Are you concerned about being underweight? While much of what we read is about being obese and overweight, being underweight is also a concern for health. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can gain weight with a fast metabolism and keep your body healthy.
There are three pillars of a muscle building and weight gain routine: Nutrition, Training and Rest.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re already tried putting on weight by eating more, working out with heavy weights and doing everything that your gym trainer told you, but still aren’t seeing the results or getting an answer to: how to put on weight.
The dynamics of gaining weight with a fast metabolism seem simple: consume more calories than your body burns in a day. However, a high metabolism, busy schedule, and unavailability of time to track calories make it all difficult to see results.
Health Consequences of Being Underweight
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classifies an individual as underweight if your body mass index is lower than 18.5. Another way to measure is by using body fat percentage. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) provides body fat norms for men and women and classifies anything below 6% for men and 14% for women as being essential body fat.
Being underweight is associated with a 100% greater risk of early death in women and 140% in men (1).
Along with a greater mortality risk, here are additional health concerns related to being underweight:
- Greater risk for infections and impaired immune functions. Osteoporosis and fractures. Current studies associate being underweight as a risk factor for developing osteoporosis, which is when bones are more prone to breaking (2).
- Skin, hair, and teeth issues. A lack of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E, and K) can lead to hair loss, skin problems, and an increase in cavities and gingivitis (3).
- Irregular menstruation and periods. Being underweight places females at a greater risk for having irregular periods or may lose their cycle altogether. This can affect fertility and overall female health. For men, low body fat can also affect fertility (4).
Combining health issues with low confidence and self-esteem, it’s understandable that you’re ready to gain weight.
Why Can’t I Gain Weight Naturally?
There are multiple reasons that affect weight gain. We won’t discuss medical related reasons, like chronic disease or depression, in this article. If you suspect you have a medical condition that affects your weight, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.
One of the most common reasons for being underweight is consuming too few calories.
Most hard-gainers claim they eat more than an average person and still do not gain weight. When this happens it’s more about your overall overall consumption versus individuals meals.
The overall calorie intake is not enough for you to gain weight. Tracking your calories for a few days gives you a better estimate of how many calories you are actually eating.
Another common reason for not seeing results could be your metabolism. Just like some people have an underperforming metabolism, you may have a fast acting metabolism, which means you need to eat more calories to gain weight.
Activity levels also affect weight. High activity levels, physical endurance, and weight lifting sessions require energy and require you to add calories to your meals and snacks.
The good news is, no matter what causes poor weight gain, most individuals are able to gain healthy weight, irrespective of your genetics, metabolism or appetite.
Quick Tips On How To Gain Weight with a Fast Metabolism
Focus on different areas of nutrition and your daily activity to start seeing results. Here are some things you can do to gain weight with a fast metabolism:
- Eat more calories than your body burns in a day.
- Eat foods that are calorie dense (high in calories for small portions).
- Increase your meal count and frequency.
- Eat more carbohydrates and proteins.
- Track your calories and exercise sessions.
- Consider weight gain supplements.
- Focus on compound exercise movements.
- Lift heavy weights.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Stay consistent with diet, workout and sleep schedules.
Eat a Calorie Surplus:
Calories will likely need to be the primary focus to gain weight. Your body needs a specific number of calories in a day to perform daily activities, both for men and women.
When overall calorie consumption and expenditure is at balance, you maintain your current weight. On the other hand, when you eat more calories than you burn in a day consistently, you gain weight.
Start by calculating the number of calories you need in a day to maintain your current weight by using the Daily Calorie Calculator here: https://www.gainingtactics.com/daily-calorie-calculator/
Once you have this number, an ideal surplus is between 300-500 calories per day. The goal is to add weight from muscle and not just fat mass.
It is very easy to consume extra calories while eating mostly pizzas, coke, or other foods low in nutrients. This type of diet puts your overall health at risk and we encourage you to balance meals with foods rich in vitamins and minerals.
Focus on Calorie Dense Foods
A majority of calories you eat should come from healthy whole foods that are rich in macronutrients. Start with 70% of your calories coming from nutrient-rich foods and balance the rest with foods that may be less nutrient-rich but are enjoyable.
Minimize calorie intake from foods that are filling but do not help you reach your caloric requirements. These foods have high water content, like cucumbers and some green vegetables. These foods help with hydration, provide you with antioxidants, and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Add these foods to meals that are already high in calories. This will help you maximize your food choices.
Some of the best foods that help you reach your weight goal are ones with rich nutrition profiles and are high in calories.
Don’t worry, we’ve listed some of the best foods you can include in your diet for gaining weight. In case you wish to check out, here’s a list of some of the best weight gain foods for your calorie intake requirement.
Focus More on Protein-Rich Foods
There are three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They each play a critical role in helping you gain weight. Protein is essential for repairing and building muscles. Both carbohydrates and fats provide energy-rich foods and essential nutrients.
A diet rich in protein is advisable for anyone who stays active and looking to build muscle. . Protein is known as the building block of muscles and supplies essential amino acids to damaged muscle tissues as a result of physical activity. These tissues, when fed with enough nutrients and given time to recover, grow stronger than before.
Protein also improves body composition and helps you put on lean muscle, thus helping in healthy high metabolism weight gain. With all these reasons, maintaining a high protein diet and consistently including protein in every meal should be your priority for gaining healthy weight.
Related: In case you were wondering, taking a whey protein supplement assists in helping you reach your protein requirements. Here’s a complete article on how you can use whey protein to gain weight.
Don’t Forget Your Carbohydrates and Fats
No diet is complete without carbohydrates and fats. Both play a vital role in metabolism, brain health, and long-term health.
Carbs help you recover from workouts and make sure you feel energized to perform physical activity. Your body uses glycogen (which comes from carbohydrates) to fuel the workout. After a workout session, carbohydrates replenish glycogen levels in your muscles and liver.
Another reason why you should not cut down on carbs is that they are the source of energy for your body during a workout, as well as for healthy weight gain. When your body does not have enough carbohydrates, it uses other options for fuel, like protein and fat.
It converts fats and protein into glucose for energy. This conversion process is not as efficient as using carbs and glucose for energy.
There are three types of carbohydrates : complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are slow-acting carbs and provide vitamins and minerals important for our health. Some foods rich in complex carbs include whole-grain breads, brown rice, and vegetables. These foods can help you gain weight and help your overall health.
Simple carbs, also called sugars, are fast-digesting carbs. They provide fewer vitamins and minerals than complex carbohydrates.. Simple carbs provide quick energy. Many endurance athletes will eat simple carbs during endurance events, like running long-distance. Some simple carbs are found naturally in foods, like fructose in fruit and lactose in milk. There are also refined simple carbs in raw sugars, sodas, packaged cookies, and candy.
Fiber for Weight Gain
There are two types of dietary fibers: soluble and insoluble. Fiber and whole grains are a blend of starches, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Current studies suggest consuming dietary fiber can help with overall weight management, support digestive health, and improve cholesterol levels (5). Some of the most nutrient-rich food sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lentils, and beans. Fiber should be an essential part of your diet.
Fats for Weight Gain
Fats are classified as polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated, and transfats, based on the chemical properties.
Dietary fats are essential for brain health, heart health, and provide energy. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and come mostly from animal foods and processed food products.
Trans fats are man-made and have gone through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the fat hard at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and come mostly from plant oils.
Since each gram of fat contains 9 calories (highest among all macronutrients), the right amount of fats will help you reach your caloric goals faster. Some examples of nutrient-rich fats are avocados, olive oil,, nuts, whole eggs, and fish.
The best way to reach and maintain your calorie surplus requirement is to eat smaller meals frequently, both for men and women. Calculate your total weight gain goals for the week and then divide by 7 to get your daily needs.
For instance, if your daily calorie needs for gaining 1 pound of weight in a week is 3000 kcal/day. Meet your calorie needs by either eating three meals a day, each of 1000kcal a meal, or eating six small meals of 500kcal each.
Most people prefer to eat smaller meals more frequently, as eating 1000kcal can be difficult for some people. Secondly, eating smaller meals can help boost metabolism.
On a similar note, one reason why most people who claim they eat a lot do not gain weight is that changing body composition and weight management are slow processes. Eating a high-calorie meal once a day and then going through the rest of the day without eating balances the equation, and you’re ultimately eating only the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight.
Ultimately, you need to work on different approaches and see which ones work the best for your body and choose the one that you can consistently follow despite your busy schedule.
Get Creative with Foods Items
Eating a variety of foods is one of the most underrated points that I consider while putting on weight. Get creative with mixing and matching foods that add calories to your current meals. Items like, sauces, yogurt, olive or avocado oil, and nuts are some examples of foods you can add to increase the calorie content.
Try adding other food items, like vanilla ice cream, nuts, dried fruits, seeds, Greek yogurt, or berries to your shakes and smoothies. Smoothies are an easier way to consume a high amount of calories, while being high in nutrition at the same time. It’s time to get creative with your food!
Related: I’ve recently compared Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein Supplements, and it covers everything from each of their benefits to side effects.
Consider Taking High Metabolism Weight Gainer Supplements
While I’ve always focused on the importance of making your own mass gainer shake at home, there’s no denying that if you do have a budget for mass gainers, they certainly help.
Not sure about the right supplements for gaining healthy weight? Let us help you out:
Mass or weight gainers are supplements high in protein and carbohydrates. And they can help you reach your caloric goals. They’re also high in sugars, so balance them with other food choices.
Alternatively, you can invest in a natural testosterone booster that helps repair muscles and gain muscle faster.
Supplements, whether it’s a mass gainer or whey protein, only work if you have a proper nutrition plan in place. First priority is to get most of your calories from high-quality whole foods. When you have gaps in your current diet and need additional calories, then it’s time to incorporate a mass gainer.
The market has a variety of mass gainers available, each with their own pros and cons. Some have more protein per serving, while others offer double the calories. The best way to decide is to match the the nutrition label of different mass gainers against your calorie needs.
Read more about current options for the best mass gainers available: The Best Mass Gainers Around the World.
NOTE: Always consult your doctor before starting any dietary supplement.
Recommended: There are tons of supplements available in the market, but you do not need all of them. Here’s a list of top weight gain supplements that you need to put on weight.
The last, but also the most important for healthy weight gain, is to track calories and progress.
This point applies to nutrition, training, and recovery. Tracking your progress might seem a difficult and tedious task, but when you see results, you’ll be self-motivated towards your fitness routine.
Track types of food, calories, and time. Tracking these details allows you to examine if you’re eating enough to put on weight, and to make changes when you’re not seeing results. Keep your weight gain in check and create the goal to gain mostly muscle mass.
There are a few ways you can track calories. The most popular way is to check the food label for calories. Yet, there are easier ways to do this. I like to calculate the total calories I need each day by using the Daily Calorie Calculator.
Then, list the food items in my grocery or the ones I like and calculate the rough calories in each serving of the food items. Once you have an idea it gets easier and you can continue to include the list of foods that help you meet your calorie requirements!
There are also apps for calculating calories and macronutrients. Also, track workouts to. get an idea of how much you lift to help you focus on progressive overload.
The Progressive Overload Principle means your body grows once it is given an opportunity and has the right fuel to grow. This opportunity will arise only when you force and challenge your body to a tension that it hasn’t experienced before. We’ll discuss more about this in the Training Section below.
Recovery is critical to gaining weight. Your body needs proper rest and recovery. This means taking rest days and getting quality sleep.
Lift Heavy Weights
There’s no way to get bigger and stronger if you keep lifting the same weight throughout the year.
To achieve hypertrophy, the increase and growth of muscle cells, stay in the 8-12 rep range (the fastest way to gain weight).
Our bodies are complex and the most important job is to keep you alive. It adapts to any environment that you put it into. So you’ll need to keep it challenged by lifting more weight over time. Your body adapts and easily performs the same reps on a weight range, even if it’s bodyweight exercises.
Focus on Compound Movements
A compound exercise, as opposed to isolation exercise, is an exercise that involves multiple muscle groups and joints. Compound exercises help you build most of your muscle mass and increase strength.
In general, compound movements maximize your muscle recruitment and stimulus for growth. Some of the best examples of compound movements include exercises such as squats, deadlift, and bench press.
For instance, squats involve quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings, while also requiring your knees, ankle and hip joint to participate in the movement. Deadlift, also known as the king of upper body exercises, involves almost all muscle groups in the posterior side of your body, while also recruiting muscles such as your hamstrings and glutes.
If you’re looking to gain muscle and weight, focus on heavy compound movements and body weight exercises will help you reach this goal faster. The best way is to always start your workout with 2-3 heavy compound lifts, followed by 1-2 isolation exercises to fully engage a specific muscle.
For a complete list of exercises that you should regularly include in your workouts, here’s a complete guide on the best exercises to gain weight.
Related: While you definitely need to eat high quality calorie-dense foods in order you feed your muscles and help you lift more, there are also supplements that can help you with the lifting part. Creatine is one such supplement. Here’s an article on how you can use creatine to gain weight.
Our bodies are designed to protect us and adapt to any given environment. They’ll only grow once they’re given a reason to and they’ll reduce in size if that training load stops
Progressive overload means your body must be challenged with a tension more than it has experienced before. You can do this by increasing the resistance, increasing the volume, increasing the reps, decreasing the rest time between sets, or increasing training frequency.
No matter what your fitness goals are, no matter what stage you’re at, you always need to keep a check on your form.
An improper form will not only limit your gains, but it might also lead to severe injuries which will further delay the whole process.
While starting, always make sure that you’ve researched on the type of exercise you’re going to perform and make sure you know the proper posture for it. A personal trainer can assist with proper form and techniques.
Limit Your Cardio
Cardio exercise burns calories. Heart rate, time, and intensity affect calorie expenditure. Since your goal is to stay in a calorie surplus, you may have to consume more food or keep cardio sessions short. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity (or a combination of both), preferably spread throughout the week. Find types of exercises you enjoy, while meeting your calorie needs to gain weight.
Recommended: Top Exercise to Gain Weight
Rest and Recovery
Get Enough Sleep
You could be working out with extreme intensity and eating well but still not see the results you want if you do not give your body enough time to recover.
When you create-micro tears in your body during workout, these tissues need to be fed and given time to recover and grow back stronger. Once given enough nutrients, the last step is to give them time to recover. This is where getting enough sleep comes into play.
While sleeping, most of the blood supply is available to muscles, helping facilitate recovery and growth.
Your body releases growth hormone during sleep, which are the main hormones that stimulate muscle repair and growth. Compromising on your sleep causes a deficiency in growth hormone, affects energy levels, and motivation. Most individuals need 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night to keep gaining weight.
If you’re feeling symptoms such as insomnia, lack of appetite or chronic fatigue, your body might be going through overtraining. While training with high intensity is definitely something you need to do, you also have to stay away from overtraining.
Not just tiredness and loss of appetite, but overtraining might also make your muscles weaker or smaller due to excessive training and not enough nutrition.
Hence, make sure your workout doesn’t include hours of training and only a small portion of nutrition. An ideal workout would last for 45-60 minutes, and the rest of the day should be devoted towards getting enough rest and proper nutrition.
There are ways to gain weight, but overtraining isn’t one of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Body composition depends on a lot of factors. The difference between our calorie consumption and caloric expenditure over a period of time decides whether we’ll gain, lose or maintain our current weight. Factors like daily activity levels, metabolism, genetics, sports activity involved in, age and hormones play a big role in this.
For example, if our body needs 3000 kcal a day to maintain our current weight and perform body functions, eating a surplus over this number would make you put on weight while consuming a number below this number will lead to weight loss. Generally, a surplus of 300-500 calories is enough to put on healthy weight while minimizing any fat gains, considering that most of your calories come from healthy calorie-dense foods.
Since body composition is the ratio of fat and nonfat mass in the body, a healthy body composition would be the one with a lower percentage of fat and a higher percentage of muscle. This is why when you plan on gaining weight, balance food choices. Try to stick to healthy, calorie-dense foods for the most part of your diet and fulfill the gaps with the foods you like.
The best way to accomplish any fitness goal is to track your calories, maintain progressive overload in the workout and get adequate rest.
Fast weight gain is typically composed of water weight and not muscle mass. Instead, focus on gaining weight over time.
It is hard to figure out how much weight you can gain in a week’s time without reviewing your specific needs, as it depends on a number of factors. Hence, the advice for the easiest way to gain weight is always to start with a 300-500 calorie surplus and then slightly increase the calories until you reach your goals.
The fastest way to gain weight is to eat everything you can, but this would only make you gain more fat rather than muscle. There’s a limit to the amount of muscle you can gain in a particular time, and anything more than that would be unnecessary fat.
For example, the GOMAD plan makes you drink a gallon of milk a day, adding 2400 calories to your daily routine. While this definitely looks enticing and is a fast way to gain weight, the excess calories over your current maintenance levels would only make you put on more weight than muscle. Thus, this method is only for extreme hard-gainers and ectomorphs who only wish to put on weight, not caring about fat or muscle.
Keeping health disorders aside, the only reason you’re not seeing results is that your calorie consumption is not up to the mark. Period!
As in the case of most hard-gainers, eating a big meal in a day does not qualify as a calorie surplus. When you eat a big meal and keep all your other meals small, you’re only consuming enough calories to maintain your current weight.
For example, consider that you need 3500kcal/day in order to gain weight. You eat a 1200 calorie pizza in the afternoon, but as breakfast and dinner you eat the same 700-800 calorie meal. This would only total out to be between 2600-2800, which is less than your required calories.
If you’re looking for an answer on how to gain weight with a high metabolism, start tracking calories and see if you’re consistently maintaining a calorie surplus. Increase the quantity of each meal and then increase the number of meals.
Eating a calorie surplus in every meal will help you constantly stay over your maintenance calorie levels and help you put on weight!
Follow these weight gain tips to start seeing results. To sum up, the only thing to make sure while gaining weight fast is that you stay in a calorie surplus.
At first, you might slightly need to over-feed and force your body a little to eat more, but once you start working out and eating more, your body will start going and adapting to the calorie surplus.
How much fat and muscle you gain depends on the amount of extra calories you consume over a period of time, and if you have a high metabolism, keep experimenting with the extra calories to find the sweet spot where you gain maximum muscle.
At the end of the day, the answer to your question: how to gain weight with a fast metabolism largely depends on what and how much you eat, along with how you train and how much rest you give to your body. Make sure not to stress and make small changes to your diet, thus turning all of it into a healthy lifestyle.
And lastly, don’t forget to tell us all about your weight gain journey through the comment section below!