, but it also helps you maintain a healthy body weight with lean body mass. Proteins are the building blocks of our body and if your body starves of it, it will never be able to achieve its healthiest best. Including tofu, paneer, chicken, and vegetables like spinach will help you get through with your daily protein consumption.
13. Consume foods that help you gain weight: There are natural foods which make you gain weight in a healthy manner. Including foods rich in healthy fat content is a must. You can include fish like tuna and salmon, natural fruit juices, whole wheat breads and Indian flat breads.
14. Foods rich in calories: There are two different types of calories: Empty and healthy. Empty calories are the ones we get from processed foods and liquids, while healthy calories are the ones we get from natural foods like vegetables and fruits. Some examples are cheeses, oils, bananas, homemade butters like peanut and almond butters.
15. Daily tips: In order to gain weight, it is advised to stick to some basics. For example, do not load your plate with unnecessary foods like chocolate bars and canned juices, just to gain weight fast. Including healthy calorie rich foods like yoghurt will help you gaining weight gradually but permanently. Including three to four servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will not only help you curb your hunger for unhealthy foods but will also provide you with necessary nutrients.
16. Dietary supplements for gaining weight: Dietary supplements includes tablets, powders and capsules. These can be protein powders, meal replacement bars, multivitamins etc. As mentioned before, consumption of any of these should be done only after consulting your doctor or nutritionist. Excess of dietary supplements can cause various issues like vomiting and diarrhoea. Even though they are needed in today’s times, it is always better to get consultation on specific products.
17. Food habits: Eating one healthy meal and 3 unhealthy ones will only slower the process for you and may lead to health hazards. Some basics to remember are: Chewing your food properly to improve digestion, avoiding excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks and alcohol as it hinders the absorption of nutrients, keeping track of your weight and cooking your foods with choices that are beneficial for your health.
18. Unhealthy habits for gaining unhealthy weight: As mentioned above, skinny or thin people tend to have misconceptions about being ‘healthy’. Being healthy does not mean being fat for thin people and vice-versa. Some bad habits you will need to erase right away are:
-Skipping breakfast
-Eating meals at odd times
-Going on crash diets
– Eating too much junk
– Finishing food because of peer pressure
– Lack of sleep
19. The end result: At the end of the day, your ultimate aim should be to gain weight wherein your body is toned and curved at the right places. As a thin person, if you are gaining weight around your abdominal area, then there is an issue. This process can be extremely slow as the absorption of food in skinny people is slower, therefore, it is important to remain patient. To track your performance, click your before picture and click one after your first 3 months.

17 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight

If your jeans fit just a couple of months ago, and you haven’t done anything differently, you’re probably wondering, “why am I gaining weight?”

You’re not alone. Many people who eat healthy foods, stay loyal to their workout routine, and drink plenty of water may all experience sudden weight gain. It may seem like there’s no good reason, but experts tell us there are some common reasons why you’re suddenly gaining weight fast.

While your exercise and diet efforts are still important for you to achieve your weight loss goals, there are a number of factors that can cause you to gain weight that often go unnoticed.

We uncovered some of the top reasons why you’re gaining weight and asked experts how to overcome each, so you can get back to your ideal weight.


Your thyroid is to blame.

The thyroid, a gland in the neck that sits above the Adam’s apple, regulates a wide range of bodily functions including metabolism. But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, your thyroid may become under-active and result in a condition called hypothyroidism. One of the many symptoms of the condition? You guessed it, weight gain. The worst part is that the condition often develops slowly, so many people don’t notice the symptoms of the disease until they’re full-blown, says The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It gets worse: If a thyroid issue is to blame for your weight gain, it doesn’t matter how diligently your dieting and working out; it will be near impossible to shed the pounds.

The solution: Take a trip to the MD. “If you’ve suddenly put on weight for no apparent reason, I suggest you see a doctor so a medical professional can decide whether it is a thyroid issue or another cause,” says Biggest Loser dietitian Cheryl Forberg, RD.


You’re overeating healthy foods.

Portion size is just as important as eating healthy. The reason: Many nutritious foods—like avocados, oatmeal, quinoa, dark chocolate, nuts, and nut butters—can lead to weight gain when eaten in excess because they’re calorically dense.

The solution: Unless it’s a fruit or a vegetable, don’t make the assumption that the healthy food you’re eating is low in calories. Next time you’re whipping up a meal, remember these three portion control cues:

  1. A helping of nut butter or shredded cheese should be no larger than a ping-pong ball
  2. A true serving of rice and pasta is about the size of your fist
  3. Lean meats should be about the size of a deck of cards.

Sticking to the recommended serving size can help prevent sudden weight gain.


You’re dehydrated.

A University of Birmingham study found that drinking two cups of water before each meal could significantly accelerate weight loss. So it should come as no surprise that not drinking enough H2O can have the opposite effect on your waistline. “Not only does water give us energy and help maintain body temperature, but it also helps us feel more full,” says Forberg. “Not drinking enough water can cause us to eat excess calories that could lead to weight gain. Plus, when you’re dehydrated, the body will conserve water for vital body functions, which can result in water retention and a higher number on the scale.”

The solution: Sip water continuously throughout the day. And remember that water alone isn’t the only way to stay hydrated, there are many water-rich foods you can eat along with other water-rich drinks like coffee, tea, and smoothies.


You’re taking anti-depressant medication.

“As many as 25 percent of people taking certain antidepressants report gaining ten pounds or more ,” says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS, a Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.

“Some medications may cause food cravings, especially for carbohydrates, and some find that their medication increases their appetite. The drugs may affect metabolism negatively as well.” And since depression is often accompanied by a disinterest in food, another pool of thought is that once antidepressants become effective, people regain their appetites and overeat.

The solution: “Switching medications can often help since certain types are more apt to cause weight gain than others. However, if you change medications, it may not aid your depression as effectively. It can be a lot of trial and error,” adds Rumsey. Consult your doctor before going on or off any medication.


You don’t weigh yourself.

Of all the little white lies, the expression “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” is one of the worst, regarding weight loss. However, when we’re talking about weight gain, ignorance could be the very reason behind your ever-tightening waistband. “When you avoid the scale because you don’t want to know the number, that’s when you get into trouble. This is especially true in the winter months when we’re more apt to indulge in comfort food and cover ourselves with bulky sweaters,” says Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, an award-winning Chicago-area registered dietitian and nutrition expert.

The solution: Weigh yourself at least once a week—if not two or three—to monitor your progress. “I recommend weighing in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” says Palumbo. “If Monday is a bit higher than usual, all the better for getting back on track for the upcoming week. And Friday is good because if you’re a bit on the high side then, well, it’s all the more incentive to stay-the-course for the weekend and not go too crazy.”


You’re working out too much.

If you’re working out but gaining weight, the problem may lie in the amount of time you’re spending exercising. There’s no denying that working out is an important weight loss factor, but oddly enough, thinking about your upcoming sweat sessions too often can make it more difficult to lose weight. An Obestiy Reviews meta-analysis indicates that people tend to overestimate how many calories they burn when they work out—and will end up eating more on days they work out. A separate study supported this finding, showing that people tend to increase their food intake after exercise and end up eating more calories than they burn.

The solution: To prevent sudden weight gain, avoid excessive noshing after exercising. Pick up pre-portioned pre-workout snacks tailored to your fitness routine.


You’re simply getting older.

With each passing birthday after the big 3-0, we start to lose muscle mass. As a result, our metabolism slows explains Forberg. That has got to be the worst birthday present of all time! “When our metabolism slows down, we will gain weight, especially if we continue to eat the same amount of food as we did when we were younger.”

The solution: To keep your lean, youthful figure, Forberg says staying active is a must: “A combination of cardio and weight-bearing exercise will help preserve lean body mass and muscle tissue, keeping the metabolism elevated.”


You stay up late and don’t get good sleep.

You eat right and exercise but, sadly, nearly all of your efforts are negated if you’re staying up all night binge-watching Netflix. A study in the Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care journal states that shorter amounts of sleep are associated with higher BMI levels and larger waistlines. The primary reason? “Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreased levels of leptin, the satiety hormone,” explains Rumsey. “Research also shows that when we’re sleep-deprived, our brains respond more strongly to junk food and have less of an ability to practice portion control.”

The solution: Rumsey assures us that after a week or two of adequate sleep—which she defines as seven to eight hours per evening—the surge of hunger and cravings should subside.


Your job is stressful.

We don’t mean to suggest that you blame others, but your demanding boss may be why you’re gaining weight for no reason. “The hormone cortisol is released when our body is under stress that causes triglycerides to be relocated to visceral fat cells, increasing storage of belly fat,” explains Rumsey. “Elevated cortisol levels also cause an increase in blood glucose, while suppressing the effects of insulin, leading to constant feelings of hunger and can lead to overeating. To make matters worse, all of that unused blood glucose is eventually stored as body fat.”

The solution: Discuss your workload with your manager. Alternatively, come into the office early when no one is around to bug you. This will allow you to get a head start on the day’s assignments without your Chatty Cathy cubical neighbor annoying you.


You’re relying too much on exercise without changing your diet.

From building muscle mass to improving cardiovascular health, there are tons of obvious reasons to hit the gym. That said, exercise alone is unlikely to undo your ice cream, booze and burger habit, says Rumsey. Plus, the type of exercise you do may also be making it hard to keep the pounds off. “Steady-state cardio, such as running at the same pace for three or four miles, can increase appetite,” warns Rumsey. “Many people who do these types of workouts end up eating more than they would have if they hadn’t worked out.”

The solution: Lay off the junk and switch up your workout. “More and more research is showing that high-intensity interval training type exercise is best to see improvements in muscle mass and cardiovascular function, without the associated increase in appetite,” says Rumsey.


You aren’t paying attention to your sodium intake.

A high-sodium diet can make you retain water and boat. And when you retain water in your gut, it can make it seem like you’ve experienced a sudden weight gain in your stomach—when it’s just water weight. As Palumbo says, “sodium-related weight gain is easy come, easy go.”

The solution: Up your water intake and cut back on the sodium. Cooking more at home with fresh herbs instead of salt should help your belly deflate in a day or so. Dining out? Scan nutrition info at home before you head out and pick a healthy restaurant dish with about 1,000 milligrams of sodium or less.


You aren’t eating enough protein.

Are you suffering from a protein deficiency? Consuming enough protein is important for two reasons: Since it digests more slowly than refined carbohydrates, it’s satiating and staves off overeating. It also helps maintain lean muscle mass. “If you aren’t consuming enough protein to keep your muscles and cells healthy, the body ends up breaking down muscle to access the nutrients it needs—and this spells trouble. Less muscle mass means a slower metabolism, which over time, can cause weight gain,” explains Rumsey.

The solution: To keep your metabolism going strong, stock your kitchen with lean proteins such as chicken breast, turkey, and organic tofu.


You kept all the junk food in your house.

“Whether it’s ice cream, cookies, chips or other items, just knowing that your trigger foods are in the kitchen or your office desk can derail your healthy eating program,” says Palumbo. “This is especially true between 3 p.m. and bedtime when cravings tend the be the most difficult to ignore.”

The solution: One of the best ways to overcome a passing craving is to keep the foods you know you can’t deny out of the house. Can’t imagine kicking your favorite cookies out of the house for good? Individually portion off the foods you tend to overeat. If you know each Ziploc bag of chips is 150 calories, you’ll be less likely to go back for a second serving.


You never indulge.

If every time you have a cookie craving you buy a low-fat package, you may be doing your body a disservice—sounds counterintuitive, we know. When food manufacturers trim the fat, they often pump their snacks full of sugar and additives that can leave you feeling unsatisfied and craving more—not what you want if you’re trying to reverse recent weight gain.

The solution: To get back to a trimmer version of you, eat the real thing, but downsize your portion. If you love ice cream, for example, skip the fro-yo and have a small scoop of premium.


You’re Taking Medication

From beta-blockers to birth control pills, and everything in between, there’s a long, long list of medications that can cause your waistline to bulge. And if you think your Rx is to blame for your ever-expanding waistline, you’re not alone. “Weight issues are often a primary reason for non-compliance with treatment,” Palumbo tells us. “Some drugs stimulate the appetite or slow the body’s metabolism. Others cause fluid retention or enough drowsiness to reduce physical activity, which can trigger weight gain.”

The solution: This is important, so listen up: “If you suspect your drug is causing weight gain, never stop taking it. Instead, make an appointment with your healthcare provider and ask if there might be an equally effective alternative that doesn’t affect your weight. Everyone reacts to medications differently, so trying something else may help,” says Palumbo.


You suffered from an injury.

“Musculoskeletal conditions that cause pain can lead to a decrease in physical activity, which can cause weight gain over time—especially if you are eating the same amount that you were eating when you were more active,” says Rumsey.

The solution: People don’t often want to exercise when their joints are hurting, but exercise can ease some arthritis symptoms. “Low impact activities like walking or riding a stationary bike are easier on joints, as is swimming and water aerobics,” she says. “Working in some strength training exercises with light weights or therapeutic bands can help to improve joint stability and also help counteract weight gain.”


You Eat Too Healthy

“When my clients feel like they aren’t able to enjoy something indulgent from time to time, it often leaves them with hard-to-ignore cravings,” says registered dietitian Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDE.

The solution: “For this reason, I allow my patients to eat 100 discretionary calories each day. It allows them to satisfy their cravings without falling off track.” Nine Peanut M&Ms, 12 gummy bears, and a single Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup all come in right around 100 calories.

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Gained weight on vacation

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