The biggest misconception about gaining weight is that you need to eat everything in sight. If you follow this myth, you'll definitely gain weight, but it might not be the kind of weight you had in mind. Gaining any kind of weight is as simple as eating anything you see. If you want to be fat, overweight and unhealthy, eat fries, hamburgers, pizza and candy. You'll definitely pack on the pounds. If you want to gain muscle, you need to make your food selections a bit more carefully.
If you're looking for weight that looks a bit better than fat, you need to have a clean diet. You still need to eat a lot of food, but you need to eat healthy food that will give your body the right kind of fuel to power your workouts and help make your muscles grow. To build muscle, you need an ample supply of carbohydrates, protein and yes, even fat.
Carbs should account for 50-60% of your overall daily caloric intake. This is where your body gets most of the energy it needs to exercise and do daily tasks. Carbs aren't all equal so you should fill your diet with the healthy kind. Sugars account for most simple carbs. These carbs are digested quickly and can therefore lead to excessive fat storage. Complex carbs are digested a lot slower giving you a steady flow of energy that won't give you a sudden burst followed by a crash. Foods high in complex carbs are: vegetables, 100% whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, old fashioned oatmeal and beans. You should stay away from foods that are very high in sugar with the exception of your post workout meal.
Because fat from food is the same word that describes something that is undesirable on the body, a lot of people stay away from fat thinking it will make them fat. Eating fat has very little to do with getting fat. Your body needs some fat (about 30% of your daily intake) to function properly.
Like carbs, fat can also be split up into good and bad sources. The bad kind comes from animal sources and is called saturated fat. Sources include milk, cheese and meat. Good fats come from plant sources and are called unsaturated fats. Sources include oils, nuts, fish and some vegetables. You should try and get most of your fat from unsaturated sources.
Protein is very important if you're trying to build muscle. Protein is used by your body as a building material to repair muscles which makes them bigger and stronger after a workout. Some sources of protein are found with high amount of saturated fat so try and stay away from those. Good sources include lean meats such as chicken, turkey, some cuts of beef and fish as well as low fat dairy, legumes, nuts and protein supplements.
Gaining weight can only be accomplished by eating enough. How much depends on how many calories your body burns each day. Your first step is to figure out how many calories your body needs to maintain your weight by using the calorie calculator. This calculator will estimate your daily needs to maintain weight. Gaining weight requires more calories than maintaining weight. Once you know how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight, add 500-750 calories per day and monitor your weight. Adjust your calories up or down depending on how quickly you are gaining weight. Remember that slow weight gain is generally better quality (more muscle) than fast weight gain.
The Bottom Line
Gaining muscle requires a good diet made up of healthy foods and an adequate amount of calories. A good diet is made up of carbohydrates & fats for energy and protein to help grow muscle tissue. There are plenty of good and bad sources of carbs, fats and proteins. Filling your diet with the right ones will lead to the best results.