I’ve said this many times before; if you want to know how to lose weight rapidly or gain weight, talk to an experienced strength athlete or bodybuilder. I always have to laugh when a skinny teenager comes to me and explains that regardless of how much they eat, they just can’t seem to gain weight. The first thing I ask: “What was everything you ate today?” Normally the answer I receive is a bowl of kid’s cereal for breakfast, maybe a sandwich for lunch, and then one “huge” meal for dinner. First and foremost; if you’re struggling to gain weight, 3 meals per day is not enough to gain weight, and one big meal is definitely not enough. I’ve also stressed this many times; please, just stop with the “intermittent fasting” B.S.- it does not work! Nor have I ever met anyone big and lean that has done it. If you are having trouble gaining weight-and by weight-I mean pure muscle, then you have to increase your meal frequency. Another fun fact that many of you may disagree with me on: it is much easier to drop body fat than it is to put solid muscle on. I have gone through this process many times, and when done the right way, I can get very lean very fast. However, when I want to get hyooooge and eat everything in sight, my body fat will creep up along with the new muscle mass I’ve added. So please keep in mind, putting on solid muscle is a slow process. If the scale goes up 1 to 2lbs a week, that’s a good thing! However, any more than that and you are most likely adding body fat as well.
Most people can put down a lot of food in one sitting but if you want to gain some serious weight then you have to eat a lot, a lot of times per day. You may think gaining weight will be fun (it’s a lot better than dropping weight) but when you’re eating at least 5 huge meals per day you will have to start force feeding yourself. I look at it the same as training. We push ourselves past the pain threshold to move more weight, to get bigger and stronger; we have to do the same thing with our nutrition. Whatever your portion size is for that meal, you have to sit there until you finish everything. Countless times I have stared at a bowl of ground bison and jasmine rice, almost puking trying to get it all down. If you haven’t experienced this at some point in attempting to put on weight, I can tell you that you have never really tried to get big.
Thus the first point is increasing the number of meals per day. If you are on target to gain weight slowly as I discussed above, then you are on the right track. When weight gain slows down, it’s time to add in an additional meal. The easiest way to do this is have your meals already prepared. For those of you finding it difficult to food prep; there are a number of good websites you can buy your meals from – so there’s no excuse!
You cannot get huge on just eating protein and carbs! You are much more likely to be lacking in calories if you are avoiding fats. It’s very easy to add fats to your diet, and most of them are delicious anyway.
On the topic of fats; a very easy way to add calories is to take shots of olive oil or coconut oil throughout the day. With a gram of fat being 9 calories you can easily add at least 500 calories per day, not to mention the health benefits of adding olive oil to your diet.
When losing weight, it is common knowledge that you should avoid drinking your calories. So, when trying to gain weight, you DO want to drink your calories. It is much easier to put down more calories through liquid than solids. If any of you are familiar with Derek Poundstone, he was well known for liquefying chicken breasts (yes, you read that right) because it was easier for him to chug them down than it was to chew them. Now I’m not saying to start making delicious chicken breast shakes, and to be clear I have never done that, but it’s an option to get creative with your calorie consumption. Another easy way to add calories to you diet is to have a shake with every meal, or a shake in between each meal. 2 scoops of LBEB’s protein powder (use code LBEB5), and a tablespoon of peanut butter 3 times a day can add nearly 1000 calories to your day.
When gaining muscle, or losing fat, you need to be consistent! This is one of the biggest mistakes I see when working with new clients. Sticking to the plan for 3 days may pack on another pound, but under eating for the next 3 days will just put you back right where you were. Whatever your goal, consistency is essential in attaining it. It’s ok to have a bad day here and there because that’s bound to happen. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress in the long run. However, if you end up having just as many bad days as good days, you will just be spinning your wheels
Furthermore, when it comes to gaining or losing weight, the amount of calories you take in a day are the most important followed by macros. With that being said, you will reach a point in your muscle building journey that you will not be able to continue just eating “clean” foods. I know that sounds like a contradiction to some things I’ve written previously, but this step comes only after you’ve hit that weight gaining plateau and cannot force any more clean food down. To be clear, I’m not saying to eat fast food everyday but feel free to put down a double bacon cheeseburger and a large pizza all by yourself a few times a week. That being said, I don’t agree with the “dirty bulk” strategy of eating-unless you are ok putting on half of your weight as bodyfat-but you will have to consume one or two cheat meals a week.
When I put on the most weight in my life I was eating at least two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a day. Let’s be honest; I don’t think there is anything easier and more delicious than a PB&J and a big glass of milk. And please, if you get skim then you aren’t trying to get too big! Get some whole milk, or if you can get raw milk, and add it to your shakes for not only quality calories but for the best tasting shakes ever.
My last tip isn’t nutrition related but it’s one of the most important in regards to gaining weight. If you aren’t increasing your intensity each week, then don’t expect to get any bigger. By intensity I mean weight added to the bar or doing more reps with the same weight. You have to give your body a reason to grow, so your priority in training should be to get stronger at all times. I have seen people gain over 20lbs without even focusing on their diet because they have packed on muscle just through adding weight to the bar each week. Of course, the added effect of more muscle will stimulate your metabolism to increase hunger but that’s what we’re going for after all.