Today almost every nutrition book out there is either weight loss or a detox. So where do you turn if you want to gain weight?
For years I wanted to gain weight, as I have always been skinny. And even once I started working out, I maybe gained 1.5lbs... not much. Consequently, I figured that weight gain for me was impossible.
Then I found the website www.bonytobeastly.com, and my mind was changed. There are skinny guys there who put on up to 30 lbs!
So what are the keys to weight gain for us lean people?
1. LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS, 2 to 3 times a week. Focusing especially on exercises that use the back, like dead-lifts. So you're not just using a machine and working a single isolated muscle - you're using weights instead in a way that works a LOT of your body at once, especially the major muscle groups, like your quads (thighs), and glutes (your butt), and your shoulders, back and chest.
2. EAT LOTS OF REAL FOOD. You won't gain weight on junk. You need to eat LOTS of REAL FOOD. Do protein shakes and substantial meals, with lots of veggies, protein and fat.
I've written about protein shakes already in other blogs: they are good for gaining muscle and for burning fat. Consider roasting yams 4 at a time, then eating a 1/2 or a whole one with butter at a meal. Make your main cooking fat coconut oil. and for salads use olive oil. Definitely don't skimp on protein. Eat eggs, egg whites, grass fed steak or pork, quality fish and poultry. Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese and organic tofu are good too. And don't skimp on the veggies: focus on dark leafy greens, colourful veggies, and sulfur containing veggies like onions, broccoli and cauliflower. You should be eating TONS of veggies, LOTS of protein, and enough quality fat.
3. REST. Rest is when your body is actually building muscle, healing and rebuilding, so adequate rest is essential. Some people actually over-train, and find that when they rest more, their weight gain increases.
And from studies on sleep, we know that it's not about the amount of sleep you get, but the quality of your sleep. You want to get 6 to 7 hours of quality sleep a night, where you wake up feeling refreshed. A lot of that comes down to how you live during the day: if you eat food that makes your body inflamed (refined flour and sugar, for ex), you probably won't sleep as well. If your day is very stressful, again you might not sleep as well.
If you find that you aren't waking up feeling refreshed, are always tired, or you go to the gym but you don't have full energy to work-out, then consider working out less or improving the quality of your nutrition.
4. REDUCE STRESS. Chronic anxiety or stress can also impair your bodies' ability to gain weight. Chronic stress or chronic anxiety is very hard on our bodies. When under stress, your body floods with cortisol and your digestion is slowed as you go into fight or flight mode. You really want to be in rest and digest mode, and two good ways to trigger that is with yin yoga or meditation practice.
So while I'm no expert on weight gain, I am very knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition and creating health. My advice is always to listen to your body, above all else. If you already aren't sleeping well, or have colds a lot, or are often tired already, then consider taking some time to upgrade your diet or your life or your sleep before taking on an intense weight training program. Listen to your body.
You might find that a work-out in the gym improves your appetite and your sleep, and gives you more energy too. But if you try 3x a week in the gym, and find that you are now feeling constantly tired, then please consider backing off, and tweaking your diet, your life, or your sleep, before you push yourself any harder - or you might just push yourself into being sick, or an injury, or something even worse. The body can only take so much stress before it breaks down, and working out is definitely a stressor.
Also worth looking at is: Why do you want to gain weight, anyway? Clarity is power, in any area of our life.
And worth noting also is that for some people, they don't really want to be bigger, what they really want is to *feel* better, to feel calmer, to have more energy, or to be more attractive to the opposite sex. And they might find all of that without ever going to the gym. Their best next step might be more to find a job that suits them better, to learn to cook better food at home, or to get more involved. Joy matters, as does living a life that feels good to you and that fits who you are.
And if all you're really looking for is to feel better, calmer and to exercise for basic health maintenance, then twice a week in the gym might be enough, or a yoga class several times a week.
How to Make a Protein Shake
How I Workout: The Power of 10 aka Superslow
Surprising Keys to Better Sleep
www.bonytobeastly.com - for guys
www.bonytobombshell.com - for gals