Why is gaining weight hard?

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3 years ago

First of all, I know what most of you may be thinking... "Gaining weight hard? Nah... losing weight is hard!!"

I'll just say that grass is always greener on the other side.

Some people struggle with losing weight and some other people struggle with gaining it. It is not a matter of which one is more difficult but rather an individual difficulty. And that's it. One of the major issues in nutrition and fitness is that people tend to extrapolate all kind of results and objectives to a large group of individuals as if they were all the exact same. Each person is a world on their own they say...

So. I received a question in one of my posts (you can check it here) regarding why is it hard to gain weight, so I'll try to put it in simple and few words.

It is mostly due to the fact that people fail to estimate their calorie intake as well as calorie needs. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of energy balance or CICO (calories in-calories out). That's the "magic" behind the weight changes: it all comes down to how much energy you consume and how much of it you "burn" or you store. It'll be oversimplifying things if we believed that it's just a simple mathematic subtraction, because it's not. It has a lots of "regulatory" measurements that alters both intake and output of calories, but in the very end, the CICO prevails.

Now... why is it hard to gain weight (or lose it, depending on what it is you are looking for). Because you fall short on your energy needs (or exceeds them). The most usual aspect of this miscalculation of calories is that we use estimative formulas to "know" our needs. Read that last few words again. Estimative formulas.

They are not 100% precise! And you can find some of them overestimating your needs or underestimating them. That's when critical thinking and the insight of a professional comes in handy. One needs to work the way around a formula and compare it to real-life outputs. It doesn't matter if the formula says you need 2500kcals a day if you consistently do so but you don't gain weight. Get some more. Add a few 200 extra and see what happens. Experience. Try and fail, but never stop trying.

In my daily practice I've encountered a lot of these cases where gaining weight was impossible (according to the patients). They refer having tried "everything" (what they mean by everything is a copied diet from the web and some fancy supplements that the gym owner sold them). But it never fails: once they start getting the right amount of energy, combined with the right training and adequate sleep, they gain weight (mostly lean if one does not go over the hill with the kcal).

Now... I'm not saying it is an easy thing to do. Because most things in life aren't. What I'm saying is that is not something impossible. One just need to get a hold on of the right "route". I personally find it hard gaining weight but because I get full quite fast and I don't abuse on hypercaloric foods. When you eat mostly "healthy" food, you get to eat quite a lot of volume so your meals are very satiating. If you get full before you reach your calorie goal, well then it is going to be reaaaaaally hard for you to gain weight. It'll be like hoping to get rich even though you spend every day the same amount of money you make.

One other thing that people tend to do wrong is give protein more importance than it deserves. OF COURSE that protein is important and without it you'd be dead (for real). And in cases of gaining weight it plays a major role. But with values around 1,6-1,8g/kg of bodyweight you're good to go. Most people go beyond those values, sometimes up to 2,5-3g/kg of bodyweight. You can use so much protein to an extend in terms of gaining lean mass, at one point, the exceeded amount would be used for energy production, not for gaining weight. On the other hand, protein is one of the most satiating nutrients.

So... if you eat a lot of protein you might be full most of the day, which can lead to under consumption of energy and thus making it impossible for you to gain weight.

My advice is... trial and error. If you are an autodidact who wants to take matter into your own hands... Read a lot of nutrition online. Info is there, you just need to make the effort of researching the most you can. Or go see a professional in the field who can direct you best. Final thoughts: in order of importance you should first try and reach the right amount of calories, followed by an adequate protein intake (1,6-1,8g/kg of bodyweight) and obviously with the right training and sleep.

Nutrition helps up to some point, but if one fails with having enough time and sleep quality and or doesn't hit the right strings with the training sessions, well... most likely you won't get the results you want.

Let me know what you think on the comments! I'll try and answer all of them!

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3 years ago

Comments

Right! Through trial and error I've noticed that the more balanced my diet is between protein, carbs and oil, the better I feel.

And then I've started drinking oregano tea, it's the only thing I've felt has boosted my appetite.😀

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3 years ago

Nice to hear that! In my humble opinion, trial and error is the best you can do as there are plenty of ways to improve. Kudos !!

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3 years ago

Hey! Didn't know that about the protein!

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3 years ago

Most people don't know it. Mainly because they associate protein with bodybuilders and think that they have to stuff themselves witch chicken in order to get some gains hahaha

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3 years ago