For people looking to add muscle mass, there is a serious need to gain weight. On the other hand, there are people that are clinically underweight and at risk for being too skinny. This post will focus on how to gain weight fast for the purpose of adding muscle mass. Whether you are clinically underweight or struggling to add lean muscle mass, the main principles of gaining weight are the same.
Gain Weight the Healthy Way
First and foremost, if you want to know how to gain weight fast, I want to talk about adding weight the healthy way. As with anything else, if you are going to do it, do it right. Binging on soda and candy is not the way to add lean muscle mass. You will gain weight. But, you will also destroy the health that you have worked so hard to obtain. And, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems are often associated with obesity.
Calories In, Calories Out
You have probably read posts on this bodybuilding blog talking about calories in versus calories out. But, those comments were in reference to cutting, not bulking. In order to add weight the healthy way, you need to put yourself into a calorie surplus meaning that you need to consume more calories than your body is burning. Your body burn calories all day long. People with more lean muscle mass actually have a higher metabolism, which will burn more calories per hour. Younger people also typically have higher metabolism than older people. There is a ton of truth to your metabolism slowing down as you age.
How Many Extra Calories
How many extra calories you consume daily depends on how fast you want to put weight on. If you are looking to gain weight at a slow and steady pace, aim for a 300-500 surplus of calories every day. If you are looking to add weight faster, double that to 700-1,000 extra calories per day. Since everyone metabolizes calories differently, you will need a trial and error approach and these numbers may end up getting tweaked a little.
If you are wondering how to count calories, there are apps or web sites that can assist with that. Calorie tracking apps are awesome (at least the good ones are). If you take the time to log your food accurately, you will not regret it. I am a data driven person and live off of counting calories because I cannot do the guessing game. I like to eat 8 ounces of lean protein, a cup of brown rice, and a cup of green vegetables for lunch (as an example). Boneless chicken breast has less calories and fat than chicken thighs.
My app breaks down my macros per meal. I like to pre-log my meals into an app to see what my meal consists of. This allows me to pivot and add something to my meal, such as more protein. During certain times of the year, I want to consume more protein and fats per meal. I weigh all portions. Like I said, I am data driven and like to control what I consume for each meal.
Eat More Protein
In my strongest bro voice, “eat more protein bro.” I will agree that the myth that all you need is protein to build muscle is an old bro’s tale. Adding mass needs a diverse diet where you eat your macros throughout the day. Carbs and fats are also important. I admit that I focus more on protein than fat, but the fact of the matter is that protein, carbs, and fats all play critical roles in your nutrition.
Protein is a double-egded sword though. Protein is highly filling meaning that more protein typically means getting full quicker and staying full for longer. If you want to know how to gain weight fast, you are most likely going to need to add more calories to your diet. This means that you need to learn how to eat more good foods. Studies have shown over and over again that a high protein diet can cause this extra protein to be turned into muscle. Since the early days of bodybuilding, bodybuilders knew that protein add muscle.
High protein foods come in many forms. Lean high protein sources include chicken breast, lean fish, shellfish, egg whites, fat free milk, among other things. High calorie high protein foods include whole eggs, salmon, whole milk, nuts, red meat, and many other types of darker meats. Depending on how quickly you want to add calories, one method of how to gain weight fast is to eat red meat instead of chicken breast. Salmon contains more calories and healthy fats than cod. These are just a few examples.
How to Gain Weight Fast With Energy Dense Foods
When figuring out your meal plans, emphasize energy dense foods as much as possible. Energy dense foods are foods that contain more calories relative to their weight. Here are a few examples of energy dense foods:
- Meat: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc. Fattier cuts contain more calories.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
- High-fat dairy: Whole milk, full-fat yogurt, cheese, cream.
- Fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil.
- Grains: Whole grains like oats and brown rice are staples of almost every meal of mine.
- Peanut Butter: This goes without saying in bodybuilding.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams.
Lift Heavy Weights
At some point in this post, you knew I would have to get on my soapbox and talk about lifting heavy weights. It is what we do. In order to figure out how to gain weight fast and lean, you need to lift weight. Work out hard and make every set count. Lift heavy and challenge yourself more each workout. Rest and repair by consuming calories. Gain weight fast the right way by working hard and eating hard.
I would venture to say that a lot of lists such as this would have blogs preach that the easiest way to gain weight is to use weight gainers. This makes sense, right? My issue with weight gainers is that there is typically a lot of things in weight gainers that we would rather not consume. Some weight gainers are wasteful, empty calories loaded with sugar and fats.
I will preach as much as I can about trying to get all of your nutrition by consuming food, not by loading up on supplements. By even their name, supplements should be there to supplement your daily caloric intake. If you cannot consume enough calories, use protein powder. Control the empty calorie that make up a lot of weight gainers.