March 15th 2021


Putting on weight may seem like an undesirable goal to some, but to others it may be their top priority. So why would one want to gain weight in the first place? Well, that depends. Both men and women may actively seek ways to put on mass to help build their physique or achieve an ideal body weight. So, is gaining weight as simple as “calories in and calories out”? Let’s take a closer look at what goes into gaining weight and what you can do to meet your goal. 

First, it’s important to begin with a reasonable desired weight when beginning your journey to weight gain. Also, create a timeline which allows you to gain the desired amount of weight in a sensible amount of time. Set yourself up for success with a realistic goal that works for you. Remember, gaining weight, mass and muscle is a process which takes time. Ideally, with weight gain or weight loss it’s recommend to aim for about ½ to 1 kilo per week.


Three Steps to Weight Gain

Step One: Set an Obtainable Goal With a Defined Plan

Example: Joe wants to gain 4 kilos in one month; therefore, his goal is to gain about one-half kilo each week.


Step Two: Calculate Estimated Daily Calorie Needs

Determine Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

Male: BMR = 66.5 + ( 13.75 x weight in kg ) + ( 5.0 x height in cm ) – ( 6.76 x age in years )

Female: BMR = 655 + ( 9.56 x weight in kg) + ( 1.85 x height in cm ) – ( 4.68 x age in years )

Multiply BMR by an Activity Factor:

Activities of Daily Living: 1.0 – 1.4

Low Active: 1.4 – 1.5

Active: 1.6 – 1.8

Very Active: 1.9 – 2.4

This number equals your Total Estimated Daily Calorie Needs


Step Three: Adjust Calories for Weight Gain

 If your goal is to gain ½ to1 kilo per week.

Add ≈500 calories to the calculated estimated daily calorie needs to gain about ½ kilo per week, assuming no change in activity level. Increasing intakes by an additional ≈500 calories per day which equals roughly an additional 3,500 calories consumed per week. ½ kilo equals about 3,500 calories. 

For Joe to reach his goal of gaining ≈1 kilo per week, he would need to increase his daily caloric intake by an additional ≈1,000 calories per day above his Total Estimated Daily Calorie Needs.



Closer Look at Calories

Energy comes from food in the form of calories. A calorie is a unit used to measure energy within a food source. Your body can metabolize or break down all three macronutrients carbohydrates, protein and fat to release energy. Both carbohydrates and protein provide the same amount of calories and fat provides roughly double.

  • Protein = ~4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates = ~4 calories per gram
  • Fat = ~9 calories per gram


Nutrition Beyond Calories

Many believe that a goal to gain weight means you can eat anything you want whenever you want.  That it’s the golden ticket to junk food, buffets, drive-thrus and all you can eat desserts. However, not all calories are created equal. When it comes to weight gain - nutrients are just as important as calories. The diet you implement, the foods you choose and calories you consume all matter. Your body runs on calories from food, but it runs optimally when you provide it with the proper nutrients. Foods provide different nutritional value beyond just calories – such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and more. Moreover, where the additional calories come from depend on your fitness goals. If interested in gaining mass and muscle, then you may consider increasing your protein intake. If interested in overall weight gain, then you might increase the balance of macronutrient intake from protein, carbohydrates and fat. Find different fueling opportunities throughout the day and incorporate a variety of foods to help meet your caloric needs. Here are some examples of foods, which may help increase your caloric needs.  

  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Eggs
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Fatty fish
  • Plant oils


What About Gainers?

If dietary needs are unmet through food alone, then you may consider a gainer to help meet caloric needs. Gainers are high calorie supplements taken with the intent to gain weight or help maintain weight. They are intended to supplement the diet, not replace it. Gainers can be a convenient way to help boost calorie intake. Gainers can be taken post-workout, between meals, with meals or whenever you simply need a calorie boost. New users may find it beneficial to begin with half a serving and increase gradually to a full serving, as tolerated. You can also increase the amount of calories by adding other ingredients such as nuts, nut butters, seeds, and/or fruits.



Ultimately, weight gain goals may look different for everyone. For example, the rate and ability to gain weight differs from person to person. Individual daily caloric needs to gain weight depends on the individual’s activity level and even the type of activity. It also depends on you, your metabolism and body. In the end, putting on size requires a balance of proper training, adequate, quality nutrition and time. Approach weight gain with an open mind and patience. Begin with a goal, understand your caloric needs, and then modify diet as necessary.