Gaining Weight To Improve Body Shape
I thought that title would grab your attention. However firstly, I will hold my hands up and say that most of us do need to be decreasing calorie intake to improve body shape than increasing intake. But, there are a fair amount of people who should actually be increasing their calorie intake in order to improve their body shape. This means their weight will go up – not down.
When looking to improve their body shape people assume they must lose weight. Therefore, they take up a diet that involves eating less, putting them in a calorie deficit. But for some body types this is the exact opposite of what they should be doing. When undertaken alongside a progressive weight based exercise routine, many should actually be increasing their calorie intake to promote muscle and decrease body fat.
I will highlight this point using data from two clients I did exactly that with. I increased their calories, they gained ‘weight’, but vastly improved their body shapes.
Exercise: spin class three times a week and netball twice a week
Nutrition: calories: 1200 – 1400 / protein: 40-60 grams
Weight: 9 stone 12 pounds
Exercise: resistance training 4 times a week and netball twice a week.
Nutrition: calories: 2000 – 2200 / protein:125 grams
Weight: 10 stone 3 pounds
For the first week, I asked Kate to eat how she normally would whilst logging it through the food tracking app My Fitness Pal. This allowed me to see Kate’s current eating habits in numbers (calorie and protein).
I gradually increased her calories to allow her metabolism to catch up. I then moved her away from spin classes and started her on a progressive resistance based workout routine.
Remember cardio doesn’t really promote muscle, hence why its only real use is to burn calories. By converting Kate to resistance training she was not only burning calories but also promoting muscle, therefore improving her body shape.
To optimise muscle growth we increased her calories and protein intake, as she had been unknowingly eating in a calorie deficit for years. Her body had been in a state of catabolism, meaning she had low muscle mass because she wasn’t eating enough calories or protein, nor was she stressing her muscles through weight based training.
Kate found the changes easier than most because she was still going to the gym as often as she normally was, but using her time in there more optimally by lifting weights. As for her food, she got to eat more! The lucky bugger.
Just by looking at her now on the right, you can see she has got leaner by eating more and changing the way she exercises. Therefore the increase in weight has come from muscle not fat. Remember, we know that muscle takes up less space than fat.
Another perfect example of this scenario. Rob wasn’t doing any exercise prior to starting with me and was consuming around 2300 calories and around 70 grams of protein a day. He was placed on a progressive weight based routine, training 4-5 times a week. I increased his calories to 3000 and protein to 150 grams.
Rob’s weight increased upwards of half a stone. But I think by looking at his before and after pictures, we can agree he looks far better after increasing his calories and weight. Again, Rob has clearly reduced his body fat percentage, so we know his weight increase has come in the form of muscle.
Most people assume they should eat less to improve their body shape because they ‘need to lose weight’. Both Kate and Rob admitted they would have taken this approach had they not come to me.
You must realise our bodies are very complex and individual things, no one approach works for all. Anyone looking to improve their body shape should be aiming to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass; both males and females.
Although most people looking to improve their body shape do need to be placed in a slight calorie deficit because they have a fair amount of body fat to lose. Many do not, as they are already fairly lean due to a mixture of under eating and their genetics, but also don’t have a lot of muscle mass. These people need to increase calorie and protein intake alongside a progressive weights based routine.
I hold my hands up for using the term ‘weight loss’ regularly, partly because most do need to lose weight, but also because it is such a recognised term within the industry. However, a better term would probably be ‘body recomposition’ – increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat. Body recomposition could refer to either weight loss or weight gain depending on the individual, their genetics and their starting point.
If you’d like to book a totally free, no-obligation consultation for face to face or online personal training then head to the membership page of my website.
All the love,
Sam Jones Fitness