(On the left I was 55kg. On the right 65kg.)
When I started my weight gain journey there was a problem.
I wanted to increase my weight by 20kg.
Instead, my weight had dropped by 2kg in 40 days.
What was I doing wrong?
For God's Sake Eat Pete!
Ever skinny guy suffers from an “I eat a lot” syndrome!
We believe that we eat like a pig.
It is this mind virus that makes us stop short of eating more. I mean why eat more when we already believe we are eating a lot?
I was having an egg a day, then started with two a day and thought this was a hell lot!
I was wrong!
When I did some calorie analysis I realized I needed an excess of 500 calories a day to gain 2kgs/month and reach my goal.
And eating only an extra 1 egg which is 70 calories falls short of the 500cal mark by 420.
Also as I was burning more calories because I was exercising meant I was losing rather than gaining weight.
Hence a 2kg weight loss in 40 days!
IF I Work Out, the Weight Gain Shall come!
I find many natural coaches online today who say that you don’t have to worry about calories. Workout hard and your body will automatically consume more food. That will be enough to gain weight. You don’t need to count calories.
In the beginning, I thought the same. I wondered if I should eat more than 2eggs. I didn’t feel like consuming extra calories so I didn't eat more.
I was waiting for my body to give a green signal. Which frankly never came!
So the idea of natural eating might be true for those who were born with a naturally fit gene. Not true for the skinny peeps.
For skinny guys, the body will work hard to maintain the weight as is. i.e remain skinny.
Even if you work out heavy your body will only eat extra that went into burning during a workout. Not extra to gain weight.
So better to rely on science and math rather than the stomach's intuition on how much to eat.
Doing the MATH!
My deep desire to find out the solution to 2kg weight loss in 40 days led me to a weight gain calculator. When I typed all the info such as my weight, height, age, goal, etc the calculator gave a value.
It told me that I had to eat an excess of 500 calories.
I did further research about which extra food I had to eat. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to increase my egg intake to 5 per day and start drinking two glasses of whole milk.
And the weight gain started.
I recovered the lost weight in a month and went on to gain an additional 10kgs in the next seven months.
If you are suffering from the same issue as I was and want to gain weight here is the exact 5 steps you can follow:
STEP 1: Define your goal.
"If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." –Lawrence J. Peter
When I started my weight gain journey I had a goal in mind.
It was to gain 20kgs in 10 months. That is 2kgs/month.
I was 5”10’inch and weight 55kg. So the end goal was 75kg.
Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Lean Physique
I came to this goal by finding out that many lean muscular men of my height or close had weight around 75-80kg. e.g. Brad Pitt 78kg, Daniel Craig 78kg.
Another thing I did for goal setting was focus On BMI (Body Mass Index)
Body Mass Index is a scale that will tell you whether you are underweight, normal, or overweight.
You just have to put in values like age, height, and weight and it will give you a range. That range tells you how much you need to gain to be no more underweight.
As per my height and skinny weight of 55kg, my BMI was 17.4 and I was mild underweight.
To be no more underweight or skinny as per BMI I had to touch 58kg. So 58kg became my early short term goal.
I knew if I didn’t have a goal in the beginning it would be like shooting in the dark. I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to focus when things got hard and painful!
To define your goal this is what you do.
Ask what is your end goal. Is it to be lean and muscular or just enough to make you look not underweight or skinny.
Once you do that find a celebrity who has your exact height and who you want to look like. Check their weight. Choose a weight that is quite close to theirs.
This will also give you a good idea as to how your body will look when you achieve your goal.
Another reference to decide on your final goal is shown in an image below from Stronglifts
As per my 5"10 height, my Minimum is 77kg and max 90kg. My goal of 75kg is quite near to the minimum.
Once you come up with your end goal. It’s time to know how much you want to gain in a month.
If you are busy with a lot of work on the side and do not want to rush, a 1kg/month goal is ideal. If you are free and want to focus on gaining weight entirely, you can make a goal of 3kg/month.
I chose a 2kg/month goal.
STEP 2: Calculate Your Calorie Excess
Once you have your monthly and final weight gain goal in mind head over to the Weight Gain Calculator >> link
Put in your details. I put mine as follows:
Height 177 cm or 5"10'
Daily activity: Moderate
Want to Gain: 20kg
Months to achieve goal: 10 (i.e. 2kg/month)
At the bottom when you press the Calculate button, you will get something like this >>
The excess calorie per day is what you focus on.
Most coaches will advise you to count your calories like crazy. If the target is say for example 3000 calories per day they would want you to count what you eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Keep a track, count everytime, and finish the goal everyday.
They will also tell you to use an app like Fitness pal to help with this.
I find all this too complicated and inefficient at the start. Counting what you eat every time you eat is too much. It's quite overwhelming.
It’s better to focus on keeping things simple and using your previous experience.
If you were skinny your entire life then you have an intuition about how much you eat during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Better to use that intuition to your advantage.
It’s best to keep lunch and dinner the same as before. Not change anything. Eat the same quantity you ate before trying to gain weight. And you can focus only on breakfast. i.e. eat additional 500 calories during breakfast.
By only focusing on breakfast you don't have to worry too much for the entire day. It also relieves you to focus on your work for the entire day and keep weight gain efforts to early in the day.
STEP 3: Find Your Food
My breakfast when I was skinny contained one egg and that’s it.
So to complete the 500 calorie mark I added 4 additional eggs and one glass whole milk.
One egg has 70 calories. 4 eggs have 280cal. One glass of milk has 90 cal.
That becomes 370cal.
I also started having one additional glass of whole milk at night before sleep. So total additional calories became 460cal.
Also if during lunch or dinner I fell like having more than the limit. I didn’t hesitate. But never less.
That’s the advantage of being skinny or having a skinny metabolism. You can get away with eating excess. Your body will never convert it into fats.
So once the calculator gives you a value, find food that you can add to your breakfast and eat it every day. Make it a ritual and see yourself transform into a beast!
Some foods that are high in calories and can be eaten every day in the morning are eggs, milk, oats, cheese, peanut butter.
Here is an amazing image from Brad Newton on Medium as to the best foods for weight gain
Best foods to Help Gain Weight.
Why do I prefer eggs?
Because it is the cheapest and the most calorie-dense food. Plus as I just have to boil it (and I hate cooking meals) I don’t have to think much during breakfast. Just boil the eggs in water for 13 minutes and later start eating them. Nothing too complicated. Simple.
The same goes for choosing milk. It's cheap and no need for preparation. However, if you like cooking your meals unlike me you can feel free to go for chicken.
STEP 4: Build Those Muscles
I won’t go into the details as the main focus of this post is to focus on eating more. But this is important.
Most skinny guys no matter how much they eat will never store excess fat. So the only other way to increase weight is to build muscles. And you do this by bodyweight training or lifting dumbells and barbells in the gym.
If you are thinking about bodyweight training and don’t know where to start then you can read here.
STEP 5: Measure those Gains!
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” - Anonymous
We, humans, are bad at knowing the reality. The truth is we might do workout more today, less tomorrow, take 2-3 days rest, and still believe we did a lot.
We color the reality with our own subjective reasoning.
One day of intense brutal workout and we start believing that we did a lot and the body should magically give us 4kgs by tomorrow.
And so the only way to protect yourself from yourself is to know the reality. The real reality and not the colored and doctored reality.
Consider the weight machine as your reality.
No matter how much you believe on your subjective mind to tell you you've gained weight, the weight machine will tell you as a fact if what you believe is true.
Had I not measured my weight every week at the same time I would never have known that I was losing weight. And I would never have realized that I was eating less even when I believed otherwise.
So once you start eating excess calories and start working out, do not forget to measure your weight. Do it twice a week at the same time in the morning when you get up and after coming out of the loo.
Record the measurements in an app by Appovo.
The app has amazing features such as a simple graph. It will also tell you things such as your BMI score, your weekly and monthly increase in weight, or in how many days you will reach your goal, etc.
I record my measurements on Mondays & Thursdays.
No matter how much you wait for hunger to come after an intense workout in the morning, it will never.
And that’s why in the beginning eating excess calories during breakfast will feel like stuffing stuff down the throat.
Even after gaining 10kg, eating 5 boiled eggs every day still feels like a force-feed. The body is still not used to eating naturally or getting hungry to gain more weight.
So take eating excess calories as a challenge. Put in the habit of eating the same excess calorie intake food, again and again, every day for months or even years without waiting for hunger to give you a green signal.
If you have any questions regarding the steps, you feel any info I left out, you can let me know in the comments below.