T Nation

Need Help Gaining Weight


I've been reading the T-Nation articles for the past few months (this site is amazing!), but I just joined the forums. I just started training about 3 months ago, and was hoping that some people on here could give me some pointers.

I think my strength is OK (I realize there is a ton of room for improvement), but I think I'm really falling short on nutrition.

When I started 3 months ago, I was about 155 and over 20% body fat. My current stats are:

Height: 5'7"
Weight: 146
Body Fat: ~14%

My main goal is to add size and strength, but I'd like to get down to about 10%, if possible.

A typical day for me is:

2 eggs / 2 egg whites
1 Ezekiel english muffin
kale and ginger juice

2 slices of Ezekiel bread, almond butter, and fruit preserve

Post Workout:
50g protein powder

1/4 rotisserie chicken
sweet potato
steamed vegetable

Afternoon snack:

1-2 cups of shredded chicken

Before bed"
50g casein protein

If there's any more details I'm leaving out, please let me know.



Double it.


For starters, eat the yolks. All of them.


+1 for both of them. Also, reconsider your pre-workout nutrition. Ezekiel bread is awesome but it's a fairly dense food - nothing I'd want in my belly immediately before training.


I know I'm under eating, but I didn't think it was that bad.

My short term goal is to get to 165+ and around 10%


I normally eat it about an hour before I go to the gym. Once in a while I feel like I might puke (but it doesn't happen very often - maybe once every few months). What would you recommend pre-workout?


If you want to see significant gains over time, total overall calories is the most important thing to shoot for.

While it is good that you are planning out your macros, you must eat in a sufficient caloric excess to grow. If you can't get enough calories down from whole foods, try blending high calorie shakes.


Generally , I prefer not eating a few hours before I train. The other option is some fruit + protein as apples, bananas, whatever... digests quickly and won't cause any discomfort.


I know I need to be eating more, but I don't want to eat to the point where I'm packing on unnecessary weight. Is there a way to figure out how many calories I should be consuming daily? I have never paid attention to nutrition before, so this is all relatively new to me.


Eat more than the amount that is currently maintaining your bodyweight.

If you gain too much fat, lower calories slightly but continue gaining.

There is no magic number of calories that fits everyone.


When you say "short term", how long are you expecting that to take? Bodyfat percentages are tricky at best and useless at worst, but let's assume your numbers are correct. If my math is right, that's in the neighborhood of 30 pounds of lean muscle. That's, like, a lot.

I'm totally not trying to discourage you, just a reminder to keep timelines reasonable and attainable.

It's "bad" because you say your goal is to gain size. If you look at it in terms of a fat loss plan, it's been a success since you've dropped 10 pounds. At least there's that. :wink:

Keep track of what you eat, monitor your bodyweight weekly, adjust intake based on progress. It's tough to set specific guidelines because individuals will vary based on lean muscle, training, genes, etc.

The best bet is to try X, see how you respond, and tweak as you go. If you're not gaining, increase total calories. If bodyfat is an issue, make sure high-quality protein intake and healthy fats are the priority and manipulate the carbs (total amount as well as timing).

I am wondering if you're getting enough quality protein. In what you listed, there's little protein at breakfast (and yes to whole eggs), some at lunch and dinner, and then the two shakes. A decent amount of meat or some kind of animal protein should be present everytime you eat. Like, hard-boiled eggs instead of almonds as a snack.

Also, before, during, and immediately after lifting you should be flooding your body with carbs and fast-acting protein (what kind of protein is your post-WO shake?). If you're trying to put on size, that's one of the best times to throw down a bunch of liquid calories. something like Surge Recovery or Plazma would be better bets.

What does your training look like? The days, exercises, sets, and reps.


Breakfast- 68g of Protein, 100 Carbs, 48g of Fat ( get over it )
6 eggs with Cheese
1 cup Oatmeal add Fruit and Splenda
16oz Milk

Lunch- 55g Pro, 100g carbs, 15-30g of Fat depending on meat used.
8oz of Meat
3 servings of Rice

Dinner- Repeat Lunch- Same as Lunch 55,100,15-30

Before Bed: 55 pro, 5g carbs, 20g fat
16oz Egg Whites
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Whey

Thats about 3100 calories. You will grow. If you feel your getting fat then eat leaner meats. If still to much drop the milk and add egg whites at breakfast. If still to you should probably rethink how hard your training.

Before Training- I dont usually do anything but a coffee. I do not like training on a full stomach at all.
After Training- 24oz of Fat Free Chocolate Milk. Extra 24 pro, 75g Carbs, 2g fat.

This is a very light day for me but I am 90 pounds heavier than you at 5'6". Decent starting point.


Thanks for the replies, guys! Yeah, I did the math too... I was hoping I did something wrong.

I'll try to answer the questions in order:

My "short term" goal is more that I haven't thought beyond that. Once I hit that target, I'll re-evaluate and set a new one. I expect it will take me over a year to get there. If I can accomplish it sooner, then great but I don't think it's likely.

For the first two and a half months, my weight was relatively constant, but I noticed small changes in body composition. I traveled to a friend's wedding two weeks ago, and this past Saturday is when I noticed the big drop in weight (I don't weigh myself too often, but I guess I need to get in the habit of doing it at a consistent time so results are comparable). The people I work with say I'm noticeably bigger, despite the weight that I've lost.

I will say I'm happy with the progress I've made so far, but I still have a long way to go to hit my goal.

I track calories with my fitness pal, but I know I need to be more disciplined with it. I'd say I'm averaging about 2k calories per day (which I know is not enough), and I'd agree that my protein intake is probably too low - I'll focus on adding more calories from protein and fat like you suggest. I guess I'll need to start doing meal planning on Sundays to make sure I stay on target for the week.

As far as post workout protein, I either do a 50/50 mix of ON Gold Standard Whey and ON Casein or MP Combat (I don't think I'm going to get Combat again once I run out). I've been thinking about ordering ON Serious Mass. Also, I just recently started looking through the T-Nation store and am interested in trying out some supplements but wasn't sure where to start. Currently, I'm not eating any protein (aside from what's in the almond butter) pre-workout, and I'm only during water during my workout. Any advice here is much appreciated.

I'll address my workouts in a separate post.


As a general guideline, start with bodyweight in pounds x16 or x18 and monitor your weight changes over two weeks; then adjust.


First, I realize that my work out plan could be better, but I'm making gains (in either weight or reps) every time I hit the gym. Also, during the week I'm using my corporate gym (which is essentially a glorified hotel gym). It has dumbbells up to 75#, 1 smith machine (no barbell), and light kettlebells. At home I have a bar and a few bumper plates (I can go to 315# including the bar), but I'm considering ordering more bumpers soon.

Monday: Chest / Back (~45 minutes)
Warm Up: Superset 3x 15 push ups / pull ups to failure
Superset 1: 3x Flat DB Bench / Single Arm Rows (use the same DB's so there's no rest)
Superset 2: 3x Incline DB Bench / Wide Grip Lat Pull Down
Superset 3: 3x Peck Deck / Bent Over Rows
Superset 4: 3x OH DB Pullover / Assisted Dips (to failure)

On all of these exercises I shoot for 6-10 reps. Once I hit 8 reps on my third set, I go up in weight.

Tuesday: Legs (~45 minutes)
Warm Up: 3 Rounds with Kettlebell: 10 Goblet Squats / 10 SL DL (each leg) / 10 Single Leg Split Squat (bodyweight)
Squats: 5x5 with 2 minute rest intervals (unfortunately this has to be done on the smith machine)
Superset 1: 3x 8-10 Leg Extensions / 8-10 Leg Curls
Superset 2: 3x 10 (each leg) OH Lunges (45# plate) / 30 Calf Raises

Wednesday: Shoulders & Arms (~45 minutes)
Warm Up: Walk 1/2 mile
Superset 1: 3x 8-10 Military Press / 8-10 Straight Bar Curls
Superset 2: 3x 8-10 Arnold Press / 8-10 Incline Hammer Curls
Superset 3: 3x 8-10 Skull Crushers / 8-10 EZ Bar Curls
Superset 4: 3x 8-10 Seated Rear Delt BB Flyes / 15-20 Triceps Ext
3x Assisted Dips to failure
Farmers Carry with 75 lb DB
---I realize that bicep curls isn't the most practical of exercises and am thinking of subbing pull ups for at least one of those supersets.

I initially intended for this to be a conditioning day, but I've been reluctant to burn the calories.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: My Favorite Day
5x5 Power Cleans (2 min rest) - current weight is 165
5x5 Front Squats (2 min rest) - current weight is 175 (limited by my ability to clean the weight after the first 5x5 - should I switch the order?)
5x5 Dead Lifts (2 min rest) - current weight is 285

Sunday: Rest


OK. So based on that I'm about 300-600 short per day. I'll try to make it up with protein based calories for a couple of weeks and see where that gets me.


Okay, I thought you expected to do that in like 2 or 3 months. Basic goal-setting: Determine your specific goal (which you've done) and then work backwards to lay out actual short-term steps to get you there.

Definitely a great idea. Meal planning, and prepping whatever you can, is a huge advantage.

Casein doesn't belong around the workout session, it's too slow-digesting. Combat is a whey/casein mix, so good call on ditching it.

1250 calories per serving with only 50g of protein? Yeah no, I wouldn't go that route. You'd be better off with a half-gallon of whole milk. Although Serious Mass does give you one whopping gram of creatine in the mix. Ha, sometimes I forget how bad kitchen sink formulas really are.

Like I said, Surge Recovery or Plazma would fix your workout nutrition issue. Sort that out first and sort out your whole food, and then fill in with a daily protein supplement (Metabolic Drive would be the one).

I wouldn't "count" the protein in almond butter because it's not very high quality. This should explain the rest:


Thanks, Reed. I'm going to have to head to the store... Seems like a simple plan to follow.


Simple is the best thing you can do at your current level I assure you.



Keep it simple, make it a habit.