Tired of being too skinny?
In today’s world of unhealthy foods we usually are accustomed to having to find ways to cut down and lose weight to maintain a healthy body. But some people have the opposite problem – being too skinny or underweight, which can also be equally dangerous for your health.
Being underweight can lead to issues relating to self esteem, cardiovascular issues, or immune system suppression. So what can you do about it? The solution is to gain some weight!
Gaining muscle mass – Self-esteem and health of young males
Many young males in the bodybuilding or weightlifting field are particularly interested in gaining weight, primarily for aesthetic reasons. And while there is nothing wrong with this (so long as one does not become narcissistically self-absorbed!), some people incur serious damage to their health by attempting to gain weight with improper methods or techniques. These can include:
- eating too many calories too quickly
- eating the wrong types of calories (fats)
- taking too much dairy a la GOMAD diet
People want results fast and this instant gratification mindset can be detrimental for overall health and even aesthetic goals. So let’s take a look at some of the proven ways one can gain weight and muscle mass that is both wholesome, safe, and healthy:
Methods of weight gain
1. Healthy eating, calorie counting, good macros!
If you want to do things the natural way, then you will have to learn to eat right, count your calories and make sure you have good macros. Let’s break these down one by one.
Here we are talking about getting good nutrition – lots of vegetables, whole grains, good sources of protein (i.e nuts, chicken, tofu – less red meat). It also means cutting out all the junk food . This includes:
- refined sugar
- unhealthy fats (trans, animal, saturated)
- refined grains (white rice, white bread, white pasta!)
To gain weight, you need to consume more calories. The number of calories you need to maintain your current weight is called your TDEE, and it can be calculated over here. For moderate weight gain, we suggest eating 10 – 20% extra calories compared to your TDEE. This will ensure you don’t gain too much bad weight rapidly.
To keep track of your daily calories, I highly recommend using the MyfitnessPal app. This little app has a huge database of information regarding the amount of calories in various foods. This makes it easy to track how many calories you have consumed. The app also displays your macro nutrient breakdown, which brings us to our next point:
Macronutrients talk about how you divide your calories into the 3 main sources : protein, carbohydrates, and fats. We need all three to have a healthy body, but optimal health depends on the breakdown percentages.
Typically when you are trying to gain muscle, you want to have a macro breakdown that is high in carbs and protein with lower amounts of fat. Once again, the MyfitnessPal app automatically calculates this breakdown for you. How convenient!
2. Supplementation with Mass gainers / Weight gainers
The second way that you can safely gain mass / weight is to use supplements. There exists a large number of powder shakes that you can purchase which are designed to allow you to gain muscle mass or general weight/mass. The advantage to using a supplement shake is that it makes it very easy to consume extra calories (via liquid). Many people have trouble gaining weight from eating food alone because their appetites are just not as big as their goals. A liquid gainer shake can easily add 400 -1200 calories to your daily consumption!
There are many supplement products in the market and it can be hard to know what is the best mass gainer for you. In my research I came across a great blog, bodybuilderscience.com, which uses peer-reviewed scientific articles to make the best supplement (protein, best pre workout supplement, creatine, etc) recommendations for your health, fitness, and aesthetics goals.
They have a great article that reviews the best mass gainers / weight gainers, which you can read by following the link. Most of these supplements can be bought online on amazon for very reasonable prices. The good thing about mass gaining powders is that you don’t have to take them forever, only when you are looking to gain weight. Once you reach your desired goal you can reduce your calories to a more normal level. Here are some of the most highly recommended gainer supplements:
- ON Serious Mass (massive calorie dosage!)
- ON Pro Gainer Complex (very well balanced, but pricey)
- Dymatize (Super Mass Gainer – Cheap and decent flavor)
- Universal Gains
In general here is what I have to say about these supplements:
Choose a quality product
Supplements come in varying qualities. Make sure you get something that has a good mix of protein, not just a whole pile of carbs, sugar or maltodextrin. Some of these gainer products (like ON Serious Mass) can have high levels of saturated fat or cholesterol, depending on whether you decide to take the full dose or not. Check to see what sort of macronutrient breakdown
Don’t Over Do it
We know you want your results RIGHT NOW, but be patient. Don’t overuse your gainer powder otherwise you will end up gaining a lot of unwanted fat and potentially mess up your insulin sensitivity!
Being skinny can suck, both health and self-esteem wise. If you are looking to lose the skinny malnourished, small look, then try eating more or try to add some supplementation to your daily nutrition. Be careful when choosing / using a mass gainer supplement, as not all are made equally. Choose quality and don’t overuse it, the gains will come if you are patient and consistent! Whether you choose food or supplements, make sure you go to the gym regularly to stimulate your muscles. Get a good hypertrophy program going and lift hard!