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  • Writer's pictureJulius "Ju" Hearn

Weight Gain vs Weight Loss

Let’s talk about weight GAIN versus weight LOSS and the infamous scale used to weigh in.

To start, there is good weight gain and bad weight gain.The same goes for weight loss, there is good and bad.The question is how can you tell which one it is when stepping on the scale? Sorry to break the news to you so early but, the scale is not your best friend. One of the main variables that plays a part in determining weight gain versus loss is “body fat percentage.” An interesting fact is that your body fat percentage can decrease while you experience weight gain. I’m pretty sure you probably thought that last line was a typo. It wasn’t. I’ll say it again, body fat percentage can decrease as the numbers on the scale increase. How you ask? Simple. I’ll get into more detail in another post but to sum it up: weight lifting versus cardio normally does the trick. When you lift or incorporate weights into your workout, you increase your chances of gaining more lean muscle mass and decreasing fat. Of course, weight lifting is not all that is involved in this process, nutrition is a huge piece to the puzzle too.

By incorporating weight training/lifting into your workout routines, you put stress on to not only the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, but also the bones. As brutal as I make that sound it is actually a good thing. Think about the body’s musculoskeletal system like this: “use it or lose it.” Bodies or muscles at rest for toolong go through atrophy, meaning muscle and strength starts to disappear. For example, have you ever had to wear a cast, strained a muscle or sprained a ligament? That area was a lot weaker when you tried to use it again. That’s because it went through atrophy. But, when you use a muscle on a regular basis two things happen: (1) You cause small striated tears in the muscles which the body has to repair with amino acidprotein building blocks (2) Weight bearing activities when muscles are pulling/tugging on bones help to build stronger healthier bones.

An article on Web MD by Dr. Martin Downs talks about how “woman during menopause start to lose estrogen, a lot of bone density, and are at risk of osteoporosis.” The same is said to start for men around 60 years old. In contrast, weight training helps to build healthier and stronger bones, muscles and tendons. Not only that, weight training helps to lower body fat percentage, avoid injuries and lose inches in problematic areas such as the stomach, waist, legs, and arms. Personally, my favorite thing about weight training is the affect it has on calories burned when you are asleep from the body working to repair itself.

On the other hand, I think everyone is programmed to think the most gratifying thing is to see the numbers on the scale going down. Let me give you an example of this scenario. Say you have a bad weekend. On Friday before you went out with friends to that great restaurant, you stepped on the scale and weighed yourself in at 175 pounds. Friday you had a couple beers, a couple cocktails, and some fried food to soak it all up. Saturday, you go out again for a friend’s birthday party. You have cake, wine, and some fast food. Sunday is more of a recovery day. You’re just trying sleep and rest. Monday morning you wake up and weigh yourself and you are 173 pounds. You say to yourself, “Wow, I lost two pounds and had a badweekend.” But what you don’t know is your body has yet to digest everything you consumed. Two things to remember: (1) Alcohol slows your metabolism down(2) You didn’t account for healthy water intake; your body is 80-90% water and you are still dehydrated. So here, body fat percentage has increased while body weight has decreased because lean muscle mass was loss due to a lack of nutrition.

My personal suggestion when it comes to measuring weight loss and weight gain if you do not have access to a body analyzer is: Let your clothes and inches dictate how you are progressing. I say that for a couple of reasons: (1) People drive themselves insane stepping on the scale two or more times a day every day of the week - that leads to stress and frustration which leads to unhealthy weight loss (2) When you are in tune with your body and you understand you had a bad weekend or week, accountability sets in and you begin to take action. There are no short cuts to healthy weight gain or weight loss, and everyone’s body is different. There is no one diet or workout plan that is right for everyone. So for me to say you should specifically do this one thing, it wouldn’t be right and I wouldn’t be a good health professional if I did. Here are some takeaways on weightlifting:

Myth: Women will look like men if they weight lift/train. That is false. Women don’t produce or have enough testosterone in their body.

Fact: You can burn through muscle doing too much cardio and lose definition.

Fact: You do not have to use weights to gain muscle or lose fat. I usually start everyone I work with on Calisthenics, also known as body weight workouts. By doing this, I allow the body to naturally push and pull itself. Natural progression is then applied.

Myth: Taking meal replacement drinks and not eating will help me lose weight. Once again, according to the scale it might say you’ve lost weight but more than likely what has been lost is lean muscle mass.

Myth: If I don’t eat I’ll lose weight. That is not true.Once again, you have to feed your muscles and more importantly your body. Starving the body only slows down the metabolism which is your best friend when it comes to losing body fat percentage.

Fact: Is fasted cardio beneficial? Yes. I am personally a strong believer in fasted cardio. It helps push excess fat to the mitochondria where it is converted into energy.

Fact: If I don’t drink water will that help or hurt me trying to lose weight? You must stay hydrated. The body needs water to function in a lot of different ways. One of those way is to push nutrients that you consume throughout your digestive system and blood stream.

I will leave you with this, I believe everyone should add some type or form of weightlifting into their daily routines for the above reasons and so many more.Getting started can be as simple as incorporating body weight exercises into your routine and slowly workingyour way up to adding weights. Remember, the scale rarely tells the whole story. So stay in tune with your body and stay the course and you’ll see the best results off of the scale.

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