The Full Time Worker's Guide to a Good Physique

The Full Time Worker's Guide to a Good Physique
How to keep fit despite a hectic lifestyle.

Dom Thorpe

Dom Thorpe
Managing Director and Principal Trainer

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Why am I so fat?

Why am I so fat?

Ever wondered why you struggle to control your weight? Here are a few pointers about weight gain/loss that you may not know.

The myths:

  • You’re fat because you have a slow metabolism
  • You’re fat because you’re old
  • You’re fat because you put on baby weight
  • You’re naturally that shape
  • You’re just big boned

The truths:

  • You don’t have a slow metabolism. If you burn fewer calories than others it’s because you’re either short, or you have less muscle mass. If that’s the case you should not be eating as much as people who are taller than you or more muscular. Does a Chiwawa eat as much as a Labrador? No, but if it did it would be very fat indeed. Your calorie consumption should be proportional to the cube of your height. If a 6 foot person and a 5 foot person both eat 2000cal per day, the 5 foot person will have a significant amount more body fat. That explains why your friend who’s “really tall and thin” but “eats loads of food” is the shape they are.
  • You’re not fat because you’re old. We don’t suddenly start putting on weight when we get to the age of 30 like many people believe. You suddenly put on weight when you start coming home in the evening and having half a bottle of wine every night. You start putting on weight when you work in an office where they frequently offer snacks and cakes around to boost team morale. You start putting on weight because your job requires you to work more hours so you end up buying takeway for its convenience factor. You start putting on weight because you think that 3 hours of exercise per week is sufficient ,though when you were younger you were probably doing 3 hours of exercise per day.
  • You’re not fat because you put on baby weight. If this was the case you would have lost the weight when you bore the child. Having a living creature growing inside you does require more fuel which comes from the food you eat. Approximately an extra 300 calories per day. However if this extra fuel was being used to aid the growth of the baby, it wouldn’t be building up in the form of body fat underneath your skin. If you put on a significant amount of body fat during pregnancy it’s because you ate more than you and your baby required.
  • You’re not naturally that shape. Have you ever looked at cows in a field and thought “Crikey, that cow is naturally fat”. Probably not because cows only eat what they need to survive. As do lions, tigers, fish and most other things in the wild. They don’t eat cookies and cake because it tastes nice, and they can’t simply order food online whenever they feel hungry. As a result, they are all more or less the same shape. They certainly don’t store excess body fat, unless they’re an animal which hibernates, in which case they are purposefully putting on weight in order to survive for several months without eating a single thing.
  • You’re not big boned. Bone density has nothing to do with the amount of body fat which surrounds your muscles. If you are storing fat around your body, it’s because you’re eating more than you need. If you’ve always been fat, it means you ate too much when you were young. Whether or not you eat too much now is a different matter. If you eat the right amount, your bodyweight doesn’t change so maybe you did the damage when you were young and now you’re maintaining a state of “overweightness” by eating an amount which appears to be “normal”. Remember, to lose weight you need to eat “less than enough” for a period of time.


  • Inactive people should eat less than active people
  • Short people should eat less than tall people
  • If you want little indulgences you should be prepared to gain weight or work out more
  • Snacking represents a disproportionately large amount of our daily calorie intake

An afterthought:

I’m not “Naturally Skinny”. My weight fluctuates like anybody else’s. Over Christmas I regularly gain half a stone/3-4kg. In January I lose it again through hard work. I train my muscles to remain strong and functional which also means I burn more fuel on a daily basis. This allows me to eat more than someone who simply does cardio or doesn’t train at all. I also do cardiovascular exercise in order to keep my heart, lungs and circulatory system in good shape.

At the age of 16 I was more or less fully developed at 83kg. Ever since then my weight has fluctuated between 83kg and 85kg with the exception of certain periods during which weight has gone as high as 90kg. This extra 7kg can be gained in a couple of months. If I didn’t change my habits at that point I would simply continue gaining weight and within two years I’d be at least 20kg (3 stone) heavier but I always nip it in the bud before it gets beyond my control. Last year, at the age of 30 I dropped to 76kg whilst training for an event. I had not been that light since the age of 13. The fact that I am now 31 hasn’t had any effect on my ability to control my weight because I try to maintain a lifestyle which doesn’t encourage weight gain. I do drink lots and eats lots at the weekend but I also spend the weekend playing sport. I do enjoy a beer or glass of wine at home in the evening but I don’t let it become habitual.

I’m a normal person whose body functions the same way as yours.

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