Whether you like it or not, it’s going to happen: You’re going to have a weekend (or even a week) of dicey nutrition. While we at FYF always try to give you the tools to navigate social situations, we also understand that sometimes just being in the moment and not worrying about your eating is far more important. This can be true for bachelor/ette weekends, vacations, or when your best friends or favorite family come to visit and you’ve gotta show them all the good foodie finds in town.
So, you have your weekend and decide you’re going to get back on track. So you hop on the scale to see the “damage” and suddenly freak out about the number on the scale.
Before we get into it, let’s talk numbers. This is putting the science of nutrition very simply but in order to gain one pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 calories ABOVE your maintenance calories. So you’ll need to eat your average of 1,800-2,700 calories a day PLUS an additional 3,500 calories to gain ONE pound of body fat. So, if you hop on the scale post-vacation and find that you’ve gained something like a whopping 8 pounds, chances are the scale is just messing with you.
Here’s what could be going on:
You drank alcohol
You might notice the day after drinking, you wake up leaner. That’s likely due to dehydration. But what happens 2 to 3 days after drinking is that we actually wake up heavier as the body works to metabolize the food we ate, a task it put by the wayside as it prioritized getting rid of the alcohol in your system. So, it’s very common after a weekend of drinking for the scale to read higher until the body works to resume to its set point.
You consumed more sodium
If you ate out at restaurants or opted for something like a salt-rimmed margarita, chances are you consumed more sodium than you needed. With sodium intake comes water retention, and with water retention comes a higher reading on the scale.
You’re not going to the bathroom as regularly
It’s very common when people are traveling or out of routine to have a hard time going to the bathroom as regularly as they normally do. This can be because of food choices, a disruption in routine, lack of water, lack of movement, or just discomfort of going to the bathroom outside of their home. If your digestion was a bit irregular, chances are it’s going to reflect on the scale.
You haven’t been sleeping
Fun weekend in Vegas? Staying up all night catching up with your friends? Maybe your weekend didn’t allow as much sleep as you’d like. Well, surprisingly, a lack of sleep can actually affect the reading on the scale.
Lots of what we’re talking about ultimately comes down to inflammation. Maybe you ate much more inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and sugar. Maybe you’re bloated from air travel. Maybe you caught too much sun. All of those things can result in inflammation which can result in a higher reading on the scale.
So what do you do?
Nothing. There is no need to punish yourself with hours of cardio or restrict your carbs. Just get back into your routine. Catch up on sleep, drink water, exercise, and eat well. A couple of days back into routine and the scale with stabilize and you’ll find that the weekend didn’t do as much “damage” as you thought.