While we live in a society in which most people are obsessed with losing weight, others are actively trying to gain weight.
The direction you choose should depend on your needs and goals in order for you to live a healthy, happy lifestyle.
There are a number of reasons why someone may want to gain weight, including to improve their athletic performance, to put on muscle when aiming for a specific fitness goal, when recovering from a serious illness, to restore any unintentionally lost weight, or to improve one’s hormone levels or health.
Here we will identify how long it takes to notice weight gain and any factors that will influence how quickly or slowly you may gain weight.
What Is Weight Gain?
Weight gain can occur for a number of mental-health-related or genetic reasons, but when we are intentionally trying to gain weight for some of the reasons mentioned above, this usually occurs as we are eating a calorie surplus to the number of calories usually burnt.
The rate of fat gain or loss depends on your energy balance. A common figure among nutritionists is that 1lb of fat is equal to 3500 calories.
If you’re eating 500 calories a day more than your body is using, you could potentially gain 1lb of fat a week.
This is a simplified version, in reality, it’s more complicated than that, this is just to give you an idea.
Gaining Weight Healthily
Often we think of eating unhealthy junk foods and being fairly inactive when it comes to gaining weight.
If you’re eating high-calorie foods full of fats and sugars to gain weight then this can lead to a number of health issues such as heart disease, high cholesterol in your blood, and an increase in body fat instead of lean body mass.
Based on research from dietitians, you should aim for regular meals and some snacks as well as basing your diet on the recommended guidelines. This includes:
- Getting at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
- Meals should be made up of a base of starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, rice, or pasta. Choosing wholegrain options where possible will make this a lot healthier.
- Consuming a little dairy or dairy alternatives such as milk or yogurt. Full-fat versions of these foods will help you build up your weight.
- Ensure you’re eating enough protein, this can come from any source such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, or meat.
- Aim for two portions of fish per week, with one being oily such as salmon.
- Drink plenty of water, the current guidelines recommend that you drink between 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat them in small amounts.
What Affects Weight Gain?
As mentioned before, you can gain weight by eating a calorie surplus.
This is when you’re eating more calories than you’re burning on a regular basis, which is dependent on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and daily activity and exercise levels.
There is a range of genetic and physical factors that may affect your weight gain such as your age, genetic factors that contribute to your size, build and metabolism, sex, and hormone status.
Factors that we are able to control such as daily activity levels, eating habits, and how many calories we consume beyond maintaining our normal weight can also impact how we gain weight.
Luckily, as we can control these factors we can manipulate them to work in our favor.
Gaining Fat Vs. Muscle
When gaining weight, this can refer to either muscle or fat.
If you’ve recently lost weight due to an illness you’ll want to gain fat rather than muscle as your body needs the energy and protection from the fat to help restore your health.
If your goals are purely aesthetic, then you’re likely to want to focus on gaining weight in the form of muscle.
Defining your goals before you start the process of gaining weight is important as you can then focus on the best way to achieve them.
The rate at which an individual gains weight, diet, and activity levels all influence whether muscle or fat is gained.
Gaining muscle means you need to take a slower approach in order to optimize the process.
Slowly increasing the number of calories consumed per day and regular resistance training is sometimes referred to as ‘bulking’.
If you’re looking to gain fat, increasing your calories rapidly can help to promote quicker weight gain (if you’re vegan and want to gain weight, read our guide here).
How Long Does It Take To Gain Weight?
Once you’ve worked out your maintenance calories, you need to add on at least 500 calories per day to start with.
Weighing yourself once a week enables you to track your progress, and aim for a goal of 0.25-0.5% of the total body weight per week.
Adjusting the calorie intake as needed ensures that you will continue towards your goal.
Looking at an example of this, by eating an excess of 1,000 per day over the course of 6 months, you could see a weight gain of around 25 pounds.
If eating 500 excess calories per day for 6 months, you’re likely to see an increase in 15 pounds of weight gain.
The second and slower approach is more likely to result in gaining muscle rather than fat.
Overall, gaining weight is generally followed over a 6-month plan, which is then followed by a maintenance period to allow for your body to adjust to this new weight.
Your metabolism will change as your body adjusts to the increased calories accordingly.
Gaining weight can be a complex process, what works for one person may not work for others.
There are different reasons why people would want to gain weight and the type of weight they’d like to gain.
We hope you found this article interesting and informative, helping you with the necessary insights to gain weight in a healthy manner.