Maybe you’re scrawny. Maybe you just want to be a little bigger.
Either way, you decided it’s time to gain weight… But you’ve realized it’s not so easy.
So what next?
Before we get started, understand that experts agree you can’t gain more than 2-3 pounds of muscle per month, so there’s no point in aiming for anything more than that. Also, be sure to follow a solid workout routine so that your weight gain is muscle, not fat.
With that being said, apply the ‘hacks’ below to make gaining weight as easy as pie. As you can see in the photo below – they definitely worked for me!
Hack #1: Don’t Snack
This one might seem counter-intuitive, but snacking can kill your appetite.
If you focus on eating 3-4 big meals per day, with no snacking in between, it will be a lot easier to consume a higher total amount of calories throughout the day. And calories is what you need to gain weight. You MUST eat more calories than your body is burning to successfully gain weight.
When you snack, you consume some extra calories, yes. But you do so at the expense of your appetite. For example, let’s say you eat breakfast at 10AM, and then at 11:30AM you decide to have a small snack. Some fruit, some nuts, or some chips… Whatever. This is going to fill you up a little bit, and put off the time that you would’ve ate lunch if you had NOT snacked.
So now, rather than devouring a large 1000 calorie lunch, you end up eating two 250 calorie snacks instead. Less overall calories. Less chance of gaining weight. So focus on eating 3-4 large meals, not little snacks.
Hack #2: Eat the Fatty Version
There are a lot of foods out there with lower calories alternatives. These are great for losing weight, but terrible for gaining weight.
- Drink full fat milk instead of fat free, 1%, or 2%
- Get 80/20 hamburger meat instead of the lean 93/7 version
- Use olive oil when you cook instead of a low calorie cooking spray
- Use a regular butter or buttery spread instead of the ‘light’ version
- Buy real sandwich bread instead of sandwich ‘thins’
I think you get the idea. If you’re buying groceries or food, opt for the higher calorie version instead of the ‘low fat’ or ‘low carb’ version. You need calories to gain weight. And it’s probably going to taste way better, too.
Hack #3: Drink Calories
When you drink calories, they are far less filling that when you eat them.
200 calories of solid food will fill you up way more than 200 calories of liquid. So by drinking 200 calories with every meal, you can easily add 600-800 calories to your daily total without having to eat more food… And that’s probably more than you need to start gaining weight.
Instead of drinking water or diet soda, drink milk, orange juice, or chocolate milk. These drinks will still hydrate like water, but they also contain calories!
I’d stay away from soda, because I think that shit is awful for you. It definitely makes me feel bloated and tired. Juices and milks, on the other hand, contain calories but still have some nutritional value.
Hack #4: Make a Shake
If you’re busy, finding time to fit in 3-4 large meals can be challenging. This is where a high calorie shake can really help you.
You can easily replace one of those regular meal by incorporating a high calorie shake into your diet. There are infinite variations of high calorie shakes, but this one is my favorite:
- 1 cup whole milk, 146 calories
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 125 calories
- 2 tbsp peanut butter, 190 calories
- 1 banana, 100 calories
- 1 cup oats, 300 calories
Put all of those things in a blender and BOOM! That’s 861 calories of pure chocolate, peanut butter, and banana deliciousness… And it’s not even super filling. Plus you can easily prepare this in under 5 minutes in the morning, and then drink it later on at work or at school.
Hack #5: Eat Some ‘Junk Food’
Before I explain this ‘hack’, let’s go one thing straight: I’m not advocating eating all of your meals at McDonald’s and Burger King.
No, the majority of your calories should come from whole foods. BUT it’s certainly okay to get SOME of your calories from what people often refer to as ‘junk food’.
When I say junk food, I mean:
- Fast food
All of these foods are high in calories, yet relatively low in nutrients. They aren’t super healthy. But, assuming you’re eating at least 2 others meals that are healthy and comprised of whole foods (and you don’t have any dietary restrictions that prevent you from doing so) then I think it’s acceptable to eat a small percentage of your calories in ‘junk food’.
Now, I wouldn’t go above roughly 20% of your total calories in ‘junk food’, but it can certainly help guys who have a tough time getting in those last few calories they need to gain weight.
And that’s all I got – happy bulking!
Careful with drinking juice for calories. A lot of juices have as much or more sugar than sodas.
This is true, but it’s debatable how much sugar intake matters for someone who’s trying to gain weight. This is making the assumptions that (1) they’re working out consistently (2) they have a relatively low bodyfat percentage and (3) they’re eating an otherwise healthy diet.
It’s important to note the difference between gaining weight the healthy way and the unhealthy way. The recommended daily sugar intake is half of a soda can and about half of a glass or orange juice. The rest is stored as fat quickly as sugar has a the highest glycemic index of all carbohydrates and causes the largest insulin spikes.
Besides messing up your blood sugar levels right from the get-go, we all know sugar’s other negatives: diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune system, hormone dysfunction, etc. These are often overlooked by people who consume a lot of sugar but still maintain a low body fat percentage.
On the other hand, the biggest negative that would be tied to this article is obesity because of its glycemic index and its addictive nature. Once you start a diet that includes just drinking 2, 3, 4 times the healthy amount of sugar per day (ignoring the sugar eaten), it can be that much hard to quit or even reduce the intake. Of all carbs, sugar would be the last to incorporate in a weight-gaining diet.
The diabetes and heart disease you mentioned are a result of obesity IN CONJUNCTION WITH sugar intake.
Also the glycemic index goes out the window when you eat a mixed meal that includes fats and proteins along with carbs (sugars). Foods are not digested in isolation, but rather as part of the meal they were consumed with.
That being said, I don’t disagree that sugars are, in general, best avoided. Which is why I mentioned the caveat of “an otherwise healthy diet” in my previous comment.
Good points David,
its amazing how many skinny guys are afraid of eating junk food.
But I think the only ‘true’ way to gain weight fast in by counting calories and making sure you eating in a big surplus.
Example: I’m currently eating 150g Protein, 800g Carbs, 50g Fat. The study that goes with the extreme high carb.
Obviously I wouldn’t recommend people to eat that unless they need to gain weight within a 6 week period and have no stress/lots of time to train.
But I think counting calories should be a major point.
Awesome article non-the-less.
Thanks Connor! Counting calories is definitely a good tool even if just for a week at first to get a more accurate idea of how many calories you’re eating. Far too many skinny guys falsely believe that they’re bigger eaters than they are.
Thanks for this article dave !….I was the one that asked in the survey if you could make an article on how exactly you gained weight to get to a solid 180 lbs (because that’s what I would like to weigh). I appreciate it man.
Hey J – I’m glad you enjoyed it man!
Good article. The world is full of post about how to lose weight. And many would think that it is absurd that someone wants to “gain” some. I have seen enough guys who have an irrational aversion against fat in general and fast food in particular. It’s important to know that they are not bad per se but that it depends on some circumstances.
Thanks Oliver. And you’re spot on – too many people have very unhealthy and extreme views of fast food and weight gain in general. Unfortunately this tends to lead to binging type behavior that is quite unhealthy, physically and emotionally.
Esta buena la lista! Creo que lo contrario se podría utilizar para perder peso. Keep up the good work! Yo la verdad necesito perder peso, tengo 190 libras y soy corredor, no me veo gordo, pero me veo muy floppy y no tengo nada de definición en mi upper body. He decidido empezar a levantar pesas, ya que estoy inconforme con mi upper body, gracias por tu ayuda y por tus buenos consejos!! Cuidate amigo! out of curiosity, How often do you go to the gym per week? I am thinking 2-3 times per week and running 5 times per week, I cant give up the running because I love it, but I want to see how far can I get with the weight lifting thing, my upper body its so soft like an old guy!
Most of the people tend to eat anything and everything just to gain weight. But it is very important to look at what you eat because we need more of muscle gain rather than fat.
Liquid calories are great way to gain weight as you mentioned where you can make a delicious smoothie and add different items to make it more calorie dense.
Such an informative article David! I know it’s awkward to drop a comment here since this topic about gain weight for me but good to know these points so I could give an advice to my husband 🙂
Wao really nice tips, thanks for sharing your experience.
Very helpful tips for the body transformation. Thank you for taking share of your experiences.
Took a lots of notes. It was very easy to understand. Thanks.