So you want to gain weight quickly, but you want to do it in a healthy way. It’s entirely possible to bulk up in a month; the key lies in your diet and daily activities.
We’ve broken down the steps you should take in each area to increase your weight in a short amount of time, without packing on flab in the process.
If gaining weight is your goal, smaller, more frequent meals and snacks are your new best friend. Aim for eating at least five small meals per day, spread throughout the day.
Divide up your protein intake throughout the day as well, aiming for between 20 and 30 grams at each small meal. Eating more than this amount of protein in one sitting has shown no benefits for lean body mass gain.
For optimal muscle gain, aim to get between 15 and 20 percent of your daily energy intake from protein. If you’re active (which you should be, to avoid an increase in body fat), get at least 50% of your calories from carbohydrates, or a minimum of 130 grams of carbs per day.
Of course, you’ll also want to up the number of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis. Adding 500 additional calories per day will lead to natural weight gain of around one pound per week—a healthy pace for increasing body weight.
Simply eating more calories without physical activity isn’t a healthy path to gaining weight, as it could translate into increase in body fat. If your goal is to increase lean body mass (A.K.A muscle mass), aim to get resistant and/or strenuous exercise most days of the week. This includes weight training your body’s various muscle groups (arms, chest, quads, calves, back, abs).
When it comes to your pre- and post-workout meals, timing and balance matter!
Before you exercise, your body needs carbohydrates to help it power through your workout. Aim to eat a small meal of carbs plus protein between one and three hours before you hit the gym.
Some great pre-workout meals are:
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries
- Handful of nuts with berries or raisins
- Oatmeal with fruit and milk
- Apple with almond butter
Following your workout, your body needs to replenish the nutrients it’s lost. So, you should eat a small meal containing carbs and protein as soon as possible post-workout, ideally within 15 to 20 minutes. Then, a few hours later, you can eat a full meal.
Some balanced post-workout meals include:
- Smoothie made with fruit and milk or protein powder
- Chocolate milk
- Whole grain wrap with turkey and veggies
- Plain yogurt
By taking a conscious approach to your daily diet while getting a healthy amount of strenuous, resistance-based exercise, you’ll add mass without adding fat. For more personalized advice or fitness plans, seek advice from a professional personal trainer or dietitian.