Why Am I Not Gaining Weight?

It’s one of life’s great mysteries: There are people who have to carefully consider what they drink and eat in order to maintain their weight, while there are also others who can eat just about anything they want and never gain weight.

Why is this so?

There is no simple answer and experts point to nutritional, genetic and even behavioral factors and the extent that those factors come into play also varies for each person.

Then again it could also just be perception. Those who appear to eat whatever they like and not gaining an ounce of weight aren’t actually eating more than everyone else. It’s possible that a person who eats ice cream every day might be compensating for those extra calories by snacking less or skipping a meal. Or perhaps, when they eat a burger they are doing so very slowly and so they get full after just a few bites.

Then again, it could be due to other factors. Let’s take for example, the hormone leptin which regulates the amount of food we eat over long periods of time. One person may take seconds and thirds at a social gathering and then eat less in the succeeding days.

Another possible reason is genetics. Researchers have found 250 DNA determinants that are associated with obesity. PLOS Genetics, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal, published a study in 2019 in which researchers compared 1,622 healthy individuals with low BMI and 1,985 obese individuals, against 10,433 normal weight individuals. They discovered that the ones with low BMI had fewer genes associated with obesity. However, they also emphasized that genes alone are not the only determinants of weight, since some people who were not obese had genetic determinants for obesity.

The same can be said of people who are underweight. It’s always a combination of factors that contribute to your body weight – genes, diet, physical activity, stress, behavioral changes, illness, or psychological factors.

To determine whether you are underweight, use a Body Mass Index calculator which is a tool that takes into consideration your age, gender, height and weight. If your BMI is under 18.5 you’re considered underweight.

If this is the case for you, your doctor may prescribe you with a weight gain program. Keep in mind that although eating junk food and sugar-rich foods (and drinks) will cause you to gain weight, it won’t supply your body with the nutrients it needs. To ensure you’re gaining weight the healthy way, consider the following tips:

  • Don’t try to drastically alter your diet. You may want to slowly add more calories into your diet by eating some cheese, munching on almonds, fruits and whole grain breads.
  • Avoid empty calorie foods. Instead of junk food, go for high-protein meats to build muscle.
  • Enjoy snacks that are filled with healthy carbs and protein. Snack on trail mix, crackers, hummus, protein bars, and protein smoothies.
  • Consider eating smaller meals throughout the day if you lack appetite, in order to increase your calorie consumption.
  • Do some strength training. Weightlifting, resistance training, Pilates or yoga can help you gain weight by building muscle. There are group classes in gyms like Curves that can help you gain muscle, achieve body definition and gain weight.

Underweight individuals are often not getting enough calories and may not also be getting sufficient nutrition. It’s possible you may have fragile bones, a weakened immune system, anemia, hair loss, and fertility issues. It’s recommended that you discuss your concerns with a medical professional so that an appropriate, well-rounded action plan can be made to help you gain healthy weight.

Category: Featured