Why can’t you gain/lose weight?

 Billions of dollars are spent every year by people who want the get bigger or leaner. The sad thing is there isn’t much magic trick or super special ingredient needed. Brace yourselves I will reveal you the truth about it all.

If you don’t get big it’s because you don’t eat enough.

If you’re too fat, it’s because you eat too much
(and/or don’t exercise enough).

Period. 

Reality check

Under or over eating: simple as that. But no… not you… you’re different right? You have a super fast metabolism or you smoke, you’re very stressed and anxious, you workout a lot, you have a physical job, so whatever you eat, you stay skinny. And you my chubby friend… you have big bones, it runs in the family, you have a slow metabolism so no diet will work on you. Right?

Sorry, but chances are your body obeys the universal laws of conservation of mass and conservation of energy. So, as hard as it is to believe: if you can’t  gain/lose weight, it’s because you’re not eating right. It’s all about calorie surplus or deficit. (Except a few cases where some diseases are involved).

Some will think I’m a bit blunt, but for some reasons people don’t want to believe this simple truth (I used to be like this). They prefer to look for some special reason why it’s not working, some magic pill or powder or some revolutionary diet to make it easy. (By the way, take any diet or “nutrition plan” and when you look at it, in the end, all they do is make you cut your calorie intake.)

I’ve spent years being skinny and thinking I was eating a lot. I had a fast metabolism, was exercising a lot and in the end, I wasn’t eating enough. If you don’t gain weight eating 3500 calories/day, try 4500. Still not working, try 6000… Same things goes when you want to lose weight: eat less and/or exercise more.

Some tips to get started

So how many calories a day do you usually eat? You don’t have a clue?!? Then you might want to start there. Write everything you eat for 1-2 days and count calories. It doesn’t have to be perfectly precise, just to give you a good idea.

Then, you will calculate your theoretical TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). You can use this calculator. If you’re lifting heavy weights, you might want to overestimate your activity level. Now compare your usual calorie intake with your TDEE. You should understand why you can’t gain/lose weight.

While this method is far from perfect, it will give you a rough idea of where you stand. It was a real wake up call for me. I thought was eating a lot, but in the end, that was only 2800-3000 calories/day. When you’re lifting heavy weights 4-5 hours/week, that isn’t much, barely enough for maintenance.

For those who are over eating, you might want to keep on using your food log a little longer to see where you could cut.

I’ll write specific articles about weight lost and mass gain later on…

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