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How to Gain Weight Faster in 5 Simple Steps (And Without Just Getting Fat)

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How to Gain Weight Faster in 5 Simple Steps (And Without Just Getting Fat)

If you want to know how to gain weight fast without piling on body fat, then you want to read this article.

You want to gain weight fast, you say?

No problem.

Eat exactly how you eat now, and start drinking a gallon of milk every day.

Milk isn’t your thing?

Squeeze a few 1,000-calorie “mass gainer” shakes in between your normal meals, then.

Or put down a couple big burgers and baskets of fries every day, or a few bags of Twizzlers or boxes of Pop Tarts.

Do any of that and you’ll gain weight, and you’ll gain it quickly. I promise.

I can also promise that you’re not going to be happy after a month or two.

Depending on what you’re doing in the gym, you may or may not end up stronger and more muscular, but you most definitely will end up fatter. Much fatter.

That’s why your goal shouldn’t be to merely gain weight. You want to gain muscle and not fat, and you have to do more than just “eat big” to do that.

Fortunately, though, it’s not complicated. There are just five simple steps.

  1. Eat slightly more calories than you burn.
  2. Eat a high-protein and high-carb diet.
  3. Don’t cheat/overeat too much.
  4. Do a lot of heavy compound weightlifting.
  5. Take the right supplements.

And you’re going to learn exactly how to do each in this article.

Let’s get to it.

1. Eat slightly more calories than you burn.

The biggest mistake people that “can’t gain weight” make is not eating enough calories.

Their natural appetites just aren’t up to it.

And by “it,” I mean consistently eating more calories than they burn, which is what you need to do to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible.

There are various reasons for this, mainly physiological, but we don’t have to get into them here. All you need to know is that your body’s “muscle-building machinery” works best when energy is abundant.

Another major mistake that “hardgainers” often make is the opposite of the above: eating way too much.

They assume that if slightly overeating is better for gaining muscle, then going gorging themselves silly is much better.

Unfortunately, it’s not.

You can’t force your muscles to grow faster by drowning them in calories, because beyond a certain point, they stop fueling muscle growth and just make you fatter.

That’s why a slight calorie surplus of 10 to 15% is just as conducive to muscle growth as a larger surplus of 30% or more.

That is, all you have to do to optimize muscle growth is eat just 10 to 15% more calories than you burn every day.

This is the point of diminishing returns, where increasing your caloric intake further contributes less and less to muscle building and more and more to fat storage.

And gaining too much fat does more than hurt your ego. It also makes it harder to build muscle by negatively impacting your insulin sensitivity and lowering your testosterone levels.

This is why you should shy away from “dirty bulking,” as bodybuilders call it, and opt to “lean bulk” instead.

This approach is a win-win because it allows you to maximize muscle growth and minimize fat gain.

To be specific, most people can gain muscle and fat at about a 1:1 ratio.

In other words, if you gain a pound of muscle for every pound of fat while lean bulking, you’re doing a good job.

(Those with above-average genetics can gain slightly more muscle than fat, and those with below-average genetics may gain slightly more fat than muscle, but most people are in the middle.)

Want to know how many calories you should eat? Check out this article.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

2. Eat a high-protein and high-carb diet.

You’ve probably heard that a high-protein diet is best for building muscle.

This is true, and that’s why there’s so much talk about protein in bodybuilding circles.

Protein provides your body with the raw materials necessary for muscle building (amino acids), so if you don’t eat enough, you’ll struggle to gain muscle.

What is “enough,” though?

Well, it’s quite a bit more than most people are used to eating (but not quite as much as some people claim).

Research shows that eating about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is ideal.

If you’re very overweight (25%+ body fat in men and 30%+ in women), then this can be reduced to around 1 gram of protein per pound of fat-free mass per day.

Either way, it comes out to around 30 to 40% of total daily calories for most people.

Now, while there’s little debate on the importance of eating adequate protein, carbs are another story.

Low-carb diets are “the thing” these days, but they really don’t deserve the hype.

They don’t help you lose fat faster, and they most definitely don’t help you gain muscle faster, either.

You see, eating plenty of carbs helps you gain muscle faster in two primary ways:

  1. It increases whole-body glycogen levels, which improves workout performance and enhances genetic signaling related to muscle growth.
  1. It keeps insulin levels generally higher, which lowers muscle breakdown rates and creates a more anabolic environment in the body.

This is why several studies have shown that high-carb diets are superior for gaining muscle and strength than low-carb ones.

So, the bottom line is this:

If you want to gain muscle as quickly as possible, then you want to eat more and not less carbs.

A good starting place is to get 30 to 50% of your total daily calories from carbs.

Want to know more about how much protein and carbs you should eat? Check out this article.

3. Don’t cheat/overeat too much.

how to gain weight faster naturally

“I’m bulking, bro,” he says, as he sits down to eat a pile of candy and wash it down with a quart of chocolate milk.

Don’t be that guy (or gal). Don’t let your lean bulk go dirty.

It’s easy to loosen the reins when you’re not restricting calories to lose fat, and this is a mistake. You should regulate your calories and macros just as carefully when in a surplus as when in a deficit.

If you have too many cheat meals (or, worse, cheat days), it will catch up with you sooner rather than later, because you will gain fat faster and faster, which will make it harder and harder to ultimately get the body that you really want.

Eating too much high-sugar, highly processed, non-nutritious foods causes other problems, too. For example…

Many people also find it hard to break away from an uninhibited, gluttonous style of eating when it comes time to finally get rid of unwanted body fat, making it even more difficult to reach their desired body fat percentage.

So, all this is why I recommend two simple strategies from the get-go:

  1. Get at least 80% of your calories from whole, nutritionally dense foods.

This ensures your body gets everything it needs to stay healthy, while still leaving room for indulgences.

  1. “Cheat” the right way.

Don’t blow your diet up with regular binges.

Learn how to cheat on your diet intelligently, instead.

Want to know more about how to cheat without ruining your diet? Check out this article.

4. Do a lot of heavy compound weightlifting.

If you don’t get the first three steps right, what you do in the gym won’t matter very much.

Proper dieting is just that important.

If you do, though, the right workout program will make a huge difference in how quickly you can gain weight and muscle.

And the best types of workout programs for natural weightlifters are those that focus on heavy compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press.

Sure, you can gain muscle and strength in many different ways, but decades of scientific and anecdotal evidence have conclusively proven that this is the most effective approach.

The reason heavy compound weightlifting is so powerful is simple: it’s the best way to progressively overload your muscles.

And by “progressively overloading” your muscles, I mean increasing tension levels in them over time. This is the primary driver of muscle growth, and while there are several ways to do this, the most effective one is just getting stronger.

That’s why the strongest people in the gym are also generally the biggest, and if you want to build a great physique, why your primary goal should be increasing whole-body strength.

Want to know more about how to build a workout program that really works? Check out this article.

5. Take the right supplements.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular supplements among those struggling to gain weight is a “weight gainer.”

Most of these supplements are little more than low-quality protein blends with large amounts of simple sugars and unhealthy fats. They also often taste like regurgitated protein shakes.

That’s why I generally don’t recommend them, and like to see people sticking mainly to food for their calories.

There is one supplement, though, that I highly recommend to everyone trying to gain muscle and strength:

Creatine.

It’s the most well-researched supplement in all of sports nutrition, and hundreds of studies have confirmed that…

And, even better, it does all this naturally and safely.

That’s why you’ll find a clinically effective dose of creatine monohydrate in my post-workout supplement RECHARGE (along with two other ingredients to help you recover faster):

creatine weight gain

learn-more

Two other supplements you should consider are a protein powder like whey protein, and fish oil.

Protein powders are convenient (and whey is particularly good for post-workout meals), and there’s evidence that fish oil can enhance genetic signaling related to muscle growth.

Fish oil can improve your health and performance in many other ways, as well, so its value goes beyond just helping you get bigger and stronger.

The Bottom Line on Gaining Weight Fast

I know what it’s like to be sick of being skinny. To be willing to do just about anything to finally see the needle move in the right direction.

I also know, now, what it’s like to do it the right and wrong ways.

The right way, as laid out in this article, requires more know-how and patience, but it produces much better results in the end.

You may not gain weight as quickly as you’d like, but you’ll make sure that the weigh you do gain is high-quality, and that you don’t just wind up fat.

Follow the advice in this article, and you’ll see for yourself.

What’s your take on gaining weight fast? Do you anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

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    http://www.muscleforlife.com/s

    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • Alan

    Hey mike nice article, i was wondering if you still have planned to make a vegan protein and when! Thank you 🙂

  • fragfeaster

    Hey MFL team, I have a question on the ratio of gaining muscle to fat when in a surplus and if it changes according to training experience. Specifically, is the 1:1 ratio consistent regardless of training experience? In other words, can a person with 4+ years of proper training experience still gain muscle and fat in a 1:1 ratio for a 5 – 10% surplus? I’m trying to reconcile this ratio with the stat saying that one can only gain 3-5lbs of muscle per year once they hit that 4-year training mark. Thanks!

  • Mike

    I started working out about 17 weeks ago (following your 8 week at a time workout plan). My goal is to accumulate some muscle mass. I have been following high weights/low reps (4-6 reps) plan and progressively increasing the weights. I have not weighed myself but I think I gained about 8-10 lbs (my weight was about 137lbs). Although I am getting some definition, I feel that my build is not where it should be. I know I am getting stronger. I have to measure my gut but I think it is a little bigger which I know one cannot really gain mass and lose fat at the same time. My goal is to cut once I get to the weight that I want. I think my issue is nutrition. I am fine on the protein intake (.92-1 grams per lb). My macros are 55% carbs/20% fat/25% protein. However I am rarely eating the carb minimum nor reaching my required calorie intake based on different calculators. Basically, I think I am not growing mass because my carb and calorie intake are not reaching the minimum. My carb intake should be 321grams (based on my starting weight) and my calorie intake should be 2,335. Unfortunately I fail to meet that. I know you said those mass gainers are no good but I think that will help. It’s tough for me to eat that many carbs and calories (at least trying to not eat junk food). Also I rarely hit my macro numbers. Seems that my fat intake is high at times so that does not help. Do you think I am right that I am not gaining mass because I don’t eat enough carbs/calories? I think mass gainers may help (looking at BSN True Mass). Or can you recommend a good quality brand? Thanks!

    Mike

    • Alan

      Hey mike, first of all if you progressed on your lifts and gained weight you definetly gained a little bit of muscle (3 lb or so depending of yoir genetics) and about gaining muscle the bodyfat percentage you started has a lot of influence on that, you may started a little bit high (15% or so) so due to an increase in bodyfat too you may feel you are not gaining muscle. About the carbs try to eat rice pasta and even beans lentils or oatmeal, if you want a mass gainer ON just came up with one names gold stamdard gainer it seems decent because it has quinoa flour potatoe flour and i think oatmeal flour , its price is somewhere reasonable, but if you are lactose intolerant nevermind. Also keep in mind this mass gainer has artificial sweeteners, i was going to buy it myself until i saw that. Too bad i live on Mexico lol! You can check out mikes articles on bulking so you can see why is convenient to cut first if you have a little bit of BF hope this helps

      -Alan T

      • Mike

        Thanks Alan. i just weighed myself. I have gain 9 lbs since July but my stomach has also gained almost 3″ which is not good. I am disappointed to see this. Not sure where my problem is. Could be the fat intake is too high? I guess increasing carbs/calories may not be a good idea or should I increase those while decreasing fat intake significantly?

        • Hey Mike, I’d check your targets and portioning. Sounds like you’re eating too big a surplus. If you started at 15% BF, I recommend you end the bulk and start cutting now.

  • Peter Liddicoat

    Mike, love your work.

    Am curious about ~10% calorie surplus being as anabolic as 20%.

    I read through the hyperlinked article in “can’t force your muscles to grow faster”.

    Can’t find any data in the article for the reference — possible this is the wrong reference?

    Thanks

    • Thanks!

      Unfortunately, there’s no single paper that provides good evidence of this, but my position is based on what I’ve read in various papers on overfeeding and resistance training as well as long-standing anecdotal evidence in the bodybuilding space and personally working with thousands of people.

  • Tyler

    Hi mike,
    Is it feasible to go on a 4 week bulk/4 week cut cycle? The reason is that i don’t want to gain a noticeable amount of fat. In addition is it possible to gain muscle by working out only twice a week?
    Thanks!

    • No, that’s not a very good way to go about it. If you are concerned about gaining a noticeable amount of fat, you can consider either calorie cycling:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/calorie-cycling/

      or bulking from say 8% to 13%. You’ll still be lean enough to see good ab definition at the peak of your bulk.

      Twice a week will not be enough.

      • Tyler

        Hi, how Long should a bulk last minimally to be effective ?

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:

    http://www.muscleforlife.com/signup/

    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

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