Most posts you will find on Google focus on people who are searching for ways to lose weight. However, did you know that being skinny also poses serious health problems?
I used to be the skinny guy in college. This meant I was on the pathway of bullies. Every time during college football, I was that guy called upon to carry around dirty towels.
Being skinny had a direct effect on my self-esteem and confidence levels. Women like their men taking the lead. In college, my weight posed serious challenges in the dating scene. It is as if I did not exist.
I found a solid strategy that really turned my weight around. Today, I weigh 195 pounds – a far cry from the 135 pounds in college. The journey has been hard and tedious, but with patience and perseverance I made it and you can too.
Firstly, you know that you are underweight when your body mass index (BMI) goes under 18. Those with over 25 are overweight while BMIs over 30 means you are obese. If you are skinny you not only need to add weight but also some muscles. To do this, you need to exercise. Gaining weight minus exercise leads to obesity.
1. Muscle Mass
It is vital that you keep lean muscle mass if you are going to avoid injuries. To attain this lean muscle you need to combine healthy eating with exercise. Getting a lean muscle does mean you drop body fat levels.
While there is the role of genetics and hormones in building muscle mass, it is your consistency and persistence in the training program that will determine achieved results.
At times people mistake gaining muscle mass with weight loss but the reverse happens. With a good muscle mass, your t-shirts fit you better and it has a direct effect on self-esteem levels. In fact, you will start getting more stares from the ladies.
It is not true that pumping your body with foods and supplements will give you instant results. It will take you several weeks before you achieve the perfect body size. If you gain weight too fast – especially for women – you will start having stretch marks.
You should also not confuse weight gain as a result of water retention and fat. In this regard, we often have a lean bulk – where you increase calorie intake gradually and dirty bulk – consuming large quantities of calories for rapid weight gain.
When it comes to gaining weight and muscle you need to factor in your metabolic rate. Skinny individuals tend to gain more muscle than fat when they increase their calorie intake while those with high body fat continue gaining fat when exposed to more calories.
Proper nutrition is mandatory if you are to gain weight and muscle. Firstly, you need to determine how many calories your body absorbs currently. Then determine how many pounds you want to add and increase your calorie intake. Most people will increase their calorie intake by 5 to 10%.
This equates to 300 to 500 calories per day. Again, this will depend on your metabolic rate, genetics, and fitness program. If your daily calorie intake is 3000 calories then you will need to add 300 calories per day.
You should thereafter see a 0.5 to 1.0 pound of weight gain per week. Evaluate this after 3 to 4 weeks. If the weight gain is too minimal for you then increase again your calorie intake.
A great way of increasing your calorie intake is by using mass gainers.
3. Limit fat intake
Fats have a high amount of calories and contribute significantly to weight gain. A small amount of fat, when compared to carbs and proteins, is capable of supplying more calories. It also has an effect on testosterone levels.
However, it does not make a large contribution to muscle and fuel replenishment. This role is played solely by proteins and to some extent carbs. The problems come in utilizing the excess fat. Unlike the proteins, the fat is stored in the body resulting in weight increase. But, wait a minute. It is not the kind of weight gain you are looking for. What you want is an increase in muscle mass.
Fats fall in various categories. The best fats to include in your workout diet include unsaturated fats, omega 3 from fishy sources, and any plant-based fats. When making a diet plan, aim at getting a daily fat of 20% of the diet.
Increase your protein intake
With proteins, you do the reverse of fats – increase them in your diet. When it comes to muscle and tissue building in the body that role is filled by amino acids – found in proteins. If you want a lean muscle mass then increase your intake.
When you are not getting enough proteins from your diet, the body will breakdown from internal sources like the muscle hence leading to weight loss. Having a rich protein diet also inhibits fat buildup.
The amount of protein that you require will be determined by your hormonal levels, workout regime and if you suffer from any blood loss illnesses. The longer and harder you train the more proteins that you require in your body.
The average person weighs around 140 pounds – meaning they require around 100 to 140 g. But, If you are skinny then you need to start increasing your intake gradually. At 100g you receive enough proteins for muscle maintenance. There are neither excess or insufficient amounts to lead to weight loss.
Most of the people seeking weight and muscle growth will increase their protein intake to 200 and 300g. Protein calories vary with some having a higher content per gram.
In your diet try to alternate between steak, chicken, and seafood. Have some whole milk or yogurt to accompany your meals. In some, instances muscle builders supplement their diet with protein bars or whey protein.
4. Increase your carbs intake
In as much as your desire to build muscle, you also need fuel for the body. Your best source of energy will be the carbs and fat. In this regard, supplement your breakfast with wholemeal oats and some bananas. Carbs also help in muscle recovery – especially after strenuous exercises. Lastly, carbs are vital for insulin stimulation.
You need to be careful with your carbs because excess amounts are stored in the body as fat. In this regard, consume 200 to 500g of carbs. Carbs are also categorized into simple and complex ones.
Try to avoid simple carbs as they have large amounts of sugar. While these are easily absorbed into the body, any excess is stored as fat. Also, limit your intake of soft drinks as they are filled with artificial sugars.
If you want a diet with high-quality carbs, go for the complex ones. In this category, you will find whole grains, vegetables rich in fiber, or certain digestive biscuits. The complex carbs take time to be absorbed in the body – has the benefit of making you feel fuller hence consuming fewer carbs.
5. Time your diet
Your desire to put on some weight and increase your muscle mass does not mean that you should be constantly eating. Carbs provide you with energy and you should take most of them just before a workout. In this regard, you can regulate your intake by increasing it when know you have strenuous work to do and reducing it when you have less training.
Most people consume three meals a day. However, if you are skinny and want to increase your body mass, schedule to have five meals per day. This will mean having breakfast at around 7 am, followed by a snack/shake at 11.pm then lunch at 1.pm. At 4 pm or 5 pm you can have another light meal then finish off with supper at 7 pm. This schedule is not cast in stone and you can always adjust it to fit your schedule or training program.
As stated earlier, you need to consume enough proteins to build muscle mass. If you are taking less than the recommended ratios, then your body will convert the existing fat in the body and convert it into energy. To ensure that you gain weight, you need to time your meals to be before a workout. This gives your body sufficient resources to power your body.
You should take a complete meal two to three hours before your workout. The meal will contain a protein like meat or fish accompanied by some complex carbs like potatoes, whole grain, or pasta. These meal takes time to be absorbed into the body and gives you more energy over a longer period of time. 30 minutes before the workout, it is okay to take some simple carbs like sports drinks or juice.
6. Post-workout meals
After a workout, it is normal to feel exhausted. Your body has utilized the available energy in the body. You need a post-workout meal to replenish lost energy, help in muscle regeneration and help in healing the body.
It is also equally important that you get enough rest after a workout. Your muscles have been under a lot of strain and to repair them you need adequate sleep. You should also listen to your body’s response to your new diet and workouts.
You should pause the exercises if you start experiencing extended pain. It could mean you have destroyed a ligament or pulled a muscle that needs to be treated before you continue with your workout.
7. Adding supplements to your diet
This is one of the most asked questions by people trying out a workout program. Note that supplements should not replace a well-balanced diet. They are there if you are not getting sufficient nutrients from your meals.
The biggest problem with supplements is that they are largely unregulated. This means you may find some potentially harmful ingredients in some of them.
Most of the supplement manufacturers overestimate what their products can do. If you are to go with supplements, find those that come from reputable manufacturers and have many positive reviews.
You should take supplements before a workout. When searching for supplements find those that have creatine, beta-alanine, l-arginine, and caffeine.
The workout plan that you choose will depend on your body structure and your desired results. You can start out with simple workout plans like pushups and squats then move on to strenuous ones like dead-lifts.
This will give you more muscle with increased weight gain.
What is the ideal weight you should aim for?
You can use a quick estimate by subtracting 100 from your height in centimeters. So, if you have a height of 165 then you should target weight of 65kg. For the maximum weight add another 15 kg on your ideal weight (80kg). You can then watch what you eat and your workouts while aiming at reaching these weight goals.
Being skinny is not a curse. It is frustrating having to be ignored but you can engage in diet enhancing programs and workouts to reach your ideal weight. The reason people do not realize their goals is because they give up along the way.
Gaining weight and muscle requires dedication and patience. It is not a program you try out today and expect instant results. Some people in search of fast results have resulted in using anabolic steroids that are laden with toxic ingredients. This has led to them experiencing tumors, high blood pressure, and kidney problems.
The journey to gain weight and muscle mass is a long one but it is worth the effort. Firstly, start by identifying your target weight. This will be your guideline when coming up with a meal and workout plan.
Next, identify foods that will help you realize your goals. Ensure you have a high concentration of proteins as they act as the muscles building blocks. Shakes are a great way to have all those crucial ingredients absorbed in the body. A meal plan with no exercise leads to obesity.
Find a workout plan that lets you gain both weight and muscle. This will mean avoiding strenuous cardio exercises. Pull-ups, squats, are great for beginners. You can then move to more heavy lifting as your body adjusts.