We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
While doing cardio intervals at my gym I was amused to see an ad for weight-gain products (probably quackery) on the TV. Amused, because we are so accustomed to seeing ads for weight-loss quackery.
Weight-gain is important for scrawny or physically-undeveloped people who are looking to gain muscle and physical power. The classic 150-lb weakling male who wants to develop might need to gain 10 lbs with a balanced exercise program including weights and a robust diet. Same goes for a weakling stringbean gal.
Whether part of a fitness goal is weight gain or weight loss, a nutritional diary, I believe, is the essential, basic aid. If you record everything you put in your oatmeal-hole, including portion size, while weighing yourself every month, you will get a good idea of how you're moving towards your goals.
For weight gain goals with a 5-6-day per week exercise program including weights, I'd like to see about a 1 lb gain per month for a while. Unless you want to gain fat, a pound/month is plenty. If you can't do that, you need to up your intake. That can be difficult for some people who have to force themselves to eat more than they really want.
For getting rid of excess fat, a reasonable goal is 2 lbs/month with or without exercise. I can't tell you what percentage of American medical problems are related to being overweight, but it could be half of it, from arthritis to breast cancer. Hard exercise doesn't do much for weight loss but it's a good thing for life anyway.
In either case, a detailed diary can help you navigate towards your goal. People are often surprised by how much, or how little, they consume in a day.
This is not a recommendation for an obsessive lifetime plan, just to try for a few months.
The 'classic 150-lb weakling male', assuming he's of average height, would want to gain a lot more than 10 lbs, more like 40-50, if he wants to develop any real strength at all. And he should want to develop real strength. My son is 19, 6' 0" and currently weighs 200 lbs. Before he started lifting on a regular basis a year or so ago, he was around 170 lbs. He looks a lot better at 200 than he did at 170 and is of course a lot stronger. I myself have gone from 185 to 210 (at 5' 10") over the course of my lifting career (little over 7 years) and still have visible abs (not razor sharp abs, of course, but visible nonetheless).
Assistant Village Idiot
Absolutely on the record-keeping. If I have to write it down, I'm way less likely to eat garbage foods. Something about committing it to paper...
I find that, because I have some T2D going on, regular exercise does help me lose weight, but probably in an indirect way. Like, it doesn't make me lose weight, but it makes it possible for me to do so.
Calorie counting just doesn't work. I've tried a few times, and... it only works if you can stick to it. But I've had really good luck with just counting the carbs, and shooting for normoglycemia: so, like, I use my glucometer religiously, and I don't eat anything that puts me over 120, ever. More like 110 if I'm trying to lose weight. In practice (your carb/insulin sensitivity is probably different, so don't take this as prescriptive), this works out to a limit of about 10g carbs per meal, and about 20g carbs for the day.
While I don't count calories, this drastically limits what I eat, so it ends up being fewer calories anyway, because I'm not starving all the time, and because when I get bored and start prowling around for snacks... I am so dang tired of all the (three) easy options that I usually change my mind and go read a detective novel on the stationary bike instead. And this is how exercise helps me lose weight ;)