What if you are someone that struggles to gain weight – like the person that googled “How to gain weight”
There are some simple calculations you can do to help you get this right without over eating but first it is worth understanding a little more about how we get to that number first.
Harris Benedict Method
There is a calculation called “The Harris Benedict method” which is designed to calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This just means how many calories (unit of measure) does your body need to operate before you add in exercise. This is for, heating, breathing, heart beat, blinking, digesting) you get the idea. Once you have this number you then add on top your activity level and this is generalised 4 categories and assumes that if you are being honest you will need a few more calories above the BMR.
What type of weight?
I think it’s important to establish what we mean by ‘weight’. There is little point in gaining anything other than muscle unless you happen to be a sumo wrestler who needs more fat than most for that particular sport. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. That means it requires more energy to operate. Think of a car at ‘idle’ a little Toyota Corolla (less muscle) is going to use far less fuel that the Holden V8 (more muscle) while sitting idle with the engine running as it is when driving. Therefore if we have more muscle on our bodies we are going to burn more calories like the V8 to move and do our daily activities including exercise.
How to gain weight…
There needs to be an energy surplus for the body to be able to convert this into additional body weight. If you are eating the calories for your BMR and activity levels only you are really only at ‘break even’ and will simply stay the same weight. When you add a surplus you will then provide the fuel to increase your muscle mass and hence your body weight. Therefore this additional surplus needs to come from not only carbohydrate as fuel but also protein which provides the structure in our bodies. In addition – a person wanting to gain healthy weight needs to combine the activities that are going to encourage muscle gain as opposed to simple fat gain which is not much use to the body and requires very little fuel as by definition it is fuel – just stored fuel.
If we just look at the calories a safe amount to be increasing your intake by could be 250 calories per day. These would need to have both protein (animal or plant) and healthy source of carbs (think quinoa, greens, berries) in there plus some good quality fats (think avocado, nuts, seeds) to round out and balance the additional calories. Just so you don’t over do the protein the recommended amount based on your body weight is: 0.8-1.4g per kg of body weight per day. Athletes can be getting through as much as 3g/kg/BW/day. As they are constantly pushing their bodies and in need of the repairing capabilities that protein offers to their body’s. If you take the healthier upper limit of 1.4g x your body weight, let’s say you are a 60kg woman that would mean you need 84g or protein per day. If you consider a traditional Caesar salad will have about 30g of protein in it you’ll see you will need some more protein in your break fast and your dinner to get to the target of 84g.
How do I know?
Track it for a week. I recommend MyFitnessPal it does a lot of the work for you descried above. Whether you are looking to lose or gain you need to be in control of the number so you know what it ‘feels’ like and can get into a bit of a rhythm of: how much and what kind of foods will get you to your numbers. Check your weight when you start and as time goes on recheck it to see how you are progressing.
Challenge your muscles with routines that will mean they need to grow to compensate for the stress you have placed on them and the additional fuel you give them will enable them to grow.
Hey presto you have gained weight….!!!