How do we gain body fat?
Are you someone who would like to lose a few pounds of fat or more? Have you been struggling with your weight on and off for years? Do you feel like you have been stuck for a long time, unable to move the scale down at all? Maybe it is time to take a step back and really think about how we actually gain body fat.
This first one is obvious to most of us. The whole health and fitness industry has been screaming this for decades. If you eat too much you will gain excess body fat. We are all well aware of this one by now. Did you know that there are 3500 calories in one pound of fat? So for you to gain one pound of fat, you would need a SURPLUS of 3500 calories over your TDEE over the course of a few days or a week.
So let’s use round numbers. Let’s say your body needs 2,000 calories a day to break even. So if you eat 2,500 calories a day for a week, then you will have gained one pound of fat. This is an important thing to understand for individuals who worry about the daily and weekly fluctuations of their weight on the scale. It is very unlikely that you gained 5 pounds of fat on Thanksgiving day. More than likely you are just retaining water.
Think about it, to gain 5 pounds of fat in a day you would need to have eaten 19,500 calories in a day. That is simply not possible, even if most people tried. Even professional athletes with notoriously outrageous calorie intakes only get about 10,000 a day tops. Unless you are talking about pro strongmen like Brian Shaw and Eddie Hall who can eat 20,000 daily. No really! They have documented it on YouTube!
Overeating comes over time. You might eat a few hundred calories over your TDEE daily, every day. Over a month you notice you gained a pound or two. Overeating and fat gain doesn’t happen with a few bad meals a month. It happens with a daily lifestyle of bad habits that add up
This is the less talked about issue, but in my opinion is the bigger issue. I know that might not make any sense when you hear that. Knowing that it takes a surplus to gain weight, but hear me out. I am going to explain why undereating is such a big issue.
Let’s talk about your TDEE, and pretend that you need 2,000 calories a day to break even. Now let’s pretend that you are only eating an average of 1,000 calories daily. Initially you might lose fat due to the deficit. Over time however, your metabolism slows down to adjust to your extremely low calorie intake.
Now maybe your TDEE is down to 1,500 due to the metabolic adaptation. Previously you would have had o eat 2,500 calories a day to gain one pound of fat a week. Now if you eat just 2,000 calories a day, you will gain one pound of fat a week. This is what happens to many individuals who go on extreme calorie restrictive diets, that lead to an inevitable rebound and yo-yo dieting.
There you have it! I know the health and fitness industry has always been saying “Eat less and move more, it’s so easy. Why can’t you do it?” That mentality leads to all these poor people end up starving themselves with crash diets and too much cardio. Only to hit the inevitable rebound.
A word of hope, unless you were on the TV show “The Biggest Loser” then you metabolism isn’t damaged, it is just adapted. There are things you can do to bring your metabolism back up. One of the things you can do is to purchase my plan that is designed to help kick start your metabolism HERE. If you would rather DIY it, please look through more of my blog for helpful free tips!
This is one I won’t get into too much. I will suggest that you find a good hormone doctor who will do a full panel of labs on you to make sure you are not only ok, but optimized.
I have seen a spike in hormone issues in the last few years with my clinical job. These issues range from PCOS and endometriosis in women, to low testosterone in men. (To name a few) These are usually due to environmental factors and lifestyle variables.
Environmental hormone issues have been linked to plastics, artificial fragrance, and other chemicals in our lives. In the last 5 years alone there have been over 2,530 studies done liking plastics to endocrine disruptors! A few things you can do right away is to
- Eliminate or reduce single use plastics in your household. Switch your plastic water bottles and cook wear out for tin, or glass. Get rid of plastic bags and use beeswax cloths or other eco friendly options.
- Remove any artificial fragrance from your bathroom. Including candles, beauty products, and perfume. I like to use the app called “Think Dirty” to make sure the products I am using are free from harmful ingredients.
- Start to live a Zero Waste lifestyle by switching to products like Blueland.
- Get a water filter and stop buying plastic water bottles.
While it might feel scary and overwhelming with all the environmental issues that affect our hormones. We can still control the lifestyle choices that can make or break us hormonally. Things like poor quality foods, too much caffeine, certain drugs, not drinking enough water, as well as other physiological and physiological stressors.
We might see a family where the grandparents are overweight, the parents are overweight, and their kids are overweight. It is easy to see a family like this and to just assume it must be their genetics.
I want you to think about this though. America is a melting pot of diverse genetics from around the world. Yet we still have the biggest issue of being overweight despite our genetic pool.
That overweight family has more than just their genetics in common. They also share a pantry and a similar lifestyle. I always use this metaphor, your genetics might be the loaded gun, but your lifestyle pulls the trigger. An article published by Harvard Health talks about this and states that only a handful of genes have been shown to be key players in your predisposition to being overweight. At the end of the day, it still comes down to eating the appropriate calories for your energy demands.
To sum it up
- You need to eat the appropriate calories for your energy demand.
- If you are overeating you will gain weight quickly over a few months and years (not days).
- If you are undereating you will slow down your metabolism and cause yourself to rebound harder every time you go off your diet.
- If your hormones are not optimized, then it might be harder for you overall.
- Your genetics are not a big enough concern to worry about. Pay attention to your lifestyle and focus on what you can control.
Are you interested in finding out exactly how many calories you need to be consuming? Take my free quiz below. It will take less than 5 minutes and you will get a calculation of how many calories you should be eating!