Jorge has been an avid reader of personal development literature for years. He likes to blather on about what he's learned.
Gaining Weight Fast and Naturally: Is It Possible?
So you want to know how to gain weight fast naturally, without all of the garbage that body builders put in their bodies, right?
Of course, this doesn't mean that you want to be Mr. Lardy McTubbypants, either.
You want to gain muscle weight, not fat, and you want to do this as naturally as possible.
It can be hard to find people who have first-hand information about this because--let's face it--most people in developed countries want to lose weight, not gain it.
Personally, this bothered me when I was trying to gain weight myself. It seemed like all the advice was for hefty people!
I used to be rail thin and eventually gained about 20 pounds (9 kg) using some basic techniques, so I'll give you a few tips that really worked in my experience:
The General Principle: Gain Weight By Out-Pacing Your Metabolism
Do you have a fast metabolism? Yeah, me too. Most people see this as a huge blessing because you can "eat whatever you want," but the truth is that you can't.
When you couple a poor appetite with a fast metabolism (which is the case for many underweight people), eating "whatever you want" can make you too skinny!
The good news is that if you're underweight, you will usually be able to gain weight fast once you start out-pacing your metabolism. Your body will happily take the nourishment that you give it.
So the first step is to figure out how you are going to take in more calories than your body burns.
There is no way to get around this principle. Your body does not run on fairy dust and air (unless you're a breatharian). The reason someone is fat or muscular is because they ingested more calories than they burned. The opposite is true for a skinny person.
"But I Eat So Much Already!"
A common complaint that skinny people have is that they "eat so much already" that they don't know how they could eat more.
Look, there's a reason you're skinny and you want to gain weight. If you were really eating that much, you would be bigger.
The problem is that "a lot" for you might actually not be that much--it might be well below your caloric maintenance level, as determined by your basal metabolic rate.
In less fancy terms, this just means that you don't eat enough to keep up with your metabolism, even if you think you eat "a lot." Clearly you don't, or else you wouldn't have trouble gaining weight.
Another problem is that you could be eating a lot of low-calorie foods. If you are stuffing your face with lettuce and sushi, then you might feel full, but you're not getting very many calories that will help you gain weight.
Gaining Weight Fast: Easier Said Than Done
Now, just telling you that you should "eat more" isn't good enough. You probably already know that. Heck, you've probably already tried it.
Obviously, eating more (or eating high-calorie foods) is not something that comes naturally to you, or else you would already be doing it. If you have a low appetite in general, it can feel like you're going against nature to cram 3,000 calories into your pie-hole every day.
That's why we're going to go over a few of these tips to make things easier on you:
Your Eating Habits
1) Find Out Your Maintenance Calories
First of all, you need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
This is the amount of calories that your body burns in 24 hours if you are completely still and don't move at all.
You can use a simple BMR calculator to get a rough figure for this.
Your BMR depends on a number of factors, such as your weight, your sex, your age, your fat-to-muscle ratio (muscle takes more calories to maintain), and more.
Your goal is to go over this basic maintenance calorie amount so that you can gain weight fast.
Your BMR doesn't account for all of the calories you will burn in a day, but it will usually be the bulk of them. Most of our calories are just spend on body maintenance, and in fact you burn hundreds of calories in your sleep every night!
Since no BMR calculator is going to be perfect, and it also won't cover the calories you burn from all your activities, you will have to experiment a little. Start out by trying to shoot a few hundred calories over your maintenance and then calibrate from there.
The reason you shouldn't go crazy and start cramming 1,000+ calories over maintenance right off the bat is because you will get fat this way! You can only build so much muscle in a day. After that, the food will turn into bubbling lard.
2) Go Nuts With Nuts (and Other Natural, Calorie-Dense Foods)
The next step is to figure out which foods follow certain special requirements:
- They are calorie-dense.
- They are healthy. (No ice cream for you!)
- You enjoy eating them.
The Reason They Should be Highly Caloric
You only have so much space in your stomach and so much appetite. In order to gain weight fast, you need to fill that limited space with foods that pack a huge caloric punch. Rather than eating an ounce of lettuce, you would eat an ounce of peanuts, for example. It might take up the same space in your stomach, but the more caloric food will help you gain more weight.
The Reason They Need to Be Healthy
You're trying to gain weight, not put yourself in an early grave. This is why it's a bad idea to stuff your face with cake, ice cream, donuts, and other junk foods. Diets high in fat and refined sugars can cause insulin resistance and hurt your pancreas.
Having metabolic issues like insulin resistance can wreak havoc on all kinds of body systems, so keep things healthy. Being skinny doesn't mean it's okay to eat garbage!
The Reason You Need to Enjoy the Food
If you don't enjoy the food, you won't eat it. Your willpower will only go so far. If you have to force yourself to eat, you're doing it wrong.
This tidbit is often overlooked by people who give fitness advice. Since most people actually like to eat, they just tell skinny people to "eat more," thinking that it will be easy. They take for granted that everyone enjoys eating, but this is not always true.
If you are a picky eater or simply don't enjoy eating as much as most people, this advice is useless on its own.
You need to love the food that you are going to eat. It has to taste good to you, the texture has to be right, and it has to agree well with your stomach. If you find that you crave this food sometimes, even better.
You also need to work on the appetite side (but more on that later).
A List of Calorie-Dense Foods That Can Help You Gain Weight
Enough theory, here are some examples of foods that are healthy and can help you gain weight:
- Nuts. Most kinds of nuts are very heavy in calories. If you think about it, this makes sense: they are like the plant's own version of an egg, so naturally they will be packed with the nutrition that the little plant needs to grow.
- Legumes. This categories include beans, such as red beans, black beans, and even peanuts (indeed, peanuts are not nuts). Eating some natural peanut butter is an easy way to put extra calories into your diet.
- Staple grains. People argue all the time these days about how healthy grains are, but some of the healthiest populations subsist on certain staples like rice and quinoa. Not all grains are bad for you, and they have a lot of calories to help you gain weight.
- Oils. Different oils are healthier than others. For example, olive oil and coconut oil are calorie-dense and they are good for you. Try to shoot for oils that have a lot of nutritional value and are also sourced in an environmentally responsible way.
- Certain fruits. Many fruits are low in calories. Skip the ones that are mostly water. However, some fruits like bananas and avocados are actually pretty hefty and can help you gain weight.
Unless you're super picky, you should be able to find a variety of foods that fall in these categories. This list is vegan-friendly, too.
3) Shakes Are Your Friend (Drink Your Calories)
Now, how are you going to get all of that food into your gullet? Your appetite is limited and so is the space.
Have you ever heard that common fitness advice given to overweight people: "Don't drink your calories!" This is because it's easy to unconsciously drink calorie-dense juices without feeling full, so people avoid them.
Well, we're going to do the opposite! Buy yourself a blender and make yourself a calorie-dense shake in the morning.
You might try freezing a banana or two and using it as the base. Add some peanut butter and you can have a pretty high-calorie shake without much work. Best of all, this is natural and you don't need to use commercial weight gainers (because God knows what's in them).
Quick Banana Peanut Shake Recipe to Gain Weight
- 2 medium frozen bananas. (Peel them before you stick them in the freezer!)
- 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.
- 2 cups of whole milk. (Or almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, etc, if you are vegan. This could lower the calories, though.)
- Any flavoring you want to add, like vanilla. You can add other fruits for color, too.
Throw it all in a blender and blend, blend, bleeeend.
Altogether, this should make about 800 calories (or about 540, if you choose to use almond milk), depending on the size of your bananas and the exact brand of peanut butter. That's more than most people have in a meal.
4) Lift Heavy Stuff
It's no secret that to gain muscle, you have to lift weights or do some kind of resistance training (calisthenics, resistance bands, etc). It can also help raise your appetite, though.
This is a key to gaining weight. You have to like to eat to be able to eat a lot.
While weight lifting is not the focus of this article, and you should do research before you start, make sure that you choose a program that:
- Focuses on muscle-building more than weight loss.
- Teaches you all the right forms and techniques. (You might even want to hire a coach.)
- Helps you progress towards lifting heavier and heavier weights.
If you're a small-fry, lifting heavy is what will get you the most results at first.
One more note on exercise: Do not neglect your cardio! Not only does it reduce your risk for all kinds of diseases, but it can help your appetite issues, too.
Some fitness "experts" recommend avoiding cardio if you're trying to gain weight, but this is silly. You actually spend very few calories doing normal amounts of daily cardio and the dangers of living a sedentary lifestyle are too high.
Most of your calories are burned just maintaining your body. This is why people have such a hard time losing weight through exercise alone. So don't be afraid of cardio!
5) Check Your Testosterone Levels
Are you having a lot of trouble gaining muscle and have a very low appetite or feel fatigued? These could be symptoms of low testosterone, so get that checked.
Of course, if you've suddenly been losing weight for no reason and you don't usually tend to be skinny, then call your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a huge problem.
If you do find that you have low testosterone after your doctor gives you a test, then talk to your doctor about possible solutions. Avoid commercial supplements that claim to boost your testosterone levels; most (if not all) if these are BS and a waste of money.
In general, always consult with your doctor first if you're going to make any kind of lifestyle change or try to gain lots of weight. But that's just common sense.
Your Favorite High Calorie Foods
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Fatty MicNut on January 23, 2018:
Legumes are the way to go. Nuts dont give you enough protein. I want be fat, and nuts dont cut it