With the obesity epidemic sweeping the globe, health-related conversations typically revolve around how to LOSE the lbs, so we often overlook the group on the opposite end of the spectrum: those trying to know “how to GAIN weight fast.”
The end goal of both losing and gaining is the same: to create a healthy, sustainable lifestyle at a weight that is appropriate for your unique body. And, believe it or not, gaining weight can be as challenging for some as losing weight is for others. Gaining weight fast is not as easy as shoveling PB&Js into your mouth and downing gallons of milk, at least not if you’re trying to gain healthy weight that aligns with your fitness goals.
Why would you want to know how to gain weight fast?
Good question, glad you asked. Everyone has a unique reason, but below are some of the more common:
- –Dudes want to look like Superman. Society teaches men to bulk up in order to fit into a certain image of masculinity that exudes strength and dominance.
- –Many women may seek to gain weight as a means to build up their strength and also their image as a confident, competent individual.Politics aside, studies show that people often place greater trust and respect in individuals who are fit and substantial over those who are smaller with less mass. Naturally, there are exceptions to this.
- –Bottom line, if gaining weight helps someone boost their confidence and/or career, I’m all for it!
- –Both men and women may gain weight fast to better equip their bodies for sports or to enter a bodybuilding or fitness competition.
- –Medically speaking, being underweight is unhealthy and may manifest itself in malnourishment, exhaustion, and fatigue (to name just a few).
- –Individuals may be working to gain weight based on a doctor’s recommendation.
If nothing else, maybe people are trying to “gain weight fast” because they are ready to stop hearing the tired old criticisms:
“Dude, you must be 130 pounds soaking wet!”
“Dude, you’d get beat up in jail.”
“Whoah, when you turn sideways it’s like you disappeared. Where’d Kevin go?!”
“Do you have an eating disorder?”
“You need to eat a sandwich.”
You know who likes to be judged by their weight? NOBODY.
I’m a big believer in loving yourself and being proud of the body you have, but if you’re able to make a lifestyle change that will boost your health and confidence, I’m all for that, too!
Get Started Gaining Weight!
To gain weight fast, you need to have a game plan. That’s exactly why I’m here: to talk strategy with you. My goal is to keep you from missing out by lacking the fortitude to develop a plan and stick it out to the finish line. The steps below will teach you how to eat, workout, and rest to best promote rapid, healthy weight gain.
Step 1. Understanding the Root of the Issue: Why are You Skinny?
Two words: “Fast Metabolism.” If you can eat endlessly without gaining fat, many would say you won the genetic lottery. However, the downside is that your metabolism is also preventing you from easily building muscle. The classic double-edged sword.
Another common obstacle is digestive issues. To prepare your body for efficient weight gain, meet with a specialist to help heal your gut prior to beginning your weight gain journey.
Step 2: Up Your Daily Calories
Intuitively, we all know that in order to put on pounds we need to eat more food. The real question is how much more? This takes some experimentation:
Start by looking at the number of calories you are currently consuming. I don’t necessarily believe that counting calories is the best way to gain (or lose) weight, but we shouldn’t ignore it as a useful tool for obtaining a general idea of how much we are eating. Spend 3 days logging everything you eat and drink and identify a pattern of consumption. There are a number of websites and apps that assist with tracking calories. Choose your favorite!
Take the average number of calories from the 3 days you tracked and add between 500 and 1,000 calories to your diet per day. For example, someone with a standard 2,000 calorie daily diet would increase their daily intake to 2,500 or 3,000 calories. Maintain this intake level for 2 weeks. This 2 week period will allow you to judge whether an increase of this amount is really helping you gain weight. You want to aim for 1-3 pounds per week during this period. Gaining at a faster rate can put you at a risk of adding more fat than lean muscle mass. If you do not experience weight gain within the 2 week period, it’s time to up the calorie intake again. Reassess after another 2 week period.
Rinse and repeat. Maintain or repeat the above steps until you reach your goal weight.
Step 3: Eat to Gain Weight Fast
- Drink water, but avoid consuming large amounts during meals. Water takes up space in the stomach and curbs hunger, so you don’t want to fill up on zero calories. Rededicate your stomach space to food that will help you build lean muscle.
- Eat nutrient-dense macronutrients. A good starting ratio is 35% protein, 35% carbohydrates, and 30% fat.
- Protein is the key to gaining lean muscle. Try to consume healthy proteins such as beef, poultry, fish and pork.
- High fat consumption goes a long way, but I’m not talking fried food and pork rinds. Choose your fats wisely and cook with good fats such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocado oil, organic lard, and olive oil.
- Carbohydrates like starchy vegetables are an essential for every meal. I’m not mentioning breads, pasta or even whole grains because I don’t believe them to be the healthiest choice, but feel free to use them too, if they’re a part of your normal diet.
- Add a daily Weight-Gaining Shake. If chewing more food is just too difficult, you might want to consider adding in a weight-gaining supplement. These can be very effective and allow you to get an extra 200-300 calories in very easily. The only drawback is they cost money. But the reality is, you’re going to spend more anyway on all this extra food. I’ll link to a couple mass gainers below.
- Eat a combination of big and small meals. You might think it’s better to eat a lot of small meals, but you’re better off eating 2 or 3 large meals and 2 or 3 smaller meals throughout the day. Don’t be fooled, you will be eating a lot more than you’re used to.
- Eat late at night, if it doesn’t affect your sleep. When you have a fast metabolism, you want to eliminate the amount of time your body is fasting. When you sleep you are basically fasting for amount of time you’re in bed. That could be up to 8 hours. If it doesn’t affect your sleep, eat a meal before bed to get a few extra calories in for that day.
Step 4: Lifting Heavy = Building Muscle Mass = Gain Weight
I’ve talked about this on episode 90 of The Open Sky Fitness Podcast, but it bears mentioning again. If your goal is to gain weight fast, you must lift heavy weights to trigger muscle growth and adaptation. Our bodies need something to react to in order to change. Going to the gym and lifting 5 pound dumbbells for 3 sets of 15 reps is not even going to make you sore, let alone trigger adaptation of the muscles. I’m sorry, it’s just not gonna happen.
If you’re interested in doing this the right way, I’ve created a great workout template that will help you create killer muscle-building workouts.
Avoid Cardio Like The Plague
To gain weight fast, cutting long cardio sessions out is going to be first on the list. It makes no sense to use up all your extra calories to sustain a 7 mile run and yet expect your body to start building muscle mass at the same time. I know cardio can be therapeutic, but it has to be the first thing on the chopping block when weight gain is the goal.
Step 5: Don’t Forget to Rest
We tend to devalue recovery when it comes to weight gain. It’s a crucial part of the equation, so if you decide to leave it out, prepare to suffer the consequences.
Some sleep strategies include:
- Black Out: Without light flooding in the morning, you can probably score a few more quality hours of sleep before waking up naturally.
- Sugar Free: Try not to eat or drink any sugary drinks before bedtime. Your body will process the sugar and pull you out of a deep, restful sleep.
- Lights Out: We tend to keep our TVs going and cell phones busy until the moment before we fall asleep. Try turning off all electronics one to two hours before bedtime. The blue light generated by our TVs and devices can trigger a hormone response, tricking our body to thinking it’s daytime. NO BUENO!
I just so happen to have a very close friend who specializes in sleep. He wrote a book that could make a world of difference in how your sleep patterns impact your rest and recovery: Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. I’m not saying you have a sleeping problem and need to order this book, I’m just saying, if you want to maximize your rest and recovery time, this book will make all the difference.
Final Thoughts on How to Gain Weight Fast
Tackling weight-gain is no easy feat. As with any big lifestyle change, it’s best to find a strong support system to cheer you on towards your goal and help to hold you accountable. Share your goal and your strategy with the people around you who can help you with your journey. Your journey may even inspire them to begin a fitness journey of their own.
I hope you found this post useful. Please comment below, I would love to hear your story and thoughts.
Weight Gain Supplements: