Pro-metabolic weight gain?

Jul 30, 2022

Does 'healing your metabolism' and following a 'pro-metabolic (or 'Ray Peat') diet' require a ton of weight gain? 

Prometabolic is a collection of nutrition principles that supports energy production and thus, improves your metabolism. Natural healing follows as your body works better as a system, increasing energy production and improving overall function.

The better our bodies are at producing energy, the better we will operate! 

It's important to remember, however, that 'prometabolic' is not a diet and its not an ideology that promotes a lot of weight gain.

When you have a simplistic view of a 'prometabolic diet' as a list of "good" and "bad" foods, it can be implemented improperly.

So in this blog post we will share why many people gain weight when starting a ray peat style aka prometabolic diet. 

I don't know who needs to hear this, but putting on a lot of extra weight, rapidly, usually does more harm than good. Throwing an excess of food at a body that is struggling to make energy properly will not fix your metabolism. 

If you've started "pro-metabolic" eating and feel like you have put on a lot of extra weight, you're likely just eating too many calories (too much food) for your current metabolism.

While many of us are coming from places of deprivation (whether that's low carb diets, or just eating too few calories, or working out too much), and healing usually requires eating more...this does not look like just eating everything in sight with no understanding of how much energy (food) your body requires and can handle at it's current state.

Instead, if you start adding in food slower, and learn about forming balanced meals, macros, energy needs, & smart exercise, you can avoid excessive overshoot weight (that you'll likely eventually want to or have to shed anyways).

This does not apply to everyone, but if you've been spooked into a place of STOPPING all exercise, EATING way more than before and feel WORSE, it may be beneficial to REASSESS...

Many people come from a low carb background so they are used to eating a lot of fat. Then they hear that carbs are good, they may just start adding on carbs on top of their relatively high fat diet.

A few problems with this rather abrupt increase in food intake:

  1. Their body isn’t used to all those carbs and doesn’t really know what to do with them
  2. Their body is not ready for the rapid increase in calories 
  3. Excessive fat consumption impairs our ability to utilize carbs effectively 

It just so happens that a lot of 'good', "pro-metabolic" foods are high fat: whole milk, butter, eggs, fattier meats (high in saturated fat), coconut oil, chocolate, ice cream, & so on... 

The answer is not cutting these foods out, and it is not to eat super low or zero fat (we're not about going back to unsustainable restrictive dieting...) - it's about being mindful of your overall fat intake.

Once more, this is not a suggestion to start avoiding dietary fat or any of these foods, but what about defining something called ‘moderation’?

Moderation may look like being mindful of your daily fat (& caloric) intake, as it is very easy to over consume fats for one's needs, which can quickly ramp up total calories, increase insulin resistance when paired with high amounts of carbohydrate & inactivity, and result in excessive fat gain.

So, just keep in mind -- you do not fix your metabolism by gaining a ton of weight. Understanding and meeting your body where it is at and implementing positive dietary and lifestyle changes gradually does.

Sometimes the answer IS more food. And sometimes you do need to gain some weight and fat to heal. And hey if that's the case, you should ROCK that. But RAPID weight gain is NOT the answer! And quitting all exercise and movement is also NOT the answer.

The combination of a large increase in daily caloric intake along with a reduction in physical activity levels will likely lead to weight gain!

We've been there! And we both had different experiences. 

Sarah really embraced this "stop exercising and eat a lot more food" mindset back in 2019 when we finally addressed our poor metabolisms, sluggish thyroids and amenorrhea (which were made worse by overexercising and consuming a zero carb carnivore diet).

At this point, Sarah stopped working out & ate a ton. While she DID get her period back, and needed to put on some weight, she did not need to rapidly gain weight! Over the course of just a few months, she put on 50 lbs! And as a result...

  • she went backwards with her mental health
  • she started to feel lost & out of touch with her body
  • gained excessive, unhealthy weight
  • became more insulin resistant
  • lost muscle mass
  • became more estrogen dominant

Since, she has lost some of that weight, improved body composition with smart strength training, still has her period, and is a lot more confident with her bod! 

Then (2019) vs. now (2022). I think she looks so great!

I (Ash) on the other hand, gradually gained 10 lbs over the course of a year. By focusing on improving my metabolism (not rapidly gaining weight and shoveling in food), I got my period back after 12 years of amenorrhea! But after 'healing' - I was not at a place where I needed to then work on shedding a bunch of healing pounds.

Ash - 2019 (way too lean) vs. 2020 (up 10 pounds healing my metabolism) vs. 2021 (farming)

(And no I did not do everything perfectly - I lost quite a bit of muscle in this time period that I am now working on rebuilding.)

We do not want you to fear fat gain. Some fat gain over time can be healthy, especially if you are unnecessarily lean (i.e. both of us back in 2019). 

But fat gain should not be RAPID and EXCESSIVE. That is NOT HEALTHY. 

If you are coming from a place of low calories or carbs, don't just add a bunch in at once. Start slow. This is where following a somewhat structured or even loose reverse diet to appropriately retrain your body to reuse the energy & carbs effectively + SMART strength training & movement throughout the day comes in handy.

So again, I don't know who needs to hear this, but there is a middle ground where you can "heal" (improve) your metabolism, keep your hormones happy, & achieve your physique goals over time... In fact, all of theses goals go hand in hand naturally.

Like anyone, we've made a number of mistakes along our health journey over the years. 

But the past will never define us. 

Mistakes are costly, timely lessons, and we want to help you avoid ours.

Our course is designed to help educate and empower you to improve your metabolism and physique, without excessive weight gain and unnecessary extremes. So if you would like more guidance, accountability and support along your healing journey, check out our course, Rooted in Resilience.