Is it Easier to Gain or Lose Weight?

Is it Easier to Gain or Lose Weight?

Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: May 2, 2022

The almost ‘immediate’ appearance on our tummy (or thighs or wherever they gather) of any additional calories we consume – and the near torture of removing that extra weight – is one the biggest reasons that most people just abandon hope/ motivation of ever permanently losing weight.

In other words, they feel like it’s just not for them, and that they’re destined to be ‘big’. They start believing they don’t possess the strength to lose weight. In the end, they place themselves at the center of all the causes of their excess weight and their inability to lose it.

It somewhat makes sense, depending on how you look at it. If you can’t lose weight, then you must be the issue. Either there is something ‘wrong’ with your system (“it’s your metabolism”), or your mindset (“I just don’t care”), or both, that inhibits you from losing weight.

Still, there’s another factor of weight loss that we don’t question and it doesn’t have anything to do with you. It’s the real reason why it’s much easier to gain weight than lose it.

Read on as we explore more about this, and give you more reasons why losing weight is harder.

BURNING MORE CALORIES THAN YOU CONSUME DOESN’T NECESSARILY LEAD TO WEIGHT LOSS

You must have come across the theory of converting healthy, sustained weight loss into a simple mathematical equation. Burning more calories than you eat will indeed lead to weight loss. As simple as it sounds, it’s far more difficult and complex to do so.

It is the crash diets and their absurd mentality about weight loss, advertised to make money out of our yearning to lose weight, that is one of the major reasons why you cannot keep off weight. They usually over-simplify a complicated procedure and that ultimately sets you up for failure – and makes them rake in the cash.

Below are several reasons why you can’t just cut calories and do more workouts to healthily lose weight.

  • Homeostasis

Did you know that your body likes everything to remain normal and stable? (this is known as a state of homeostasis). Now you know. In fact, your body likes homeostasis a lot such that it will even change it in response to constant changes in your routine. That simply means that if you gain weight over time, then your body will decide that the additional weight is ‘normal’ and then changes its state of homeostasis to incorporate the higher weight.

RELATED: What’s Harder: Gaining Muscle or Losing Weight?

And when you instantly cut calories with a crash diet, your systems view it as a threat to homeostasis and respond by fighting against the change. The diet doesn’t also last long enough for the body to reset its homeostasis state to a lower weight.

  • Exercise Alone Isn’t the Best for Losing Weight

Apart from burning calories, leading a more active lifestyle helps to lose extra pounds, and keep it off. Additionally, it reduces and/or eliminates a wide range of other mental and physical health complications. But more exercise does NOT necessarily result in more weight reduction.

Research shows that much like its reaction to additional weight, your body adjusts your level of exercise. Performing more exercise on any given day will consume more energy, but your body adjusts to constant increases in levels of activity by reducing the amount of energy burned to support the activity.

Simply put, it makes itself much more efficient at utilizing energy.

If you’ve never tried jogging in your life, and then go out today and run a mile (not without consulting your doctor first!) the impact on your weight will be significantly higher than if you have been jogging for a long time and you ran the same mile today.

  • Your Body Always Tries to Protect You

In simple terms, your body would prefer putting on weight than losing it. It’s programmed to survive and it requires energy to do so. And when it receives more energy than it could use, e.g., when you eat a lot of sugary foods, rather than eliminating the excess energy, your body will store it in fat cells.

On the other side, in case you start robbing your system of calories (energy), it views it as a threat. And, as previously stated, it lowers the amount of energy you require to live. Sadly, that makes it more challenging to lose weight.

IMBALANCES MAKE WEIGHT EASY TO GAIN BUT DIFFICULT TO LOSE

a woman checks her waist line

After losing weight, your resting metabolic rate may go down disproportionately to the actual loss of body mass. And if there’s a hormonal imbalance, certain tissues and organs become less sensitive to their specific controlling hormone.

As you become older, the target receptors where these hormones attach should be able to respond properly for your body to work properly.

Whenever weight loss is hormonally challenging, your metabolic rate is usually reduced making it easy to gain but difficult to lose weight.

  • Low thyroid hormone can also influence energy levels

Thyroid hormones aren’t responsible for instantaneous adjustments to metabolic rate, but insufficient hormone production might result in weight gain as your metabolism deteriorates.

When it comes to difficulties in weight loss, low thyroid hormone and a slowed metabolism are the common culprits.

Low production of thyroid hormone can lead to weight gain – a condition known as Hypothyroidism. Lower levels of this hormone may affect your mitochondria (energy-producing cells in your body), such that there’s less energy wasted.

It would be a good thing if you were experiencing a famine since it preserves your fat stores – a contrary thing to losing weight and burning fat.

  • Hunger hormones have a significant role in weight maintenance

Yes, hunger hormones play a huge role when it comes to bodyweight maintenance. The brain area that houses the receptors for leptin is also responsible for holding the receptors for ghrelin, or growth hormone.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: What Should Women Eat to Lose Weight and Gain Muscle?

Gaining the lost weight back is one of the biggest obstacles that a person trying to lose weight faces. Coping with weight maintenance demands some insight into the need for the hormonal balance of these hunger hormones.

Hunger hormones have a crucial relationship and act all around your body to manage metabolism, muscle growth, and development.

Therefore, the amount of leptin in the brain influences how much thyroid hormone is produced.

  • Excess insulin makes it more difficult to lose weight

As you might already know, the pancreas produces insulin and releases it into the blood, which affects the function of tissues and organs. If you’re overweight or obese, the glucose regulator in your body can be thrown off its balance and the excess insulin can make it more difficult to lose weight.

If you’re working on losing unwanted belly fat and becoming thin again, you’ll have to minimize insulin spikes and general insulin sensitivity caused by consuming refined carbohydrates and hidden sugars for a long time.

For those who are overweight, insulin is often the enemy.

And to lose weight, they’ll need to eliminate starchy carbohydrates and processed sugars to balance insulin hormone production.

How Long Does It Take To Gain Muscle?

As aforementioned, you can start to see a noticeable muscle in about 6-8 weeks of consistent training.

On average, men can build approximately10 lbs. of muscle in the first year of routine exercise, which is equivalent to at least 0.25 pounds of muscle every week. On the female side, they can averagely build at least 5 lbs. of muscle in the first year.

Muscle growth tends to slow down significantly after the first year of training.

How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight?

If you’re sticking to a proper nutrition plan, you can expect to lose around 0.5- 1% of your bodyweight weekly. For most people, it will often come out to 1-2 pounds of fat every week.

If you’re building muscle, you’ll also be losing weight- though not at the most optimal rate. And this is primarily because fat loss and muscle gain tend to counteract each other.

But how does this happen? Keep reading.

Can You Lose Fat & Gain Muscle Simultaneously?

a woman shows off her weight loss by putting on an old oversized pair of slacks

You can gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously (or body recomposition) if:

  • Have too much fat to lose
  • You are a beginner
  • Or you can optimize everything in your life for excellent results

Otherwise, it is very difficult to do both of these two processes at the same time. Both of them are antagonistic to each another and can both result in slow and mediocre results. But why is this?

You’ve already learned that building muscle needs a caloric surplus. Because of this, gaining muscle (as fast as possible) may also increase your total fat mass, to a certain extent. On the contrary, having to lose fat needs a caloric deficit. As such, losing weight may make you lose some muscle.

Therefore, it is much easier mentally and physically to focus on either losing fat or building muscle instead of trying to optimize for both.

Lose Fat Or Build Muscle: Which Should Come First?

Most experts recommend starting with building muscle since increased muscle mass can boost your metabolism and assist you to lose a small percentage of fat. Nevertheless, if you possess a high body fat percentage, losing fat first can be much healthier for you in the long term.

RELATED: Is Easier for Overweight or Skinny People to Put on Muscle?

In case you decide to start by losing fat, then you will probably lose some muscle mass as well. And if you can describe yourself as skinny fat, you ought to start by building muscle.

Lose Fat Or Build Muscle: Which One Is Faster?

Generally speaking, it is much faster to trim off fat than it is to gain muscle. It’s worth noting that weight loss needs less physical effort and you could improve your nutrition greatly in a matter of 1 or 2 weeks.
For this reason, you can begin to notice changes in your total fat mass after two weeks. And the earliest you’ll see any muscle is roughly 6 weeks after exercising consistently.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s easier to gain weight than lose it. One reason we add weight much more easily is because of the actual hunger we are exposing ourselves to when we’re dieting. The impact of hunger on weight regain is much stronger than a slowed metabolism.

Believe it or not, there’s a way for you to cut down weight and make your body help you. By providing your body with proper nutrition as you lose weight, you’ll ensure that it gets the energy it requires while you achieve the weight loss you desire.

References:

  1. https://www.herbalone.com/blog/easy-gain-weight-difficult-lose/
  2. https://www.shape.com/weight-loss/management/5-reasons-losing-weight-fast-easier-losing-weight-good
  3. https://www.emetabolic.com/locations/centers/longview/blog/hormones-dna/imbalances-make-weight-easy-to-gain-but-hard-to-lose-/
  4. https://bikehike.org/why-is-it-easier-to-gain-weight-than-lose-weight/
  5. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/rates-of-fat-loss-and-muscle-gain
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23890352/
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/body-recomposition
  8. https://www.bcm.edu/news/muscle-doesnt-weigh-more-than-fat
  9. https://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/beauty/fitness-wellbeing/news/a40969/why-you-gain-weight-faster-than-losing-it/