Who would want to gain weight? Given the constant dialogue of weight loss and calorie deficits in the fitness industry, you might forget there are plenty of people who do!
Reasons to gain some additional weight might include health benefits, building muscle mass, increasing performance or from an aesthetics point of view. Though it may come easily to some, gaining weight can be almost as challenging for others. Tracking, timing, portions and the types of food you’re eating are all huge factors that need to be considered to achieve the best results. So how do we do it right?
Before you begin, it's important to have a good grasp on macronutrients: what they are, how they influence weight and energy, and which foods are comprised of which macronutrient. Check out our article More Than Macros which covers all this.
Once you have that down pat, start by tracking your calories (and macros). This will allow you to gauge how many calories you need to consume to maintain a normal weight, and then from there, you can increase that number to tip it into a surplus (more energy than your body needs). Aim to be in a daily calorie surplus of 500 when in a gaining stage.
It is important to be prepared to be eating more than you’re used to, and that this might feel uncomfortable while your body adjusts. If you’re struggling to fit in extra food at your usual meal times, try adding an extra meal (or two) throughout the day. If it's hard to get an extra traditional meal in, try True's All-In-One as a convenient way to get an a full serve of carbs, fats and protein.
When to Eat
Make sure you spread your meals evenly across the day, and be conscious of when you’re consuming water. Never skip breakfast, and don’t go more than 2 hours without eating something.
Eating frequently will mean you don’t have to cram large calorie numbers into one sitting, allowing for you to enjoy your meals and the increased calories in your diet, instead of seeing them as a difficult chore. If you want to have the best chance of finishing your meals, don’t consume large amounts of water prior to eating.
Our best tip is to get a final meal in right before bed as this time overnight is valuable. Try True Night85 (casein) protein, a slow releasing protein powder that will enable your body to receive the nutrients it needs throughout the night. If protein shakes aren't your thing, a dessert option like Mousse or Mug Cake can be a delicious way to get some extra calories in.
What to Eat
When you entering a weight-gain stage, you might see this is a 'hall pass' to binge on takeaway and junk foods. But don't be fooled! Weight gain does not mean it's wise to eat rubbish all day every day.
Now is the time to simply eat more of the good stuff, and perhaps indulge on those nutrient dense foods that we usually moderate consumption of - think healthy fats like peanut butter and avocado. Adding an extra pasta or rice-based meal are great alternatives to keep your body fuelled and growing, whilst not being bogged down by unhealthy sugars and additives.
Additionally, be sure to keep your protein intake up to build those muscles. For a complete guide to how much protein you need to aim for each day, click here. The goal should be to gain lean muscle at a sustainable rate, rather than to go through unhealthy bulking periods.
A common mistake when training to gain size is to overtrain. You don’t have to spend your life in the gym to make progress with lean muscle development. Rather than training for four or five two-hour sessions a week, keep your workouts shorter (45mins -1 hour) and pick up the intensity. Ensure you’re pushing yourself in the gym, utilising progressive overload and working till failure for each set.
When it comes to training and gaining size, consistency is key. Don’t over-commit and then miss sessions. You’re much better off committing to a reasonable target and sticking to it, that way you’ll not only be more motivated, you’ll also see much better results.
Sleep is often overlooked but is one of the key ingredients to gaining lean muscle. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep per night to ensure your body has enough time to repair and grow.
There’s no point putting in the hard work if you’re not going to give your body time to process it. If you’re having trouble sleeping or are finding your muscles extra achy, try taking magnesium before bed. True ZMA is a great pre-bed magnesium supplement that’ll assist you in getting a quality night’s sleep.
There’s no perfect formula to gaining lean muscle size. Change doesn't happen overnight so it's extremely important to stay consistent and stick to the principles above and you will see results. Train smart, eat clean, and sleep well!