It seems simple. Eat more, gain more. Right?
If you're reading this article, you must know the struggle.
Sure you can load up on high-calorie fast foods, sweets, chips, cookies, and more...but you'll probably feel like shit and be taking lots of them.
Plus, they're full of empty calories and little nutrients, which ain't good in the long run.
In this article, we'll break down how to gain weight with a fast metabolism so you leave with more tools in your pocket than you came here with.
Keep reading to start packing on healthy weight and building muscle.
IS THERE SUCH THING AS A "FAST" METABOLISM?
A person with a fast metabolism or fast basal metabolic rate (BMR) burns more calories at rest than a person with a slow or average metabolism.
Your basal metabolic rate refers to the total energy — or calories — your body needs to stay alive and functioning. This includes basic functions like supporting your vital organs, fat, and muscle tissue and the energy required to break down the food you eat.
While there is a genetic component to having a fast metabolism, your age, hormones, muscle mass, medications, and lifestyle also play a role in your metabolism.
Signs of a fast metabolism include:
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Feeling hot often
- Feeling hungry all of the time
- Increased energy
- Able to lose weight easily
- Irritability and difficulty sleeping
METABOLISM AND GAINING WEIGHT
Think of a fast metabolism as a hot furnace that rapidly burns through fuel (energy/calories).
The opposite is true for a slow metabolism. A person with slow metabolism doesn’t require as much food because their body doesn’t burn through as many calories.
This is why those with sluggish metabolism find it hard to lose weight, and those with a fast metabolism have difficulty gaining weight.
5 TIPS TO OPTIMIZE WEIGHT GAIN
The good news is that gaining weight with a fast metabolism is possible. And it can be done without turning into a fat fuhhhh...
Here are five ways to gain weight with a fast metabolism.
- Eat in Surplus
- Increase Macros
- Eat Often
- Skip the "Dirty Bulk"
- Lift Heavy
Keep reading for the deets.
TIP 1: EAT IN A CALORIC SURPLUS
It all boils down to basic science.
To gain muscle mass and weight, you need to take in more calories than your body burns/uses.
aka, the surplus.
You can determine how many calories your body needs daily using an online TDEE calculator.
Aim to gain weight slowly by adding 300–500 calories to your TDEE (maintenance calories) and making that your target.
For example, if your TDEE is 2,538, aim to eat 2,838 to 3,038 calories a day.
TIP 2: INCREASE MACROS
Macros = macronutrients, which are nutrients that your body needs the most of, protein, carbs, and fats.
If you're looking to gain weight and muscle make sure to incorporate high-quality macros into your diet.
Protein is an integral part of any weight gain strategy, as it plays a significant role in muscle growth.
If you're in a calorie surplus, but skipping the protein, you'll most likely achieve the "skinny-fat" look.
What's skinny-fat? Imagine this...kinda skinny, kinda boney, with love handles. (insert frumpy face)
But, if you're looking to put on muscle and going for an athletic body built for performance, don't skip the protein.
One recent review article posted in the International Journal of Exercise Science concluded that high dietary protein intakes between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight during a large calorie surplus have a protective effect against fat gain, especially when combined with resistance training. Damn.
Protein-rich foods include:
- Grass Fed Meats (beef, chicken, etc.)
- Beans and legumes
- Greek Yogurt (skip the bullshit and go with the full-fat, you're trying to gain weight.)
Side note: Hitting protein needs can be difficult, especially when you need a lot! Luckily for you, we've got the smoothest, cleanest, best tasting protein on the blocks. Add whey protein shakes to your line-up and get that protein in!
HEALTHY FATS AND CARBS
On top of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates can easily boost your daily calorie intake.
Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram — fat packs in 9 calories per gram, providing you with significantly more calories for less volume.
Although carbohydrates are important, it’s best to consume high-fat, high-protein foods before moving on to carbohydrates.
It may also be helpful to avoid consuming too many fiber-rich raw vegetables. Not only are they low in calories, but the fiber slows stomach emptying, which can cause you to feel full faster, making it difficult to eat more calories.
- Olive Oil
- Nuts and Nut Butters
- Dried Fruit
- Whole Grains (Pasta, Rice, Breads, etc.)
TIP 3: SKIP FASTING + EAT OFTEN
No brainer here guys and gals...
If you're looking to gain weight, skip the intermittent fasting, it's counterproductive. Fasting may be beneficial for certain individuals and may aid in weight loss along other health benefits, but if your goal is weight gain, it's not for you.
Instead, focus on keeping your caloric intake up and meeting your daily protein needs.
Why? Because your body has been fasting from the time it fell asleep to the time it woke up! Your muscles have turned catabolic, but to get them out of their catabolic state, you need at least 3g of Leucine to do that, which translates into at least 30g of protein depending on the quality and source.
So skip the waffles, unless they're protein packed waffles, and reach for protein.
One 2021 study found that protein consumption at breakfast is more beneficial to increase lean muscle mass than at lunch and dinner.
TIP 4: SKIP THE DIRTY BULK
If you’ve been searching for tips to gain weight, you've probably read about the dirty bulk, where a person goes off hinge and eats everything and anything in sight to gain as much size as possible.
Dirty bulks = calorie dense junk foods and empty calories.
But you should know by now, that dirty bulks will pack on the fat as well. It's ultimately up to you how you want to gain the weight, just remember that dirty bulks may leave you with more "pudge" than you're banking on.
On top of that more fat, more problems.
The goal is NOT to pack on fat, the goal is to put on healthy and sustainable weight.
Obesity and increased levels of fat deposits have higher risks of health concerns like high triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
The best way to gain weight without sacrificing your health is to follow the lean bulk approach, which limits ultra-processed foods and emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods.
To clarify further, we're not saying don't enjoy some junk here and there, we're saying, don't rely on it.
TIP 5: LIFT HEAVY WITH VOLUME
You need to eat more AND lift more.
Minimize high-intensity cardio exercises and focus on weight training to help shuttle the additional calories toward muscle growth instead of fat gain.
Aim to perform hypertrophy-focused training 3-4 times per week. Hypertrophy training increases muscle size and body mass by increasing the overall volume (reps and sets) of your workout. It generally involves performing 2-4 sets of 6-12 repetitions using moderate to heavy weights.
CALORIE DENSE FOODS
Not only do weight with nutrient-dense foods as much as possible.
Use these calorie-dense foods to gain weight without loading up on junk.
Greek Yogurt + Granola: One cup of Greek yogurt and ¼ cup of granola has 400 calories, 25 grams of protein, and 18 grams of fat.
Avocado + Egg: One avocado contains 240 calories, 3 grams of protein, 22 grams of fat, and 13 grams of carbohydrates. Crack an egg into each half and bake for an extra 120 calories and 12 grams of protein.
Peanut Butter + Crackers: Two tablespoons contain 190 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 7 grams of carbohydrates. Spread over two graham crackers for a snack that packs over 300 calories.
Protein Shake: A high-calorie protein shake made with whole milk, one scoop of whey protein powder, one banana, and two tablespoons of nut butter provides 580 calories, 35 grams of protein, 24 grams of fat, and 50 grams of carbohydrates.
Protein Smoothie Bowl: High calories, high protein, a protein smoothie bowl can pack in healthy fats, carbs, and protein. Try this strawberry smoothie bowl and pack in a whopping 477 calories.
Olive Oil: One tablespoon contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. A tiny amount each day can boost your daily calorie intake and add flavor to pasta, salad, and casseroles.
Skin on Chicken: One boneless chicken breast with the skin on contains 386 calories, 58 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fat.
Beans: One cup of black beans provides 227 calories, 15 grams of protein,1 gram of fat, and 40 grams of carbohydrates.
Fatty Fish: One 6-ounce salmon filet offers 250 calories, 33 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fat.
Creatine: OK, we know this isn’t food. But it’s definitely worth a mention. Creatine draws water into your muscles, making them appear bigger and fuller. Long-term creatine consumption can also help you gain several pounds of muscle mass.
HOW LONG TILL YOU SEE RESULTS?
If you follow the suggestions above and eat 300-500 additional calories over your maintenance calories each day, you can expect a healthy weight gain of 0.5 to 1 pound per week or 2 to 4 pounds per month.
Anything beyond this can result in significant fat gain and the health risks accompanying it.
That said, your weight gain will depend on several factors, including your activity level, gender, body size, and genetics.
Some people have more difficulty gaining weight, so it may take longer to see results.
Weigh yourself weekly to monitor progress. If you are still not gaining weight, increase your daily intake by an additional 200-300 calories and stick with it for another week.
Having a fast metabolism can making gaining weight tough and in order to do so, you'll need to put as much effort into gaining weight as much of the population does to lose it.
- Consume more than you burn.
- Eat calorie AND nutrient dense foods.
- Lift heavy.
To gain weight healthily and prevent unwanted fat gain when eating in a calorie surplus, follow a healthy eating plan that prioritizes protein and includes calorie-dense, healthy foods like avocado, peanut butter, olive oil, and dried fruit. Avoid fasting and eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Resistance training is also important to ensure that excess calories are used to promote weight gain in the form of muscle instead of fat.