A question we get asked a lot is “How do I gain weight?”
I can tell you the answer in 2 words: Eat more.
Many people think that lifting weights makes you gain weight, but it doesn’t! Eating more calories causes you to gain weight. And if you are eating the right food, then then lifting weights will ensure that the weight you gain is muscle. You could spend every day in the gym, but if you aren’t eating enough, then you won’t be gaining any weight!
You need to write down every single thing you eat for a few days, and average it out. Then add 300-500 calories to that average, and make that your new daily calorie goal. This should allow you to gain about 1lb per week. You want to try gaining 1lb-2lbs per week, anything more than that will just be fat. The website I use to find nutrition info for food is Nutritiondata.com
So let’s say you weigh 160lbs and you eat 2500 calories per day. You are not losing weight, you are not gaining weight, so you are maintaining. So your maintenance calories are 2500. Add 500 calories to that, and your new daily “bulking” calories are 3000. Eat 3000 calories per day, for a week, and see if your weight went up. If you gained 1-2lbs, then you are doing great. Keep eating 3000 calories. If you didn’t gain any weight, you need to raise your calories even higher. Try 3500 calories per day, and see what your weight is after a week.
It’s really a simple formula, but a lot of beginners don’t understand, or don’t have the discipline to make sure they eat enough calories each day. It can definitely be hard to get enough calories each day, but you need to keep track of what you eat so you can hit your calorie mark each day. There are a lot of apps out there that make this part easier, like MyFitnessPal.
Try to eat at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. So if you weigh 160lbs, try getting at least 160g of protein each day. It’s usually pretty difficult to get that much protein from regular food, so this is where protein shakes help. Protein powders are also usually cheaper than protein sources of food like chicken breast.
Here’s a list of some good whole foods to get your protein from:
Chicken (boneless skinless chicken breast especially)
Turkey (Jenny-O ground turkey is a good lean alternative to fatty ground beef)
Fish (canned tuna or baked/fried fish)
Milk – some people like the nonfat kind, but I like whole milk, it adds a lot of extra calories. I would go with organic though
Eggs (the white part has most of the protein, the yolk has most of the fat)
Fat is good! I know, you’ve been conditioned to think that fat is bad, but it isn’t. It’s very important for a lot of things… just trust me, I don’t feel like going into detail here. Try to make sure you are getting healthy fats though. Trans fats are a no-no. Unsaturated fats are the way to go (think nuts and avocados). I also think saturated fats are good, but if you are getting them from beef, try to make sure the beef is organic. The hormones and antibiotics used in non-organic beef collects in the fat cells especially. A better source of saturated fat would be egg yolks.
Here’s a list of some good fat sources:
Extra Virgin Olive OilCoconut Oil
Nuts – Almonds, Walnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pistachios, Pumpkin seeds, Peanuts
Eggs ( the white part has most of the protein, the yolk has most of the fat)
Carbs are probably the cheapest of the 3 food types. A tub of oats is one of the best deals you will get as far as calories per dollar goes. Some people try to avoid gluten (which is in most breads and oats) and yes it is possible to do this while bulking. Sweet potatoes are a great gluten-free carb source.
Try to eat a lot of fruit, as this will have the most micronutrients (which is good for overall health). Vegetables aren’t going to add a lot of calories, but they really are good for your health. Try to eat some spinach, broccoli, or kale every day.
Some good carb sources:
Fruit – bananas, apples, grapefruit, melons, pears
Potatoes (especially sweet potatoes aka yams. The orange ones)
Oats (if you’re new to bodybuilding, yes this means oatmeal)
Rice (brown rice is preferred over white rice)
You might have heard people say 6 smaller meals per day is better than 3 meals per day. Basically, what I believe, is that as long as you hit your calorie requirements each day, the number of meals doesn’t matter. Maybe you’re work schedule only allows you 3 meals per day. Maybe you find it easier to split all those calories into 6 meals. Just do whatever is easiest for you, as long as you get your required calories.
What supplements can help you gain weight? The first two I list here shouldn’t even really be counted as supplements, they are really just food! Protein and Weight Gainers
In order to get the recommended amount of protein each day (1g protein per lb of bodyweight), you are probably going to want to buy a protein powder. This is actually usually cheaper than food. Some good protein powders are ON 100% Whey, Gaspari Myofusion, and BSN Syntha-6. There are lots of flavors to choose from, so make it fun!
Click here to see more protein powders
Weight gainers are basically protein powder with a carb powder, and a little bit of fat. This is probably the easiest way to increase your calories. It’s pretty much a complete meal, in powder form. Just mix it with milk or water and you’ve got a ton of quick calories. These are great right when you wake up, if you’re not hungry in the morning. It’s always easier to drink calories instead of eating them. Some good weight gainers are Scivation Mass Gainer, ON Pro Complex Gainer, and Muscletech Mass Tech.
Click here to see more weight gainers
There are a few supplements out there that can give you a bigger appetite. Usually you take a few pills 30 minutes before you eat, and then you will be able to eat a giant meal. One of these popular supplements is Controlled Labs Black Hole.
There are a lot of supplements that can boost your natural testosterone levels. This almost always results in an increased appetite (and of course the ability to build more muscle, and build it quicker). Some popular test boosters are Muscle Pharm Battle Fuel XT, Finaflex Pure Test, and BPI A-HD.
Click here to see more test boosters
Ok so that was pretty simple, right? If you’re still not understanding something, just leave a comment and I will help you out, promise!