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Why Can't You Gain Weight if You're Constantly Eating?

author image Solomon Branch
Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.
Why Can't You Gain Weight if You're Constantly Eating?
A man is about to eat an ice cream cone. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Eating a lot doesn't necessarily mean you will gain weight. This could be due to genetics, or it could be due to what you are eating and how much exercise you are getting. Other factors, such as stress or an underlying illness, can also affect the way your body metabolizes your food. Consult a doctor to discuss any possible health issues that could be affecting your weight.


Some people simply have a faster rate at which they break down food and metabolize it, which means they burn calories more quickly. "BBC News Magazine" reports that when prisoners ate a daily 10,000-calorie diet, not all of them gained the target weight, which was 25 percent of their body weight, leading researchers to believe obesity was not attainable for some people. Alternatively, some people simply put on weight as muscle instead of fat, which increases their metabolism. According to Jeffrey Horowitz, a professor of kinesiology, the ability to gain weight might be related to growth hormone: The more growth hormone you have, the easier it is to lose weight. Others have suggested a specific gene might be responsible for controlling weight gain or loss. Nothing conclusive has been found, but studies are ongoing, including a long-term study.

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Other Factors

You might not be eating as much as you think you are, or you might be skipping meals without realizing it. If you are expending more calories than you are consuming, through exercise or by eating very-low-calorie food, you will not gain weight. Keep track of your caloric intake and expenditure in a journal. Include how many meals you are consuming, as well as any snacks. You might be surprised at how much you aren't eating. Stress and lack of sleep can also affect your weight by decreasing muscle mass.

Weight Gain Strategies

Eating a proper diet and getting enough carbohydrates, protein and fat are important to maintaining or gaining weight. The University of Columbia Health Services recommends eating foods low in fat, but high in protein to increase your weight. This should include energy-dense, high-protein foods, such as low-fat peanut butter, nuts, lean meats and fish. Eat three meals a day and eat snacks that are healthy and higher in calories. Exercise with a combination of cardio and muscle building strength training. Sleep at least eight hours a night. Monitoring your caloric expenditure and consumption will help keep you focused and aware of your choices. Be aware that gaining weight is a gradual process and can take months. Consulting a registered dietitian or similar health professional can help.

Medical Issues

If you are consuming a proper diet and are not expending more calories than you are consuming, but are still not gaining weight, you might have an underlying medical disorder causing the problem. Endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and even some forms of cancer can cause weight loss, which you might actually be covering up by eating a lot. Consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. In addition to verifying any underlying disorder, a doctor might recommend an exercise program and diet to help you gain weight.

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