Do you find yourself wanting to gain weight but frustrated with how to do it? If you’ve ever been a hardgainer, a skinny guy or gal and wanted to pack on the muscle, there’s things you can do that will get you to your goal. But there’s plenty of awful advice being given. It seems like a common sense thing but to those who are desperate to pack on the pounds, at the time it seems like okay advice. Then you step back, get some perspective and some education and it’s like a Homer Simpson “doh!” The light comes on and you realize how bad the advice was and that it just set you back even further.
Before I start off the Top 10 list, I want to make it clear that it’s not my intention to only point out the mistakes and then offer up no solutions. Too many times when I’m in the gym, I hear somebody telling their buddy “Shame on you,” or “That’s why you aren’t able to gain weight,” or “Don’t do it like that!,” and then they offer up nothing as a solution. I’m going to spend 1% on the mistake but I want to spend 99% of my time on the solution to this bad advice so you can learn as quickly as possible what to do without wasting any more time. I’ll offer up the weight gain tip mistake and follow it up with a better solution to the problem.
When you are trying to gain weight it usually starts off with a question like this…
Anyone have any “home remedies” or suggestions that can help me put on a few pounds?
And then the bad advice flows like the water thru a huge crack in a dam.
I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants when I read a Best Answer on Yahoo Answers to a common weight gain question.
“If you want to gain a lot of weight, you should eat a lot of junky foods. (Chips, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.) But if you don’t wanna get super duper fat then you should very rarely swim and jump rope when you are finished eating.”
Read that again folks, this is a common style of answer that gets the BEST VOTE on major network sites with millions of eyes. Remember that hardgainers, don’t swim much and jump rope after you eat. I bet that’s how Ronnie Coleman got so huge! Damn him for not telling us sooner.
Here’s a short list of the Top 10 Stupidest Weight Gain Tips I’ve ever seen.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #1: Eat Fast Food
By far the most popular piece of advice given to nearly all individuals struggling with weight gain. The first piece of advice they get is to rush out and start slamming down cheap, low quality foods, including eating butter and drinking vegetable oil! If a person is “underweight”, they should deny NOTHING and eat EVERYTHING.; McDonalds and KFC included. Does it work? You bet it does but it’s not the kind of quality weight you want to gain (although some people don’t seem to care what the weight is as long as they gain it which is puzzling) If you are looking to pack on muscle, you can eat a lot but going the fast food route is typical of the lazy bodybuilder. It’s a low class move that certainly has it’s place in some circles but if you are wondering how to gain weight, learn the right way. There’s a good list of how to gain weight in six simple steps. If you eat enough high quality calories, frequently enough, you will put on quality muscle mass in conjunction with weight training. Eating unhealthy foods will not build muscle quicker. Take a few minutes to learn the very basics of how to gain weight and avoid the shortcut of eating junk foods and fast foods thinking it somehow is the fast way to build muscle. It’s not.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #2: Candy, Candy Candy
In high school I asked the biggest guy in the gym who just stacked the Nautilus bench press how to gain weight. He looked at me seriously and said, “Eat a Snickers bar. Eat candy. Lots of calories. You’ll gain weight.” Now if he was joking, it didn’t look like it but being desperate and frustrated, I did what he told me. Every day after gym, I’d eat candy. Being skinny, I didn’t put on any serious weight but I did get a cavity and I didn’t learn a thing about eating healthy. The solution for extra calories via snacking would have been healthy fat options like almonds or peanuts. They can add some serious calories if you need them without the ill effects of just eating junk foods that have empty calories and barely any nutritional value.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #3: Fruit Juices
Tons of liquid calories and completely processed to it’s lowest form. Now 100% fruit juice can be healthy without a doubt but drinking liquid calories is going to do literally nothing for serious long term weight gain. The truth is, it’s a lot of sugar with little value in packing on weight through proteins and starchy carbohydrates. Drink juice if you want but it’s not a weight gain solution. What you can do as a solution is to make a fruit juice smoothie for extra calories and add in other weight gaining substances like peanut butter, protein powders that will add calories to your overall nutritional plan. Use this with caution as it’s easy to overeat and anything not utilized, can be stored as fat. In essence, you can make your own homemade weight gainer at a fraction of the cost. If you want to know more about making your own supplements, see Homemade Supplement Secrets.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #4: Accept It, It’s In Your Genes
If you are skinny, count your lucky starts but it’s not in the cards for you to be muscular. I’ve seen it and heard it as weight gain advice being given. Beyond genetics, your potential to gain weight can be changed! If you are a skinny guy, it will take some work but you can pack on serious muscle mass. Starting off in high school, I didn’t weight over 135 lbs on any day. Now I’m easily at 191 lbs without having to put forth the effort you’d think to maintain the mass. It was hard work but through proper nutrition, tracking what I ate, knowing how many calories a day to eat, I did pack on lean body mass over a period of 6 month. It was amazing and all I needed was to avoid the short term solutions in this list and start EATING, eating good foods and eating frequently. You don’t have to accept it and it is not genetics to be skinny all your life. 99% of skinny, hardgainers truly haven’t tried putting forth the effort. They quickly buy into the genetics statement and give up. Start learning how many calories you need and then start eating, taking a cooler to work or whatever to pack in the food. Forget weight gainers and shakes (they have a purpose) and start eating.
Take this DARE…
Step 1: Go to FitDay
Step 2: Input everything you eat for 3 days
Step 3: Evaluate it
For example, you might be shocked to see that you need 3600 calories to gain weight and in reality, you are only eating a mere 1800 and playing 5 hours of basketball. That’s why you are skinny. Not genetics. A little tracking to bring reality into the situation can go a long way to providing you critical insight as to why you aren’t gaining weight.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #5: Weight Gainer 4000… BEEFCAKE!
Frankly it’s a quick, expensive way to be lazy for those who haven’t invested any time in attempting to consume enough calories. Weight gainers (Slim Fast Shakes, Ensure) have value, there’s little doubt in my mind but more often than not, the people who use them are under eating to begin with and quickly latch on to what they have been told is a “healthy” way to quickly add the calories they need. If you are eating enough calories, it’s useful in circumstances to add in thousands of calories that you cannot otherwise get through foods without seriously spending 8 hours a day eating. For most, they barely eat 3 meals and add in 3 weight gainers and see some results. But as quickly as the results come, they stop taking it and lose the weight. Relying on a weight gainer when you are trying to gain weight is a serious mistake. Once you are eating enough whole foods or if you seriously cannot get the calories you need per day but come close, that’s where a weight gainer makes sense. But not as an excuse to pack on pounds because packing a lunch and a few snacks is to time consuming.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #6: Protein Overload
Who hasn’t been told that the only way to gain weight is to increase your protein intake. Unfortunately, excessive protein is not going to pack on the weight. Getting enough protein per day as required to build muscle is easy… getting enough calories per day isn’t. Once your body has enough, protein will be stored as fat (although less likely) or excreted. Protein sources like chicken, fish and lean red meats don’t have enough calories for most of us skinny people to hit our numbers. So the old adage to “get your protein” works to some degree but it’s not the ideal food for your calorie requirements. The solution is to increase your carbohydrates and change your macronutrient ratios to reflect this. All too often I see a nutrition plan that is 55% protein, 30% carbs and 15% fats. Once the individual changes it to 55% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fats, it makes a world of difference. By consuming higher quality carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, yams, whole wheat pastas, whole grain breads and brown rice to name a few, you suddenly up your calorie intake by hundreds and start to gain weight.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #7: Inadequate Water Consumption
Your body is around 70% water. All too often, the skinny guy or gal isn’t drinking water. Not nearly enough and any liquids being consumed are in the form of energy drinks, coffee, shakes or soda. None of which are actually going to be a replacement for good old, plain water. In order for your body’s functions to process the protein, foods and to hydrate the cells, you must consume enough water. Simply by increasing your water intake, you can start to put on weight and not just water weight. How much water should you drink can be complex or as quick as taking your current body weight, divide that in half and drink that much in ounces per day.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #8: Spouting High Calorie Requirements
Oh you are skinny? You need to eat 3600 calories per day. Huh? You know nothing about this person, their age, their current weight, their body composition and yet you toss down a number as if 3600 is the magic number of skinny people to gain weight? If you go from 1800 calories a day to some number that’s too high, you’ll find it nearly impossible to eat that much food if you are not used to it and anything in excessive can be stored as fat. The solution is simple. Figure out roughly how many calories a day you need to eat now, to gain weight and when you start gaining weight, adjust that on a weekly or monthly basis given your new body composition. Just eating a ton of food, randomly without any reference point will either lead to excessive fat gains and/or a total abandonment of the process when you start to hate eating that much food in one sitting without having the body mass or the activity levels to support it.
Just because Michael Phelps can eat an entire menu for breakfast doesn’t mean you can or should given that you don’t swim 5-6 hours a day and aren’t an Olympic level athlete. Eat based on your needs and your goals, not some fake numbers or how somebody who clearly isn’t you, eats. Make eating personal.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #9: Train Like An Bull, Eat Like a Flea
The smallest guy at my gym that easily does 23 pull-ups and trains like an animal, couldn’t tell me what he ate for breakfast but when directly asked, he gave the typical skinny guy response. “I eat a lot.” Like what I asked. He looked puzzled. I told him to take the Dare in Tip #4 above. When I saw him again, 1 day later and asked, he said he’d get to it later that week. That’s why he’s skinny and can’t gain weight. He trains hard and trains consistently but the other 23 hours of the day, who knows. He doesn’t even know. His nutrition doesn’t support his weight training endeavors to pack on mass. Vince Gironda once said that bodybuilding is 80% nutrition. That means, you can have a pretty lousy weight training routine and if you eat properly and eat enough, you’ll look very good. But in most cases, people train hard and then fail to support the training they just did through proper nutrition and with enough calories. Are you one of those people? You train hard but totally fail when it comes to nutrition? You grow when you are out of the gym. You spend 1 hour training and the other 23 hours recovering and supporting that growth thru nutrition. It’s important! If you train like an animal and eat like a flea, correct that ASAP and you’ll see some immediately gains in weight and muscle mass.
Weight Gain Tip Mistake #10: Not Eating Enough
By far the most common weight gain mistake and the best weight gain tips of them all. Eat but don’t just eat anything and everything in site. No drinking vegetable oil or eating butter. Gaining weight is about eating just a little more calories than you currently need to maintain your current weight over a pro-longed period of time to put on mass slowly. Rapid weight gain is not only hard on the heart and other organs but it usually leads to excessive body fat increases. Taking the time to calculate your calories, eat frequently during the day and engaging in a proper weight training routine is all it takes to start seeing results. Most skinny individuals truly believe they have tried everything to gain weight when in fact they have skipped the most important steps to weight gain.
#1: Calculating your daily calorie requirements
#2: Tracking what you eat
Just eating or guessing is a surefire way to stay skinny. It takes effort and some simple calculations but soon enough you will be putting on weight. Short of a medical issue or some other rare, unforeseen problem, there’s no reason why you are any different from the rest of us skinny guys who learned how to gain weight by using some common sense weight gain tips. Don’t follow the advice that preaches shortcuts. I’ve tired them all (except the vegetable oil) and none of them worked for me in the long term.
If you want more weight gain tips and advice on how to build muscle, head over and grab your copy of the “19 Tips to Build 5 Pounds of Muscle in 30 Days.”
Until next time, I hope you are eating!
Be Fit, Stay Strong!
Marc David – CPT
PS - For an off the beaten path method to gain weight quickly, you might want to read up on Carb Backloading. You do not have to eat junk but it’s the type of nutrient timing program that in theory, you could. It’s worth taking a look if you are skinny and want to build muscle and bulk up in a short amount of time.