[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ating the right foods at right intervals and following an appropriate diet, are the key factors to gain weight. Working out alone is not going to do the trick. You need to exercise your muscles to encourage them to grow, but you also need to provide them with the right nutrition and diet.
There are many articles and studies on dieting and meal plans for skinny guys who want to gain weight. There are also many more websites offering books and discs with information about gaining weight. You do have to pay a “small fee” to get hold of them, of course. I personally think that in this day and age information should be free and anyone should be able to get hold of it if they so chose to change their lifestyle in order to gain weight and build muscles.
I don’t claim to be an expert dietician, neither I claim to be a nutritionist nor am I a professional bodybuilder. Over the past few months, I have done quite a bit of reading and research on weight gain dieting, meal plans and working out. It’s only fair to share that knowledge with you (and without infringing anyone’s copyrights).
Gain weight: Calculate your calories needs
Before you start eating like there is no tomorrow, you need to do some calculations. There are different formulas used by personal trainers and bodybuilders alike for calculating an appropriate daily calorie intake. These calculations are needed to determine your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
BMR is the minimum energy requirement your body needs to function. The formula is:
- For men: 1 X body weight (kg) X 24
- For women: 0.9 X Body weight X24
TDEE is the number of calories your body needs to maintain its weight. It depends on your daily activity levels. Depending on your activity, the formula is:
- Couch potato: BMR X 1.2
- Little activity: BMR X 1.375
- Moderate Activity: BMR X 1.55
- High Activity: BMR X 1.725
- Extreme Activity: BMR X 1.9
Now that you know how to estimate how many calories your body needs to maintain its weight (TDEE), you need to increase your daily calories intake in order to gain weight. Adding 2 calories per pound (lbs) of your body weight to your TDEE is widely recognised as being about right for most people.
Gain weight: Energy ratio
Consuming enough calories is a very obvious step towards gaining weight. Be warned though. Eating any old junk food with a high enough calorie count is not necessarily going to get you any extra muscle. You need to be very precise about what you eat and when you eat it. Relying on burgers and chips is not going to do the trick. It will give you weight but that weight is more than likely to be fat.
Sticking to the right energy ratio, however, will ensure you get the right types of calories your body needs to gain weight and build muscle. Your calories should come from carbohydrates, protein and fat (good fat, or Essential Fatty Acids – EFA). As a guide, your calories intake should consist of 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat (EFA).
When you are creating a meal plan or choosing a weight gain diet, make sure the calorie count is in the ratio of 60:20:20 of carbohydrates, protein, fat (EFA).
Gain weight: How often to eat
Consuming the right amount of calories and nutrients will help you gain weight. There is just one other rule, you need to obey by. Eat small meals every 2-3 hours. Each meal should contain an equal proportion of your daily calories intake. If you need to consume 3,000 calories a day and eat 5 meals, you need to take 600 calories with each of those meals.
Why? It’s to do with your body’s physiology – it can only process a certain amount of calories at a time. For example, if you eat 3 meals loaded with 1,000 calories each, the excess calories will be stored as fat. Another reason for eating small meals every 2-3 hours is that it normally takes that amount of time for your system to process each meal.
Hydrated muscles recover faster. You are prone to dehydration when you workout. Drink plenty of water to keep your muscles (and body) hydrated.
Your body (and muscles) needs that water to flush toxins and other waste from your system.
Do not drink alcohol
Drinking alcohol is a big no-no if you are working out to build muscle. Alcohol contains a lot of calories (7 calories per gram) and it slows down your metabolism. It also dehydrates your body which makes it harder to build muscle.
Gain weight: Diet basics summary
- Calculate your daily calories needs
- 60% of your energy should come from carbohydrates, 20% from protein and 20% from fat (EFA)
- Eat every 2-3 hours
- Each meal should contain an equal proportion of your daily calories intake
- Drink plenty of water
- Do not drink alcohol