How Long Does It Take to Put on Fat?

Stopping for a cheeseburger and fries on the way home from a long day at work won't give you reason to frown when you step on the bathroom scale that evening, but making this behavior a habit can lead to fat gain. The rate that you gain fat depends on a number of variables, including your caloric intake and how many calories you burn throughout the day during exercise or other activities.

Calories in Fat

Just as calories exist in virtually everything you eat and drink, the fat in your body has a theoretical caloric worth. and the American Council on Exercise note that one pound of fat is composed of 3,500 calories. As such, gaining a pound of fat takes place when you consume 3,500 calories more than you burn. It's possible to gain a pound of fat in a short period of time.

Caloric Intake

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Your caloric intake plays a significant role in the rate that you'll gain fat. If you eat an unhealthy, high-calorie diet, you'll typically gain weight faster than someone who eats healthfully. The recommended daily caloric intake varies by person. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion notes that a female between the ages of 31 and 50 should plan to consume between 1,800 and 2,200 calories daily, for example. If you're active, consume closer to 2,200 calories; if you're inactive, aim to get around 1,800 calories.

Lifestyle Factors

Being active daily can help you avoid weight gain and even lose weight. You don't necessarily have to visit a gym to burn calories to avoid gaining weight. Exercises around home, such as jogging or riding your bike, burn calories to help offset the calories you consume. If you have a physically demanding job, you can often burn hundreds of calories during your workday to keep in shape. Even working around the home, performing such activities as mowing the lawn, is effective at burning calories. Your basal metabolic rate also contributes to fat gain; a high BMR means your body burns more calories during the day, even when you aren't active.


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If you're committed to regular exercise and avoiding unhealthy foods, such as those high in fat and sugar, it's often possible to lose up to two pounds in a week. Conversely, unhealthy eating and being sedentary can easily result in noticeable weight gain in a week. If you consume a daily average of 500 calories more than you burn, you'll have consumed an extra 3,500 calories -- or one pound -- over the week.