Being underweight can be unhealthy, unflattering and most of all it can be hard to reverse. But unfortunately, not many people who are underweight know why. I personally couldn’t tell you exactly how many times I have sat in the mirror after a hearty meal of Maccas or KFC, wondering why I couldn’t gain weight. Most underweight people don’t realize it can be due to a fast metabolism that they’re not gaining weight. I was one of those underweight people; you don’t need to be. So lets get right to it and explain the 4 things that matter most when you want to gain weight!
1. Eat More Calories Than Your Body Burns
When you’re trying to gain weight, one of the most crucial steps is eating more calories than your body is burning, as more calories in than out is definitely needed, or else you’ll see no gains. If you’re unsure of just how many calories you need, try using this Calorie Calculator (link) to determine just how many you need (keeping in mind that it is only an estimate , it will not be completely accurate).
If you’re wanting to gain weight fast.. You should opt for consuming 700-1000 calories above that suggested by the calculator. If you’re wanting to gain weight at a regular pace, it’s smart to consume around 300-500 calories more than that suggested by the calculator.
Keep in mind also that you do not need to “count calories” every week for the rest of your life, doing it for the first few weeks would be beneficial but its unnecessary unless you are unable to stick to your diet.
2. Eat Lots of Food High in Protein
Protein is one of our absolute top muscle builders and weight gainers, as muscle is made of protein, and without it most of those extra calories may end up as body fat rather than converting to muscle. Studies show that during periods of overfeeding, a high protein diet causes many of the extra calories which then convert to muscle.
Unfortunately, like all things in life, protein has a downside. It is quite the belly-filler.. Meaning that having a lot of protein in your diet can indirectly cause you to not eat as many meals as you should, and can decrease your hunger and appetite a lot. This can make it VERY hard to get in the necessary amount of calories..
If you’re trying to gain weight, aim for 0.7-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram) – If you have a very high calorie intake, you may require up to 5 g of protein per kg.
meats, fish, eggs, many dairy products, legumes & nuts are all very high in protein.
Protein supplements like Whey [aff link] can also be useful if you struggle to get enough protein in your diet.
3. Eat a Lot of Energy-Dense Foods
With this step, it is very important to eat whole, single ingredient foods as often as possible. The problem with these foods is that they often tend to be more filling than processed junk foods, . Using plenty of spices, sauces and condiments can help with this. The tastier your food is, the easier it is to eat a lot of it.Also, try to emphasize energy-dense foods as much as possible. These are foods that contain many calories relative to their weight.
Often, one of the biggest issues when it comes to dieting is that people are mostly unaware of what each type of food does to the body.. So we’ve composed a list of energy-dense foods that are perfect for gaining weight:
Nuts: Almonds walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts , etc.
Dried fruit: Raisins, dates, prunes and others.
High-fat dairy: Whole milk, full-fat yoghurt cheese, cream.
Fats and Oils: Olive Oil and Avocado Oil.
Grains: Whole grains like oats and brown rice,
Meat: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc. Opting for the fatty cuts of meat is beneficial
Tubers: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and Yams.
A few extras: Dark Chocolate, avocados, peanut butter, coconut milk, granola, trail mixes.
Many of these foods are very filling, if you find yourself too full to eat more, force some more food in. This will allow your stomach to slowly stretch, to allow room for more food. This results in a weight gain. Bananas, Wheat Biscuits and Sandwiches can be helpful when it comes to force feeding as they don’t require as much chewing as whole foods.
4. Exercise regularly.
Muscle weighs more than fat, meaning it is the healthiest way to gain weight. If you are exercising daily, you are not only gaining muscle weight, but you are burning calories and using up energy, which will increase your appetite daily.
It is important to monitor how much exercise you’re doing though, as you can counteract all your other gaining efforts by simply doing too much exercise and burning more calories than you’re consuming.
In the long run, if you are truly serious about gaining weight you must follow at least half of these steps or else you may get stuck constantly fluctuating between the weight you are and the weight you want to be. It can be super helpful to set yourself a structured meal plan and diet, along with setting yourself small, (bi)monthly goals to achieve in order to keep you motivated and fixated on gaining weight.
So if you want to gain weight…
The conclusion is; keep diligent, don’t make excuses, keep going and don’t look back. Remember the saying the first steps are usually the hardest so don’t be discouraged if you see little progress during the begin beginning of your training and dieting. I struggled with this too until I got to a weight I was comfortable with! Hope it all goes well for you guys, remember to drop some questions or comments below, will always answer on free time!