Understanding Weight Gain
Weight gain happens when we consume more calories in our diet than we burn off with activity. With 34.9 percent of adults in America suffering from obesity and 60 percent struggling with being overweight, it’s important to understand both how weight gain works and what factors may contribute to weight gain.
How Weight Gain Works
When you eat something, your body turns its calories into energy. Your body uses that energy to perform various tasks, such as breathing and circulating blood. The amount of calories that your body needs to complete these tasks is called your basal metabolic rate (also called metabolism). This is different for everyone, and is based on the following:
- Body size and composition. Someone with a larger body or with more muscle will need to use more calories at rest than someone who is smaller.
- Sex. Often, women have less muscle than men, so they burn fewer calories at rest.
- Age. As you age, you usually lose muscle mass and gain fat, which slows down caloric burning.
Your body will burn off a certain number of calories every day, based on your metabolism, but if you’re eating a normal diet, you’ll still gain weight. Metabolism accounts for somewhere between 60 and 75 percent of the calories you burn daily. The rest is determined by food processing, such as the digesting, absorbing and transporting of the food you eat, and physical activity. Physical activity is easily measurable and one of the best ways to control how many calories you burn in a day and, in effect, how much weight you can lose in a day. Exercise coupled with healthy dieting is the ideal scenario.
Factors Contributing to Weight Gain
Weight gain is a complex problem, and it’s worth noting that poor dieting and exercise habits are not the sole contributors to weight gain. There are many factors that can affect your weight.
Some of those factors include:
- Sleep problems. When you’re not well rested, your body experiences physiological stress, making it store fat more efficiently. Also, not getting enough rest can lead to fatigue and irritability, which are likely to hinder any physical activity that you may have performed otherwise.
- Medication. Prescription medication often has a side effect of weight gain.
- Stress. Being stressed out often leads to emotional eating, and as such, finding ways to cope with stress is important when trying to lose weight.
- Health. For one, having health problems means you may need medication, which, as previously stated, can have weight-related side effects. Additionally, many health problems can cause weight gain on their own, and it can be hard to get the motivation and courage to deal with both a weight problem and a health problem.
- Age. Hormonal changes, such as menopause, and lowered metabolism that come with age both affect weight gain.
Controlling Weight Gain
Weight gain may easily go unnoticed at first, since it’s such a gradual process, but understanding how it works and the factors that contribute to it can help you control it. Daily physical exercise and healthy dieting are great ways to start getting your weight under control, and weight loss surgery can be a useful tool for someone who has had trouble with traditional methods of weight control in the past.