You have probably come across people who eat all the junk food they want but can’t seem to gain any weight or others who watch their diet yet find it difficult to lose weight. Here’s when metabolism comes into the picture. If you’re curious about the ways in which fast or slow metabolism can impact your weight or want to find out how to gain weight with a fast metabolism, stick with this read.
If you have never struggled with weight gain, you might think that it is as easy as eating well and waiting for the results. It might be the case for some people, but for many others, weight gain is determined by several factors that go beyond metabolism, diet, and even exercise. Let’s dive into all the whys and hows!
What Is Metabolism?
Metabolism or the metabolic rate is the series of chemical reactions in a living thing that create and break down the energy necessary for life. In other words, it is the rate at which the body expends energy or burns calories. The body can burn calories in several ways:
- The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the body’s energy that is expanded at rest. To some extent, the BMR is a product of the genes you inherit (3).
- By doing exercise.
- Through daily activities.
Since it is partly genetic, metabolism is often outside a person’s control. Other factors that can affect metabolism include body size and composition, hormones, sex, diet, drugs, and age. When it comes to gaining weight with a fast metabolism, the approaches for men slightly differ.
Risks Associated With Being Underweight
Being underweight is more than a physical concern. If not properly treated, it can lead to severe health issues. Some of these risks are:
One of the major risks is nutritional deficiency as the body lacks the energy needed. The body depends on food for energy. When your body is denied nourishment, it lacks the necessary nutrients which cause severe side effects on the body. For instance, lack of nutrients such as calcium causes the bones to grow weak and brittle.
A Weaker Immune System
Underweight people are also at risk of having a weaker immune system. The system directly benefits from nutrients one takes, such as minerals and vitamins. Lack of enough food results in a more vulnerable immune system, making the body prone to suffering from severe diseases since it cannot fight them.
Increased Risk Of Heart Attack
A heart attack is another serious problem of being underweight. Even though it is primarily associated with obesity, underweight people are also at risk. Underweight people lack haemoglobin serum in their blood. Lack of haemoglobin serum can lead to heart failure or other cardiovascular diseases.
Slower Wound Healing
Underweight people suffer from slower wound healing. They lack enough iron and protein which are vital in quick healing of wounds. These nutrients play a huge role in repairing damaged body tissues. Therefore, when the body lacks nutrients, the recovery takes longer. Underweight individuals are also more prone to suffering from severe bruises.
Delays In Development
Underweight people, especially kids under the age of three, suffer delayed development. The brain is one of the body parts that require a sufficient supply of nutrients to develop. Underweight children lack critical nutrients because of mal-absorption and malnutrition. In turn, this impacts the development of the kid’s brains and delayed milestones during development.
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Quick Tips On How To Gain Weight And Muscle With A Fast Metabolism
There are general tips that can help you gain weight fast and build muscle at the same time. There is no significant difference between female and male weight gain. If you have a fast metabolism, the things you can do to add weight include (4):
- Consuming energy-dense foods
- Increasing the number of meals you eat in a day
- Loading up on carbohydrates and proteins
- Using weight gain meal supplements
- Incorporating compound movements into your workouts
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Lifting heavy weights
Nutrition For Weight Gain With A Fast Metabolism
There is no better approach to gaining weight the healthy way with a fast metabolism than fixing your nutrition.
Create A Calorie Surplus
Your body needs a certain amount of calories in a day to perform daily activities. When you achieve balance between calorie consumption and expenditure, your current weight will be maintained. The only way you can gain weight is to eat more calories than your body burns in a day for a specific period (12).
The best way to start is to define your daily energy requirements (DER) by using a calorie calculator. Having established this number, be aware that an ideal surplus should be approximately 300 – 500 calories per day.
If the surplus of calories will come from unhealthy processed foods, most of the weight you will gain will come from fat. In the long-term, this could lead to complications like cardiovascular diseases; hence it should be avoided. Get a significant portion of your energy intake from high-quality whole foods, and you can occasionally treat yourself to remain on track and motivated.
Put Emphasis On Calorie-Dense Foods
This is also meant to ensure that you provide your body with more calories than it burns. The upside is that you will be consuming calories from healthy whole foods that are rich in macronutrients. Nutritious whole foods should provide most of the calories you consume. Don’t forget that it is totally acceptable to allow yourself with a treat every now and then.
In addition to cutting back on junk foods and sodas, you should also reduce foods that are filling but don’t necessarily help you achieve your DER. Some examples are those foods that have a high water content such as cucumbers and some green vegetables. These foods may be great for your body and even provide the right micro-nutrients, but it is paramount to balance your diet by keeping those low in calories to a minimum.
Some of the most effective foods for adding healthy weight are nutrient- and energy-dense items (2).
Increase Protein-Rich Foods
The three types of macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They are an absolute must in your weight gain meal plan. Of the three, protein is the essential one for repairing and building muscle. However, this should not be interpreted as having to minimize or cut out carbohydrates and fats from your daily food intake. You need to simply make sure that all your meals are well balanced with these 3 macronutrients (8).
A high protein diet can be recommended not only for people who are eager to build muscle but also for anyone who partakes in any form of physical activity. This is mainly because protein, sometimes referred to as the building block of muscles, provides essential amino acids to the muscle tissues that have been damaged during physical activity. These tissues grow when they are provided with enough nutrients and given enough recovery time.
Don’t Forget Carbohydrates And Fats
By no means should you be misled into excessively cutting down on carbohydrates and fats because they also play a role if you want to put on weight. They are equally beneficial to the body because they provide essential nutrients for healthy weight as well. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to gain weight (13).
Take carbohydrates, for instance; it is the macronutrient responsible for helping you recover after your workout and gives you the energy to perform physical activity. When you are working out or doing any physical activity, the body utilizes glycogen for fuel. The carbohydrates you consume after the workout restore the glycogen levels; hence, the body can recover from the physical activity faster.
The primary reason why you ought not to reduce carbohydrates is that they are the source of the energy your body requires to perform physical activity. If your body does not have enough carbohydrates, then it could be forced to feed on your muscle protein as a source of energy for the workout.
The human body can convert some parts of the fat and protein into energy sources. When those macronutrients are not provided externally through dietary intake or supplements, the body starts utilizing protein and fats for energy and maintaining glucose levels.
The three types of carbohydrates you should focus on are complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are those slow-acting carbs that generate vitamins and minerals crucial for the health of the body. Complex carbohydrates can be provided by foods such as rice, bread, and vegetables (1).
Simple carbs, also called sugars, are fast-digesting carbohydrates that do not supply the body with vitamins and minerals. They are also called empty calories since they are fast-digesting, and they do not have much nutritional value. They include processed foods like packaged cookies, raw sugars, and sodas. These should be avoided or at least limited.
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that passes through the intestines without being digested. It helps by contributing to digestive health and improving the cholesterols’ levels, hence should be an essential part of the diet. Some good examples of fiber sources are vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans.
Fats, on the other hand, can be categorized into unsaturated fats, also known as “healthy fats” and saturated fats, including trans fats, which are known as “unhealthy fats”. The body needs fats because they provide energy and support the growth of cells. They contain more calories than the other macronutrients and can be crucial in weight gain. Foods that contain healthy fats include dried fruits, avocados, whole eggs, nuts, and fish.
Increasing Meal Frequency
Eating smaller meals frequently is an effective way of reaching and maintaining the body’s calorie surplus requirement. Let’s say your calculated DER for gaining 1 pound of weight in seven days is 3000 kcal/day. You can fulfil the requirement by taking three meals each 1000 kcal daily or eating six small meals of 500 kcal each.
The problem with going for fewer meals is that you may not have the appetite to eat larger meals for a long time because you are probably a hard-gainer. Furthermore, when you eat smaller meals, you boost metabolism, which is an easier way of meeting your daily energy requirements.
The best way to ensure you meet the DER is by starting your day very early and distributing the meals evenly into about eight small meals and spreading the meals 2-3 hours apart. Three or 4 of those should be large meals. To gain healthy weight, you have to do this consistently until you see results (5).
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Be Creative With Food
Although not given much emphasis, adding some creativity into your daily meny can go a long way in your weight gain journey. What you have to do here is mix and match fast metabolism foods to gain weight to your everyday meals. The new additions can be sauces, yogurts, spices, avocado or olive oil, and nuts.
This gives you a lot of freedom in the meals you cook. For instance, you can retain your meal routine and add 1-2 servings of thick mass gainer shake, and you will be good to go. You can also opt for protein shakes mixed with full-fat cream and blended with other items such as quick oats, peanut butter, fruits, and honey.
Use Weight Gainer Supplements
If your regular diet has not been able to help you gain weight, then it could be time to go for weight gainer supplements (4).
These supplements are mainly high in protein and carbohydrates. With them, you can reach your caloric goals because they have an abundance of calories. In addition to that, they are high in sugars as well. The sugars might make you gain some fat. Therefore, you should consider weight gainer supplements only if you lack time to eat frequent meals.
Take note that you should only take a weight gainer supplement only if you have tried eating whole foods but still have a deficit of the caloric requirement, or for some reason, you can’t take high-calorie meals frequently. This does not mean you eliminate the whole foods diet because you will not see any results.
Supplements can only work when there is a proper nutrition plan designed according to your needs. In other words, you should prioritize obtaining most of your calories from high-quality whole foods and then fill the gaps with supplements (10).
You won’t know if you are making gains or not if you don’t track everything. This does not apply only to the nutrition part but also the training and recovery part. This might seem like a difficult task initially, but the motivation will kick in once you see the rewards.
In terms of nutrition, tracking your calories will enable you to establish whether you are consuming enough to gain weight and if that is not the case, what needs adding to your current diet to meet the requirement. You can also keep your weight gain in check by tracking and focusing on gaining more muscle and unnecessary fat.
Tracking can be tedious because you have to check the calorie content in each item before eating. There may be some hint of truth in that, but there is an easier way to track calories. First, calculate your DER and then list the food items you like, then calculate the rough calorie amount in each serving of the food items. Having done this once, you then mix the foods in a way that meets your requirements.
In terms of tracking training, focus on both the workouts and everything in between. When you do that, you will not only get an idea of how much you can lift, but it will also guide you to focus on progressive overload. Progressive overload is based on the principle that your body can only grow if allowed to grow. In other words, you have to challenge your body to a tension never experienced before (6).
Your recovery should also be tracked. It won’t be easy to gain weight or your body to grow if you continue pushing your body to its limits without enough time for rest and recovery. This calls for enough sleep and proper rest days where you only do light workouts that do not put your body under a lot of stress.
Training For Weight Gain
- Lift heavy weights. You won’t become bigger and stronger if you only lift light weights no matter how long you do it. The only way you can achieve hypertrophy, which is the increase and growth of muscle cells, is staying in an 8-12 rep range. The body adapts quickly; hence you should continue challenging it by lifting more weight every time you start getting comfortable (9).
- Focus on compound movements. A compound exercise involves multiple muscle groups and joints at a particular point. As such, it helps build most muscles and increase body strength. Examples of compound movements are deadlifts, squats and bench press.
- Progressive overload. Continuously challenge your body by increasing your exercises’ intensity once the body adapts to the current ones. You can increase resistance, volume, and reps or decrease rest time between sets.
- Proper form. The danger of an improper form is that it will not only limit your gains, but it can also cause serious injuries, thus delaying your progress. Stretch and do warm-ups before beginning your workout and after.
Even as the common desire to lose weight overshadows that of gaining weight, the truth is that gaining weight demands, for some people, as much effort as losing weight. The problem is that many people fail to seek help with weight gain with a fast metabolism which is why they end up not seeing any results as fast as they may have anticipated. Most people try to solve this problem with unhealthy practices, including poor dietary decisions. At no point should one deviate from healthy eating patterns because healthy eating is paramount for both weight gain and weight loss.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Carbohydrates (2020, medlineplus.gov)
- Dieting? Calorie-counting? Four of the best food-tracking apps (2016, theguardian.com)
- Does basal metabolic rate predict weight gain?1,2 (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How do you gain weight quickly and safely? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How many calories do you need? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to reboot your workout routine: Let’s set the foundation (2020, edition.cnn.com)
- How Well Will Your Bones Hold Up? (2008, nytimes.com)
- Macronutrients (2020, who.int)
- Strength training, Part I: Building muscles to improve health (2009, health.harvard.edu)
- The Facts About Nutrition (nd, medicinenet.com)
- Tips for gaining weight safely and things to avoid (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What’s a good way to gain weight if you’re underweight? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- What Science says about the best way to eat (and what we’re still figuring out) (2019, nbcnews.com)