If you are an ectomorph who doesn’t know how to increase appetite and gain weight, you know that it isn’t going to be an easy journey. But does that mean you are doomed to ‘pipe-cleaner’ limbs and minimal mass forever? Definitely not.
But how are you supposed to gain mass if you have a poor appetite and no matter what you eat, a meal makes you full for the day while the idea of three whole meals a day still haunts you?
Since your poor appetite is half the impediment when it comes to gaining weight- with a naturally taller build, revved up metabolism and slightly weak digestive system, adding even a mere 10 lbs of additional muscle can be difficult for you.
So what do you do now? Well that’s what I will be digging into further in the article.
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
In all brevity, you must focus on your nutrition front, valuing caloric surplus and taking measures to increase your appetite.
Digging a little deeper in the nutritional segment and loading on carbs and protein that are usually high in calories will help you nail down some major health goals. This in turn will help you bridge the calories that you tend to lose faster than any mesomorph or endomorph.
Now, that you have understood what exactly you need to do on your nutritional front in order to gain weight, let’s begin with how you can increase your appetite and increase your daily caloric intake to bulk up faster and for real!
How To Increase Your Appetite?
Targeting weight gain is never possible without a proper appetite and a healthy diet plan.
Hence, in order to increase appetite, you need to make sure that you’re eating lighter meals more often, focus on calorie dense foods, and follow some of the steps mentioned below.
Recommended: As a hard-gainer, here’s a complete guide on How to Gain Weight with a Fast Metabolism, that contains everything you need to put on some weight and muscle!
Here, I will discuss the simplistic methods grounded in research to effectively build up your appetite over time and finally be able to get those coveted muscles and buff up through caloric surplus.
Here are 12 simple but effective ways on how to increase appetite and gain weight:
1. Stock Up on your Favorite Foods
This is your first step to increasing and overcoming a poor appetite. I don’t think I will have to explain the logic behind this since everyone loves munching on their favorite foods rather than some dish that they rather find unappealing, yet are compelled to eat.
Recommended: Here’s a complete list of Foods to Help you Gain Weight.
If you have the power to choose what you want to eat, you tend to eat more- that’s simply how the brain works.
What can you do?
There are some foods that naturally make you hungrier, the first being cheese. Now, this fact is backed by a research that suggests that we are programmed to have an opioid response to casein that makes dairy foods and especially cheese more appealing.
The other thing that you can try is fruit juices that aren’t just super healthy with so much antioxidants and vitamins but pack good calories too.
If you are an ectomorph, however incline towards sugary products, muffins, granola bars and sugary cereals can be a great way to increase your appetite. (However, these may lead to more fat gain instead of muscle!)
2. Eat Small, Frequent Meals and Snacks
Looking for the best ways to increase appetite? Just eating small healthy meals or snacks every 2-3 hours, sometimes less can be a great way to increase your appetite.
The science behind this is simple- when you have 2-3 large meals to consume in a day, it can be challenging to eat the whole of each meal without feeling too full.
Breaking down each meal into small snacks or smaller meals in a way that now you have about 6-7 frequent meals a day can be a great way to incorporate constant calories.
However, you should understand that the idea here is to gain weight through an increased appetite not burn it off. Eating small meals increases metabolism which burns off calories faster and more efficiently, whereas you are supposed to be in a caloric surplus.
Thus, you should always incorporate high calories in your meals every time you are eating.
How do you get those calories in small meals?
For example, if you are planning to snack on apples for your next meal, spread some peanut butter over them. Similarly, add avocados and a heavy olive oil dressing to your salad (make sure the salad isn’t too fibrous) to give a calorie punch to your diet.
3. Incorporate More Calories in Lighter Meals
If you can’t eat too much at once, don’t! Instead, the best way to stimulate appetite is to add more calories to what you eat. How? Well you can always eat light meals that are high in calories.
These calories can come from anything ranging from healthy fats like butter, olive oil to nuts and whole milk.
To ensure that you’re eating enough, you can trick your meals into caloric surplus diets with simple additions of healthy calories from healthy fats, and snacks.
Here are some ways you can incorporate more calories in your diet:
To start with it, you can cook your oatmeal (important for weight gain) with whole milk and add some nuts to it.
You can also add high-calorie butter to your toast and cook your eggs in olive oil or butter to incorporate more calories in those frequent meals/snacks you are supposed to be taking at least 6 times a day.
What does this do?
These simple additions can greatly increase your calorie intake without forcing you to opt for unhealthy junk in order to meet your calorie requirements.
4. Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
If you are a hard-gainer or just somebody with a poor appetite, you supposedly love binging on chips, ice cream and everything that’s ‘empty-nutrition’.
Do you see where I’m getting? The problem lies in your eating programs and this in turn seriously affects weight gain.
Most people think high calorie food is equivalent to high nutrition food. NO! Junk and so many high calorie foods are bad for your health and show a reversing effect on weight gain since they have very low nutritional values.
What’s the trick?
The trick to incorporating high calories with nutrient dense foods is to consume a meal that’s high in protein and healthy fats. This wouldn’t just fuel your daily caloric surplus requirements but also serve you loads of nutrition.
I’d suggest stacking your refrigerator with Greek yogurt or any flavoured yogurt if you are inclined towards sugary and dairy products.
Why yogurt? Yogurt can be a great replacement to ice creams and other low nutrient snacks and you can always add some berries to plain yogurt to make it interesting and healthier.
5. Make your Mealtime Crafty and Enjoyable
Eating alone is usually monotonous while cooking and eating with your friends or family is proven to stimulate appetite- this practice has proven to increase an individual’s appetite by about 18%.
What else can you do?
If you lead a busy life or live alone you can always watch TV or listen to your favorite songs while eating to make the meal enjoyable- this significantly increases your appetite by about 14%. A little self date with a bit of candle lighting once every week in order to make your mealtime crafty isn’t a bad idea either.
While you are at it, you should know that an interesting looking meal can easily provoke your appetite, too.
What can you do?
The best way to make a meal more compelling is by adding a condiment or herbs and spices.
Certain spices and herbs reduce the feeling of bloating and gastric discomfort thus delaying the feeling of fullness while condiments like oregano can bring out the taste and flavor in your food.
Addition of herbs and not-too-hot spices in your meal doesn’t just make it enjoyable but also bolsters the digestion process.
6. Manipulate your Brain into Eating
Generally, before the stomach, it’s the brain that says ‘No, I can’t handle more food!’ and eating small portions of the food can trick your brain into believing that you didn’t eat enough, thus stimulating your appetite allowing you to eat your next meal sooner.
Having big portions of meal before you can be quite discouraging, therefore break it up into smaller portions so that you do not have to feel full at one go.
Create a meal diary:
Create a meal schedule and follow it accordingly in order to track your meal count and increase appetite effectively. Having a meal diary can also help you analyze your calorie intake therefore letting you make changes for good if the need be.
7. Always Eat your Breakfast
The mantra to healthy and proper weight gain through an improved appetite is never missing a breakfast. Breakfast is a crucial part of your daily diet and no matter how busy a life you lead, if you want to go from skinny to bulked up breakfasts are a must.
Why shouldn’t you miss breakfasts?
It is evidently found that skipping breakfast reduces your appetite and makes you eat less (either lunch, snacks or dinner) and you definitely don’t want that.
8. Cut Down on Fibers
High fiber foods like beans, especially lentils can make you feel too full too soon which is why when you are following a weight loss regime, you’re advised to increase your fiber intake. But, we don’t want that here, so, go for cheap high calorie foods that aren’t too fibrous.
Do not completely eliminate fiber from your diet for this can lead to bowel problems and so much more, however, incorporate small amounts of fiber in 3 to 4 meals and skip it in the others. This way you will have a balanced diet with just enough fiber to keep the bodily functions going.
What to do?
You can add beans to your breakfast and skip any high fibre food for the rest of your day or maybe add strawberry to the plain yogurt for 2 to 3 meals in order to make up for the fibre you need.
Strawberries other than being highly fibrous, are loaded with antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory properties so if you already loved strawberries, congrats, you now have even better reasons to incorporate them in your diet.
9. Drink more Liquid Meals
Do you feel it’s too tough to eat your calories in the form of about 6-7 meals but you have to increase your appetite anyway?
Well, here’s the solution:
Drink your calories. Drinking your calories or incorporating more liquid meals in your daily diet can be a smart and easier way to increase your calorie intake.
In case you are looking to gain weight, smoothies, fruit juices and all sorts of milkshakes (unless you are lactose intolerant) can be great for weight gain if the smoothies and juices are loaded with high protein additions (can be nuts, chia seeds, etc).
Bitter tonics are your BFFs!
Bitter juices such as centaury are proven to increase appetite since spicy or bitter food stimulate hunger. Other bitter juices that you can try for a healthy weight gain are gentian and blessed thistle- herb preparations in the form of tonics to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes to give you the real hunger pangs.
10. Start with a Physical Activity/ Exercise
As a kid, when I joined swimming classes, I was able to eat at least 25% more than my regular meal post my class and still be hungry. My point? Well, appetite and exercise are closely linked so if you are starting to go to the gym or picking your chosen physical activity, you are sure to feel the boost in your appetite.
If you’ve started with your regime to increase weight, you’ve already laid the foundation to increasing your appetite and if you haven’t yet- what are you waiting for?
What’s in it for you?
Exercising more allows you to not only burn more calories but also replenish about 30% of their burnt calories through increased appetite and increased food intake.
Physical activity, in short, increases metabolism, which increases the calorific burn eventually leading to stimulation of hunger and improvement of appetite over time. How to gain appetite? Start exercising!
11. Take More Vitamins and Minerals
Certain vitamins and minerals can increase your appetite and all you have to do is choose nutrient-dense foods that have loads of these.
The most prominent appetite-stimulating vitamin is B-1, also known as thiamine, however, if you’re taking it as a supplement make sure you are above 18 and do not have medications that the vitamin may interact with.
Minerals like zinc and calcium if deficient in the body can lead to reduced hunger and changes in the metabolic rate, therefore, eat fruits and veggies that have enough of these minerals.
Furthermore, healthy fatty acids like omega-3 are efficient appetite boosters too, either sourced from marine animals or plants.
12. Eat your Meal/Snack Fast
I had been a picky eater for almost the whole of my childhood days and whenever I was served something I didn’t like, I ate it fast. When I ate fast, I realized I ate more than what I ate the other times. When you’re eating your food, the more time you spend looking at it, the more your appetite decreases.
How does this work?
When you eat slowly, you entice the release of hormones in the gut that induce the feeling of being full before you’ve finished even half your meal- eating fast curtails the release of these hormones.
Fast eaters are proven to eat more than what their body generally needs which ultimately translates to utilizing the diet to be in a calorie surplus.
In a study, it was found that 60% of children who ate their meals faster tended to have more weight than the others, thus, eating fast can help you efficiently gain weight.
Nutrition and Weight Gain
Keeping your body in a calorie surplus is extremely crucial and the essential facet to gaining weight and muscles. But before we get to how calorie surplus is important for weight gain, let’s understand what the term means.
What is calorie/ caloric surplus?
A caloric surplus is a state in which you are supposed to be eating more than what you will be burning through daily chores and exercise in order to get leaner.
If you are eating just enough calories, you aren’t going to gain any weight, since, after working out, your body will still be in a calorie deficit. When you are in a calorie surplus, your body will still have enough calories to build new muscle tissues after working out which will help you gain weight.
Why is caloric surplus important to gain weight?
The caloric surplus in my opinion is the best and the most efficient way to gain weight both for men and women.
Now that you know what caloric surplus is, you have probably gotten a little idea as to how it works. But let me elucidate and break the steps for a better understanding of the simple formula that works wonders in weight gain.
- Caloric surplus helps you store more energy that will later be required by your body to build new muscle tissues. The muscle tissues are much denser than fat but take up 18% less space, therefore aiding in weight gain.
- A caloric surplus diet helps you work out more efficiently since you won’t be extracting the last bit of your daily caloric maintenance in order to get leaner. This also helps you gain weight by preventing you from staying in a deficit which can negatively impact weight gain.
- Caloric surplus helps you get leaner working in coordination with high protein intake. However, make sure that you track the caloric surplus since the more of it will only lead to an increase in body fat composition which affects the goals of gaining muscles and isn’t ideal when you want to achieve an athletic build.
How much caloric surplus to be in?
Tracking your calories is important to stay in a healthy caloric surplus state since consuming more calories than what your body needs to build and maintain muscles will only increase fat buildup in your body.
The formula is simple: Whatever your caloric intake, add 20% extra calories to your daily diet and you’ll easily have enough calories to start gaining weight.
Foods to Eat When You Don’t Have an Appetite: 5 Healthiest Foods
I’ve listed some of the healthiest foods that can help you stay in a caloric surplus and gain weight all while you are still adapting to increasing your appetite.
All of these five foods are vegan so you can incorporate them into your diet without having to worry about finding vegan alternatives that are equally caloric-dense.
- Rice: Rice is one of the most cost-efficient carb sources that can effectively solve your question of how to build an appetite. It isn’t just high in calories but fairly carb-dense with 44 grams of carbs and 204 calories, making it an appetite booster.
- Nut Butters: Nut butters are a great choice to put on healthy weight and they pack a great punch of calories. These aren’t just caloric-dense but incredibly tasty other than being highly palatable. You can add these to a variety of your snacks such as yoghurt, fruits, crackers and also smoothies.
- Whole Grain meals: Whole grain meals are a supreme source of carb with high calories. When talking of whole grains, you have a number of options to select from as to what food you should probably be sourcing your meal from.
Whole-grain bread, in my opinion, are the best foods in order to cook meals- you always have the luxury to balance your high carb meal with some protein with the addition of eggs, cheese and red meat.
- Avocados: One large avocado provides 29 grams of good fat and about 320 calories helping you stay in a caloric surplus without any difficulties. You can add these in your salads, soups, wraps, fries, sandwiches (of whole-grain bread), or as toppings.
- Smoothies: What better way to stay in a caloric surplus than to sip on your favorite smoothies, right? Smoothies are great appetite booster to not just increase your caloric intake but also improve your appetite (if you love bingeing on sugar).
I’d suggest you consume homemade smoothies since they are healthier, have much more nutrients and you have full control over the flavor and what nutrients to add.
It is completely understandable if you have a poor appetite and eating six to seven portions a day seems hard.
Apart from nutrition, improving your appetite and gaining weight also greatly depends on living a good quality life with minimal stress.
Once you start trying to feel optimistic about overcoming your ectomorph build and get an answer to how to increase appetite, the mentioned steps to stimulate your appetite and an effective training program will help you get closer to your potential best physique.
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Swati is a Content Writer and Blogger based in India, who is fervently passionate about nutrition, and supplements – anything that sounds synonymous with fitness and health. She has been certified for completion of online courses in Nutrition, Essentials of Sports Nutrition, and Bodybuilding Supplements. Apart from online courses, she is constantly looking to absorb factually correct information on health and fitness, personalizing workout and diet routines for herself and people in her circle, who wish to adopt a better lifestyle.
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