When the topic is diet, the first thing that crosses our minds is weight loss, isn’t it? But did you know some people seek just the opposite? I’m talking about those guys who work out hard, eat right, but don’t seem to gain any weight. These guys need a weight gain diet (fast but healthy, of course).

After all, everyone wants to see results when they work out hard. So, if that is your case, my friend, do not worry. I have talked with great nutritionists who just happen to have the solution to your problem.

And, before starting rethinking your meal plan, you should first check if the difficulty to gain weight is not related to any disease. That’s right! “If the person weight is below their ideal weight, it’s a good idea to check hyperthireoidism, diabetes, the celiac disease or parasite infections before anything”, advises Fabiana Honda, a nutritionist at PB Consultoria em Nutrição.

Difficulty to Gain Weight

arnold-steak-bodybuildingjpgOnce all medical conditions are discarded, it means you simply have difficulty to gain weight (not so bad after all). So, it’s important to understand that a person’s weight is directly related to their eating habits, physical activity intensity and calorie burn, physical structure (bone structure) and genetics.

“This way, thin people, who usually have difficulties gaining weight, need to evaluate how many calories they burn a day, how their meals are split as well as their composition in order to see what the possibilities are in terms of gaining weight”, advises Clarissa Pedrosa, a nutritionist of Grupo Hermes Pardini.

Maybe they’re not ingesting the right amount of food they should, even though they think they eat well. Or, maybe, they could be doing exercise without the right consumption of nutrients in order to replace the burned calories.

And there’s one more thing. “If you think of a thin man, who practices strength exercises at least 4 times a week and has a balanced diet, maybe he’s not gaining as much lean mass as he’d like because of his bone structure, which, the bigger it is, the more muscles it’s got to contain”, says Jacqueline Moniz, a nutritionist at Clínica Dra. Maria Fernanda Barca Endocrinologia e Metabologia.

Fast Metabolism

Metabolismo aceleradoAnother utterly important observation before starting the weight gain diet is to check if your metabolism isn’t accelerated to a great extent. In general, this is the main justification for those who can’t gain weight.

“People whose metabolism is accelerated have a quicker digestion and, as a consequence, burn the food calories in an accelerated way as well. That is why they feel hungrier and eat bigger amounts”, explains Alan Tiago Scaglione, a nutritionist at Estima Nutrição.

The expert has a great advice for those with an accelerated metabolism: before and after training, it’s very important to have a complete meal containing complex carbs, proteins and good fats, so that the workout performance is good and the subsequent muscle recovery, fast and efficient.

“This way, breakfast, pre and post-training are the most caloric meals. Plus, it’s always a good idea to emphasize that the meals must not exceed 2 and a half or 3 hours”, he recommends.

Calories and Food Groups

grupos alimentares e caloriasAlthough this diet to gain weight fast and with quality should be designed for each person individually, it’s important to know that an average man (weighing between 60 and 80 kilos) needs around 2.700 to 3.600 calories a day.

“That’ll depend of their weight, height, physical activity intensity, among other variables. That said, in order to gain weight, you should ingest more calories than you burn”, points Clarissa.

As for food groups that should be included in the diet, the answer is quite simple: all of them! That’s right, my dear reader. Just include the right nutrients (that means, healthy) to attain the weight you want.

Starting from carbs (whole bread, sweet potato, manioc, etc.), which provide immediate energy and improve the performance (which is mandatory before working out, particularly complex carbs). “After working out, these nutrients replace the concentrations of glycogen in the muscles as well as contribute to muscle regeneration”, the nutritionist instructs.

The fruit, vegetable and legume group is also irreplaceable. After all, it helps micronutrients, which are important antioxidants that protect the organism, contribute to the improvement of the immune system and the metabolism of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and lipids).

Now, the protein group (milk and dairy, meat, egg and legumes) plays an important role in the muscle synthesis. The protein consumption after working out maximizes muscle recovery. “People should ingest 1 to 1.5 grams per kilo of the nutrient a day. Which means a person weighing 70 kilos should consume 70 to 105 grams of protein a day. It’s important to not exceed 2.2 grams a day”, Fabiana instructs.

Finally, the fat group, which contributes to the increase of calorie density in the meals and is also a source of vitamin E and other antioxidants. “If you can, give preference to good fat sources (oleaginous, extra virgin olive oil)”, Clarissa advises.

How about hyperproteic diets?

That is a question many guys who can’t seem to gain weight have. The professionals I’ve interviewed agree that diets of this kind do not necessarily increase lean mass.

They explain that excessive protein is converted and stored as fat or carbohydrate and, depending on the length of time you go on this kind of diet, you may take the risk of overloading some organs, like the liver or kidneys. Therefore, it’s always best to follow our recommendations. No matter what.

Meal Plans

opçõpes de cardápioOf course I could not forget to ask the nutritionists to suggest some options of meal plans for those wishing to gain some weight. But just one reservation first: these are general suggestions, nothing customized. So, it’s better to see a nutritionist before starting these diets, so that they can design a plan according to your own needs.

See the meal plan Fabiana Honda has suggested:
Breakfast:
1 glass whole plain yogurt
2 tbsp granola
2 slices of bread
2 scrambled eggs
1 banana and 1 tbs honey

Morning Snack:
30 g of nuts
½ teacup dried fruits

Lunch:
1 large grilled fillet
3 spoonfuls of rice
1 ladle of beans
2 spoonfuls of little cassava
Cooked vegetables and raw salad with olive oil
Dessert: 2 slices of pineapple

Afternoon Snack:
2 slices of bread
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp jelly

Post-workout:
1 glass of protein shake

Dinner:
2 roast fish fillets
4 spoonfuls of potato
Cooked vegetables and raw salad with olive oil
Dessert: 1 banana

Supper:
1 glass of milk (cow or almond)
1/3 of an avocado

Now, according to Clarissa Pedrosa:
Breakfast:
Milk, fruit and oatmeal smoothie
Tapioca with egg and low-fat cheese

Morning Snack:
Fruit
Quinoa flakes
Nuts

Lunch:
Green salad
Grape tomatoes and grated carrots
Red cabbage and fresh peas
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown rice
Mashed sweet potato
Grilled tilapia
Dessert: mango

Afternoon Snack I:
Yogurt
Granola
Fruit cocktail

Afternoon Snack II:
Fruit juice
Whole bread
Tuna or sardine
Low fat cheese

Dinner:
Iceberg lettuce with Brazil nut chips
Eggplant salad
Little cassava cooked with sesame
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown rice
Cooked beans
1 chicken fillet with onions
Dessert: orange

Supper:
Avocado
Cocoa powder
Honey

Finally,Jacqueline Moniz’s meal plan:
Breakfast:
Scrambled eggs
Berries
Pancake
Nuts
Lemonade

Morning Snack:
Cheese
Mashed avocado with cocoa powder

Lunch:
Raw vegetables
Cooked/braised/steamed vegetables
Mashed potato
Chickpea
Shredded chicken
Citrus fruit (kiwi, for example)
Olive oil to season

Afternoon Snack:
Oatmeal bread with carrot and chia
Eggplant appetizer
Pumpkin seeds and nuts
Fennel tea with star anise and cinnamon

Dinner:
Raw vegetables
Cooked/braised/steamed vegetables
Manioc
Ground beef
Fruit (melon, for example)
Olive oil to season

Supper:
Mashed banana with ricotta cream

So, ready to gain some pounds?

So, you’ve got everything you need. Now it’s your call, my friend. Focus on your diet and work out harder and harder (without pushing yourself to your limit, naturally). Let me know how it goes, alright?