How Many Calories Should I Eat on the Weekends?

weekend calories couple in bed
Paul Bradbury OJO Images/Getty Images

Does your diet fall apart on the weekends? Most of us are less scheduled and more relaxed on Saturday and Sunday.  Sometimes that means we eat more and exercise less on those days. If your goal is to maintain your weight, the additional calories might not make a big difference.  But if weight loss is your goal, those weekend calories could cause problems. 

Why Weekend Calories Matter

The number of calories you eat on the weekends matter just as much as the calories that you eat during the week.

  In fact, if you choose not to exercise on the weekends, they could matter more.

To lose weight at a moderate pace of 1-2 pounds per week, you need to adjust your energy balance to create a deficit of at least 3500 calories.  That means you should consume 500 fewer calories per day, or consume 250 fewer calories per day and burn 250 extra calories with physical activity each day. 

If you adjust your energy balance successfully Monday through Friday, then eat normally on the weekends you're not as likely to end the week with a calorie deficit high enough to lose weight.  And if you use Saturday and Sunday as "cheat days," as some people do, you could end up with a calorie surplus and gain weight.

Use "Weekend Off" Diets Properly

There are eating plans that allow you to take the weekends "off" from your diet. The theory is that by allowing for occasional indulgences, you are more likely to stick to your healthy eating program over the long term.

Sometimes that works.  The 80/20 plan is my favorite plan for healthy eating.  But those plans often work better for weight maintenance than weight loss.

In addition, some people create their weekly calorie deficit by starving themselves during the week so that they can binge on the weekends.  This feast or famine approach is likely to cause diet fatigue and you're probably not going to stick to it over the long term.


If you are serious about losing weight, then you need to be mindful of what you eat every day. The number of calories you eat on the weekends should be about the same as the number of calories you eat during the week.  The scale doesn't know the difference between a Saturday and a Monday so your diet shouldn't either. 

Continue Reading