Let’s just be hounest: I don’t like (and as a model; can’t afford) gaining weight, even if it’s for the sake of the holidays. So is post-holiday weight gain inevitable? In this post I have described how much you really need to consume to gain one pound of fat.

How many calories do I need to consume to gain 1 pound of fat?
To burn off 1 lbs of fat, you need to burn off 3.500 kilocalories (1). This also means that to gain 1 lbs (0.45 kg) of fat, you need to consume 3.500 kilocalories (from now on: kcal) more than you burn. That’s in theory; what happens at real is dependent on things like activity level, sex, weight, height and more.

A simple calculation:
Let’s say your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate; the amount of kcal you need to consume to stay at the same weight, based on your weight, age, sex, heigt and activity level) is 2350. If you would consume a total of 3.500 kcal a day – which I think is quite ordinairy for the holidays) for two days in a row, you would consume 2 times 1150 kcal (2300 kcal) above your BMR.

2300 kcal equals a weight gain of 0.7 lbs/0.32 kg (2300 kcal/3500 kcal). So consuming about 33% (1150 kcal each day) more than your BMR for 2 days, can leave you with a weight gain of about 0.7 lbs (0.3 kg) after these 2 (holi)days*.

0.7 lbs (0.3 kg) is nothing, no one will probably even see it. Going for a brisk 45 minute walk during your break and decreasing your caloric intake with 200 kcal for five days in a row will make you get rid of these 0.7 extra pounds/0.3 kg quick.

Help, I gained more than one pound over the Holidays!
A lot more weight gain than just those 0.7 lbs/0.3 kg is quite extraordinairy, as you can see in the table below. Scientists have researched the average weight gain during holidays and reported a 0 (for those with a normal BMI and no obesity history) and 0.2 kg (for thos with BMI < 25) to 1.57 kg (fat) weight gain. Assuming that most models have a BMI of <25, I expect you do not have to be afraid of gaining an alarming weight. 

Hull et. al. (previous post) 94 College   ~13 days 0.5 kg (average), 1.0 kg (BMI >/= 25), 0.2 kg BMI < 25)
Rees et al. (2) 35 (22 normal, 13 diabetic) UK Unknown ~2 months 0.9 kg (normal), 0.7 kg (diabetics)
Andersson & Rössner (3) 46 obese, 76 controls Obese patients in maintenance therapy   2-3 weeks 0.6 kg obese, 0.4 kg controls
Reid et al. (4) 26 Staff in the School of Educational and Community Studies (UK) 17-59 Ave. 15.5 days 0.93 kg (average)
Yanovski et al. (5) 195 National Institutes of Health campus; Bethesda, Maryland 19-82 (mean 39) 5 months (or 1 year) 0.37 kg (average over holiday period), 0.48 kg (average total over 5 months), 0.62 kg (165 subjects who reported for 1 year), BMI correlated with weight gain
Hull et al. (6) 82 College   ~2 months In BMI <25 no weight change but body fat % increase, BMI >/= 25 weight increase and body fat % increase
Costa et al. (7) 54 females College   5 months and 1 year Over holiday period: 1.39 kg weight gain, 1.57 kg fat mass gain; over 1 year: 0.74 kg heavier, 0.86 kg fat mass
Phelan et al. (8) 252 National Weight Loss Control Registry     0.7 kg for formerly overweight subjects who have successfully kept off weight, 0.2 kg for normal weight with no history of obesity

Photoshoot after the holidays?
Sure you gained more than those 7 lbs after all? It’s probably just fluid weight from a higher sodium or carbohydrate intake. Do you have a photoshoot planned right after yur holidays? It might sound strange, but make sure to drink plenty of water to get rid of excessive water weight. Also try to get back to your healthy eating pattern as soon as possible and the excessive weight will come off soon.

*Edit: there are lots of factors that influence metabolism. As such, it is not possible to predict weight loss based on caloric calculations.

1. Centers for Desease Control and Prevention
2. Rees, S., Holman, R., & Turner, R. (1985). The Christmas feast. BMJ, 291 (6511), 1764-1765 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.291.6511.1764
3. Andersson I, & Rössner S (1992). The Christmas factor in obesity therapy. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 16 (12), 1013-5 PMID: 1335971
4. Reid, R., & Hackett, A. (1999). Changes in nutritional status in adults over Christmas 1998Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 12 (6), 513-516 DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-277x.1999.00205.x
5. Yanovski, J., Yanovski, S., Sovik, K., Nguyen, T., O’Neil, P., & Sebring, N. (2000). A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain New England Journal of Medicine, 342 (12), 861-867 DOI:10.1056/NEJM200003233421206
(Note: Obesity Panacea also covered this study here)
6. Hull HR, Hester CN, & Fields DA (2006). The effect of the holiday season on body weight and composition in college students. Nutrition & metabolism, 3 PMID: 17192197

7. Costa C, Moreira P, & Teixeira V (2007). HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTSInternational Journal Of Obesity And Related Metabolic Disorders Link
8. Phelan S, Wing RR, Raynor HA, Dibello J, Nedeau K, & Peng W (2008). Holiday weight management by successful weight losers and normal weight individuals. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 76 (3), 442-8 PMID: 18540737


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About Author

Hey! I'm Angela; a 30-something mommy and a now REAL #fitchick, digi nerd, photo & film shooter hobbyist, MSc specialized in Health Education, marketingspecialist and an international fashion model for 20 years. I've worked for eg. Viktor & Rolf, Nivea, Escada, Elle, Vogue and Glamour.

I write about everything that I find worth sharing. Go ahead an take a look around. Don't hesitate to share your thought sor opinions. Enjoy!

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