Weekend Diets

  • 1st Revision: Shikha Javaharlal
  • 2nd Revision: Tasneem Kaderi
  • 3rd Revision: Jasmine Yeh


What is a weekend diet?

In brief, it involves savouring some of the calories you have  “saved” during the week, perhaps with a glass of wine or a piece of your favourite dessert. Weekend overeating (and over-drinking) is a coping mechanism based on reward after being ‘good’ Monday through Friday, managing work and family duties whilst rushing to get supper on the table. When the weekend arrives, we kick up our heels, switch into relaxation mode – and enter a nutritional danger zone, where healthy eating and workout regimens may be thrown to the wind.

Though not inherently bad, this article is here to tell how you can enjoy yourself without slipping off your healthy eating plan on the weekend by learning more about weekend diets, and subsequently,  live a better lifestyle.

What damage is done during weekend diets?


Sugar provides a surge and a crash, and it is also extremely addictive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) include sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters.1,2 If you eat one small treat at the weekend, the temptation to eat another on a working day is much greater. 

If you binge-eat for a few days, you'll also have a yearning for the rest of the week. There is a lot of evidence that demonstrates that the addictiveness to sugar may be higher than that of cocaine, where the more you consume, the more you need to satisfy that "high". 3,4

Feeling Lethargic 

Is it any surprise that you feel lethargic after a weekend of being bloated, achy, and cravey? "Binges deplete your energy," says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

According to studies on healthy non-alcoholics, it was found that acute alcohol injections (0.7–1 g/kg) lower sleep latency, making it easier to fall asleep; thus making alcohol an effective somnolent.5,6 However, the benefits of alcohol on sleep are transient, and sleep is significantly interrupted during the second part of the night as blood alcohol concentration falls, as seen by fragmented sleep and frequent waking. 7,8,9

Destroying your Gut Bacteria 

The problem with binge eating is that it can destroy your gut bacteria, as a result of high levels of artificial sweeteners, larger quantities of alcohol than usual, and consuming more processed foods in comparison to working days.10, 11 This can definitely feel like a punch to the gut. Furthermore, a weekend is enough to do damage to your gut and your health. According to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, consuming junk food for a couple of days might be just as bad as eating junk all the time.

Weight Gain 

Calories are the only account for the increase in fat in individuals who live in a controlled setting.12 It's very difficult to gain even one pound of fat from a single day of binging. However, if you don't get your diet back on track, you might easily gain a few pounds of fat in a week because overeating results in a considerable increase in calories among individuals even with high protein diets.13,14

Emotional Eating 

Overeating can exacerbate emotions of guilt and negativity. It is not good if the only thing that gets you through the week is fantasising about Friday night pizza, and then on Monday, all you can think about is how awful you feel. 

Also, you may feel guilty after eating a lot of highly processed foods and overdrinking, and realise you have gained weight.

Can it Promote Eating Disorders?

The answer is YES!!!

Weekend diets are bad for health. Too much alcohol, sugar, and processed food can contribute to unhealthy weekend binge eating and overeating. People who overeat might feel physically bloated and unwell. "Weekend diets can also develop eating disorders," says registered dietitian Lauren Sullivan, RD. "When you become obsessed with being strict during the week, it sets you up for a weekend free-for-all, which is not beneficial for your physical or mental state." It is also tough for your body to process a high quantity of calories all at once. Instead, the body stores them. "So you transition from these moments when your body is getting what it needs and has a continuous metabolism to storage mode, which is how people gain weight."

How to Implement Long-term Healthy Diet Changes?

Put those negative thoughts to rest if your weekend diets make you feel out of control or if it is causing harm to your body or mind. Take a more positive approach by referring to it as a "reward" rather than "guilt." 

You may decide that your reward will consist of merely one item (such as an ice cream cone or a small cake), one plate of food (such as barbeque), or one meal that must be finished within a certain time frame (dinner at your favourite restaurant).

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, as long as the slice is small and your activity level remains high. You should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, such as: 

  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Watching an exercise DVD
  • Wear a pedometer and count your steps while doing errands or shopping (strive for at least 5,000 steps) 

Exercising on a daily basis can help you feel better. No matter how tough it is to get started, you will never regret lacing up your sneakers.

Furthermore, creating dietary data sheets and weight range sheets will help you learn more about your body and keep you from going on a weekend diet. These records keep track of: 

  • the timing of food consumption
  • Nature  of food consumption
  • quantity of food consumption
  • other circumstances surrounding all food and drink consumption

Time is essential in shaping both the pattern of between-meal eating and the duration of planned meals. The kind and quantity of food consumed is significant since it has a direct impact on weight growth. The weight range is significant because it represents a continual record of changes in gross bodyweight. Therefore, weight should be taken before breakfast, as well as before bed. 


So, take your time, appreciate your food, and reward yourself with something you actually like. That chocolate chip cookie will taste much better. Meanwhile, make a record of your diet and weight, and turn your favourite weekend activities into a workout to increase the fun. Weekends are perfect for digging in the dirt, playing tennis, kicking a football, or going for a stroll with the dog. Spend time with family or friends while doing something enjoyable, such as a long walk or bike trip.

Enjoy your weekends, but do not let them undermine your work throughout the week. A little foresight will go a long way toward keeping you fit and looking great!


  1. C.L. Ogden, B.K. Kit, M.D. Carroll, S. Park Consumption of sugar drinks in the United States, 2005-2008 NCHS Data Brief, 71 (2011), pp. 1-8 Google Scholar
  2. U.S. National Cancer Institute. Sources of beverage intakes among the US population, 2005-06. http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/beverages/. Accessed October 1, 2015.
  3. Kenny PJ. The food addiction. Scientific American. 2013 Sep 1;309(3):44-9. Google Scholar
  4. Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PloS one. 2007 Aug 1;2(8):e698. Google Scholar
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  8. Feige B, Gann H, Brueck R, Hornyak M, Litsch S, Hohagen F, Riemann D. Effects of alcohol on polysomnographically recorded sleep in healthy subjects. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2006 Sep;30(9):1527-37. Google Scholar
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  11. Chassaing B, Koren O, Goodrich JK, Poole AC, Srinivasan S, Ley RE, Gewirtz AT. Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome. Nature. 2015 Mar;519(7541):92-6. Google Scholar
  12. Bray GA, Smith SR, de Jonge L, Xie H, Rood J, Martin CK, Most M, Brock C, Mancuso S, Redman LM. Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. Jama. 2012 Jan 4;307(1):47-55. Google Scholar
  13. Miller DS, Mumford P. Gluttony: 1. An experimental study of overeating low-or high-protein diets. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1967 Nov 1;20(11):1212-22. Google Scholar
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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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