For many of us, the desire to gain weight is an important part of our body image. We feel our lives would be smarter, more confident, and self-assured if we had some extra scale and size. This is often true. For many areas of modern life, enhanced scale and presence make a difference. People still judge by appearances, and if you are small or look ‘weak’, people can make judgments that you are a weak person. They are almost always wrong, but unfortunately their attitudes can hamper your progress, whether personally or professionally.
Why we want to do this
There are many reasons why you may want to gain weight.
You may want to increase your weight to help you recover from illness. We lose weight when we are unwell, and we often need to get back a sense of fullness and scale to make us feel well again. Recovery from cancer, or an impactful operation, or an injury, can all lead to us wanting to increase our body weight. Doing so can be a major part of how we feel better, as we feel reassured to ‘have our strength back’, as the saying goes.
In some cases, an eating disorder has led to some people being underweight for a while, and if that is your situation you need to recover mass. Diarrhea or a sudden gastric illness can, even within a week, make you lose a significant amount of weight, and you will again want to get the weight back as soon as possible.
You might also be training for an event, likely a sporting one, and need to increase your size to maximize your chances.
It may also be about aesthetics, and that’s fine too
And, as we said, for some people the aesthetic reason is the main motivator for enhancing your body mass. There is nothing to be ashamed about in this fact. Your body is how you present to the world. There is nothing bad about wanting it to look how you would like it to look as you face the world. Remember, your body is your visual passport to many areas of life.
You may also believe you will have better success with dating or romancing if you look larger, and for men especially this often remains a cultural reality.
Whatever your reason, gaining weight fast is about increasing the body’s fat or muscle mass at a relatively rapid pace, and one that is faster than the normal pace the body would operate were it left to its own devices.
How fast can we gain weight
The body can be highly reactive and can increase – or decrease – in size quickly. You may wish to gain 10 pounds in one week. If so, this is potentially possible. For others, it may be a more modest goal of adding around 5 pounds in two weeks.
Whatever your specific weight gain goal, the increase in your weight will require a consistent daily calorie surplus. This means you will have to consume more calories than the body needs for everyday functioning.
It will also almost certainly entail having to follow a clear diet plan that contains healthy fats, proteins, and complex carb sources, as well as regular physical exercise and adequate hydration. Additionally, various nutritional supplements, most obviously those containing whey protein, will be extremely helpful in ensuring you make faster progress.
It is highly important that your results are not temporary and unhealthily gained. To ensure that results are sustainable it’s important to approach this increase in weight safely and responsibly. Eating nutrient-dense food, in combination with training and rest, is key.
Benefits of gaining weight fast
There are genuine benefits to gaining weight, so long as you do not become fat or notably overweight.
- Rapid weight gain can provide more energy, especially if it is done with the right nutritional approach.
- You can make huge improvements to your physical strength, which is usually a boost to how you feel in life
- You will usually be improving your diet, as to gain weight well you must eat well and leave behind junk and low-nutrition foods
- Gaining muscle also enhances your metabolism, as the body learns to speed up its metabolic rate to deal with the new routines you are enjoying
- Your self-esteem will be greater and this can have huge benefits to how you approach life
Preparing to Gain Weight
Understanding your current health situation
It is incredibly important that you understand your current health situation before you attempt to gain weight quickly. For example, check the following areas.
- Make sure you know your Body Mass Index (BMI), so that you can keep track of how the added weight you put on may affect this. If you are in the healthy range at the moment, you do not want the added weight to take you into ‘overweight’. Check online for further information about calculating your BMI, or see a sports trainer at the gym to have your BMI measured. It is not a foolproof measure, but it is a worthwhile metric to know about.
- Be sure you are not currently suffering any illnesses or colds or allergies before you start your new dietary and exercise routines.
- If you have ever had an eating disorder, seek some medical advice before you start on these changes, as there may be some complicating factors you can’t foresee.
- If you suffer from any eating allergies, be very careful that the new foods you might be eating are all safe for you.
Remember, this is about improving your health, not jeopardizing it. Don’t be shy about taking nutritional advice or talking to a PT at the gym, or, indeed, a doctor. Weight gain is a big thing, and it can need careful consideration.
Setting realistic goals
Goal-setting is key for any big life-change.
Firstly, remember that the body is not designed to change shape very fast. It is a progressive thing. Generally adding 1-2 pounds per week is healthy and sustainable, and in some cases you may be able to add 3. But adding 3 or more pounds a week of proper mass is hard. This is important to know, because if you think it will be extremely easy to add good weight, and you have unrealistic goals, you may give up too soon. Keep in mind that overnight change, or change ‘in a matter of days’, is not how this works.
Secondly, track your progress with a journal and weigh yourself regularly. This way, you’ll be able to measure your progress and identify any obstacles you may encounter.
Thirdly, focus on eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly. Increase your caloric intake, but make sure you’re getting the right combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as we discuss below.
Fourthly, keep a focus on your exercise. We discuss further down what exercises to look to follow, but be specific about what you are doing. Do not just write ‘Gym’ in your calendar. Be specific about muscle-groups, reps and weights.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t overdo it. Gaining too much weight too quickly can lead to health problems, so be patient and stay within your limits as you work towards your goals.
Consulting with a Registered Dietitian or Healthcare Professional
Remember that there are people whose professional work involves helping you. If you want further advice, consult a Registered Dietitian or other healthcare professional who can help you with the journey you are going on with your body. Their experience is likely to offer valuable guidance and insight into the process.
Essential Tips for Gaining Weight Fast
Increase calorie intake
This is the key to weight gain. You have to eat more calories than you expend, but you absolutely want to make sure they are the right calories. Make sure you eat three or more meals a day and that you add in healthy snacking.
The volume of the food you eat and its caloric density matter, but it can be tricky to ensure that you eat both healthily as well as eating sufficiently to ensure you gain weight. Do not cut corners, however, and eat high calorie junk foods or cakes. That will simply add fat around your waist and will be far harder to exercise into muscle gain.
Adding more protein, whole grains, dairy, and healthy fats to your meals is key. Day after day, these incremental changes can quite quickly mean enhanced weight.
You must also stay very well hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps ensure that the food you’re eating doesn’t just pass through your system. Hydration supports the correct level of nutrient absorption and provides the necessary nourishment. Research consistently shows that staying hydrated promotes overall health and weight gain.
Protein consumption is essential
To gain weight fast you will need to increase your protein intake beyond its normal range. Diet is of the greatest importance to anyone training to increase their weight and size.
Most dietitians and fitness trainers recommend eating around 1.2-2.0 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. Be aware – this is a lot, so you will need to plan this part of your life carefully. If you are ten stone and looking to put on weight fast in order to reach eleven stone, that could mean eating anywhere around 160-220 or so grams of protein if you are really wanting to put on weight fast and are training hard.
Even if you do not eat as much as that, you are still going to see benefits if your protein intake is a bit higher than normal, so do not obsess over this. Keep a measured focus on it and do what you can. The body will still put on weight quite fast so long as it has a good amount of protein and is being trained, fed and hydrated well.
Foods to consider for their high protein values
Tuna; Salmon; Most other fish; Chicken; Red meats; Venison; Chickpeas; Nuts; Dairy products; Milk
These foods are among those with high protein values. A small tin of tuna, for example, can have around 25 grams of protein in just a few mouthfuls. Eat two of those when you are in training and you have already got 33% of a high-demand intake. Chicken breasts are also excellent when it comes to protein, and as they are lean they do not overload the body with fat.
Eat more complex carbohydrates
When you are trying to gain weight fast, having the right levels of energy is key, so eating complex carbs that take longer to break down in your body and that release energy gradually and in a more sustained way matters. This helps your muscles and stops your body having to use other food sources for energy that are then no longer feeding your body for weight gain and growth.
Whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, lentils, vegetables and wholemeal breads are good sources of complex carbs and should form part of your diet for muscle growth. You should absolutely avoid nasty, high sugar snacks that offer little of any nutritional value, but you should certainly look to add in healthy snacks, like wholegrain muesli bars; fruit and nut bars; oatcakes with maybe some cheese for protein; a kefir drink or yogurt. All these make for healthy snacks that add complex carbs or protein to your mid-meal slots.
Fats are your friend – if they are healthy fats
Do not think fats are always an enemy when it is fast weight gain you are after. Far from it. In fact, good fats are of the greatest importance. Good fats are essential for proper hormone production; cell and tissue health; energy levels; and the correct absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. The best way to ensure you are getting these essential fats into your diet is to eat the following foods regularly.
- Avocados. These can be served well with eggs, but they are also delicious in a smoothie, blended with a banana and some spinach, greek yogurt and honey. Try this as one of your mid-meal snacks. It is a high calorie snack, but one that is exceptionally healthy, so it is perfect for fast weight gain.
- Oily fish, as above in the protein section
- Extra virgin olive oil. Use this instead of normal vegetable oil. Add it to wholegrain rice, chicken or tuna and some greens and you have a very healthy meal that offers good fats, carbs and protein.
- Sunflower seeds and other seeds and pulses
- Some wholegrain and seed breads, hence their high fat values per slice. Be careful, however, not to overload on bread, as bread can soon make you feel too full too quickly and can lead to bloating.
Balance and regularity in your diet matter
Gaining weight fast requires nutrition. Your body absolutely needs lean proteins, in the form of fish or lean meats, for example. Vegetables, which are full of vitamins and minerals, are also essential, as are the healthy fats we discussed earlier.
Do not forget the power of hydration either. You must stay hydrated as you seek to gain weight. Water matters enormously to your body’s optimizing the nutritional values of food.
Make sure you also eat regularly. Allow the body to have regular bursts of nutrition. If it is to gain weight effectively, it needs the fuel to do so. It must have its protein, micronutrients and essential carbs and fats delivered in ways that ensure it can be feeding your muscles and bodily functions without having to draw on energy that actually then leads to a decrease in your weight. Caloric intake must be high. The wrong diet, or not attending to your diet with enough care, will unquestionably impede your progress.
Choose nutrient-dense foods
A useful one-phrase reminder is to think of the ‘nutrient density of your foods’. Nutrient-dense foods are foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. Think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins. These foods provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs, while still ensuring an effective caloric intake, so long as you eat them in sufficient volumes.
Eat more meals
You must eat more if you are to gain weight. There is no getting away from that truth. More frequent meals obviously means more calories, which means your body gets more fuel for its energy output. This fuel is what helps you get the strength and weight you want. Without it, you won’t gain weight at all, let alone gain it fast.
Incorporate strength training
Exercise is a part of gaining weight fast, but you need to know how to exercise well. Strength training is one of the major ways you can increase your weight and do so with quite significantly fast results. It also avoids the extra calories you are consuming from becoming fat. Compound exercises and isolation exercises are the two broad groups of exercises to focus on.
Compound exercises are for many people the way to train. These are exercises that work multiple muscles at once. There are many, but the main compound exercises in gyms are the following:
- Bench pressing
- Overhead presses
These muscles are likely to form a part of any successful weight gain programme.
Isolation exercises also help you shape and control the extra weight you are gaining. There is always a place for isolation training in any weight-gain routine. Many trainers will advocate isolation exercises to make sure you enhance particular muscle groups to best effect, so that they look terrific. This is often one of the most significant reasons some people have for gaining weight – to have bigger arms, broader shoulders, stronger quads etc.
Bicep curls. Tricep pulls. Calf raises. Adductor pushes. Abductor pushes. Lateral pull-downs. These are just some of the isolation exercises you will often see in gyms and that are great exercises to ensure the weight you have gained leads to muscles that are defined. It is usually through isolation exercises that you maximize the potential of a particular muscle group and for many people looking to gain weight fast the most obvious of these, and the muscles most gym users initially focus on, are the biceps. These are often the easiest muscles to grow and they can most obviously show that you are someone who is training to gain weight.
Be careful, however, not to over-prioritize any single muscle, or it can look out of proportion with your overall body shape. Most people want their weight gain to be proportionate, so take care to balance your weight gain across the body.
Prioritize rest and recovery
Though it is not always easy to think like this, you have to have days where you let the body rest and absorb. Prioritizing rest and recovery is an important factor in gaining weight. Your body needs time to repair and rebuild and adapt to the new routines you are placing on it. Its growth actually comes from rest, almost as much as it comes from activity.
Ensure you get an effective sleep of seven to nine hours if possible. In addition, schedule regular rest days between workouts. Overtraining is not the friend of weight-gain. If you have access to one, an ice bath can be a very good way of helping your muscles recover faster, which then means you can return to training productively sooner.
Never skip meals
Regular caloric intake is essential. You must not skip meals if you seek weight gain. If you do skip meals it can cause your body to store calories as fat instead of using them for energy. In addition, changing the way you eat and opting out of meals when your body expects nutrition can lower your metabolic rate, as the body slows down, and this can actually make it more difficult for your body to put on additional pounds. The stomach actually adapts to the expectations placed on it, and if you do not feed it well, it will gradually shrink and get used to smaller portions. This is not what you want when it is weight-gain you’re after
In addition, hydrate regularly, and do not only drink at mealtimes. Drinking throughout the day is critical. Typically, around 8 to 10 glasses of water a day is wise.
Control stress levels
These are often much more important than you might think. Stress can act as an appetite killer and that leads to a lower caloric intake. Stress can also lead the body to burn calories faster, which also works against the goal of weight gain.
To control your stress levels, it would be worth experimenting with different types of relaxation activities, such as yoga or meditation. Additionally, taking regular breaks throughout the day and finding time to enjoy hobbies is genuinely supportive of lower stress levels.
If you use the gym regularly as part of your weight gaining, you will genuinely feel less stress than if you do not exercise. Exercise is a huge de-stresser. And, of course, you must ensure good sleep.
Monitor progress regularly
Weight gain requires attention and monitoring. The following are good steps to follow.
- Write down your goals – your desired weight gain and the timeline you want to work to
- Monitor your caloric intake and meal patterns
- Monitor your exercise and gym workouts
- Monitor your sleep patterns. This includes when you go to bed and when you get up. It also includes tracking whether you get up during the night or have uninterrupted sleep.
- Take photos of your body at the start and at very regular intervals. Ensure you have a good full length mirror in your bedroom, so that you can assess yourself carefully in private.
- Be honest with yourself. Do not cut corners, and also be aware of any days where you lose track, so that you can get back on track the following day.
Protein supplements can help
Do not be put off by any fears about protein supplements. They can be an excellent way to ensure adequate protein intake. Typically in powder form, they can be mixed with milk or water to make a drink. Many suggest you need to take them soon after a workout, but it does not really matter when you take them in the course of a day, as the muscles will continue to grow so long as your overall protein intake is good. They can make a huge difference to how well you gain weight and the speed at which you do so.
Be aware that some supplements are better than others. Some cheaper supplements are more likely to give you bad wind and a feeling of bloating. This is absolutely to be avoided, as it interferes with your appetites and therefore your nutrition levels. The higher quality ones are less likely to disturb your gut, so do your research to see what the reviews say. In general, however, protein supplements will enhance a weight gain program.
Creatine is also helpful for strength gains
Creatine is natural. It is a naturally-occurring compound found mainly in fish, red meat and chicken and other poultry. It is also available as a supplement, and when you consume it, your body breaks it down into phosphocreatine, which helps enhance your production of ATP, a chemical that gives you more energy for your workouts. It also helps reduce fatigue in your muscles, which enhances your ability to train, thereby stimulating ongoing progress towards your weight gain goals.
Summary of key points
The key to gaining weight quickly is to eat more calories than you burn through exercise. This means consuming more calories than your body needs to function, and doing exercises that are going to help build muscle. In order to do this effectively, it is important to focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods such as healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates, and good fats, and to remain hydrated with a lot of water and/or low calorie water-based drinks.
Additionally, it is important to establish a regular exercise routine that focuses on resistance exercises that target major muscle groups where the growth is most significant and, importantly, likely to add weight.
Benefits of gaining weight fast
The benefits to speedy weight gain are significant. Your confidence will increase, your body will usually look much better, your exercise routines will be a more significant part of your life, and you will very probably be healthier. In addition, you will look better and have a greater feeling of self-worth, a hugely important element of a good life. In addition, you will have more energy and be more robust when it comes to facing any possible illnesses.
For many, mental health enjoys a huge uplift as you can look at yourself and see someone you are really proud of. This is a massive gain from putting on mass.
Be strong, but be so safely
When the body gains weight too quickly, it can in some circumstances and with some bodies place an excessive amount of pressure on the major organs and bones. This can lead to some health problems, most obviously joint pain, but in some rarer cases it may lead to fatigue, diabetes, or heart problems, if you overtrain or overeat too fast and excessively.
To protect yourself from these risks, focus on control, on recognizing that even ‘fast’ weight gain can’t be done overnight, and make sure to enjoy the process. It should be a pleasure, not a labor, to see your body gain weight and look more like the body you want to have.