July 20, 2023

Consider if you have “Fatten Easy” or “Fatten Difficult” metabolism?

Quick Story

A few weeks ago at a family gathering one couple arrived, (both mid-forties) each with a Coke in hand. The wife was roughly double the size of her husband. They both ate and drank the same, yet he was slim. 

This somewhat-technical article poses the questions “Which one has the normal metabolism?” and “Why can’t she eat the same but is not able to lose weight?”

Maybe you’ve asked yourself the same question. “How come I eat the same as others but they appear effortlessly slim and I constantly struggle with my weight.”

Let’s dive in.


For many women over 40, the weight loss journey can feel like an uphill battle, filled with frustration, disappointment, and guilt. It’s disheartening to see others seemingly effortlessly maintain their slim figures while struggling to shed even a few kilos.

As weight loss coaches we understand your concerns and want to shed some light on the notion of “Fatten Easy” and “Fatten Difficult” metabolisms in the context of our modern food environment.

Survival of the Fittest vs. Survival of the Fattest

Throughout history, the concept of “survival of the fittest” has been widely accepted, but when we delve deeper into our ancestral past, a different perspective emerges. Thousands of years ago, during times of famine or food scarcity, those who could efficiently store fat had a higher chance of survival. In essence, it was “survival of the fattest” rather than the fittest.

Take, for example, the brave souls who sailed thousands of miles across the treacherous Pacific Ocean in rafts from South America to the Polynesian islands. Only those with the ability to store fat efficiently survived the perilous journey. The lean ones, unfortunately, met a grim fate – becoming food for their surviving companions.

The Hunter-Gatherer Environment 

In this light, it becomes evident that individuals with a propensity to put on weight in a hunter-gatherer environment were the “normal” or the “Fatten Easy” ones. This ancestral lifestyle was characterized by intermittent access to food that was unprocessed, nutrient-dense, without addictive properties. Hunting and gathering required significant energy expenditure, often leading to days or weeks without a successful catch or kill.

There have not been any significant changes in human genes in over 10,000 years. The things that have changed are our food environment and adopted food beliefs.

Enter the Food Environment of Today

Fast forward to today, and our food environment has dramatically changed. We now have easy access to highly processed, calorie-dense, and hedonically addictive foods, often lacking in essential nutrients. Our modern society’s sedentary lifestyle adds to the challenge of maintaining a healthy weight. As a result, those who were once advantaged by their “Fatten Easy” metabolism now face a high likelihood of obesity in today’s food landscape.

Redefining Normalcy in Weight Management

Let’s explore the four situations on the matrix to redefine normalcy in the context of weight management:

  1. Those who Fatten Easy in a hunter-gatherer environment – these individuals had a higher chance of survival due to their efficient fat storage mechanism.
  2. Those who Fatten Easy in today’s food environment – they now face a higher likelihood of obesity due to the abundance of highly processed and calorie-dense foods.
  3. Those who Fatten Difficult in a hunter-gatherer environment – faced challenges due to their inability to store fat efficiently, leading to a higher likelihood of starvation.
  4. Those who Fatten Difficult in today’s food environment – these individuals are more likely to stay slim or skinny in today’s world.

Understanding the Emotional Impact

For those who could classify themselves as “Fatten Easy”, the struggle to lose weight can lead to feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and hopelessness. The prevailing belief in the one-size-fits-all approach to dieting only adds to their frustration. Additionally, adopting Healthy Eating guidelines further exacerbates their challenges.

“Fatten Easy” folks often make the natural assumption that if they follow the Healthy Eating Guidelines then they should become slim, but they were never written for that purpose. A different approach is needed.

Carrying Excess Weight Can Be A Health Risk

In hunter-gatherer times the average lifespan was many decades less than it is now. Most never lived long enough to suffer the chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s or dementia) for which carrying extra weight is a major risk factor. 

If you carry extra weight on or around the midsection, this is definitely not healthy.

Empowering the “Fatten Easy” Group

To empower the “Fatten Easy” group, we must acknowledge the fundamental shift in our food environment and the impact of commercially driven dietary guidelines. Recognize that our bodies are responding to an environment vastly different from that of our ancestors. Instead of attempting to conform to generic diets, it’s better to embrace a personalized approach that works in harmony with your body’s unique metabolism.


Dear ladies, it’s time to redefine normalcy in the world of weight management. 

If you have a “Fatten Easy” metabolism it was once a strength in the ancestral past, and it can still be an advantage in today’s world but only with the right strategies. Embrace your uniqueness, be kind to yourself, and seek support from people who understand your specific needs and have a success record helping people like you lose weight. 

Together, we can navigate the challenges of the modern food environment and foster a healthier relationship with food and our bodies. And, if you want, to achieve a weight with which you are happier, our coaches would love to help you.

Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.


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Krupp, D., & Nguyen, L. T. (2018). Fat chance! How our evolutionary history with food leads to obesity. Diabetes, 67(10), 1951-1958.

Laska, M. N., Pasch, K. E., Lust, K., Story, M., & Ehlinger, E. (2009). Latent class analysis of lifestyle characteristics and health risk behaviours among college youth. Prevention Science, 10(4), 376-386.

Ludwig, D. S. (2011). Technology, diet, and the burden of chronic disease. JAMA, 305(13), 1352-1353.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). (2013). Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: NHMRC.