Why We Gain Weight (It’s not Calories in, Calories out)

lifestyle wellness Jul 28, 2021

Maybe you’ve heard a lot about losing weight for summer. Or maybe you’re trying to reconcile your relationship with food and movement. Maybe your trainer has told you about a diet that will help you lose weight … but weight isn’t as simple as calories in and calories out.

As we age it does get harder to maintain our weight and make lasting progress when it comes to body weight.


Let me tell you what I know about rising set point (your body’s ideal weight - it’s different for everyone - and I have a whole blog post about it here) based on the most recent science:

1. Overeating might be one cause of weight gain, but it’s definitely not the only factor.

Regardless of dramatic changes in day-to-day food intake, weight remains pretty much the same over the short term for most people. Just another way to say that calories aren’t the only factor here.

2. Yes dieting leads to weight loss, but 98% of diets fail and people REGAIN all the weight. 60% + regain more weight

This is because you’re starving your body with diets (yep read that again). No matter how much or how little you’re not listening to your body’s cues and that causes your metabolism to slow and your set point to rise. Weight loss changes more than 100 genes, most of which make you hungrier and more inflamed.

3. Cutting out carbs is NOT the answer

A recent meta-analysis research study showed that even though the idea of a low carb diet is to increase energy and burn through the fat - when they substituted lower fat for lower carbs, lower fat diets actually showed more weight loss and more increased energy. Not to say you should cut out fat, but rather carbs are necessary for energy! Fats are necessary for hormone production.

4. The right food plan for your gene-environment is just as important as what you’re eating

Don’t exercise more, cut carbs, or cut fat. The quality of the food matters. But so does the setting for eating your food and the company you keep. Lower the stress, take away the tech, and don’t eat while you’re driving or scrolling.

  1. Moving less doesn’t cause weight gain

Although it can cause a decrease in muscle mass and fat concentration that doesn’t necessarily translate to weight. Movement is great for your overall health but it’s not going to drastically change your set point. In the best-case scenario, it may help with weight maintenance or a small amount of loss if you’re currently sedentary

6. Reduced sleep and chronic stress are a perfect storm for weight gain

Stress and low sleep affect food intake, exercise, mental health, cortisol, and set point.

All of this is just more evidence to prove how important it is to listen to your body’s cues. Do your best to nourish it and move it consistently. But rest is perfectly ok.

As we age, we don’t lose the ability to transform our health. If you’re in a place where you’re not taking care of yourself, you can make small incremental changes that lead to big results.

My biggest tips for you to make the biggest results

  1. Cut out processed foods + eat more vegetables
  2. Stress less
  3. Move your body in ways that feel good to you