While many people hope to lose weight, there are some whose goals are to gain weight. For those individuals, it is important to remember that the program should be based on quality foods, proper quantities, and diligence. Be realistic. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It is unrealistic to lose or gain 20 lbs in two weeks, at least not in a healthy manner. Consistence will pay off big in weight gain of lean muscle.
Things You'll Need
- Food journal
- Bodyweight scales
Ready, set, gain
Set a goal and a timeline. As with any health and fitness program, you must first decide the goal you hope to reach. For weight gain as for weight loss, your goal needs to be realistic. After you determine your goal, set a timeline of when you hope to accomplished the goal. This means that you should use a calendar and circle the date. Having the visual date on the calendar will help you stick with the program and gain the weight that you plan to gain.
Determine your daily caloric needs. To be able to design a program, you must know what you body needs. There are many formulas to determine caloric needs. The Harris-Benedict Formula is as follows: Women: 655+(4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years). Men: 66+(6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) –(6.8 x age in years). This will determine your basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories that your body burns at rest in 24 hours (See reference 2).
Determine the calories needed to compensate for your activity level. Using the formula above, you can calculate your total caloric needs. For sedentary individuals, use BMR x 1.2. Moderately active individuals, meaning you exercise 3-5 times per week, multiply BMR x 1.55. Very Physically active individuals multiply BMR x 1.725 (See reference 3).
Choose the proper fuel for your body. This program should consist of lean proteins, lots of healthy vegetables, fruits, and complex carbohydrate sources such as bread, pasta and cereal. The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. Your body weight in kilograms can be found by multiplying body weight x0.6. Excessive protein intake is not required for gaining lean muscle mass. Be sure to include protein in each meal. You should aim to eat 4-6 times per day with a meal every 2-3 hours (See reference 4).
Portion Control: How much is too much? If you do not have a scale or measuring cup handy, it is fine to “eye” portions to ensure that it is adequate to meet your needs. For example, most people choose meat as their primary protein source. Three ounces of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards. Likewise, one cup of cereal or a baked potato should be the size of your fist, ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta should be the size of ½ a baseball, and fresh fruit should be the size of a baseball (See reference 1).
Do the math-If you wish to gain one pound per week, you would need to increase your caloric intake by approximately 500 calories above your basal metabolic rate (BMR) plus activity calories that you calculated from step 4. For example if your calculation was 2640, you would add 500 calories and would attempt to intake 3140 calories per day. Weight gain of 1-2 pounds, or weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week maximum is recommended for best results (See reference 4).