It is no secret that eating twice the amount of calories your body needs to function will often end in weight gain. Excessive weight gain can lead to a higher risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, gallstones and even some cancers. If you need to gain weight to get to your healthy weight, however, being aware of the amount of calories you consume and how many you use can help.
To gain weight you need to consume more calories than you burn. To lose weight, burn more calories than you consume. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. If you eat 5,000 calories and only burn off 2,000 each day, you will gain six pounds that week. If you consume 5,000 calories each week more than you burn, you will gain one and a half pounds that week.
Individual Calorie Needs
How many calories your body burns each day depends on your individual situation. If you are more physically active or have more muscle mass, you will use more calories per day than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle. Speak with a registered dietitian or a physician to get an idea of how many calories your body needs before attempting to gain or lose weight through diet.
Even if you are trying to gain weight through consuming extra calories, it is important to maintain a healthy level of physical activity or exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests getting two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week plus two days a week of strength training that would work all your major muscle groups. The more you exercise, the less you will gain from eating 5,000 calories. Or, if you are trying to lose weight, you will do less damage to your weight-loss journey if you exercise on the days or throughout the weeks in which you splurge on dessert or at your favorite restaurant.
You may be tempted to eat foods that are high in fat and calories in order to gain weight. Unfortunately, these types of foods are often highly processed and can damage your health. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds have calories, so eating a larger quantity of these foods can help you stay healthy while meeting your higher calorie needs. Some foods, such as avocados and nuts, have more calories but are much healthier options than cookies or cakes.