So you want to put on a few healthy pounds?
Great! It’s a simple math equation. Calories in > Calories spent = Weight Gain. Use our TDEE Calculator to estimate how many calories you burn each day then come up with a diet plan that gets you to your goal.
Simple enough so far, but here is the 5 Million Dollar question…
Conventional wisdom says that you should eat six smaller meals per day, spread out your protein for muscle building and the pounds will stack up. But you aren’t the average person.
If you struggle with a fast metabolism and find it impossible to gain weight, you have a very special problem. For that reason, most research and commentary is done on how to lose weight and that does you no good.
In this article, I have found the best information available on which meal frequency is optimal to gain weight.
Common Thought 1: Eat More Frequently For Muscle Growth
Some research suggests that in order to maximize muscle growth you need to eat five or six meals per day. The argument for more frequent meals is that it evens out your protein intake, which results in maximum synthesis and growth.
The issue with this study is that it only looks at one meal and neglects to look at this behavior over an entire 24 hour period.
Let’s look at how increased meal frequency affected muscle growth over a longer time period.
This study that lasted 8 weeks, showed that subjects eating 6 meals per day had no significant difference in muscle growth than those who ate 3 meals.
Common Thought 2: Eating more meals will allow me to consume more calories
I have heard from thousands of people like you who struggle to gain weight and a common theme always stands out.
How do I increase my appetite?
Well, if you are eating several small meals per day, Harvard research suggests that you are actually killing your appetite. A 6 month feeding trial of 51 adults showed that eating more than three meals per day significantly reduces hunger.
So far I have been able to prove that increasing meal frequency has zero affect on muscle mass and actually decreases your appetite.
The other big issue we have yet to cover is how people who struggle to gain weight are a special case.
Most conventional wisdom does not apply to you
Because you are a special case, you need to take unconventional approaches to achieve your goal. I can confidently say that this is true, because I was able to gain 20 pounds of muscle after years of being a scrawny dude.
Here are a few tips that helped me eat more and finally gain weight:
Tony’s Weight Gain Tip #1: Eat 3 larger meals to hit Daily Calorie Surplus
As we covered earlier, if you eat several smaller meals throughout the day, it is scientifically proven to make you feel more full. I don’t know about you, but if I am absolutely starving, I am able to eat a lot of food.
I’m talking a double meat burrito at Chipotle with Guac. (Yes…I know the guac is extra)
Take Japanese Sumo wrestlers for example. Their livelihood depends on them being able to pack on pounds. In some cases they are able to take down 20,000 calories in just two meals!
Eating larger meals will allow you to eat more at each sitting. Eating fewer meals is also more conducive for those who have a busy lifestyle.
Tony’s Weight Gain Tip #2: Use larger plates and utensils
For this tip we turn to a scientific study that gave 85 nutrition experts either a small or large ice cream bowl. When given the larger bowl, these experts served themselves 31% more!
If you are looking to eat more at each meal, grab yourself the biggest plate in the pantry. You will be able to eat more without even noticing!
Tony’s Weight Gain Tip #3: Eat quicker than normal to trick your mind
The goal is to eat more calories than you burn. Eating quicker than normal allows you to trick your mind into staying hungry for longer. Think about the competitive eaters at the Nathans Hot Dog eating contest.
Now I don’t want to leave this blog post and start stuffing hot dogs down your throat because they are trained professionals. However, the concept of eating quickly is sound.
There you have it. Eat fewer, but larger meals and use my 3 tips to finally crack the code to healthy weight gain.
Leave me a comment and tell me what your weight gain goal is. I would love to hear from you!
I am the founder of GainingWeight101.com.
I struggled to gain weight for years before gaining a healthy 20 pounds.
My only goal is to provide support and guidance for those who struggle to gain weight.
I never skip leg day.