T Nation

Metabolism Shift, Trouble Gaining Mass


Hello T-Nation, I'm 16 and I've been lifting for a year. More seriously for around 6 months.
I know I've been making some great progress, and that beginning to lift weights has really changed my life; however, I feel I'm not making the gains that I truly could be.

I used to be the kid that couldn't eat any junk food or else I would gain 5 pounds instantly, and when I started lifting I had already been working on nutrition for a while. I feel I've been able to turn almost all of my fat into muscle. However somewhere down the line my metabolism must have changed because now I'm finding it very hard to gain any mass at all.

At 135 lb.s (5'7") this is very frustrating. I was able to gain mass very quickly when I had the fuel to do so, but now I'm not nearly gaining as much ground as I used to. When I realized this was happening I began to eat protein until it started coming out my ears (about 1.25g per pound), but I'm still having trouble gaining mass.

My question is, How can I effectively gain muscle mass without putting all of my fat back on, or having my metabolism shift back.


Sound like you need to start adding a lot more carbs and fats to your diet (post your nutritiion program and we can advise better). If your trying to add mass you may increase your body fat % a little bit, but so what. You can always burn off the extra fat while maintaining muscle mass on a fat burning cycle. You probably have this already but here a list of foods you should be consuming (if your training right, at 16, your not going to put all the fat back on):

Whole Wheat Bread
Sweet Potato
Low Sugar Oatmeal
Malto Meal
Brown Rice
Real Yogurt
Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole Grain Bread
Mixed Nuts
Natural Peanut Butter
Almond Butter


Forgot to say ... every meal Protein, Carbs, Fat


Thank you for the reply. Here is my typical meal plan:

Fish oil pills

Meal 1 / Breakfast
Vector Cereal
Cottage cheese

Meal 2 / Pre Lunch
Breaded Chicken breast
Tomato juice

Meal 3 / Lunch
Breaded Chicken Breast
Energy Bar

Meal 4 / Pre workout
can of tuna
Large glass of orange juice

Meal 5 / Post workout
Protein shake: 2 scoops protein / Creatine / Honey / whole banana / Skim Milk

Meal 6 / Dinner
4 eggs
Orange Juice

This is just an excerpt, what I had yesterday, I generally change it up alot. Aside from this I do usually have a few "between meal" snacks like a small bowl of peanuts, an apple, raspberries, strawberries, a cup of Yogurt. As well, I generally make sure that each meal has about 28g of protein and about 300 calories.

Your most likely right about those carbs, When I got started I kind of ingrained in myself that carbs where the enemy and mostly stopped eating them.

So are you saying that I will start making gains again if I eat more carbs? I know that I'm pushing myself to my limits during my workouts; however, I don't seem to be making much progress at all, especially in muscle mass. All help is apreciated.


Absolutely. Protein is building material, Carbs and fat are fuel. But if you don't have enough fuel, your body will burn the protein.


Hey man, I can't offer any nutritional advice, but I just wanted to say some stuff that you're probably not going to want to hear.

Okay, so if I ate some junk food and gained some pounds 'instantly', at your weight, I would take that as a sign of my body wanting to increase its' weight. Secondly, you really couldn't have had much fat at 135lbs. Almost everyone has a little bit of a gut or love handles, IT'S NORMAL. At 135lbs you probably had tiny ones, and if you had complained to anyone they would probably have laughed at you, if they weren't around the same level of skinniness.

If you're not gaining mass, you need to eat more, simlpe as that. I didn't check through your diet - I'm not very good with that stuff - but you said around 300 calories per meal. 300 x 6 = 1800, that's tiny dude. I would aim for at least 2500, and if you still don't gain, more. 1.25g/lb per pound isn't a lot, but this should increase if you increase overall calories.

I pulled out the stuff you said at the top in my quote, but you're 16 right? and feel like you could be making more progress? well, if you are, then you're certainly right. At 16 you can eat a lot and pretty much not worry about getting fat at all (within reason). You have great potential right now to really put on some size, don't waste it.


Thank you! it sounds like you guys really know what you're talking about.

In regards to w00tage, I think you may have misunderstood the first part. I was a lot shorter, and a lot bigger when I started working on nutrition. I often had people calling me chubby, which was a huge motivator. I lost a lot of fat and got a bit taller, and started lifting weights when I was pretty lean, maybe 140 lb.

Regardless, your advice sounds excellent. 2500? that sounds like it will be way more than I'm used to, but I live by the saying "you'd be surprised what the body can adapt to", so I'll give it a shot for sure.


I was a bit reluctant to say 2500, because to me, that's really very little, but I thought it'd be a good starting point for you. Since most people seem to be aiming for 3-3.5k on their bulks, I figured due to your current weight you could probably get away with 2500, but expect the need to increase this. All you can do is trial and error really. If you're not gaining, eat more.

Okay man, if you were fat before, that's cool. I'm glad you had the balls to do something about it, instead of feeling sorry for yourself. You might need to watch the carbs, you may not. If you're getting a little fat, I'd try removing some carbs and replacing those calories with fat + protein; if I were you. You're only 16 so shifting weight is real easy for you right now, so don't worry too much about fat gain. You won't accidentally turn into the fat kid overnight, especially if you're busting your ass at the gym.

On second thought, 2,500 calories is probably a tad low (I'd be more comfortable suggesting 3000+, but I'd rather have someone more knowledgable chime in than make guestimates).


Thank you again, that's really helpful.


Can't give a concrete caloric intake number because there are too many variables. Work hard in the gym and eat enough to gain ~1lb per week. You'll gain a little fat, but don't sweat it. You have the potential right now to put on a humongous amount of muscle. Don't let a few pounds of fat stop you.

IF YOU FIND that you can gain 1lb a week and not gain any fat, EAT MORE. Go for 1.5 or 2 lbs a week, and reevaluate after a few weeks of that. With the amount of growth hormone and testosterone in our system right now, there's no telling what you can do, so don't limit yourself.