The Truth About Weight Gain

image of woman holding a scale referring to weight gain

In our youthful, athletic years, watching what you eat really is not much of a concern.   You move, you eat, fuel for performance and are not overly concerned about your weight. 

Graduation to a life, a career, and possibly a commute, work, stress, family, eventually, we all gain weight in some point in our lives.  

We end up with less time, for movement, ourselves, being pulled in many directions, and end up eating differently.

Weight gain could be due to a number of factors, that throw us off track, such as:

  • starting a career
  • having a family
  • pregnancy
  • moving to a new city
  • marriage/divorce
  • lack of sport/recreation
  • sick parent/family member
  • insert reason here

In all cases, a shift in lifestyle happens, priorities change, and daily activity goes down, and food intake is usually kept the same or adjusted upward.

Then it happens…you notice — the weight gain.

[insert dramatic music…da…da…daaaa….]

It could be due to your clothes not fitting exactly right, your sleep could be affected, your energy levels are low even after waking, or you just feel off in some way, compared to how you used to feel.

Statistics Canada, in 2018, reports 63.1% of Canadians are overweight or obese
Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US reports 73.6% of Americans are overweight or obese.

Quarter Pound

A while back, I was introduced to a guy who was a truck driver.

The discussion turned to health and fitness (as well, that is my thing), and he mentioned how ‘athletic’ he was back the day.
He said he has gained about 100lbs over the last 10 years.  

He mainly blamed it on driving truck so much, and eating out all the time.

As a former math teacher, quickly I did the math, and it worked out to about 1/4 lbs per week, over the span of 10 years.

1/4 lb per week over the span of 10 years.

One quarter pound is 875 calories per week.
875 surplus calories that he did not burn off by the end of the week.

That is 125 calories per day over span of 10 years.

What does 125 calories (per day) look like?

The caloric equivalent of 1 beer per day over the span of 10 years.

[I mention alcohol as it the source of empty calories – 7 calories per gram]

The Reality 

Weight gain (like fat loss) is slow, unassuming and does not happen overnight.

You don’t know it is even happening, until one day, you put on clothes, that used to fit, but now are too snug.

Even over a slower timeline, even as little as 2 lbs per year, over the span of 20 years, from the age 25 to 45 years, puts on 40lbs, on your frame.  Weight gain, does not happen all of a sudden, it happens over months, and years, not weeks and days.

How do you know you have gained weight?#questionoftheday

Posted by Allison Ethier on Tuesday, July 13, 2021

How to Gain Weight Quickly

There are numerous articles on how to lose weight quickly, or how to lose body fat, let’s explore what lifestyle habits, enable weight gain quickly.  

Being aware of the following lifestyle habits, can help when developing a plan, to lose weight, and put you on the path to a leaner, stronger, and healthier you.

You don’t have to tackle all of them at once.

Choose 1-2 and focus on improving those, before adding more changes.  


Small progressive changes can add up to big results over time. 


Note:  Pregnancy aside, as that is one time, in a woman’s life, you should just let her be, as she is not longer in control of a body as it is being used as a vehicle to produce another human.

Lack of Mindful Eating.  

It is like you are on vacation all the time, with oodles of palatable delicious selections, out there in the world. You eat, work, take care of the kids, and don’t really pay any attention to the quality or the amount of food you are eating.  

Skip Meals (Including Breakfast)

Breakfast eaters, have been shown to maintain a lower healthy bodyweight than those who skip breakfast. Waiting to eat during the day, can bring about ravenous hungry by the end of the day, as you have not fuelled your body with energy or the proper nutrients.  This could set you up for a binge eating, at night, or even poor quality sleep as now you are digesting, all your calories, in one meal.

You should be eating every 3-4 hours to fuel your body accordingly. Pay attention to those internal cues of hunger, to know if you might need to eat ‘soonish’. 

Lack of Sleep.

Staying up late, and sleeping very little, can make you tired, and hungry the next day. 

When tired, the body craves food, as it is energy, as that is way it can stay energized.

You will crave carbs, and usually not the good kind.  Good quality sleep and recovery can help reduce those sugar cravings.

High Calorie Foods.

These highly palatable, the point of being addictive food, sets the stage for you to crave more of them.

It alters your taste buds, so that body gets a ‘high’ when you consume them.  

These foods would also be considered treats.  

Try to limit these foods, to once or twice per week.  Try to taste them rather than indulging in a full portion.

Lack of NEAT or Exercise

Movement is going to contribute to caloric deficit, and make you feel better in your own skin.

Walking is a great low impact, stress reducing cardio.  Weight training, builds confidence, and helps you build/keep muscle.  Group classes, or personal training can help keep you inspired, on those days, you need a motivation boost.

Sitting a lot including driving, can keep your daily movement on the low end.  

Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), like getting the groceries, standing while working, puttering around the house, or cleaning can contribute to your overall caloric expenditure.

Too Much Stress.

Stress can produce cortisol, a hormone that is released when stressed.  

Cortisol can help you lose weight, as it does help to breakdown, fats, proteins, and carbs, but chronic high stress levels (and therefore cortisol levels), can help breakdown fats, and have them reform in other areas of your body.  

High cortisol can also help breakdown protein, including muscle wasting, which is helpful to reduce your metabolism.  

A slower metabolism, means less calories burned. Add this to increased calories, and decrease in activity, and we are on the right track to weight gain.

Stress reducing activities, like walking in nature, having a daily schedule/routine, brain dump, and an evening wind down routine, can help keep you organized, and prevent, feeling overwhelmed or anxious.  Exercise as well, has anxiety reducing and anti depression affects.

Low Water Intake.

Being even slightly dehydrated can cause you to feel more tired, lethargic, which will help us move less, and feel less energized.

On average, 1-2 litres per day, is the recommended for most adults, which includes all your beverages for the day.

Drinking water fills up your stomach, making you feel fuller, and runs you system more efficiently to burn body fat.

Too Many High Calorie Beverages.

Liquid sugar is the best way to add calories, without really even trying. Consume these often, and in large quantities.

soda | 500mL Coke – 200cals + 55g of sugar
iced coffees | McCafé Coffee Iced Frappé has 520 calories
juices | (it takes about 6-8 oranges, to make 250ml (1 cup) of juice
energy drinks | Monster Energy drink – 220 calories + 52g of sugar

Alcohol Consumption.

Light beer has around 100 calories, per can.  Wine is 125 calories, per 5oz, and 1 shot of vodka is 64 calories.

Alcohol is about 7 calories per gram, and is closer to the caloric value of fats that clock in at 9 calories per gram.

Recovery will be affected, through lack of sleep and if you wake up the next day feeling awful, you will crave those high calorie, high fat foods. 


Weight gain, can be slow and steady over months, and years, not just weeks and months.  

Priorities change, over time, we have more responsibilities, with less time, and that adjusts our daily movement + exercise, and nutrition habits.

You can pursue weight loss, for any number of reasons.

  • a health scare
  • feeling uncomfortable in your own skin
  • want to be a role model for your kids
  • desire to make the fitness a lifestyle habit ‘stick’
  • see what you can accomplish
  • an athletic goal – marathon or bootcamp race.

or any other reason, to be a leaner, stronger, healthier version of you. 

Weight loss is 100% possible, with a few lifestyle changes, and accountability to make sure you stay on track.  

You are never too young, too old, or too late
to become a leaner, stronger and healthier version of you.

Secrets to Maintainable Weight + Fat Loss

Original | 27 Oct 2011
Update | 15 July 2021

Written by Allison Ethier
Allison Ethier, is a wellness lifestyle & body coach, IFBB Fitness Pro, and mom & coffee lover. She provides structured training, and flexible nutrition, to guide everyday athletes, to move better, build strength, and feel good in their own skin. B.Sc, B. Edu, NSCA-CPT, ISSN, PN1
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