The processes by which we gain or lose weight are complicated and one shouldn’t attempt to overly simplify them. That said, it’s worth trying to think about a few simple behaviors that might be helpful anyway. I’m emphasizing here those who may be 20-30 pounds overweight and climbing. I’m also assuming that you fully understand that the reason you have been gaining weight over the last several years and more is that you are eating more (calories) than you are burning. In general, when you eat 3500 more than you burn you will gain a pound. It may take a week or a month or more to do that.
In general, excess weight sneaks up on us. We don’t realize how easy it is. Just 10-20 calories extra over what we burn every time we eat is enough to gain considerable weight. Remember though we’re thinking about averages so you may not notice it right away. If you each 3-4 times a day or you consume your extra calories in snacks it will still take a while to gain noticeable weight.
Let’s just say you consume that extra 20 cal at each of three meals during the day. In an average 30 day month that is an extra 20 times 3 or 60 cal a day or over a 30 day month 30 x 60 = 900 cal per month. But over a year that’s 12 x 900 = 10,800 cal or about 3 pound per year. At the end of the year you may not even notice it. You put on three-quarters or a pound in each of the quarters of the year. Think of it as a quarterly dividend — one you didn’t necessarily want but you get it anyway. Over 10 years that’s an additional 30 pounds, and you won’t miss that.
The easiest way, in principle, to avoid that extra weight is to leave an extra bite or two on your plate after each meal. Don’t eat it.