Can someone help me gain weight?

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    Jan 07, 2009 9:27 PM GMT
    I'm thin. skinny. 6'1 in height and only 110 lbs. I can't gain weight no matter what or how much I eat. I can't afford to go to a nutrionist/dietician or hire a personal trainer and I just joined a gym last week. Can someone please help guide me in the right direction? Has anyone ever been in this situation? I get so depressed when I go to the gym and I have a hard time doing heavy lifting, it makes me feel weak especially when all the other guys are doing much heavier lifting. And frankly it's embarassing. I know I should stay away from alot of cardio because it will just burn off all the calories I'm trying to keep so I can gain weight. Anyways, I won't keep going. Can someone please help me? I just would like some guidance.
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    Jan 07, 2009 10:29 PM GMT
    Sounds like it's time to eat more. Actually, sounds like it's been time to eat more for quite some time! Are you eating right now? Why not? Eat!
    You may think you're eating enough, but you're not. I've been a big fan of the "see food" diet for the past year (see food, eat it). I was in slightly the same boat you're in now about 2 years ago. I was 6'2", and about 120lbs. I started eating a bit more, and slowly gained a little weight. Last year I started eating about 5 to 6 semi-small meals per day. I put on more weight. Now I eat about 5 - 6 regular meals per day. I'm definitely no success story, as I still only weigh about 165, but it's a start.

    Just keep going to the gym, and look at the workout programs here on RealJock. Start with the "Strength Foundation" workout, and start eating everything in sight. You won't have to worry about getting fat, at least not for a long while. After the 12 weeks of the program, you will notice that you're stronger, and will realize that nobody in the gym is looking at you work out, so don't worry about what or how they're lifting. Besides, like you, I started out with really light weights, due to a lack of ever working out before last summer. The best part about using the lighter dumbbells is that they're usually available! When you get to the 25 - 45lb dumbbells, you end up having to wait for other people to finish with them. Oh, and learn to love the pull-up bars. They're usually available, and work multiple muscle groups when you use them.

    Get yourself a nice tub of protein shake, and bring a scoop's worth with you in your gym bag. I keep mine in a ziplock bag, and pour it into my Nalgene bottle of water right after my workouts, and chug it before I get in the shower. Drink it right after you workout and before you change clothes to make sure you don't forget to drink it!

    Other than that, just read around here and ask questions. The people here are generally very friendly and helpful. Maybe start a blog of your progression with pictures as you progress?
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    Jan 07, 2009 10:31 PM GMT
    When you say "no matter how much I eat", have you ever actually tracked how many calories that is? Some foods are very filling on a surprisingly small number of calories, so it may be that you're not eating as much as you think you are.

    The basic formula calories in = calories out will maintain you at your current weight. Eat more, and you'll gain weight; burn more, and you'll lose weight. If you're working out, at least some of that weight gain will be muscle.

    As far as the exercise goes, a smaller number of repetitions at a higher weight is your friend. You should also be focusing more on the large muscles of the body than the small ones. While you might like larger arms, you'd be better served doing squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows, and benchpresses than bicep curls or tricep kickbacks. You also need to get over caring what the guy next to you is doing. You are at the gym to be a better version of you, not to be better than the man the next weight over. Most likely, he doesn't have a clue what sort of weight you're using, and doesn't really care either.

    You also need time between workouts for your muscles to rest and recover. At least 24 hours, and even better is 48 hours before you use the same muscles again when you're doing anything with heavy weights. And for some exercises, like pullups and pushups, body weight alone is heavy weight.

    As a formerly excessively skinny guy myself, I know the annoyance of being unable to gain weight. But you really do need to consume more calories if that's your goal, and preferably in healthier ways than a supersized fast food meal. Some simple ways of doing that:

    Protein shakes. Most of the major brand names are pretty overpriced, but you can get some quality powder cheap from places like, where you're paying less than $5 per pound compared to GNC's charging more than $10 per pound. Blend it in milk, add some fruit or chocolate or peanut butter, and you can add a good amount of calories as a drink.

    Trail mix. Basically, never let yourself get hungry. Dried fruit, nuts, healthy cereals (think along the lines of Cheerios or Chex) can generally be bought in bulk, and you can mix them up and carry around a ziplock bag and take a handful every so often.

    Fruit juices. Not recommended for those trying to lose weight, as a fruit juice has nearly as many calories as a sugared soft drink, it's actually a pretty good choice when you're just trying to add calories to your diet. Nearly the same calories as a soft drink, but with more vitamins and minerals and whatnot.

    Milk can be added to your scrambled eggs easily; and at your weight, unless you have cholesterol problems you can go with whole milk and whole eggs, instead of skim milk and eggwhites. So can cheese. Meat can be added to your pasta sauces, and to your salads. Olive oil or peanut butter on your bread tastes good. There are higher-protein pastas on the market that cost just about the same as a normal white pasta.

    Track your calories consumed for a week on a site like and you might be surprised to see what you're actually consuming. Play around with some of the foods there to find a way to eat more without busting your budget.
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    Jan 07, 2009 11:04 PM GMT
    Sure, where do you want the pizza delivered.icon_cool.gif
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    Jan 07, 2009 11:12 PM GMT
    go to a site like and track what you're eating. you may not be eating as much as you think.

    just a rough guess from you basic numbers, i would say at a very minimum, 150g of protein a day, but probably closer to 200g.
    and upwards of 3000 calories a day, you have to work hard to eat that much.
    If you got the protein from chicken breasts alone, would be close to 1 1/2 pounds, (or milk alone is 1.25 gallons) so it really is a lot.
    shakes are your friend here.

    and you'll want to be eating every couple hours. some even wake up in the middle of the night to have a protein shake.

    lean meats, like chicken, fish, lean cuts of pork are great sources of protein
    canned tuna is a great snack

    try to avoid saturated fats (mostly comes from meat and dairy), yes they are high calorie, but they're not good for you, go for unsaturated fats - avocados, nuts (peanut butter is your friend), olive oil. go for the 2% milk.
    although as a fellow "hard gainer" i still enjoy a bowl of ice cream quite often.

    try to avoid processed sugars (like white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soda/coke/pop ) , go for complex carbs, they'll stick with you longer. Things like whole grain bread (make sure it says 100% whole grain), brown rice. potatoes even.

    avoid trans fats, don't just look at the charts, read the ingredients, and avoid anything that says hydrogenated.

    try and make sure every meal you eat has protein in it. instead of just having an apple, have it with peanut butter.

    make sure you "carb up" before you go to the gym. check at your local bike or outdoor store, there is carb gel ( power gel and gu are 2 brands, you can also get it online for cheaper) it's a small packet, you just open the top and squeeze it into your mouth, lots of different flavors, and some have caffeine which can give you a little extra.
    speaking of caffeine, a little espresso right before a workout can do wonders if you're dragging.
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    Jan 07, 2009 11:26 PM GMT
    Your first assignment: Scan the threads on this site. This question is probably the most popular on this site and it occurs repeatedly. I think it even beats out "what exercises can I do to get a six pack by next week?"

    You note that a pattern occurs reading these threads, however:

    1) Original poster has limited info in profile, no picture, and only one or a few posts, and provide few, if any details on diet, workout, or lifestyle.

    2) Many forum regulars take the poster seriously. Spend time typing, thinking, giving advice. Most of it good and worth listening to.

    3) Original poster never returns, never interacts, never gives an update, and never posts ever again.

    * makes one check mark *

    * makes second check mark *

    * holds pencil, expectantly *

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    Jan 07, 2009 11:33 PM GMT
    From a professional and scientific standpoint I can't tell you how your body works....clearly it works overtime if you are that thin. That being said, I am 6'3 and was at one point 155 and now am up to 192. Make up you mind to eat and eat some more. I know you think you are eating a lot....I do too....but it is not enough. Eat more.

    Eat the right foods though at the right times or you will gain and not in the good way. Stay away from cardio right now and focus on building muscle. For me I started eating at least 1 gram of protein per body weight. It may seem hard but it is not when you break it down. At first you will think you can't possible stuff more into yourself. You can.

    Stay focused and dedicated. It is a lifestyle to maintain if you want to reach a goal. Don't think you will get there overnight or even next month. It won't happen.

    Set small goals, reach them and keep going.

    Oh and eat some more.....right now.
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    Jan 08, 2009 1:13 AM GMT
    thank you for the replies... one problem. It IS really hard to eat alot of calories. I tried it before. I ended up making myself sick eating too much. I've never been one to over eat, and if I do I feel nauseous, sometimes even making myself sick where I end up losing everything i just ate. I have muscle milk powder which I'm going to start mixing with whole milk. I think rather than eating more. I'm just going to eat foods with lots of calories and stay away from foods that don't have any. If I stick with this, about how long does it normally take to gain a few pounds? I'll feel even more motivated when I see it start to work. I took a pic with my phone. I won't post it here because I'm just too skinny. maybe i'll post it with an "after" pictures if I am able to gain some weight. Thanks again for all the tips and suggestions.
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    Jan 08, 2009 3:31 AM GMT
    normally 1 to 2 pounds a week, in your case probably closer to 1.

    also check out the weight gainer shakes. with 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of powder, you can get around 700 calories, don't mix more than this at once, cause you probably won't be able to drink it all. and you'll probably need a hand blender, cause they tend to be lumpy.

    I've also done 2 cups milk, 1 cup weight gain, and 1 scoop protein. makes it a bit more drinkable (plain weight gainer tends to be a bit thick), and gets you more protein

    the trick is to eat often, not to gorge yourself all at once.

    mid morning snack
    mid afternoon snack
    shake before bed

    snacks can be a
    *good sized hand full of nuts
    *apple with peanut butter
    *some turkey and cheese.
    *shake of some kind.
    *basically anything that gets you some protein and a bit of fats.

    also with all this remember to drink lots of water. one of the guys i work with just had kidney stones, they're not fun at all.
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    Jan 08, 2009 4:06 AM GMT
    Back in October I weighed 119 pounds. I'm a little over 6' and have a high metabolism even at 39. What I did was go to GNC, bought one of their weight gainers, found a recipe online for shakes and do not use the shake as a meal replacement. I always had one with a meal. Lately I've cut back to having only 1/2 shake per day with dinner and the other 1/2 after my workout.

    I have gained 40 pounds in the last 3 months and now weigh almost 160. Yes, I have a little bit of a belly now but I'm fine with that. I took the pictures in my profile at the beginning of January when I signed up for this site if it's any indication.

    Here's the shake I make:

    16oz. of whole milk
    2 scoops vanilla whey protein
    2 bananas
    2 tbsp. flax seed (or 1 tbsp. flax seed oil)
    2 tbsp. of natural peanut butter
    2 tbsp. of honey
    2 scoops low fat ice cream
    4 ice cubes
    10 grams of glutamine powder (optional)
    10 grams of creatine (optional)

    Make sure you keep eating healthy and if your the type that feels they need a desert after the meal then this shake is it. It's very tasty and filling.
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    Jan 08, 2009 4:18 AM GMT
    It's less a matter of gorging yourself at every meal than it is a matter of eating something every few hours so that you are never hungry. Some very thin guys are that way in part because they almost never feel hungry, and thus end up either skipping meals or not eating much at a meal because they only eat a very small amount. But if you actually track what you're consuming, it's easier to make sure you're meeting your requirements. 5 meals/snacks at 600 calories each makes for 3,000 calories in a day, which I'm betting is more than you're getting now. A few ways to get to 600 calories:

    2 handfuls (total 1/2 cup) of cashews: 378 calories +
    1 slice whole wheat bread 119 calories +
    1 tablespoon peanut butter 94 calories = 591 calories


    2 cups cooked spaghetti 440 calories +
    1 cup spaghetti sauce with meat 215 calories = 655 calories


    2 slices rye bread 178 calories +
    1 cup chicken salad 416 calories = 594 calories


    2 scoops whey protein powder 220 calories +
    16 ounces vanilla soy milk 260 calories +
    1 banana 109 calories = 589 calories.

    See how this goes? None of those is all thus much food, and you can probably have one set like any one of those every 3 hours without feeling too full, right?
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    Jan 08, 2009 5:41 AM GMT
    Given your height and your weight, you may want to consider seeing a doctor.

    Key thing to gaining a fair amount of mass in a reasonable time is to EAT.

    Eat a MINIMUM of six times a day and GRAZE between meals. It takes work to get used to it, but after the first week it starts getting real easy.

    Weigh yourself every day so you can get used to seeing your weight fluctuate. It's normal to see your weight bounce around by as much as 10 lbs due to water loss/gain and bathroom visits.

    You'll know if you're eating right because you'll see a gain of about 5 lbs after a month, and if you're really hitting it on the money, you'll have gained 10 lbs.
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    Jan 08, 2009 7:18 AM GMT
    First thing, I'd like you to document everything that goes into your mouth. I'd like you to download the PCS20 food calculator from the USDA.

    I'd like you to report your daily caloric intake to the group, so that we can answer your question in a qualified way.

    This question gets asked constantly, so here's a copy of one of my earlier responses to it.

    Sports training is a science. Flex89 gained 74 pounds of muscle, at the age of 19, in 5 months, while lowering his body fat percentage by two percentage points.

    Flex89 is a type 1, insulin-dependent, diabetic, and now enjoys the additional benefits of more stable blood sugar, a faster metabolism, much improved HBA1C numbers (6), and improved appearance, as well as improved sleep patterns and an improved sense of well-being.

    Flex89 had a bag of lemons (he has a chronic disease), so we made lemonnade.

    It's plain malarkey to say it should take YEARS to gain just a few pounds. If you're having that much trouble, you could well have a medical condition, a mental condition, or are just be extremely unwise in your training method.

    If you consume more calories than you expend, you WILL gain weight. It's that very, very, simple. These are simple, simple, simple, facts. It's as sure as E=MC2.

    1. Get a scale. A good electronic postal scale for about 40 bucks at Office Depot.
    2. Download the PCS 20 food calculator from the USDA.
    3. Count your calories.
    4. Bring your calories to 5000 a day.

    With proper calories, one can easily gain a pound a week, especially if he is young. With proper calories, and anabolics (AAS), and insulin, it's not uncommon to gain 2.5 pounds a week, or more.

    If the poster IS eating over 5000 kcal a day and can't get over his current weight, he's either very active, is medically ill, or is mentally ill.

    Success is by design. It's all science, and common sense.

    Understand, no offense intended for the very sensitive among us. Eating disorders are common. Hyper-thyroid is also very common. Failure to eat adequately is even more common.

    I've provided you with a plan for diagnosis, study, and, ultimately, for success. Now, you have to take action, if you truely want results.

    I also think you should see a medical professional to have a CMP, testosterone, free thryoid, and fasting glocuse test. You're REALLY thin, if you're 6'1", and 110#.

    Please take this advice in a positive way and not lash out because I've been honest.

    If your'e truly eating, and can't gain weight, you might well have hyper-thyroid disorder. It's easily treatable. My mom has it.

    If you won't eat, you need to see a pro to understand why.

    First thing, though, count those calories, so everyone knows where you included.
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    Jan 08, 2009 7:28 AM GMT
    Here's another copy of my discussion on this topic in another forumn here on Real Jock.

    Well, to the poster:

    Lessee, if you eat 600 calories per sitting (very easy to do), and you eat 10 times, that's 6000 calories.

    If you only eat six times, that's 3600 calories.

    If you think on it, it's easy to see how one could clearly get 5000 calories per day no problem.

    Now, if you throw in some junk food, and end up with a couple of 2500 calories meals, you can obviously go well over 10,000 kcal in a day without a lot of hard work.

    Small meals often.

    At contest time, I'll do 11 meals at around 400 calories each, so I pack 4400 calories per day into my diet when I'm working to get lean.

    Now, if you take some time to research this on your own, and with a minuscule effort, you can go to, say, Burger King, and download you'll see that a single Triple Whopper sandwhich packs 1250 calories, by itself. Add fries for another 580 calories, and finally a soft drink for another 380 calories, with no dessert, you have yourself a single 2210 kcal meal. That's just one meal, and it's not the buffet, but, a burger, fries, and a drink.

    Now, this isn't an endorsement of fast food, but, an example of how caloricly intensive some food is.

    One doesn't have to do a whole lot of thinking to understand how easy it is to get a whole bunch of calories.

    Eating in a healthy way, with, say 50 grams of protein (200 calories), 50 grams of carbs (200 kcal), and 5 grams of fat (conservative and 55 calories at 11 cals per gram (sometimes 13)). If one eats just 6 times per day, with a low fat diet, he's at 2730 kcal. It's very easy. It would not be unusual to see an advanced athlete do 100 grams of carbs per sitting, or even more. Throwing in some simple sugars for another 40 grams of carbs per meal, it's realistic that one could be doing 150 to 200 grams of carbs, per meal, 6 to 10 times daily. Even with low fat at 6 times, if one ate 150 grams of carbs per sitting for just six meals, being very clean in the diet, the calories jump to 5130. This is truly easy to do.

    Now, if one wants more calories, still, he can throw in MCT oil, and throw in some more polyunsaturated fats, and mononsaturated fats, or add more meals, and you quickly get up over 7000 kcal.

    On my low carb days, even on contest, the lowest I go is 30 grams per meal. Ever. On my high carb days, I'll go to 200 grams per meal, or more.
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    Jan 08, 2009 1:44 PM GMT
    I'm not lashing out, but just to be clear. I don't have an eating disorder. I have been to the doctor, i've been to endocrinologist, they can't find anything wrong. It's just the way I am. I am going to the grocery store this weekend and try to get food to try and start this new calorie intake diet. I kinda dread it. I will try my best. If I am able to eat a fair amount of calories, I will try to track it online and let you all know how it is coming. Thank you SO much for all the suggestions and helpful advice. I really appreciate it.
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    Jan 08, 2009 2:55 PM GMT
    Awesome. Now, count those calories, and see where you are at. If you don't have a disorder (physical, or mental), likely, you aren't getting enough to eat. If you're very ectomorphic, it can seem hard to gain, but, the trick is in the calories.

    I'd like you to take a tape measure, and measure the distance around your wrist, which is a strong indicator of your somatype. What's that measurement?

    If you're somatype is ecto, you'll want to keep from doing stuff that expends tons of calories, and, you'll want to throw some good fat into your diet, just for calories.

    I've never met anyone who can't gain weight, given enough calories. Without exception, everyone I've ever coached who has eaten has gained.

    Eat stuff that tastes good, and is caloricly dense, but, stay away from fried foods, and lots of simple sugars. You need carbs, and fats...and plenty of them.

    I have the good fortune that I'm a classic mesomorph and weighed 175 at 5'5" and 12% in high school, and I look at weights, and the buffet, and grow like a weed. I grew up eating; good solid food...meat, potatoes, ham, turkey and lots of it (my dad is a cattle rancher). You absolutely have to eat. Gobble down some peanut butter numerous times a day. Hit the buffet.

    Sometimes, flex89 and I, will hit the buffet twice in a day. When I weigh 230, I'll hit upwards of 7000 calories a day.

    You have to fuel the furnace.

    If you count the calories (if this is important to you, you'll do it), I bet you'll find you're coming up short.

    You said you saw an endo doc. What was your free thyroid? Do you know what your testosterone was? Did you get the blood work results?

    Sometimes, folks get worms (yes, worms), too. Ever had that test done?
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    Jan 08, 2009 9:46 PM GMT
    no, i never had a worm test done... maybe I should, but yes, I had the thyroid tested. Twice. I had plenty of testosterone, and the blood tests all came back good. I'll just have to count the calories. I honestly don't think I can eat 7000 calories a day. that ALOT of food...