How to Gain Weight Naturally : Pro Tips, Food Lists and Workout Plans

There is a misconception that skinny people can eat anything they want and not gain any weight as they have a fast metabolism to digest the food they eat. Normally, if you want to gain weight, your average calorie intake needs to be more than your calorie expenditure. In easy terms, you need to take in more calories, than your body burns. This is known as caloric surplus.

How To Decide If You Are Overweight, Healthy Or Skinny

But how to check whether or not you are skinny and need a caloric surplus to boost your weight? Before knowing how to gain weight, you have to assess why you need to gain weight in the first place! Beginners can try out a simple rule that lets you check your approximate goal weight in kg by taking your height in centimeters and subtracting it from 100.

Check your height today and compare it with the table. If you find that your weight is below the minimum threshold, then yes, you are skinny.

Height Minimum Weight Maximum Body-weight
1m62 / 5'4" 62kg / 136lb 78kg / 172lb
1m67 / 5'6" 67kg / 147lb 82kg / 181lb
1m73 / 5’8” 73kg / 160lb 86kg / 190lb
1m77 / 5’10” 77kg / 169lb 90kg / 199lb
1m83 / 6’0” 83kg / 182lb 94kg / 207lb
1m87 / 6’2” 87kg / 191lb 98kg / 216lb
1m93 / 6'4" 93kg / 204lb 102kg / 224lb
1m98 / 6'6" 98kg / 215lb 106kg / 233lb

Some people would suggest you check your BMI to measure if you are skinny or not. WHO suggests that you are in normal health if your BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.99.

CLASSIFICATION BMI RANGE - KG/m2
Very severely underweight
Severely underweight 15 - 16
Underweight 16 - 18.5
Normal (healthy weight) 18.5 - 25
Overweight 25 - 30
Obese Class 1 30 - 35
Obese Class 2 35 - 40
Obese Class 3 > 40

So if your BMI comes up to be 23, then you might think that you are healthy, correct? Not so fast!

According to WHO, Body Mass Index is considered as a rough guide to checking your health. The reason is skinny fat. It refers to those people who have a healthy BMI and weight, but includes fewer muscles and more fat that is recommended for a healthy lifestyle.

So you need to be careful out there before judging whether you are skinny or not.

Calculating A Caloric Surplus To Gain Weight

Now, that you know that you are skinny or underweight, you need to consider taking up the necessary intake of calories to create a caloric surplus.

First things first, you need to realize that every person is different. Even though people can be at the same height and weight range, it might take a different amount of food intake to reach the results that you want.

For beginners, the easiest way to calculate a caloric surplus is with the following formula –

 your present weight * 20 = your caloric surplus

Please note that this is a rough estimate and excludes a number of variables such as total daily energy expenditure, workout duration, how fast you are planning on gaining weight and more, but it gives you a rough estimate to start.

There are a number of online calculators to calculate caloric surplus. You can try one of those if you are not happy with the above formula, or better – consult with your trainer.

There is another way to calculate your daily calorie needs. In this way, you can decide how much caloric surplus you need to reach your goal and gain weight accordingly.

  • First, you have to calculate your body weight in kg.
  • Next, if you are a male, you multiply that bodyweight with 1.0 and if you are a female, then multiply it with 0.9.
  • Then, multiply the result with 24.
  • Again, multiply the result with your lean factor (you can look online on how to check your body fat percentage or consult your trainer).

A table has been provided for your ease to check your lean factor multiplier.

 For males –

Body Fat Percentage Lean Factor Multiplier
10 - 14 1.0
15 - 20 0.95
21 - 28 0.90
Over 28 0.85

 For Females –

Body Fat Percentage Lean Factor Multiplier
14 - 18 1.0
19 - 28 0.95
29 - 38 0.90
Over 38 0.85

 The number you get after this calculation is called BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. This number gives you a rough estimate of how many calories your body would burn in a day if you do not do any exercises.

Next, you need to multiply the number with your activity modifier. Below is a table to check your daily activity level multiplier.

Level of Activity Activity Multiplier
Very light Office work and light work such as walking, studying, sitting etc 1.3
Light Jobs that include more walking and standing such as teaching 1.55
Moderate Physical jobs including biking, jogging, cleaning etc 1.65
Heavy Jobs including manual labour, hard physical activities, dancing and more 1.80
Very Heavy Jobs including moderate to hard physical activities that range approximately 8 hours per day 2.00

Consult your trainer if you are not sure about your daily calorie intake calculation.

Tips And TricksHow To Gain Weight Naturally

Smoothie diet – Add smoothies to your diet plan. Include nuts, fruits, almond butter, protein powder, yogurt and more to make your smoothie into a proper wholesome meal.

Prevent stress – If you plan on gaining weight quickly, then you need to stay happy to provide a positive impact on your gaining process. If your office hours demand you to stay outdoors most of the time, don’t worry! Just take high calorie food with yourself and eat healthy as much as you can.

Stop smoking Researchers have proven that smoking leads to appetite loss. This might be a big problem if you are planning on gaining weight quickly.

Snack time Add high calorie snacks in your diet. Nuts are a good source of proteins and other essential nutrients. A half cup of nuts like almond and raisins can give you around 500 calories. For a healthy weight gain plan, add a generous amount of banana and peanut butter in your diet. Between meal times, you can add your smoothie diet.

Choosing food wisely To prevent constipation and proper bowel movement, take lots of fiber rich food. Stay away from high cholesterol food such as ghee and vanaspati. Include vitamins and minerals in your diet by adding lots of vegetables and fruit in your diet.

Drink milk before going to sleep Milk is rich in proteins and carbohydrates. Include this in your diet 30 mins before going to sleep. It also helps in decreasing protein collapse in your muscles.

Calculate the calories This is very important. Keep a track of your daily intake of calories and make sure that you reach a caloric surplus to gain weight quickly. There are a number of applications which help you to assess the calorie present in your food. Talk to your instructor if you have any doubts.

Increase your calorie consumption You can gain weight easily if you take 1000 calories more than your body can burn daily. This excess calorie will come in handy when you are targeting for a strength training program, allowing you to build more muscles. Use high calorie food in your diet and use compressed milk wherever you can such as soups, drinks and casseroles.

Avoid bad fats Cakes, candies and chips usually carry Trans fats, which are harmful to your health. Your target should always be to put on a healthy mass. Pick those foods for your diets which are low in fat and high in protein such as lean meat, turkey, fruits, vegetables, seafood, chicken breasts and more.

Drink water Try to drink half a gallon water every day. Dehydration can lead to a number of fitness problems. You don’t want that, do you? Drinking plenty of water might significantly help you to gain weight in a week.

Take protein rich food For quick mass gain, protein is vital for your diet. Make sure that your diet includes at least 25% of calories from protein.

Take rest properly If you are planning on gaining weight quickly in a week, then 8-9 hours of sleep is necessary. You need to give your muscles time to renovate and rebuild. Without proper rest, you won’t be able to make out the most from your exercises and diet.

Don’t take carbohydrates after exercise – Research has shown that you will be able to gain muscle gain quicker if you take carbohydrates during your rest days. Carbohydrates Have been known to enhance weight in the form of fat gain and not muscle gain. In the long term, this will be bad for your health. Taking carbs after exercises not only increases your insulin levels, but also reduces the speed of protein collapse, making it difficult for our body to absorb the nutrients.

Exercises for Weight Gain

If you want to gain weight and make a significant difference in your muscle mass, then you have to trigger the muscle myofibrils (long filaments that make up muscle fibers).

The micro-tears in the protein strands allow the muscles to repair them at a cellular level, causing hypertrophy or building more protein strands in the process. Strength training programs help you to gain weight and build muscles that you usually lose as you grow older.  

Let us check out some workouts that you can try easily at your home.

small muscle training

Small muscle training

Whether you are at home, gym or office, resistance bands help you to add weight to the smaller muscle group of the body. These lightweight materials are perfect for challenging your muscles and many athletes use this technique to improve their muscle conditioning during rehabilitation. What’s more, it helps you burn fat faster from target muscle groups and is very affordable.

no equipment workout

No-Equipment Workout

These workouts are preferred by athletes as they can be done in multiple areas including home, office or gym without the need for any equipment. These exercises are targeted towards gaining muscle weight without the risk of injury. Moreover, these exercises also help in enhancing your focus, balance, stamina and strengthen your bones.

People often forget that the key to success in gaining muscles is to commit to a workout plan and practice it with persistence, discipline and consistency.

Basic Exercises

If you have a lean body, there are certain types of exercises that will help you to safely gain weight and add bulk to your muscle mass. Below are some of the best exercises that we have listed down for you. Make sure that you take guidance from an expert before trying these out.

Pushups

Target muscles – Shoulders or deltoid muscle, triceps, chest or pectoral muscles and core muscles

Advantages

  • Promotes HGH hormone secretion and increases whole body muscle. Production of HGH helps in muscle hypertrophy or growth and is a must for strength training programs
  • Enhances the cardiovascular system. By engaging multiple muscle groups, it forces our heart to work harder to deliver oxygen to the muscle tissues. This also helps in reducing stored body fat
  • Enhances muscle flexibility
  • Enhances your functional strength through full body activation
  • Prevents low back injuries
  • Enhances your posture

Process

Lie down on the floor with your stomach towards the ground. Place your palms flat downwards and your elbow bent. Push your feet up on your toes and align your back, feet and legs Push your body up with your hands and stretch your arms completely. Make sure that your entire body weight is resting on your hands and toes. Bend your elbows and lower your body without touching the ground. Keep the alignment straight and do 15-20 repetitions. Do not strain your knees and use push up handles if you have poor wrist flexibility.

push up workout

Pull-Ups

Target musclesArms, latissimus dorsi, trapezius and Lats

Advantages

  • Enhances your grip strength. This will help you to lift weights.
  • Strengthens your shoulder and arm muscles
  • Strengthens your back muscles such as Infraspinatus, Thoracic erector spinae, Trapezius and Latissimus dorsi
pull up workout

Process

Place your palms at a shoulder-width grip and grab the bar. With straight arms, hang on to the bar with your legs off the floor. Pull your elbows down towards the floor and pull yourself up. Until and unless your chin passes the bar, try to go all the way up. In the same way, lower yourself down until your arms are straight again.

Bodyweight Squats

Target musclesHip flexors, hamstring and quads

Advantages

  • Keeps your lower back muscles strong
  • Improves your flexibility and hip mobility
  • Improves your posture and strengthens tendons in your knees
  • Burns fat fast and speed weight loss
  • Enhances circulation

Process

With your toes slightly turned out, try to set your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your eyes forward and pull your lower abs in. Bend your knees slowly and drop your hips towards the ground as you lower your body. Make sure that your heels are flat on the floor. Pause for a moment at your lowest point and bring your body up in the starting position just like you descended. Repeat 15 times.

body-weight-squats

Bench Dips

Target musclesShoulders, anterior deltoids and triceps

Advantages

  • Muscle tone and calorie burn
  • Builds more muscles
  • Improves pushing strength
  • Targets your chest muscles

Process

To perform this exercise, you will need a bench, chair or a sofa. Place the chair or bench behind you and grip the edge by fully extending your hands shoulder width apart. Keep your legs extended forward and straight so that it is at a 90 degree angle to your chest. Bend your elbows and lower your body slowly until and unless your forearms and upper arms are perpendicular to each other. Use your triceps and bring your body back to the starting position. Repeat this 10 times.

Lunges

Target musclesQuadriceps, core muscles, hamstrings, buttocks and glutes

Advantages

  • Improves posture and range of motions
  • Enhances muscle mass to build strength
  • Reduces body mass and increases lean muscle build-up
  • Strengthens your core and back muscles

Process

Keep your feet aligned with your hips and stand straight. Breath in and take a step forward with your left foot. Kneel down to your right foot is perpendicular to the ground. Push back on your heel and lift your body up to the starting position.

lunges-workout-for-weight-gain

Other Similar Exercises

exercises-for-weight-gain

Detailed Workout Plan – How To Gain Weight In A Week

 Things To Keep In Mind Before Starting

  • Choose the number of days you want to train every week
  • For beginners, a simple upper/lower body split routine every week is sufficient. Choose your frequency accordingly.
  • Choose your exercises according to your workout plan.
  • Choose your sets. People tend to reduce the harder workout reps rather than the easier ones. Stick to the volumes.
  • Next, choose the rep ranges. If you are planning on pure strength training, then stick with 2-6 repetitions. If you are targeting muscle mass, then 6-12 rep ranges are ideal.

Workout Plan 1 – How To Gain Weight At Home

Here is a simple workout plan that you can aim for building your body mass and gain weight at home. Repeat these exercises on alternate days

 CHEST

Exercises Reps Sets Rest
Wide Press-ups 10-15 3 60 secs
Spiderman Press-up 10-15 3 60 secs
Diamond Press-ups 10-15 3 60 secs
One-arm Press-up 10-15 3 60 secs
Clap Press-Up 10-15 3 60 secs

ARMS

Exercises Reps Sets Rest
Incline Press-ups 10-15 3 60 secs
Handstand Wall Walk 8-10 3 120 secs
Bodyweight Dips 10-15 3 60 secs
Body-up 10-15 3 60 secs

LEGS

Exercises Reps Sets Rest
Walking Lunge 12 each leg 3 30 secs
Squat 12 each leg 3 No rest
Squat Jump 12 each leg 3 60 secs
Split Squat 12 each leg 3 60 secs
Step-up 12 each leg 3 No rest
Single Leg Bridge 12 each leg 3 60 secs
Lunge Jumps 1 min 1 No rest
Squat Pulses 1 min 1 End

Workout Plan 2 – How To Gain Weight At Gym

DAY 1 

Exercises Reps Sets Rest
Barbell Back Squat 5 3 60 secs
Chin-up As many as you can 2 90 secs
Dumbbell Bench Press 8-12 2 60 secs
Dumbbell Single-Arm Row 10 3 90-120 secs
Barbell Straight-Leg Deadlift 12-15 3 60 secs
Cable Core Press 10 3 90-120 secs
Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk 40 yard 3 End

DAY 2

Exercises Reps Sets Rest
Barbell Bench Press 5 3 60 secs
Chin-up As many as you can 2 90 secs
Trap Bar Deadlift 8 3 60 secs
Dive Bomber Push-up 8-10 3 90-120 secs
Dumbbell Goblet Squat 12-15 3 60 secs
Barbell Bent-Over Overhand-Grip Row 5-6 3 90-120 secs
Dumbbell Reverse Lunge 8-10 2 End

DAY 3

Exercises Reps Sets Rest
Sumo Deadlift 5 3 60 secs
Single-Arm Landmine Press 8 per arm 2 90 secs
Barbell Front Squat 8-10 3 60 secs
Single-Leg Hip Thrust with Shoulders on Bench 10 3 90-120 secs
Close-Grip Bench Press 12-15 3 60 secs
Barbell Bent-Over Underhand-Grip Row 10-12 3 90-120 secs
Face Pull 20 2 End

After day 3, repeat the exercises on alternate days from the first.

Foods for Weight Gain

How to gain weight naturally and quickly? Remember that great bodies are made in the kitchen, not the gym! Here are 10 healthy food sources that you should include in your diet plan if you are planning on gaining weight fast.

Milk

Milk is an excellent source of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. If you are planning on gaining weight naturally, then this is a good choice for most of the people, unless you are lactose intolerant. Research has shown that instead of soy-based products, skimmed milk, whey or casein helps to build more muscle mass after resistance training workouts. It can be added to the diet throughout the day.

Poultry

Try to eat your poultry products with the skin as the skin carries natural fat. Make sure that you cook the products in a healthy way without deep frying or in trans-fat oil. The alternative way is to roast them or boil them properly. It can be combined with other starch rich products such as bread, potatoes and rice. They are normally rich in B-complex vitamins, magnesium , calcium and phosphorus.

Red meat

How to gain weight naturally with non-veg options? An effective way to do so is to rely on red meat which is high in cholesterol. Besides that, red meat is high in iron and proteins. Make sure that you add minimum oil while cooking the meat and don’t combine your diet with high saturated fats. If you are looking for good fat, then you can consider beef tenderloin, strip-bone or rib which is high in good fat.

Peanut butter

Peanuts are suggested in the daily diet to gain weight. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and fatty acids. Similarly, you can use peanut butter to gain high calories that make it a perfect diet at home to add more muscle mass.

Banana

Bananas are the go-to fruit for a lot of nutrition experts if you are planning to gain weight naturally. Why not? These fruits are rich in potassium, vitamins, magnesium, fiber, protein and healthy fat. They carry very little proteins and fat, but each banana provides you around 105 calories. They are also rich in antioxidants and help to improve our digestive health as they carry two specific fibers – resistant starch and pectin.

foods-for-weight-gain

Dark chocolate

Being rich in cocoa content (over 70%), dark chocolates are a great source of nutrients and antioxidants. If you take 100 gm of dark chocolate it will provide you with a minimum of 600 calories. They are rich in other nutrients such as magnesium and fiber.

Rice

You can consider having rice if you are looking for how to gain weight naturally with a low-cost carb source. Being a calorie-dense diet, rice can help you to gain a lot of calories and carbs in a single serving. Just 165 gm of rice can provide you with 43 gm carbs, 190 calories and a little fat. If you have a poor appetite, then rice can help you to get full quickly. Moreover, you can add this with your other diet (healthy fat and protein sources) when you are on the go. Make sure that you do not overdo this as rice is known to carry phytic acid content (which can reduce the absorption of iron and zinc) and arsenic (which can be toxic).

Dried fruits

Dried fruits are great snacks between meals and provide you 130 calories approximately in one-quarter of a cup. They are rich in thiamine and vitamins like B2, B6, niacin, E, C and A. Being rich in proteins, vitamins and healthy sugar, they help you to put in eight as well as adequate muscles. If you pair it up with milk, it will help you massively in your weight gain process.

Yoghurt

Try full-fat yoghurt. These are usually high in nutrients and proteins that help in developing muscles. Make sure that you avoid the flavor based products as they tend to carry sugar and have a lower fat content. Alternatively, you can flavor your yoghurt at home with nuts and fruits.

Try this recipe – yoghurt (2 cups), dried fruits, nits, coconut flakes, granola and honey. Mix them well and enjoy!

Potatoes

Another cost-effective way to gain weight naturally is to have potatoes and starchy food. You can go to the following healthy source of starchy carbs – beans, corn, oats, potatoes, legumes, buckwheat and more. These products also help you to enhance your muscle glycogen stores which provide fuel for our body during high-intensity exercises. Try to bake them with butter instead of boiling them as it removes essential nutrients from them. Some of these carb sources also carry resistant starch that helps to nourish our gut bacteria.

Now that you know everything on how to gain weight naturally in a week, waste no time! Start your routine from today and remember to track your progress so that you can stay positive and remain focused along the way.

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