I am 18 years old, 177cm and weigh 130 lbs. I want to gain weight as I feel very thin and low on energy. I don't care about building muscle so much I just want to put weight on and look bigger. Some days I have a really low appetite. Can you teach me how? Michael
Hi Michael, this is another question that I get asked all the time. Like you many people want to simply add bodyweight. The answer is pretty simple - you must consume more calories than you expend each day. If your total weekly energy expenditure is less than the amount you eat then you will put weight on. Or in simple terms if you eat more than you burn you will put on weight.
I have helped many people make adjustments to their diet to increase their bodyweight. Usually people that struggle with facing food or have a low appetite.
Here are some simple tips that might help you:
1. Tips to get extra calories into your diet:
Olive oil, Coconut Oil, Fish Oil - High in fat and an easy way to consume extra calories. You can take these straight from a spoon or mix them in with your protein shakes. I recommend taking these oils at night as an extra so not to curb your appetite during the day, allowing you to still have an appetite to eat meals through the day and get extra calories at night.
Get a blender - I use a blender all the time when I don't have an appetite and need to consume more food - especially when I am bulking. Throw everything in, blend it up and neck it. Some of the foods I use are bananas, porridge oats, whey protein, liquid whole eggs / liquid egg whites, flax seed, almond/peanut butter and cannellini beans.
Junk food - Burgers, pizza, fries & ice cream - this is a bit of a sensitive topic but I am going to recommend it anyway. I ONLY recommend these types of foods IF you are getting an abundance of micro-nutrients and fibre from fruits, vegetables and other whole "real" foods. These foods are really easy to eat making it easy to consume a lot of calories. This has become more and more popular over recent years with the IIFYM - Flexible dieting approach.
Choose your meals intelligently - Eat high calorie foods that you can digest quickly and easily. Eating filling foods low in calories may be great if your trying to lose weight but not so great if you struggle with your appetite and want to eat more.
2. Resistance training - training will burn calories but it will also keep you fit and healthy. You should also be excited about taking advantage of all those calories and see how much strength and muscle they can help you build. After all, your primary goal might be to put on weight as fast as possible but building muscle and strength is the best way to put bodyweight on.
3. Keep track of your dietary intake
I strongly recommend you keep track of everything you are eating so you know exactly how many calories you are consuming a day. Knowing your macronutrient intake is very important as well - your calories should come from a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
4. Weigh yourself and log it
I recommend weighing in two days a week - for example every Wednesday and Saturday. Weighing yourself will allow you to keep a log and ensure you are increasing your weight week by week. Don't get impatient and try to add 10 lbs in a week. Aim for something healthy and realistic for your current body shape and size e.g. 1-4 lbs.
5. Keep it safe and healthy
Be sensible. Now that you know that all you have to do is consume more calories than you burn - don't take it to the extreme and jeopardise your health by consuming a dangerous amount of calories or an abundance of protein, fat or carbs. Keep your macro ratios sensible and trust the timely process.
This type of weight gain is not for everyone
These tips will cause you to put on bodyweight quickly - mostly from fat but also some muscle if you are resistance training. Please note that I would only recommend the above methods to anyone that is very thin with the priority of gaining bodyweight quickly.
When it comes to muscle building and body composition I am a strong advocate of a slower lean bulking phase which focuses on minimal fat gain and maximal muscle gain. Hire me as your coach and I will write you a bespoke training and diet plan with all of your daily caloric and macro-nutrient requirements to reach your goals.