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February 21, 2008 12:47 PM   Subscribe

How much weight could a healthy adult gain in one indulgent weekend of overeating?
posted by roger ackroyd to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How indulgent was the weekend? I've always heard that 3500 excess calories will result in 1 pound of excess weight. There are a myriad of other factors (salt and water intake for instance) that affect weight gain/loss; so, obviously, ymmv.
posted by wg at 12:55 PM on February 21, 2008

A couple years ago, I gained 12 pounds over Thanksgiving. I would hesitate to call myself healthy, though
posted by daveleck at 12:55 PM on February 21, 2008

The dating site OkCupid ran a Fat Project in which two participants tried to gain as much weight as possible in 30 days.
posted by andythebean at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2008

On purely a guess, I'd say 20 pounds, this would be total contents of the GI tract (which won't stay in there forever) + actual weight gain. Plus retaining 10 lbs of water.
posted by so_ at 12:57 PM on February 21, 2008

Do you mean "gain that will stay on my hips" or "weight they'll poop out after a couple days."

If you mean "gain that will stay...", then it's not ALL that much. When you eat a crazy amount of calories in excess of your necessity as a binge, you tend to...uhm...purge it pretty quickly, especially the fats.
posted by TomMelee at 12:58 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I once gained 12 lbs on a 4 day holiday eating binge. I was pretty scrawny at the time, though. I'm female, and for some reason, I'd imagine a thin male could probably pack on as much or more in a shorter time frame.
posted by emd3737 at 1:06 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: Well, let's figure this out. We'll say this healthy adult has a base metabolic rate of about 2400 calories. Since this is a weekend of indulgence I'm assuming there will be little exercise. That means that anything over this amount is going straight to fat.

Now, the real trick here is whether you mean just regular ol' partytime overeating or whether this person is specifically trying to gain as much as humanly possible in one weekend. Let's assume the latter. A regular human stomach can hold about one liter of material before some pretty bad discomfort sets in, but our guy is a champ, so we'll assume he or she reached for the maximum volume of a distended stomach, which sits at about three quarts, which can be cycled into the duodenum every four hours or so. So basically, we're looking at a maximum of about 18 liters of food per day, or 36 for the weekend.

Let's pick a food that a person could realistically stuff themselves with all weekend, but is still incredibly unhealthy... Greasy pepperoni pizza! From Papa John's - our favorite here in the South USA - a slice of pepperoni pan pizza has 400 calories for 141 grams. Let's guess it has a liquid volume of around one cup. This means that without a long sleep break, a person might be able to down 144 of these slices over the course of a weekend.

This gives us a figure of 57,600 calories consumed. Less the calories burned for the weekend, the figure is dropped to 52,800 calories. Since 3,600 calories make a pound of fat, I would say that 14-15 pounds would be possible, not even accounting for whatever soda would fill the gaps.
posted by Willie0248 at 1:16 PM on February 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

You can gain quite a bit, according to your scale, but keep in mind that indulgent eating doesn't only make your weight increase because of new fat stores, but it also makes your weight increase because you're retaining water. I would say that up to 10 lbs of total weight (including water retention), and 2-5 lbs of actual fat is probably the most damage you could do, unless you were eating buckets of butter or something.

It's worth noting though, that if you tend to eat fairly healthy and you don't tend to gain weight, you may very well not gain a damn thing, even if you eat like crap. I went on a 5 day cruise and ate like a maniac and gained nothing at all. No one was more shocked than me.
posted by tastybrains at 1:18 PM on February 21, 2008

The dating site OkCupid ran a Fat Project in which two participants tried to gain as much weight as possible in 30 days.

See also this mefi post from 2000 to The Spark. Wow...ancient internet history!
posted by spicynuts at 1:19 PM on February 21, 2008

Back in my hardcore bodybuilding days, I would gain 20+ lbs in less than 48 hours using the ketogenic diet and glycogen supercompensation. The amazing thing was I didn't gain an ounce of fat - it just revved up my metabolism even hotter.
posted by survivorman at 1:23 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: Forget adding fat, or at least don't put to much emphasis on it. You will not convert every single excess calorie into fat over a weekend. Just like losing weight takes a continual calorie deficit, gaining weight takes excess calories over a period of time. You'll build some fat, but the amount of water you retain will make it negligible.

I've gained 12lbs in 5 days, when I returned to a controlled diet the pounds flew right off. It was all water. One morning I during those 5 days I ate breakfast at McDonald's, I checked the nutrition info of my meal and breakfast alone had 150% of my needed salt for the day. That's where the weight comes in.
posted by Science! at 1:24 PM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: For the sake of clarity, let me specify this isn't about deliberate weight gain. Just normal overeating.

wg: as indulgent as possible without making oneself sick.
andythebean: great link – I haven't thought about that experiment in ages!
TomMelee: both.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:26 PM on February 21, 2008

Apparently some people have gained 70lbs in one month while on Zyprexa. One person I know would eat till food was brimming his esophagus.
posted by herbaliser at 1:41 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

The ideal condition would be to start as endomorphic --it might not be possible to gain much weight at all if you have an ectomorphic body type. This guy gained 34 pounds of muscle mass in 4 weeks. I'd say you could probably gain eight to ten pounds in a weekend.
posted by mattbucher at 1:55 PM on February 21, 2008

check out this article on holiday eating:
posted by keith0718 at 1:57 PM on February 21, 2008

As discussed previously on AskMe, there's no obvious limit to how many calories you can stuff in your face, but there is some sort of upper limit on how many your body can actually digest and absorb. The rest will just pass right through you.

Estimates from that thread seem to be around 10k calories per day. If we use this as a good estimate, that's 20k calories over two days (and figure you burn about 3k of those just with basal levels of metabolism).

A quick conversion of 3500 calories = 1 pound, and we're left with a little under 5 pounds in one 48 hour period.

Of course, you could throw on more if you consider things like retaining water, but that's all temporary. I'd guesstimate an upper limit of 10 real pounds in a weekend, under ideal circumstances. For most people, it would be much less.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:16 PM on February 21, 2008

i would bet that a weekend of semi-sane indulgence (i.e. not hooking yourself up to an i.v. full of melted butter or eating an entire ham in one sitting) would net you a couple pounds extra, max.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:23 PM on February 21, 2008

Best answer: I think 5 lbs in 48 hours for a normal-sized, normal-metabolism person who doesn't start off dehydrated is quite a bit. I'd be surprised if you could really pack on more than 2 or 3 permanent tissue lbs. (i.e., fat or muscle mass, as opposed to water weight) in that period of time.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:23 PM on February 21, 2008

The problem with the overindulgent weekend is that once you increase your calorie intake that much, you have to be careful to go right back to your healthy eating, because you are setting your body up to expect more food. I doubt that in that time your stomach would actually grow bigger, but you might feel as if you were still hungry, even after you'd eaten normally, because you just got used to eating more than you needed.

So, over the weekend, pounds you would actually keep on, I would say maybe 4-5. I have heard it said that people on cruises, where they can eat very rich food at any time, can gain a couple pounds every single day they cruise.
posted by misha at 3:14 PM on February 21, 2008

Beer has an awful lot of calories. I've had the occasional booze-and-junk-food weekends in recent years that've added 2 or 3 kilos. Which took a fair bit longer than a few days to get rid of.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:05 AM on February 22, 2008

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