Gaining a pound

favabean1982
favabean1982 Posts: 28 Member
edited October 2020 in Health and Weight Loss
So, I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts-how exactly do you gain a pound? I was just reading about how the whole 3,500 calories per pound number is a myth, so if I go even one calorie over my number of calories burned for the day am I in trouble? I find it very hard to believe that, even if I were to burn between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day, for example, and I went over that by, say, a few hundred calories that my weight would go up. That said, what do I know? I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this-I know everyone’s built different, but still...

Replies

  • the_stained_ape
    the_stained_ape Posts: 33 Member
    It's not what you do in a day that matters.

    If you stray over your intake figure consistently, you will gain. Having the odd cheat day/meal is having a life! It would be boring not to enjoy things from time to time. Just as long as the cheat days/meals don't become a staple part of your regimen, theres no problem.

    Consistency is key.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,826 Member
    It's not 3500 calories total, it's 3500 above your maintenance calories.
    So if you maintain your weight on 2500 calories (including how many you burn in a day) you would need to eat around 6000 calories to gain 1lb (approximately).

    When I'm gaining/bulking I usually gain at 0.5lb per week, which works out to be around 250cals extra per day. So in about two weeks I gain 1lb. It takes consistency to gain weight though not just one day.

    It's all an estimate really but I find it helpful if you track your calories and weigh yourself over time, look for net reduction, maintenance or gain in weight to know what is going on.
  • Dante_80
    Dante_80 Posts: 363 Member
    edited October 2020
    Lietchi wrote: »

    I've never heard that this is a myth, I'm curious as to the source(s)?

    The myth part is about the actual effect of certain calorie deficits, not the amount of kcal per fat pound itself. This might help:
    How Many Calories Are in a Pound of Body Fat?

    (...)

    A pound of body fat may contain anywhere between 3,436 and 3,752 calories, roughly estimated.

    (...)

    It is a common myth that if you eat 500 fewer calories each day, or 3,500 fewer calories a week, you will lose one pound of fat each week.

    This would equal a total of 52 pounds in a year.

    However, the reality is very different.

    The 500-calorie deficit myth significantly overestimates the potential weight loss that can be achieved over a period of time.

    This estimate seems to work fairly well in the short term, for moderate weight loss in overweight and obese people. But it falls apart in the long term, and sets people up for failure and disappointment.

    What this myth fails to account for is the body’s response to the changes in body composition and diet.

    (...)
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    I think you're framing this in a way that is confusing yourself.

    Our bodies are always shifting in weight -- we're processing food and water and responding to our environment all the time. This means when we step on the scale and are slightly heavier or lighter, we can't immediately draw a direct correlation between that and whether or not we've actually shed/stored energy stored in our body as fat. This constant shift of water, muscle, food, waste, and fat in our body is why it makes the most sense to focus on longer-term trends instead of looking at each day's weight and trying to draw conclusions based on what happened the day before.

    A pound is a meaningful unit of measure for us, but our body doesn't operate on the "everything below 3,500 won't be stored" and "everything over 3,500 will get stored." We can gain or lose fat in much smaller units. If I consume 100 calories more than I need each day, I will store those calories in my body. I might not notice right away, since it's a small amount. But it will happen.

    The issue is that since we're always making estimates about what we're consuming and what we're burning, it's hard to track consequences of these daily small amounts. Again, this is a good reason to focus on longer-term trends instead of trying to make adjustments based on daily results.
  • lynn_glenmont
    lynn_glenmont Posts: 9,456 Member
    I’m pretty sure it’s neither a myth nor an exact set in stone number for every single person on the planet.

    Just like everything to do with the human body and calories, intake level is by necessity an approximation. Even the most assiduous, accurate logging is never going to be able to record down to the last calorie. Manufacturers margins for error, different growing seasons must have a minuscule effect on the sugar content of fruit and veg etc. Different levels of fat marbling in meat etc. Everything we record is a ‘best estimate’.

    Likewise calorie burn isn’t accurate either. Again, the best we can do is record and analyse results and adjust to cater to our own individual bodies.

    That 3,500 number may be spot on for some, it may be that I as a short, older woman would gain faster at that excess level than a 6ft, 30 year old man. That might make sense, right? But it’s not going to vary wildly. The 3,500 calories to gain/lose a lb has been around for as long as I remember (~45 years) and has never changed as science’s ‘best estimate’. I doubt it’s going to change soon!

    I can't speak for anyone else, but that doesn't make sense to me. Storage of excess energy should work the same in one human as in another.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,988 Member
    So, I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts-how exactly do you gain a pound? I was just reading about how the whole 3,500 calories per pound number is a myth, so if I go even one calorie over my number of calories burned for the day am I in trouble? I find it very hard to believe that, even if I were to burn between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day, for example, and I went over that by, say, a few hundred calories that my weight would go up. That said, what do I know? I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this-I know everyone’s built different, but still...

    It's not a myth, nor is it an exact thing...calories aren't an exact science and maintenance calorie needs are a range, not an exact figure either. In the short run, the human body strives for homeostasis which is why you don't lose weight (fat) or gain weight (fat) just because you overate or underate for a day or something. To override your body's ability to maintain homeostasis requires consistently underfeeding or overfeeding.
  • briscogun
    briscogun Posts: 1,078 Member
    I’m pretty sure it’s neither a myth nor an exact set in stone number for every single person on the planet.

    Just like everything to do with the human body and calories, intake level is by necessity an approximation. Even the most assiduous, accurate logging is never going to be able to record down to the last calorie. Manufacturers margins for error, different growing seasons must have a minuscule effect on the sugar content of fruit and veg etc. Different levels of fat marbling in meat etc. Everything we record is a ‘best estimate’.

    Likewise calorie burn isn’t accurate either. Again, the best we can do is record and analyse results and adjust to cater to our own individual bodies.

    That 3,500 number may be spot on for some, it may be that I as a short, older woman would gain faster at that excess level than a 6ft, 30 year old man. That might make sense, right? But it’s not going to vary wildly. The 3,500 calories to gain/lose a lb has been around for as long as I remember (~45 years) and has never changed as science’s ‘best estimate’. I doubt it’s going to change soon!

    I can't speak for anyone else, but that doesn't make sense to me. Storage of excess energy should work the same in one human as in another.

    Yes, the storage process works the same, but at what caloric intake number that storage process begins is different for everyone. It's not an exact 3,500 on the nose for everyone. I understood that to be what @BarbaraHelen2013 was saying.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,214 Member
    OP, the "3500 calories is one pound" thing is close enough to be a practical approximation.

    To apply it, we need to know our maintenance calories. We can only estimate them (and the calculators or fitness trackers can be wrong). We need to know many calories we burn. That changes every day, and again, we can only estimate it (unless we lock ourselves in a metabolic chamber for the rest of life, which isn't very practical). We need to know how many calories we eat, but we can only approximate them (because one apple is sweeter than the next, and that sort of thing, food labels are allowed some wiggle room, and logging is a skill that one needs to invest a bit of work into to get good at).

    But, at the end of all of those approximations and experimentations, the calorie counting process can work. Hundreds of people here, maybe thousands, have used it to lose weight. I can't speak for all of the others, but for me, once I experimentally figured out my approximate maintenance calories, I would lose about a pound by eating under that by a cumulative amount that eventually added up to 3500 calories, averaged over the long term. Close enough for gubmint work, fershure/ (And I actually *am* a not-tall older woman, besides. 😆)

    I've been calorie counting for well over 5 years now, and at a healthy weight for around 5 years, after previous multiple decades of obesity. Calorie counting can work, when consistently and sensibly applied.
  • lynn_glenmont
    lynn_glenmont Posts: 9,456 Member
    edited October 2020
    briscogun wrote: »
    I’m pretty sure it’s neither a myth nor an exact set in stone number for every single person on the planet.

    Just like everything to do with the human body and calories, intake level is by necessity an approximation. Even the most assiduous, accurate logging is never going to be able to record down to the last calorie. Manufacturers margins for error, different growing seasons must have a minuscule effect on the sugar content of fruit and veg etc. Different levels of fat marbling in meat etc. Everything we record is a ‘best estimate’.

    Likewise calorie burn isn’t accurate either. Again, the best we can do is record and analyse results and adjust to cater to our own individual bodies.

    That 3,500 number may be spot on for some, it may be that I as a short, older woman would gain faster at that excess level than a 6ft, 30 year old man. That might make sense, right? But it’s not going to vary wildly. The 3,500 calories to gain/lose a lb has been around for as long as I remember (~45 years) and has never changed as science’s ‘best estimate’. I doubt it’s going to change soon!

    I can't speak for anyone else, but that doesn't make sense to me. Storage of excess energy should work the same in one human as in another.

    Yes, the storage process works the same, but at what caloric intake number that storage process begins is different for everyone. It's not an exact 3,500 on the nose for everyone. I understood that to be what @BarbaraHelen2013 was saying.

    It's not an exact 3,500 on the nose for anyone. First, that's a nice round somebody chose that was in the ballpark of the actual numbers they were getting. Second, people don't gain weight only in whole pound increments. Eat an extra 110 calories above maintenance today, gain a half ounce. You scale likely won't notice, but some fat cells or glycogen storage spot, etc., somewhere in your body will notice.

    ETA: i.e., store begins at just above a person's maintenance level, in whatever tiny increment that might be.
  • SModa61
    SModa61 Posts: 2,090 Member
    From someone that has done long stretches of daily weigh-ins at times, one of the things I learned is that some of what I see on the scale is fat loss and some if it is not. In my WW years, I learned to not eat a large amount of pasta the night before my weight in even if I stayed under my total points (translate to < goal calories). If I did, it was a guaranteed gain - was that pasta sitting in my intestinal track? or water that was tied to all those carbs? I don't know but it was there. I also found that my menstral cycle (when I used to have one) messed with those numbers and my pattern was different than most women. The day my period started, I could drop as much as 4 pounds in a few hours. There are plenty of things that can mess with that number in the short run as well. But what I came away with from all those years of weigh-ins is that I learned about some of my weight nuances which helped me to more fully understand the number on the scale and prevent an unexplained number to negatively impact me. Also, remember, it is the long term results that matter the most. Good luck!