Stop Blaming Your Genes: The Weight Gain Truth You Need to Know
So, you can’t seem to gain weight. Although people might tell you that they envy your natural skinny body or that you’re “lucky” because you never have to worry about what you eat, it’s frustrating for you.
When you mention that you’d like to learn how to gain weight, people always respond in the same way.
Your reasons for gaining weight are your own. Maybe you’re tired of being the “skinny girl” that feels self-conscious at the beach. It could be that you’re the skinny guy that always wanted to build a better physique to fill out your clothes better. It could you’re in training, you need to be more competitive on the field, or you just want to bulk up than everyone else.
Whatever your reason, this article is going to teach you exactly what you need to know to start putting on healthy muscle and overcome your body’s natural inclination to stay small. You can do it. It’s not magic. It’s science, and we’ll show you how it works.
What is a Body Type?
Let’s start by looking at the body types that normally have problems gaining weight. There are three main body types, also known as somatotypes. Although most people don’t exclusively have a body type or even remain in one category, your body is most likely has ectomorph qualities. This is characterized by having:
- Thin body with smaller bone structure,
- Increased metabolism
- Increased carbohydrate tolerances
- Lean muscle mass
- Harder to gain weight
- Harder to gain muscle
Sound familiar? If you agree with this personification, your body type means you have to leverage different tactics in the gym to reach the goals you set for yourself.
Because your body has a faster metabolism, you can process carbs faster than other somatotypes. You might have the ability to hardly gain any weight when you take a cheat meal or two. You feel like you eat enough, but you rarely see any changes on the scale or in the mirror.
Gaining weight the healthy way (i.e. not fat) involves eating right and getting your training in line with your goals. Let’s break down each of these sections right now.
The Diet to Gain Weight
Do you want to know the secret to gaining weight? Come here. Closer.
Eat more food. Sorry, that’s not really a “secret”, but it’s the truth. When you consume more calories than you burn, your body will put on weight. It’s not too good to be true. It’s just true.
Start with a Food Journal
Most skinny people assume that they already eat a lot of food. But the truth is that they usually eat to feel full, but because of their smaller frame and faster metabolism, they rarely have the calories needed to put on serious weight.
Start your journey to healthy weight gain by tracking what you eat. You can either keep a food journal or use an app like myfitnesspal which helps you keep track and count the calories for you. You’ll find that you aren’t eating as much as you first thought. Keep track over at least a week because you will get a more accurate idea over time what your normal habits total up to.
Eating Enough Calories
Once you have an idea of where you’re at right now with your food intake, it’s time to measure what your body should be eating to maintain itself. This is as simple as using a calculator to work out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or your TDEE. This is the number of calories you would burn every day through your normal routine. Once you have an idea of what you actually burn, you need to increase your caloric intake to levels that will produce a healthy weight gain.
For a healthy male weighing 82 kg and measuring 186 cm with moderate exercise, he would burn around 2,800 calories a day.
To get a healthy gain, increase your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. That should promote consistent weight gain. So in our example, he would have to increase his diet to 3,300 calories per day.
Consistency matters. You have to do this every day to see results. It will be hard, and you might even feel like you’re eating when you’re not hungry, but over time your body will adjust to the increased calorie intake.
Eat smaller meals more often. It’s hard to consume 1100 calories each meal if you’re only eating three meals. However, it’s much easier to have 660 calories per meal when you eat five times during the day.
But you can’t just eat pizza and drink more beer. You need to eat the right nutrients create a healthy weight gain that isn’t purely fat around your tummy.
Eat the Right Nutrients
Eating the extra calories can be tricky for someone that normally doesn’t eat all that much. But by focussing on the right nutrients, you promote healthy muscle gain and weight gain.
CARBOHYDRATES: 4 calories/g
Ignore the experts that claim that carbs are bad for you. They’re an essential macronutrient that your body needs as fuel, and they’re a great way to add more calories to your diet.
Focus on complex carbs that are low in sugar content. Root vegetables, sweet potatoes, and tubers provide great complex carbohydrates, are low in sugar, and high in fibre as well. Include other sources like brown rice, quinoa, and polenta. Eating carbs along with protein increases your body’s response to build muscle better than eating protein alone. Try to eat carbs after your workouts to replenish the energy used by your muscles.
PROTEIN: 4 calories/g
Your protein intake matters. Studies show that eating increased amounts of protein will trigger your body to burn fat and produce muscle mass. For muscle gains, try eating 1.6-2.2g/kg of your bodyweight. Protein does have the side effect of decreasing your appetite so spread your protein intakes over the five meals, and make sure to include good sources of carbs and fats to increase the calorie count.
If having enough complete proteins during the day is a challenge, make a weight-gain shake using whey protein powders to increase your intake as a part of your meals.
FAT: 9 calories/g
Fat does not make you fat. Healthy fats like Omega-9 and Omega-3 fats will help promote muscle growth and weight gain without being stored as fat in the body. Good sources of Omega-9 fats are avocados, olive oils, almonds, macadamias, ghee, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil. Omega-3-rich foods include egg yolks, walnuts, and wild salmon.
The Training to Gain Weight
The simple fact is this:
Training won’t create weight gains. Eating will.
Eating excessive calories will trigger a weight gain, but it’s your training routines that will prompt your body to turn those calories into muscle and not into stored fat cells that linger on your midsection.
Remember Heavy Weights, and Light Cardio.
At its core, cardio exercise is designed to burn calories. People do cardio for the increased heart and lung health benefits, but cardio also serves to burn off calories. And therefore, vigorous cardio is not your friend. At least, not right now.
Unless you plan on increasing your calorie count even more than you have right now, try to reduce your cardio exercises to simple activities like yoga or walking or burst exercises like High-Intensity Interval Training. If you’re going to try HIIT, keep it to once or twice a week, because it has a tremendous afterburn effect that burns calories up to 24 hours after the workout.
Your biggest aid to triggering muscle growth will be to lift heavy weights. This is a very simple way of explaining it, but when you put calories into your body, it has to decide what to do with those calories. To trigger your body to turn those calories into muscle tissue and not fat, doing some strength training will cause your body to build more muscles. Also, heavy lifting has the added bonus of increasing your appetite, making it easier to eat all the extra calories that you need.
You want your training to activate as many muscles in the body and compound movements do just that. The best way to strength train is to follow some simple guidelines in the gym:
Stick with heavy barbell exercises
The “Big 5” movements that you should be practising is the Deadlift, Bench Press, Squats, Barbell Row, and the Overhead Press. Stick with doing these movements on free weights so your body has to both lift and balance the weights, activating muscles all throughout your body. It’s way more effective than targeted muscle movements like flys or curls on a dumbbell.
Train 3 times a week
Any more than that and your body will be at risk of overtraining and injury. You need the rest and recovery stages of a workout to create rapid muscle growth.
Increase Your Weights
Try to do better than you did in your last workout by adding at least 0.5kg to your lifts each time. Your body is incredible at adapting to what you ask of it, so continually trigger that muscle growth by increasing the load demands in your workouts. Otherwise, it could remain in homeostasis and not put on any more muscle mass.
Your Weight Gain Goals
As you increase your diet, train better, and start to see results, continue to assess yourself. As your body increases in size, your metabolism will change, and so will your food needs.
Once every 4-6 weeks, retest your calorie intake and re-adjust your nutrients. This part is so important because you’ve been used to eating and thinking as your former body type. Now, you have to learn a new way as your body grows and changes.
This isn’t going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Your weight gain will start to show, and you’ll be proud of the lean muscle mass you’ve been able to put on. Remain consistent, keep disciplined, and you’ll reach your goals.