This is a guest post from Rafi Bar-Lev of PassionateFitness.com. Take it away Rafi. . .
While most people are looking how to shed the pounds, there are a tremendous amount of skinny people looking for advice on how to gain weight fast. This post is for all the people looking for practical advice on weight-gain, from the simple things you’re doing wrong to whether or not you need protein shakes.
Before I begin, I want to offer a special thanks first to Vic Magary, for all the great posts he had while he was still blogging here at Gym Junkies and for being one of the first “fitness bloggers” to link to one of my posts (you rock Vic!).
Alright, so now that we got through the preliminaries, let’s learn about how to put on the pounds, no matter what your metabolism:
The First Thing You Need to Know – You’re Doing it Wrong!
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news here, but you can’t improve until you know what you’re doing wrong now. So let’s cover a few things here:
1. One big meal a day is not enough.
2. One meal a day is not enough.
3. Just because you’re full doesn’t mean you ate a lot.
4. You need nutrients, not junk food.
5. Don’t go by “how you feel” – you need to scientifically check the amount of calories you’re taking in.
Does the above list look a little daunting? Well, it shouldn’t be once i explain what I’m getting at.
A tremendous amount of skinny guys and girls convince themselves that they’re eating a tremendous amount. But here’s the truth — how many of you SKIP breakfast, have one massive meal, and then a small dinner. And then you say that you ate “a tremendous amount” that day?
Go ahead, raise your hand. No need to be shy here.
Well, if you said yes — you’re not alone. There are a ton of people eating only one meal a day and then complaining that they can’t put on weight. The FIRST rule for those looking to put on weight with high metabolisms is you need to eat AT LEAST 3 meals a day — and the more the merrier.
That means breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No cheating, no skimping folks. You get what you put in to it.
Just for reference – Taylor Lautner was eating multiple meals a day to gain the muscle he did for Twilight. According to some sources, he would wake up at 5 a.m. to get his first meal in and keep his body in a state of holding fat and not burning fat.
Do you have to work as hard as Taylor? Probably not since you don’t want to burn yourself out — but I do want you to understand what other people have gone through to change their bodies.
The Next Important Thing – Be Scientific
At least in the beginning – you need to calorie count. That’s because most “non-fitness” people generally have NO IDEA what they’re eating. I am in shock when I hear people say things like “pasta is good for weight loss” or that chicken is a good for putting on weight — when in reality it’s the COMPLETE OPPOSITE (chicken is low calorie and pasta is high calorie).
Your homework assignment is to start to write down your foods and get an idea for how many calories are in them. The USDA nutrient base (go ahead and search it) is a great place to start. In general, you’re going to want to take in at least 3,000 calories a day to gain muscle, and you might even need more. Also, another general rule is an extra 500 calories a day is a pound a week.
When you check how many calories you’re eating now, you’ll get an idea for how much you’ll have to change your diet.
The Core of Your Diet – Carbs, Protein, Nutrients and Junk Food
Okay, now it’s time to get to the “core” of your diet. What are you going to be eating and when? Well, here’s the thing:
When it comes to pure calories – carbohydrates are your friend. Nothing puts on weight like bread, pasta, and potatoes. Ideally, every one of your meals in the beginning should have some kind of carb.
The next thing you need is protein. Chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs, etc. are what are going to put on the muscle. You don’t need to worry about counting the protein in the beginning — just make sure that you eat protein right after your workout and the day after your workout.
As for nutrients — vegetables and fruits, every meal should have them. Mix it up with multiple colors, make sure to add avocados (they’re full of calories!), and you’re set. Fruits and vegetables are what allow your body to absorb the other foods well.
A Small Comment About Junk Food
In general, I don’t want you to get in the habit of eating too much junk food. That being said, as long as you’re eating plenty of protein, nutrients, and carbs – then there’s nothing wrong with you eating ice-cream or some junk food in-between meals to supplement your calorie in-take.
It’s not a bad cheat for putting on the pounds in the beginning of your journey – but as you continue you’re going to want to ween yourself off the junk-food crutch since it doesn’t allow you to reach your best body-fat percentage potential.
I Almost Forgot — Work Out HARD!
I almost forgot the most critical part of this entire article. You need to work out HARD. With weights is preferable (exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are excellent) — but if you don’t have them, using body weight will work as well as long as you keep up a proper diet.
The most important thing here is to really push yourself (without hurting yourself) during your workouts. Strive for that extra repetition, that second faster sprint, etc. Pushing yourself is what makes your body improve — and it’s something many people forget to do when working out and trying to reach results. (Chris Evans mentioned how hard he worked out in trying to get his role for Captain America).
So, to sum it all up:
1. Work out.
2. Eat well and a lot.
Now go out there and put on the muscle!
Rafi Bar-Lev is the blogger behind Passionate Fitness
and used to be a big fan of Gym Junkies before Vic left. He enjoys explosive workouts and cares about functional strength. That’s because he believes that you should always be fit and ready for a James Bond style chase scene.