In this article, I give you a definitive guide on how to gain weight fast for skinny people. I even include a frequently asked questions section with answers.
So that you can take this information, and use it straight away.
Firstly, I’ve been skinny before. And it can be frustrating, you feel how Christian Bale looked in the machinist. But with plenty of trial and error, I learned how to put on weight the right way.
Here’s a picture to show that I practice what I preach. On the left, I was roughly 162 pounds. And on the right, I was roughly 178 pounds. With significantly more muscle. And much stronger.
Also, I did it without gaining a ton of fat. And my strength skyrocketed in the process.
Once you’re done reading this article you’ll be able to do the same. So that you’ll never be skinny again.
To listen to what was said in this article listen to my podcast episode below.
How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People – The Henry Paget Fitness Podcast
How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People – The Takeaways
1. To gain weight you need to eat more calories than you burn consistently. This is called a calorie surplus.
2. The reason why people don’t put on weight. Is because they’re not eating enough calories. You can’t cheat thermodynamics.
3. If you want to put quality weight on (add muscle and the least amount of fat) you need to be lifting heavy weights.
Who Should Gain weight? – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
If you’re underweight on the body mass index (BMI) scale. Then there’s a good chance that you should gain weight.
Underweight means that your bmi is either at 18.5 or under. You can check this on the table above. Or you can work it out here.
Although if you’re at the 10-12% body fat range or below you’re in a good position to gain weight.
A good way to find out your body fat percentage is to use the Accu measure body fat calliper.
The Reason Why You Can’t Gain Weight
The truth is, that if you want to put on weight. You need to eat more calories than you currently are. I’ve heard from many individuals “I eat a lot but I still can’t manage to put on weight”.
But many of these individuals aren’t keeping track of their calorie intake.
It’s common for many people to skip breakfast, eat a light lunch and then have a big dinner.
It normally goes something like this:
Breakfast (nothing, or maybe a breakfast bar or snack in the morning at some point).
Lunch – a sandwich or maybe picking something up from the local shop.
Dinner – a meal like a spaghetti bolognese and maybe a treat for dessert after.
All in all, a day of eating like this. Isn’t enough to gain weight. And it may seem like you’re eating a lot by having a big dinner.
But If you look at the whole day of eating. You’ll see that you’re not eating enough total calories to gain weight.
The average male maintains their bodyweight eating roughly 2500 calories per day.
So it’s no wonder that many males find themselves underweight having days of eating like this.
But there’s good news. To solve the problem. You just need to eat more calories. So that you can gain extra weight. Including muscle.
Appropriate Weight Gain Goals For Men – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
As Mehedi from stronglifts.com says that “a simple rule of thumb is to take your height in centimetres. Then subtract 100 and that’s your goal weight in kg.”
He says “anything less than this and you’ll always be skinny”. Here’s the table so that you can see a good estimate of what goal weight you should be at.
To use myself as an example. I’m currently 176 pounds and I’m at 10-12% body fat. I’m also 5ft 10 centimetres in height.
Which puts me in the range between my minimum and maximum bodyweight.
I’m by no means “massive” but people do recognise that I lift weights.
But as you can see in the picture at the beginning of this article. I was below that weight. And because of this, I looked skinny.
Table credited to Mehedi at stronglifts.com
Appropriate Rates Of Weight Gain
As Dr Eric Helms says in his muscle and strength building pyramids.
If you’re a beginner you can expect to gain 1 to 1.5% of your body weight per month. Which you can do for the first 1-2 years of your training journey.
This normally falls into the range of putting on 0.5-1 pound per week for males and half of that for females.
But as an intermediate to advanced lifter, you can only expect to gain 1% – 0.5% of your body weight per month respectively.
You’re classed as an intermediate lifter after your first 1-2 years of lifting.
And it’ll normally take you 3-5 years to become an advanced lifter. 90% of the people who workout never get to this point.
This highlights the point that you can only gain so much muscle across your training journey and even on a monthly basis.
And that you shouldn’t gain too much weight, too fast.
The reason for this is because fat gain is almost unlimited. Whereas muscle is limited.
And if you gain too much weight too fast you’ll end up fat.
How You Can Add Quality Weight To Your Frame
Firstly you must be tracking your food intake. And you must find out how many calories is appropriate for you to gain weight.
We’re all different shapes and sizes. So the number of calories you need to eat to gain weight. Will be different from mine.
Individuality matters. But not to worry. I provide exactly how you can work out your calories later in this article.
But adding weight. Simply requires you to eat more calories than you burn consistently.
If you do this. It’s impossible for you not to gain weight.
How You Can Consume More Calories – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
Getting the calories in as an ectomorph or a hard gainer can be hard. But it can be easily done. Here are some tips that you can use. So you can put on weight.
- Eat more highly palatable foods
- Eat more nuts, nut butters & dried fruit.
- Drink your calories.
- Eat more meals throughout the day.
- Enjoy different tastes & flavours.
- Eat more fatty meats.
- Eat more full-fat dairy.
- Don’t fill up on fruits and vegetables.
1. Eat More Highly Palatable Foods
If you generally have a small appetite. Then eating foods that are high in calories. And low in volume can help you put on weight.
I’m talking about foods like doughnuts, pizza, chocolate, cakes etc. Dr Eric Helms States in his book. The muscle and strength building pyramids – nutrition.
That it’s okay to eat 30% of your calories through so-called junk foods. And 70% of your diet through good healthy whole foods. When gaining weight.
But make sure that you stay off trans fats. Also called hydrogenated oils. Because they can be detrimental to your health.
And because you’re eating the majority of your diet through whole foods.
You’ll be able to stay healthy and you’ll get an adequate amount of phytochemicals in your diet.
2. Eat More Nuts And Dried Fruit – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
This is an easy way to get in the calories. 100 grams of peanuts provides you with 567 calories. Which is a lot. And it’s not actually that much total food.
Dried fruits like dates, raisins, sultanas, prunes and apricots. Can also help you get those calories in.
100 grams of raisins = 293 calories. Which is a lot. Nuts and dried fruit take next to no time to prepare. So you can quite easily incorporate them into your diet.
3. Drink Your Calories And Add Olive Oil To Your Meals
You can add more calories into your diet by simply drinking them. To get more calories into your diet you can drink more fruit juices, smoothies, and whole milk.
Whole milk has 320 calories and 17 grams of protein per 500 ml. Which is a decent amount of calories that you can drink within a few seconds.
A gallon of milk a day (GOMAD) popularised by Mark Rippetoe author of starting strength. Is an easy way to get in extra calories. Especially if you’re a hard gainer.
I’d only recommend this strategy for very underweight individuals.
You can also make a mass gainer shake. Here’s a nut butter mass gainer recipe you can use:
- 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein powder.
- 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter and 100 grams of oats.
- 2 Tablespoons of honey.
- 400 ml of whole milk.
Total calories = 1076, protein = 78 grams. If you get out of bed an extra half an hour early. You can make one of these shakes. To get a head start on your caloric intake.
Another good trick that I use when I’m gaining. Is adding extra olive oil or full-fat mayonnaise to my tuna pasta. To add extra calories.
Resulting in you more easily hitting your calorie intake and putting on weight.
4. Eat More Meals Throughout The Day – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
If you find yourself scrambling to get the calories in last minute. Then you’re probably not eating enough during the day. For example, if you needed to eat 3000 calories you could eat:
3 meals of 1000 calories.
6 meals of 500 calories.
Which one do you think would be easier to eat if you have a small appetite?
The second option is the obvious choice.
This is a good reason to not use intermittent fasting if you’re trying to gain weight.
Eating more meals throughout the day will help you get in more calories. Without you feeling as if you’ve stuffed your face.
5. Enjoy Different Tastes & Flavours
Have you ever been out for a meal and stuffed your face, and felt super full. But then someone passes you the dessert menu and your appetite peaks up?
If you have, the reason is that your palette loves different tastes and flavours.
So alter between different flavours like savoury, sweet, sour and more. This will keep your appetite high throughout the day. So you can more easily get those extra calories in.
6. Eat More Fatty Meats – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
Simply making the switch from lean meats to fatty meats can give you plenty of extra calories.
For example, if you regularly cook with lean ground mince that is 130 calories per every 100 gram. And if you switch to full-fat steak mince that is 236 calories per 100-gram.
Thats an extra 106 calories.
This is the same with other meats. For example, you may want to swap chicken breasts for chicken thighs.
This tip will allow you to consume extra calories while eating roughly the same amount of food.
7. Eat More Full Fat Dairy
Similarly to the meats. This is a good way to get those extra calories in. Swap out 0% fat Greek yoghurt for full-fat Greek yoghurt.
And do the same with cottage cheese, other cheeses. And drink more whole milk.
8. Don’t Fill Up On Fruits & Vegetables – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
I know your parents always told you to eat your fruits and vegetables. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t.
What I am saying though is you shouldn’t fill yourself up on them. Because they’re very low in calories but high in volume.
If you do fill up on them. You’ll find it tough eating the required amount of calories to put on weight.
Why You Need To Be Strength Training
“A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong.”― Mark Rippetoe
For someone who needs to gain weight, then adding weight is important. But adding quality weight is even more important.
And you can only do that by:
- Eating 10-15% more calories than you burn. A (calorie surplus).
- Getting stronger at full body compound exercises. For every pound gained you can expect to gain 0.5 pounds of fat and 0.5 pounds of muscle. But only if you lift heavy weights and get stronger.
- Eating enough protein and recovering properly.
If you get the calorie surplus right but neglect the other key points you’ll just gain fat.
The training ensures that the calories and protein from your food get used to build muscle.
Which will lead to you looking more toned and defined.
For example, in the picture below. Im roughly the same body fat in each of the pictures.
But on the right picture, I have 12-13 pounds more muscle than in the left picture. It makes me look a lot bigger.
Training Is The Easy Part
Most people on average spend 3-5 hours per week training. But you spend far more time eating, preparing and planning your meals.
This is one of the reasons why people find it easier to train than the nutrition side of the equation.
Which is understandable, if you sleep for 8 hours and you eat breakfast and dinner. That gives you an eating window of 16 hours.
So you spend a lot more time having to focus on your nutrition than your training.
So it’s easy to see why people fail with nutrition.
Here are some tips so that you can make sure your nutrition is on point.
- Do a grocery haul on a Sunday.
- Eat similar foods every day.
- Have easily prepared foods at the ready like cottage cheese, tuna, trail mix and whole milk.
- Make sure you hit your calories and protein before going to sleep for the day. Even if it involves making a quick meal.
Avoid Doing Lots Of Cardio
If you do too much cardio when you’re trying to gain weight. Then you’ll end up having to eat even more calories than you already are.
Which can make the process even more difficult.
Note: A good general rule of thumb is to do no more than half the amount of time you spend weight training as cardio.
Or you can do less than that. It simply doesn’t matter. The amazing thing about weight training. Is that it also benefits your cardiovascular health.
For example, If you’re following a starting strength program. That is focused around getting you stronger at the compound exercises.
You only workout for three hours per week.
So you’d do no more than an hour and a half of cardio per week.
This will result in you not having to eat lots of calories to put on a small amount of weight.
Making the process of gaining weight easier for you.
The 5 Step Solution On How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People.
1. Eat In A 10-15% Calorie Surplus
An easy way so that you can set up your calories for this. Is to read my how to gain muscle guide. Or you can use the legion athletics calorie calculator.
This will ensure that you gain between 0.5- 1 pound per week.
2. Eat At Least 0.82 Grams Of Protein Per Pound Of Your Bodyweight
If you want to know why I recommend this amount of protein you can read my article on how much protein you need.
I’m currently 174 pounds so I’d need to eat roughly 142 grams of protein per day. Give or take plus or minus 5 grams.
The reason for eating this much protein when you’re gaining weight. Is because it provides an adequate amount of protein. That is required to build muscle tissue.
3. Strength Train At Least 3x Per Week
This will ensure that the weight you put on is half muscle and half fat. Because the primary driver of muscle growth is progressive overload. This means getting stronger.
Read the article linked below for a free strength taining program.
4. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Rest & Recovery
For natural lifters. I don’t recommend that you train more than 5 times per week. 3-5 weight training sessions per week seems to be the sweet spot for most people.
That gives you 4, 3 or 2 days of rest. This Is crucial for recovery. Sleep is also very important. And I find that a lot of people neglect it.
Aim to get 8 hours of sleep every night. That’s not 8 hours lying in bed. That’s actually 8 hours asleep.
Furthermore, this will help you gain quality weight and will help you fill out. In the right way.
5. Choose A Meal Frequency That Fits Your lifestyle
Although I did allude to smaller meals being better for weight gain. For a lot of people eating 4-6 small meals per day isn’t workable.
So depending on what you prefer. Stick to whatever you find is the most sustainable.
Because as long as you hit your calorie surplus (I showed you how to do in the first step). You’ll gain weight.
It doesn’t matter if you hit that number with 3 meals or 5 meals. Total calories are king.
Frequently Asked Questions On How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
Q: How Long Does It Take To See Results?
A: Well depending on how skinny you currently are. The answer will differ.
If you’re underweight. Then yes you’re starting off at a slight disadvantage. Compared to someone of normal weight.
But that’s okay. It’ll just take you a bit longer. And with enough time and hard work you can gain weight and become less skinny.
If you’re doing it properly you can expect to gain 0.5-1 pound per week.
Q: Does A Fast Metabolism Prevent Me From Putting On Weight? – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
A: No you’ll just have to eat more total calories than someone with a slower metabolism. Some people need to eat as much as 4000-6000 calories per day to gain 0.5 – 1 pound of weight.
Q: Is It Possible To Gain Weight Without Getting Fat?
A: Everyone who eats more calories than they burn will put on some amount of fat. Most people put on 50% muscle and 50% fat for every pound gained.
So some fat gain is inevitable.
Although you can only build so much muscle in your training journey. And when you get to the intermediate to advanced lifting level.
Which is normally after the first 1-2 years of training. You won’t be able to gain 0.5 pounds of muscle per week.
Otherwise within a few years you’d look like the Incredible Hulk. Which is only possible if you’re on steroids.
Click here to find out your natural muscle building potential.
Q: I Eat Lots Of Food But I Just Can’t Seem To Gain Weight? – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
A: You’re simply just not eating enough. If you’re tracking your calories and protein on an app like my fitness pal. And your weight is staying the same or decreasing.
Simply add 100-150 calories every week until you’re gaining at a rate of 0.5 – 1 pound per week. You can do it. It just requires trial and error.
Q: Does Gaining More Weight Per Week Mean Gaining More Muscle?
A: No, it doesn’t. This is because the amount of fat you can gain is almost unlimited. Hence why you see some people walking around at more than 400 pounds in weight.
But muscle is different. The amount of muscle you can gain is limited.
Across your whole training journey. Men can expect to gain between 40-50 pounds of muscle. Wheres women can gain half of that.
And that’s why I recommend that you gain no more than one pound per week for males. And no more than half a pound per week for females.
Any more than that and you’ll just be putting on too much fat.
Q: How Can I Gain Weight Fast? – How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
A: If you’re very underweight then you could try GOMAD. This means you drink a gallon of whole milk per day. Which will add an extra 2880 calories onto your daily intake.
The majority of people don’t need to do this and will just end up fat. I know this probably doesn’t need to be said. But don’t do this if you’re lactose intolerant.
Q: What Are The Best Foods And Drinks For Gaining Weight?
A: Foods and drinks that are very high in calories and low in volume.
Foods & drinks like these:
- Nuts & nut butters = 1 tbsp of nut butter = 93 calories.
- Whole milk 1 litre = 600 calories & 30 grams of protein.
- Fruit juices = 1 cup of orange juice = 110 calories.
- Dried fruit= 1 cup of mixed dried fruit = 332 calories.
- Whole eggs = 5 eggs = 300 calories and 30 grams of protein.
- Meat = 1 8oz steak = 616 calories and 48 grams of protein.
- Olive oil= 1 tbs of olive oil = 119 calories.
- Bread = 2 slices of bread = 200 calories.
- Cheese = 1 x 300 gram pot of cottage cheese = 309 calories. Mix it with some vanilla protein. It tastes just like a dessert.
- Yoghurt = Full fat greek yoghurt = 465 calories per 500 grams.
- Rice= 100 grams of rice = 320 calories.
- Oatmeal= 100 grams of oatmeal = 389 calories.
- Pasta = 100 grams of pasta = 335 calories.
- Granola bars= 1 bar = 150 calories.
- Granola = 100 grams = 459 calories.
Q: How Many Calories Do I Need To Put On Weight?
This answer differs depending on the individual. But if you check out the guides I linked to in the steps on how to gain weight.
You’ll be able to find out how many calories you need to eat to gain weight. Or if you’d like a quick estimate. Do the following calculation. Multiply your body weight by 18-20 calories.
For example, If you’re a 150-pound guy. And you’re moderately active. Multiply 150 by 19 calories, this equals 2850 calories. This should be enough calories to gain weight at the required rate.
If it isn’t. Simply add 100-150 calories per week until you’re gaining 0.5-1 pound per week.
And if you’re very active multiply your bodyweight by 20. And if you’re sedentary multiply your bodyweight by 18.
Generally speaking, the heavier you are the more calories you’ll burn.
Credit for the quick and easy weight gain formula goes to Tom Venuto.
Q: Is It Necessary To Eat Lots Of Protein To Gain Weight?
No, you don’t actually need that much protein to gain weight. 0.82 grams per pound of your body weight should be enough.
Carbs and fats are just as important for gaining weight as protein. Eat enough protein and save your money for buying carbs and fats.
Eating too much protein when you’re trying to gain weight can make weight gain more difficult. This is because protein fills you up. And if you’ve already got a small appetite.
It’s going to be harder to hit your calorie surplus if you’re too full. Anyway, protein is expensive. So don’t eat any more than you need to.
Although, If you struggle to eat that much protein. Read this article on 10 ways you can get more protein in your diet.
Q: Do I Need To Track My Carbs, Fats, And Protein?
A: What I do myself and what I encourage my clients to do is to just track their calories and protein.
It’s much easier this way. Because you’ll realise that if you hit your protein target.
Your carbs and fats will fall into place.
Q: Should I Weigh Myself?
A: Yes you should. It’s the easiest way to know if your gaining weight at the required rate.
Q: How Often Should I Weigh Myself?
A: Every day or at a minimum 3x per week.
Add your 7 weekly weigh-ins and divide that total by 7. This will give you your weekly average weigh-in.
Although If you only have 3 weigh-ins. Add them up and divide them by 3 for a weekly average weigh-in.
For more information on how to use the scale to measure progress. Click here.
Q: Are There Any Good Exercises For Weight Gain?
A: Yes, you want to be getting stronger at the compound exercises. Described in step 3. These Exercises help you use those extra calories you’re eating to gain muscle.
But you must make sure you’re using a full range of motion with those exercises. And trying your best to get stronger at them from week to week.
Q: What Does A Good Day Of Eating Look Like To Gain Weight?
Considering that most males need to eat 2500 calories to maintain their weight. A 10% Calorie surplus would mean eating 2750 calories and we’ll just say this is for a 160-pound male.
So because he weighs 160 pounds he’d need to to eat 131 grams of protein per day plus or minus 5 grams. And we’ll just give him a range of 2650-2850 calories to make things easy.
This is what a full day of eating might look like.
Breakfast – 60 grams of oats cooked with 300ml of whole milk. And with 30 grams of vanilla protein. A 100-gram banana and 15 grams of peanut butter.
Calories = 727 and 47 grams of protein.
Mid morning snack- 1 medium apple = 95 calories.
Lunch – Tuna pasta made with 100 grams of uncooked fusilli pasta. 1 can of tuna in spring water, 1 tbs of full-fat mayonnaise, and 50 grams of sweetcorn.
Calories = 596, protein = 39 grams.
Dinner- 1 fillet of salmon, 300 grams of boiled potatoes, 200 grams of broccoli and 20 grams of ketchup.
Calories = 621, protein = 30 grams.
After dinner snack = 80 grams of oats, 30 gram of vanilla protein, 30 grams of raisins, cooked with 500 ml of whole milk.
Calories = 839, protein = 51.5 grams.
Total daily calories = 2783 calories, protein = 172 grams.
Note: It doesn’t matter that protein is slightly high. Some people with big appetites can eat up to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of their body weight. Or sometimes more. Total calories are king.
Q: If My Parents Have Always Been Skinny, Does That Mean I Will Be?
No, It doesn’t matter. Genetics do play a part in how fast your metabolism is.
But no matter if you’re a skinny person (ectomorph). An (obese person (endomorph). Or someone who puts on muscle easily (a mesomorph).
The law of energy balance doesn’t change. it applies to every single person. So if you eat enough calories you will put on weight, build muscle and become less skinny.
Regardless of your genetics.
Q: How Much Weight Do I Need To Gain?
A: This answer varies per individual. But if you go back to the beginning of this article. You’ll see a maximum and minimum weight that you should aim for.
Alternatively, I’d say go no higher than 15-17.5% body fat. You can check your body fat percentage using this calliper.
I Really Struggle To Eat A Lot Of Food What Am I Supposed To Do?
A: Again it comes down to eating low volume, and high-calorie foods.
But If you struggle to eat the required amount to gain weight. You can eat at your maintenance calorie requirements on the weekend.
This will give you a nice break from eating so much all the time.
To do this reduce your calories by 10% on the weekends.
Note: Although you don’t have to do this. It’s just an option for people with small appetites.
The Bottom Line On How To Gain Weight Fast For Skinny People
- The number one thing you should be focusing on to gain weight is a calorie surplus.
- Try to eat high calorie, low volume foods so that you can more easily consume calories.
- Although it will be easier to get your calories in if you have more frequent lower calorie meals. You don’t have to. Choose a meal frequency that fits your lifestyle.
Above all, If you just make sure that. You eat in a calorie surplus, eat enough protein, lift heavy weights and stay consistent. You’ll put on weight easily.
Furthermore, If you enjoyed this article please share it.
Although if there’s anything that you think I could do better.
Or if you want to ask me a question.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the one thing that you can do today to come 1% closer to your goal of gaining weight?
Thanks for reading.
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