There are many individuals who purchase a gym membership with the primary goal of gaining weight and packing on muscle mass. As certified fitness professionals, we are frequently asked questions about the best methods of gaining muscle, bulking up and not gaining fat in the process. To help you on your way, I recommend the following suggestions for gaining weight and getting big without packing on body fat.
#1. There are two basic ways to gain body weight:
- Consume more calories than you burn off (diet)
- Burn off fewer calories than you consume (exercise)
#2. To gain weight, you will have to take in more calories than your body will burn up during exercise.
#3. A pound of body weight equals 3,500 calories. So, in order to gain a pound, you will need to eat 3,500 calories more than your body uses.
#4. Realistically, you can gain about one or two pounds in a week if you consume 500 to 1,000 extra calories every day.
#5. You must eat at least three balanced meals a day and preferably 5-6 meals a day.
#6. Eat daily servings from the four basic food groups:
Cereals and Breads – 4 servings
This important food group contains those foods made from flour and whole grains. They contain from 7 to 14 percent protein and 75 percent carbohydrate, making them primarily an energy source. Choose clean carbohydrate sources like old-fashioned oatmeal (or steel-cut oats), brown rice, Ezekiel bread, yams and quinoa.
Fruits and Vegetables – 4 servings
Fruit contains lots of important vitamins and minerals and also adds some much needed simple sugars that are needed after you’re finished with an intense weight training workout. Throw in a frozen banana or some blueberries into your whey protein shake to make a high protein post-workout smoothie with fast acting carbs.
Dairy Products – 3 servings
High quality proteins and high content of calcium and phosphorus make milk and other dairy products an important part of a balanced diet. Great sources of dairy include eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt.
Meat, Poultry, and Fish. – 2 servings
This food group is the main contributor of protein to our diet. Meat is an excellent source of high quality protein with variable percentages of fat depending on the cut of meat. Poultry does not differ between the varieties available, as much as other meats. All types of foul give approximately the same nutritional contributions in our diet. Fish and seafood do not differ that much from the other meat group, except there is less fat content in most fish than in beef. Eggs tend to be easily digested and the proteins are about 98 percent absorbed. An average egg contains about 35% protein and 63% fat.
*Notice that with eight servings coming from grain products and fruits and vegetables, allows for most of the increased calorie intake to come from carbohydrates.
#7. Eat larger portions at each of your meals and add high calorie snacks during the day. Snacking on a big handful of nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts) 3-4 times during the day can easily add 600-800 extra calories to your diet. You need to eat big to get big so make sure you include high calorie “clean” foods to your diet. Skip the junk food and focus on nutrient dense sources.
#8. Include healthy fats into your diet. Fat contains 9 calories per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbs), so it’s easier to increase your daily calorie intake by implementing healthy fat sources. Try adding 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil when cooking your meals to kick up the calories. You can also add avocados to your meals and peanut butter or almond butter to your protein smoothies to get those calories up.
#9. Avoid low nutrient foods like candy, cakes, pies, cookies, salty snack foods and doughnuts. Remember, it’s not just the overall calories, but the quality of the calories that’s important. There is no reason to eat a ton of high sugar junk food which ends up getting stored as body fat. You might gain weight but you will be fat! Eat a lot of clean food and maximize the amount of lean muscle mass you can pack onto your physique.
#10. Start your day off right by eating a quality and hearty breakfast.
#11. Try to eat a good healthy snack before you go to bed each night. A great late night snack is 1 cup of cottage cheese with 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder. Mix it up in a bowl and enjoy!
#12. Remember to weight train because the weight you do gain needs to be lean muscle mass.
GAINING MUSCLE INSTEAD OF FAT
To put on muscle, you need to eat extra calories. But common sense tells us that if we take in extra calories and don’t exercise, you will gain body fat. Strength training will use the extra calories to stimulate muscle cells to grow. A good way to see if you have gained muscle and not fat is to measure your percentage of body fat before and after you start your weight training program.
Remember, the key to success with any goal, whether it’s gaining or losing weight, is to be consistent, work hard, and set realistic goals. I hope that this article answered your questions. Best of luck on your quest to gain weight and get big.