Today’s post and video come from a question a get asked by readers a lot, especially over on Instagram where I often share my food in my stories. Almost every time I post a photo of a staggering pile of food someone will send me a message and ask, “How can you eat like that without gaining loads of weight?!” So I thought it would make a good topic for today.
How do you eat so much without gaining loads of weight?
Reason 1: I’m a tall drink of water
One of the biggest reasons I can eat lots of food compared to many other women is that I am 5 foot 9 inches tall. It’s hard to tell how tall someone is online so unless you know me in real life you might not realize what a tower I am, haha.
Obviously, the taller you are, the more food you’ll need to eat just to survive, which definitely is a factor in how much I am able to eat!
Reason 2: I have a lot of muscle
The next reason I’m able to eat a lot – or more specifically, why I need to eat a lot is because I’m not that tiny. The past few years I’ve focused on repairing my metabolism and health after my big overtraining disaster. Yes, it’s been 5 years and I don’t expect I’ll be stopping anytime soon. Just before I got sick, I was at my lowest weight ever (137 pounds – remember, I’m 5 foot 9!) and I remember seeing my arms in a mirror at a class and thinking, “man, that girl needs to eat!”
Anyway, since then, my focus has been on getting healthy not necessarily on my size. In that time I’ve put on about 40 pounds, and a large portion of that 40 pounds is muscle. Muscle is expensive to keep. It needs a lot of protein to maintain and it needs some carbs to fill it up and give you lots of energy.
To put it plainly, more muscle = more food.
I will throw in here that I feel like I’ve finally repaired my metabolism from the overtraining situation, and it took quite a long time. Mostly because even though I was eating well, I was still undereating, which is why I track my macros daily and have for 2+ years. I don’t do it to it to limit how much I eat, I do it to ensure I’m eating enough.
Anytime I don’t track, I undereat.
When I undereat, I gain weight, I have low energy, I’m cranky and I don’t sleep well.
When I eat enough, I maintain (or lose) weight, have lots of energy, sleep better and well – I’m still cranky but it’s a lot less frequent. 😉
Reason 3: I am really active
Being a fitness instructor definitely benefits me here too. Because I “have” to show up to classes and teach, I don’t have to worry about being motivated to get to classes. Unless I’m sick or on vacation, I’ve gotta go. Teaching numerous classes each week, training on my own (which happens a lot more in the winter than the summer) and paddleboarding and walking (which happen more in the summer!) all add up and that too helps me build a larger capacity for food.
So what can you do?
Obviously, you can’t really make yourself taller so you’ve got the luck of the draw on that one, but if you want to be able to eat more without gaining weight you should look at moving more, and lifting heavy weights. Lifting weights will help you add lean muscle mass to your frame so you’ll burn more calories alllllll dayyyyyy longggggg.
The more you move, the more calories you’ll naturally burn, but that doesn’t have to be high-intensity cardio. LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) activities and lots of general movement might be all you need. Take a 15-minute stroll on your lunch break and/or after supper. Go for a family hike or bike ride on the weekend. Play in the pool or lake.
Move more. Eat enough protein, fat, and carbs, and lift heavy things.
And a little secret…
I actually PLAN to gain weight each year in the summer and over the holidays. I do that to allow myself to really enjoy seasonal treats (hello ice cream) and also helps me to build some capacity. Then I follow up those times with a short targeted fat loss cycle and the extra capacity I’ve gained through eating a bit more than usual allows me to lose the weight more quickly than if I were to spend the summer worrying about every extra treat.
But those fat lose cycles really are short (about 24 days) so I don’t spend all year long trying to lose fat, instead, I focus my efforts for a super short period of time once or twice/year. Doesn’t that sound a whole lot nicer than dieting 90% of the time and then stuffing your face on vacation or the holidays and feeling guilty? I sure think so!
Most of the people reading this are probably under eating as it is, which can cause you to hold on to excess weight, so for many of you – eating more might be just the thing to help you LOSE weight, not gain. It sounds crazy, but it’s science! I’d suggest checking out this blog post to give you a better idea as to how much you need to eat.
If that is something you’d like to learn more about, I do offer 1:1 Coaching calls where we can work together to see what nutritional changes you might need to make to see some progress in your health.
And finally – I’m on a time crunch today so didn’t have a chance to edit this post, so please forgive my typos!