How to Gain Weight without Gaining Fat

Gain Weight (without Gaining Fat)
Gain weight. Image credit: Side Salad.

You want to gain weight, but you want this weight to be muscle and not fat. How do you do that? Fernando asked in reply to How to Lose Fat & Build Muscle At The Same Time:

I worked hard to be at 175 lbs. I have a lot of fat to lose, my body fat is 17%. I want to build muscle but I’m afraid I’ll get fatter eating 18x of my weight kcal. If I lift weights without cardio will I be able to lose fat? My diet is the following:

  • 0730 eggs, whey protein and oatmeal
  • 1000 peanut butter or fruit
  • 1230 chicken and salad or tuna
  • 1530 nuts or turkey
  • 1830 steak or chicken with salad or steamed rice and beans
  • 2130 turkey or nuts or peanut butter or fruit or jerky or tuna
  • Protein shake before workout and post workout

Get Stronger
. More strength is more muscle. Muscle burn calories, fat doesn’t. Build muscle & you’ll burn more calories, meaning a lower body fat. Follow a strength training program that includes Squats, like StrongLifts 5×5.

Eat Enough Calories
. Fat is emergency storage for your body. If you don’t eat enough, your body will hold the fat. Your body also needs food to build muscle & recover from your workouts. And you of course want to gain weight.

Start at your body-weight in lbs x 18kcal. Check the balance weekly. Gaining weight? Keep eating the same amount of calories. Not gaining weight? Add 500kcal. Repeat until you have your goal weight. Use FitDay.

Eat Clean
. You will gain fat by gaining weight. However you can minimize the fat gain by eating as clean as possible. I like the 90/10 or 80/20 rule: 6 days clean food, 2-3 junk meals on Sunday. Try this.

  • Protein. 1g/lbs daily: steak, chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, eggs, etc.
  • Whole Grain Carbs. Avoid white carbs. Eat brown rice, pasta, oats, etc.
  • Healthy Fats. Olive oil, flax seeds, fish oil, etc.

Watch out with milk. Eat most carbs post & post post workout.

. I don’t like the idea of doing cardio to burn the fat: it’s hard enough for skinny guys (girls) to gain weight in the first place. 30 mins moderate intensity cardio burns about 400kcal. You’d need 400 extra kcals to gain weight.

If you eat clean, train hard, Squat & don’t increase your calorie intake too fast, you’ll gain weight without gaining too much fat. And thus won’t need cardio.

Setting Goals
. 17 % body fat isn’t “a lot of fat to lose”. 10% is a natural year round body fat for a man (15% for a woman). Losing 7% body fat is easy. Don’t worry about the fat gain as long as you don’t get over 20%.

Get stronger & eat clean food. The fat will take care of itself. More strength is more muscle, more muscle is more calories burned. Once you have your goal weight, you can lose fat if necessary. One goal at a time is easier.

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