Expert Guide: How To Gain Weight
The health and fitness industry is typically oriented around weight loss, however many people struggle to gain weight. You may want to gain weight to fall into the healthy weight range for your biological characteristics or wish to “bulk” and gain a few pounds to achieve the physique you desire.
This post will address the potential reasons why you are struggling to gain weight and how to overcome this issue effectively, and also recommend supplements you may wish to try that will assist your weight gaining journey.
Why you may be struggling to gain weight
As with weight loss, gaining weight is entirely dependent on your ‘energy balance’. ‘Energy Balance’ refers to how much energy (calories) you’re putting into your body compared to how many calories you are burning. It is essential to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight. This means you must be eating more than you are using. The most common reason why people struggle to gain weight is that they simply do not eat enough.
Set a daily calorie intake target!
It is vital to set yourself a daily total calorie intake target, however, firstly you must work out how many calories you need to maintain weight.
Your body uses energy (calories) for two things:
RMR (resting metabolic rate) - This is the energy your body uses to keep your insides functioning.
Physical Activity - from getting out of bed to running a marathon.
To maintain your current weight, excluding calories burned due to physical activity, you must at least consume your daily RMR.
The RMR Equation:
(males) = 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 4.92 x age(years) + 5;
(females) = 9.99 x weight(kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 4.92 x age (years) - 161
For example, using this equation a 25-year-old, 5, 10” man weighing 66kg would have an RMR of about 1,643
To maintain weight, your daily calorie intake must be;
BMR (how many calories you need at rest) + calories burned from physical activity
Although somewhat desirable on a Sunday, you probably can’t afford to lie in bed all day, and therefore will be burning calories through movement and physical activity. It is difficult to track how many calories you burn during the day, as you will burn calories by making a cup of tea. However, by estimating and adding this number to your BMR, you should aim to ‘eat back these calories’ and then more to ensure that a surplus is reached.
If your RMR is 1,643 and you should aim to consume at least 2,500 kcal on days that you are not training, just to account for a general physical activity via day-to-day activities. However on days that you do deliberately exercise it is vital to consume even more! To ensure calorie surplus, it is necessary to include an additional 800 kcal onto your targeted daily total.
The benefit of weight training
This does not make exercise the enemy of your weight gaining journey. In fact, if you want to maintain or develop the muscularity of your physique, weight training is a very effective tool. Weight training will increase your lean muscle mass, which intern will increase your weight and give you a more desirable appearance. It would be beneficial to limit weight training sessions to a maximum of three per week. This will promote a positive energy balance, as you won’t be burning as many calories, and will ensure adequate recovery time.
On the contrary, cardiovascular exercise (cardio) can hinder your weight gaining journey, as this form of exercise typically burns more calories per session, and unless you consciously compensate for those calories burnt, it will increase the risk of falling into a calorie deficit, which is definitely the enemy of weight gain. From a health standpoint, you may wish to include one session of cardio per week to promote cardiovascular health.
How to eat more calories
Eating more calorie-dense foods is key! This has a tenancy to lead people into a ‘dirty’ bulk, were they consume unhealthy foods because contain the most calories. Per gram, fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient, so it does appear that highly processed, oily, sugary and cheesy foods are optimal when striving for weight gain. This is somewhat true, but it is important to consider heart health, mood, and energy levels.
When it comes to gaining weight, healthy eating is somewhat compromised, as it can be difficult to be in a calorie surplus when only eating nutrient-dense whole foods, as these foods are typically low in calories and also tend to be more filling.
If you want to gain weight as healthily as possible, stick to three meals a day that contain a good quality protein source, wholesome carbohydrates and a variety of vegetables, and consume two ‘mass gainer’ protein shakes.
Some foods that you could include in your diet to promote weight gain are avocados, baked beans, eggs, dried fruits, and seafood. These foods are calorie-dense and high in protein, which will promote weight gain and muscle building. In the Fitness Factory stores, we sell ‘Nuts ‘n More’ which is a calorie-dense tasty flavoured peanut butter with added whey protein which would be an optimal dietary choice to support your weight gaining journey. Other calorie-dense foods include red meat, avocados, and mixed beans.
Here at the fitness factory, the most popular mass gainer shake, we sell is Neutra Labs NITRO MASS. This dietary supplement contains 345 kcal per serving, therefore by consuming two of these per day, you are adding an extra 690 kcal to your daily calorie intake, which should take you into a significant calorie surplus. NITRO MASS gets the majority of its calories from carbohydrates, which increases energy and appetite. Additionally, a serving of NITRO MASS contains 35 grams of protein, accelerating muscle growth and repair.
Optimum Nutrition's Serious Mass is another mass gainer protein supplement that is available in our stores. This product is a lot higher in calories than NITRO MASS, providing a massive 1259 kcal per shake. However, when eating in a calorie surplus you must be cautious that you are not overly exceeding your calorie target, as this will promote significant fat gain, especially around the gut. For this reason, NITRO MASS is the more effective mass gaining tool, as it allows for manageable weight gain and promotes a more favourable physique.
Harder gaining compounds (OVER 21 ONLY)SARMS (selective androgenic regulator modulators) are effective muscle building supplements. SARMs selectively target specific receptors in skeletal muscles and bones. This means they increase muscle growth and bone density but do not harm any organs. SARMS have been shown to have greater anabolic effects than testosterone, giving greater muscle gains; but with lower androgenic effects, equating to fewer side effects. SARMS can cause short-term mild suppression of natural testosterone production, therefore PCT (post cycle therapy), such as The Ultimate PCT or DAA is recommended, as these products will return your testosterone production back to original values.
OstaMax by German Pharma is an extremely popular and effective bodybuilding SARM. The benefits of OstaMax include increases in muscle mass, influxes in strength, increased bone density and higher endurance capacity. Cycles ofOstaMax last for 12 weeks, it is then followed by a Post Cycle Therapy (PCT). We recommend running The Ultimate PCT for 4 weeks, this product ensures optimal health and natural testosterone levels are restored and will help maintain the gains from your cycle.
Weight gain can be difficult to achieve, however by working out your RMR and estimating your energy expenditure via physical activity, you can calculate how many calories you need to consume to ensure progressive weight gain. A calorie surplus and a desirable physique can be more easily achieved by consuming calorie-dense and high protein foods. Combined with an optimised diet and weight training, mass gainer protein shakes will also strongly assist your weight gaining and muscle-building journey. If you have followed this advice and guidelines and are still struggling to gain weight, DM our insta @FitnessFactoryGroup or come visit one of our stores for further guidance and information.