How to Gain Weight
In the United States, we have an abundance of unhealthy food at our fingertips and weight gain comes easily if not monitored. It’s easy to gain weight when we have companies romanticizing greasy, unhealthy foods due to their manipulation of consumers (talk about money-hungry). We all want what everyone else has and if a picture of a big, greasy burger is what companies are advertising, that’s what people suddenly crave. Gaining weight is easy for the most of us, but there are some skinny dudes and chicks out there that struggle to gain weight at all, even if they do enjoy a burger and shake every now and then. If you’re that person, I’m sure you’ve heard the advice to “just drink a protein shake” or “eat more carbs.” This advice either worked for you or it didn’t, but it has nothing to do with protein shakes or carbs. Your macros (protein, carbs, fats) are important to pay attention to, especially when trying to gain weight from muscle vs. weight from body fat. Macros come secondary though; caloric intake will always be the most important factor in weight gain or weight loss. There’s two things when it comes to diet that you want to focus on: 1. Caloric maintenance and 2. Macro percentages. If you want to gain lean muscle mass, its obvious that you must be doing resistance training along with your diet. The first step is to find your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Calculating your BMR will give you a general idea of how many calories you burn throughout the day if you were to do minimal exercise (or movements, such as walking). It’s based on things like age, height, weight, etc. It’s also affected by factors that aren’t used in the calculations, such as disease or illness. Your BMR is a number to use if you’re someone who is bed-ridden. If you’re stuck in bed or plan on laying outdoors all day to get a tan this summer, this is the number you want to use. Otherwise, you want to focus on your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), also known as your maintenance level. Whether you have an active job vs. a desk job will make the difference in your TDEE. A person with an active job will burn twice as many calories as a person who sits at their desk all day. If your job involves being on your feet, then you have an active job (such as a waitress). You will automatically burn more calories than someone who works in an office. If you’re already active, this makes gaining weight all the more difficult because you have to eat much more calories to make up for the energy used. Your TDEE is focused on what activities you do during the day, whether you’re sedentary or extremely active. Use this calculator to figure out how many calories your body uses every day to maintain your weight. The calculations will give you a general idea; the number won’t be exact. If you don’t have a coach to monitor and control the numbers for you, then you’ll have to do this on your own through progress pictures and measurements. The second step is to decide how much weight you want to gain per week. Generally, you want to take it slow with adding calories because your body will store some of the extra calories in your fat stores rather than your muscle belly. My personal suggestion is to aim towards 1-2 pounds every 4 weeks. If you try to gain weight too quickly, you’ll notice that you’re gaining fat quicker than you’re gaining muscle. You’ll gain fat regardless, as that’s part of the process for anyone who is doing it naturally. Try eating 100-200 calories over your maintenance level every day. Remember that your maintenance level is your TDEE calculations. If your maintenance level is 1500 calories, you’ll want to eat 1600-1700 calories everyday and then pay attention to how your body adapts and make adjustments as necessary. Now, I mentioned macros are important too, which they are. To build muscle, your body relies on two macros: proteins and carbs. Protein is used to repair your muscles after you’re done with a training session while your muscles use carbs as a place to store the extra calories vs. sending them to your fat stores (which will happen too). When trying to gain weight, quality protein and carbs should not be neglected because those are the two macros used in the process of building more muscle mass and lean body weight. Despite this, studies and personal experiments I’ve done show that you don’t need as much protein as supplement companies say you do to build muscle. It’s important that you get enough protein, but eating 180 grams of protein when you only weigh 97 pounds is absolutely unnecessary. If you struggle with eating and feel full quickly, I suggest eating a healthy fat source. Peanut butter and nuts are great options. The reason behind this is that with protein and carbs, you’re only getting 4 calories per gram, while with fats you get 9 calories per gram. Two tablespoons of peanut butter is 200 calories and only takes two seconds to eat. You could easily eat 500 calories within a few seconds of opening the jar. You’ll also get some protein from your fat sources, so that’s a great alternative for the vegans struggling with weight gain as well. After you’ve got your numbers figured out and a general idea of the macros you want to work with, then all you have left to do is pay attention to how your body progresses. Know that you’re not going to see drastic changes after doing this. It will be a step-by-step process and chances are, you won’t get your numbers right on the first try. Every 2-4 weeks, take progress pictures and monitor how your body changes each week. You can use a coach to do all of this work for you or you can learn to do the configurations on your own!
Don’t forget to use #FlexClub to share your progress pictures, meals, or motivational posts with the team! Good luck!