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How long does it take for extra calories to show as weight gain?

~Janis ~
on 12/8/08 11:58 am

I am mainly a lurker but I have a question I'm hoping someone can answer.   I have steadily been loosing weight over the past year but lately I'm slowing down so I'm wondering...

If I consume many extra calories for a few days, let's say a 4 day Thanksgiving weekend, how long does it take the extra calories to convert to weight gain?

I often see posts from folks who share how they have overeaten only to have a weight loss the next day.  I don't think calories eaten today show up as weight gain tomorrow but just how long does it take?  I do imagine that it varies person to person but any ballpark ideas?

Thanks! Jan

Heather S.
on 12/8/08 12:36 pm - McMinnville, OR
Thats a good question Jan....I don't know the answer, but I'd like to know what it is too!   I'm planning to go off my diet for Christmas and am just hoping Christmas doesn't end up lasting a week (thats how long i'll be at my parents house) And if it does last a week, how long will it take for the gain to show, and how long will it take to lose it?

Mini-goal: 430 lbs by 1/16/15 (surgery date) 


on 12/8/08 1:03 pm

Welcome to the board Jan.

I'm not sure either on the exact number of days it takes.  But I do know it happens and if I eat icky for even up to a week I can lose it all VERY fast within the next week.  It's when I don't pay attention to the slight gain that will get me every time.  I'm thinking two days or so, not sure though.  But also don't forget salt intake really plays a factor in this also.  It can make your scale go nuts! :)  

Janine P.
on 12/8/08 1:08 pm - Long Island, NY
DS on 05/03/11 with
I do know the answer to this but it's not going to please you: Everyone is different.  That's really the answer.

My personal weight gain is two days.  I've eaten like a hog, and it takes two days for the weight to reach my thighs and show up on the scale.  My sister, for example, takes about 4 days.  My friend Theresa takes about 10 days.

Totally based on your personal metabolic rate.  Sorry I can't be more specific for ya.


Janine   Me on Youtube 


Chris I.
on 12/8/08 1:53 pm
FobiPouch on 02/09/10 with
I don't think this can be accurately measured honestly.   Let's say you ate an excess of 3500 calories, 4 days in a row.  That'd be about 4 pounds of fat assuming 3500 calories=1lb of fat.  It takes the human body about 24-72 hours to fully digest food.  In theory you could see the weight gain of 1 pound 2-3 days and 1 additional pound for 3 days. However, that's assuming your muscles are depleted of glucogen and that your RMR/BMR stays consistent and that after the 4 days you ate exactly what you're body required.  Your body is very complex. You might see a pound or two gain from a 4 day holiday, but I think that would be easily lost again.

You're slowing down most likely because your body needs less and less food to fuel itself.  You'll need to switch things up and fool your body or decrease your food intake. 

 -=- CHRiS aka "Butterfinger Ho" -=-   

                                         40 lbs lost while pursuing surgery.
on 12/8/08 2:17 pm


Welcome back Chris, nice to see ya poppin' in!  How have you been doing?

Chris I.
on 12/8/08 2:29 pm
FobiPouch on 02/09/10 with
Honestly??  Not to brag or anything, but I've been doing miserably.   Depression's set in. Food intake has increased.  I'm back to doing obscene things with sweets.   I've reversed all my success for this year and if January doesn't come soon enough I'll have negative numbers lost for this year.  Weight in a big 299.5 lbs and climbing.

Otherwise, I've been figuring out a lot of stuff with my body.. I had a sleep study and I have very severe sleep apnea. Come to find out, it's affecting my memory, my mood and other cognitive abilities. It explains a lot. I thought it was the thyroid but once my thyroid got in check and I felt no different they had to look elsewhere.  Did you know that sleep apnea actuallly can shrink portions of your brain?  Not the apnea itself but the hypoxia. Shrinks your mamilllary bodies such as your hippocampi.  The ones responsible for short term memory. :)  Also seen in severe alcoholics and alzheimers patients.  Who knew?

But I don't want to hijack this thread. ;)  Good to see you guys, too.  I'll try to hang around a bit more. :)

 -=- CHRiS aka "Butterfinger Ho" -=-   

                                         40 lbs lost while pursuing surgery.
on 12/8/08 1:54 pm - MI

What I can tell you, every 3,500 calories, equals a pound. So if you put on, let's say (5)lbs, you would have eaten 17,500. calories.

To lose that weight, you would have to burn 17,500 calories.  How long would that take you? That's how long it would take you to lose your extra weight gain.

          3,500calories = (1) pound of fat / (weight gain)
               3,500 x weight gain = calories consumed

From your message, it sounds like you are coming to a plateau, where your body has to adjust it's self to the new you. I have been told you need to increase your activity, and make sure you only eat what you need to, to stay on program. (MOVE THAT BODY!)

As far as how long: Well it takes (3) hours to get past your stomach, and about 12-24 hours  out the exit door. I myself am closer to the 24hr.. My guess: one day. The good news is, if you take care of the weight gain right away, it comes off quickly, if you don't take care of it right away, it will take more work at it. (I can attest to that.)

Hope this can help you with your questions.

on 12/8/08 3:52 pm - Near Media, Pa- South of Philly, NJ
The weight gain is almost instantanous, but it's a false one.

When you suddenly increase your intake, your body needs to hold on to large amounts of water for the increased processing of glycogen. After a three or four day holiday, it's not unusual to get a reading that's 3-4 pounds higher than normal, and it's what we call "water weight."

Drinking plenty of water to help move it through helps-- and tha****er weight balance goes back to pretty near normal in about a week.

Hope that helps.

 "Oh sweet and sour Jesus, that is GOOD!" - Stephen Colbert  Lap RNY 7/07-- Lap Gallbladder 5/08--  
     Emergency Bowel Repair
6/08 -Dr. Meilahn, Temple U.  
 Upper and Lower Bleph/Lower Face Lift 
     Fraxel Repair 2/09-- Lower Bleph Re-Do 5/09  -Dr. Pontell, Media PA  Mastopexy/Massive 
     Brachioplasty/ Extended Abdominoplasty 
(plus Mons Lift and Upper Leg lift) / Hernia Repair
      6/24/09 ---Butt Lift and Lateral Thighplasty Scheduled 7/6/10
 - Dr. Ivor Kaplan VA Beach
Total Cost: $33,500   Start wt: 368   RNY wt: 300  Goal wt: 150   Current wt: 148.2  BMI: 24.7

on 12/9/08 8:29 am, edited 12/9/08 8:33 am

It takes 3500 calories to make 1 single pound. if you are burning more than what you consume you will lose...if you are burning the same amount you consume, you will lose slower or maybe not at all, but you wont gain either.

this is what is working for me...for every pound you weigh add 100 calories. it will take that much to keep you at the weight you are now.  i am 240 so if i eat 2400 cals a day, given that i burn it off thru my walking, working or whatever activity instead of loafing around motionless lol, i will stay at 240.  I want to weigh 130. so i consume 1300 cals a day. no matter how much i weigh, i keep it at that amount and its been dont have to starve to do it either. i fill most of my diet of healthy food, snacking on fruit or string cheese or raisins or something along those lines throughout the day, not eating out, just sticking to a simple turkey sand with mayo for lunch, and then an easy dinner...anything i want without using oils butters or frying. mostly chicken and veggies...


~Janis ~
on 12/9/08 10:00 am
Thanks for the responses.  

I'm sure it is different for everyone and probably different for the same person depending on the cir****tances.

I was wondering because I thought I got away with the extras at Thanksgiving and then a week later the scale started moving in the wrong direction.  Hopefully, I'm headed down again.  I do know that for me weight loss isn't a steady decline but more like the saying two steps forward and one step back (or two pounds down and one back up!).  


Chris I.
on 12/9/08 6:40 pm
FobiPouch on 02/09/10 with
I hear ya on the two steps.  Seems like mine is 25 lbs down 24.99 lbs up. :)

 -=- CHRiS aka "Butterfinger Ho" -=-   

                                         40 lbs lost while pursuing surgery.
Neecee O.
on 12/12/08 7:01 am, edited 12/12/08 7:02 am - CA

Hi Jan...this subject is infinitely fascinating!!!! After watching many of my WLS acquaintances and 3D pals, it has been even more fascinating.

Many have said, instantaneous gain or loss is usually false - a water issue. True loss - or gain - is very hard to pinpoint and this is why i choose to weigh on no more than monthly if pressed. It drives me MAD to watch my weight weekly, daily would make me eat my young!

From my nutrition training and ongoing personal research, I believe that our bodies are very slow to make lasting changes from food intake - both good and bad changes. We perceive that we got fat in one year, but usually the process has started long before we notice scale changes.

I know my answer is very airy fairy, but most of us have to do long term efforts in food and exercise before we begin to see real changes. I got to see Morgan Spurlock in person once, and he made a VERY intersting comment: he claims that before this now-famous weight gain, his body now will pack on an "instant" five pound weight gain after a hard-living weekend. His bod had never acted like that before.

Hells bells, my body has acted this way all of my conscious memory!  If I eat badly for two days, my body will pack on water weight immediately! Conversely, when I eat cleanly (lower cals, not much grains in my case) - it takes weeks to see scale downturns. Sucks.

My take home lesson is this: once we get fat, our bodies are much harder to deal with and waaay less predictable.

thanks for this question - very interesting indeed!

"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."   ~Mark Twain