These are just a handful of emails I’ve gotten from guys complaining about not being able to build muscle.
Not because they can’t stick with a workout, but because they can’t seem to eat enough to gain weight.
They like to blame their “fast” metabolism.
They claim to eat huge amounts of food but the scale still never goes up.
So are these guys right?
The truth about your “fast metabolism”
Let’s cut the crap.
What most guys think is a “fast” metabolism is actually one (or a combination) of the following:
- Small appetite
- Increased activity levels (usually younger guys playing sports or have strenuous jobs), which lead to higher calorie requirements
- Laziness to track how much you’re eating
Small appetite: “But I eat so much and still can’t gain weight”
The high school athlete who trains water polo 3 hours per day?
Sure, they really need to eat a lot to gain weight.
But they’re the exception.
What about everyone else?
The reality behind this phrase is that you are likely eating a lot, but only on occasion.
This is the guy will go out to a Chinese buffet on a Saturday night, stuff himself till he can barely walk, and complain about not gaining weight.
But on Monday, this same guy skips breakfast, has a bag of chips for lunch, maybe drinks a protein shake a few hours later, and has a turkey sandwich for dinner.
Stop saying, “But I eat so much and still can’t gain weight.”
Most guys who eat “a lot,” only do so on occasion, but never on a daily basis.
You don’t have a fast metabolism. You just don’t track how much you’re eating.
Let me ask you something: “Do you track how much you’re eating on a daily basis?”
If you answered anything other than “yes,” then you have no right to complain about having a fast metabolism.
You might “feel” like you’re eating a lot, but the numbers don’t lie.
Until you buckle down for 2 weeks and track how much your calories, then you really have no idea what you’re talking about.
Use Myfitnesspal, a spreadsheet, your notes app, a notepad, or whatever.
Just track, and be honest with yourself.
To gain weight, most guys need a daily calorie intake of 16-18x their bodyweight in pounds.
Consistently eating a lot is fucking hard
Knowing and tracking how much you should eat is one thing.
But now comes the hard part, actually doing it.
When I first tried to gain muscle, I literally had to force down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hit my calorie goal for the day.
Because I knew if I didn’t, I wouldn’t gain pack on any size.
So if you struggle with getting enough calories, here are some tips for you:
- Do NOT follow something like intermittent fasting. IF works great for cutting and maintaining, but if you need 4000 calories per day, it can be hard to do in 1-3 meals. Don’t get me wrong, it can work fine for gaining mass, but realistically, cramming so many calories into 1-3 meals is tough. It’s much easier to eat 4-6 meals per day.
- Drink MEGA shakes. 1-3 times per day, make a MEGA shake (shakes super high in calories). A couple of these shakes can easily put you in a surplus. Here’s a sample recipe:
- 2 scoops protein powder
- 8 oz coconut milk
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- Spinach, strawberries, or other fruits you want
- Peanut butter. Peanut butter is your friend, or any foods high in fat.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”How much weight should you be gaining per week?”]
If you start consistently eating enough to gain weight, you should expect a large spike in weight your first week.
But this is largely due to increases in water weight and muscle glycogen (assuming your workout is up to snuff).
But after the first week or so, you shouldn’t be gaining any more than 1 pound per week.
Any more, and you’re putting on more body fat than lean muscle.
Here’s what to do if you think you have a “fast” metabolism and can’t gain weight
If you’re really having trouble gaining weight and think it’s because of your fast metabolism, here’s what you do:
Ask yourself: Do you eat a lot every day or just on occasion (e.g. on weekends)?
If you only binge on the weekends, then you’re not eating enough during the rest of the week. Start eating more consistently and track that shit.
Start tracking what you eat
Track how many calories you’re eating per day.
Track what you eat, be honest, and don’t bullshit yourself
No need to lie and act like your food logs will be leaked, Ashley Madison style.
No one cares but your ego.
If you have a small appetite, try eating smaller, more frequent meals. Drink some mega shakes and eat peanut butter.
I find that your appetite starts getting better once you start consistently eating a lot. So don’t worry, it does get easier.
In the end, it’s a numbers game.
If you know you’re eating X calories per day and not gaining weight, then increase it by 200.
If you’re still not gaining weight, increase by another 200 calories.
It’s not like you’re trying to treat a bullet wound with only dental floss and a bottle of Jack (not that I’ve ever done that).
It’s just math, guys.
You can do it.
Of course, while eating a fuck ton will put on weight, it won’t put on that sexy muscle mass you want.
To do that, you need to lift weights. And unlike most guys who never see results, you can’t mindlessly bench press and curl your way into a superhero body.
Luckily I cut out all the guess work for you with Superhero Shredding 2.0. All you have to do is follow the plan (and eat enough), and you’ll look like a real life version of that David statue thingy.
Great post keep it up.
Needed to see this today. Started plateau-ing and realized I just need to force more calories. Don’t think I was counting enough with my physical labor job into it. So fucking hard to eat that much though, you aren’t exaggerating
Yeah it can be tough. That’s why I like to get a lot of cals through liquids if possible with the MEGA shakes.
Awesome article, really glad that I subscribed to your site Keith!
Great Post dude, I really needed the honesty.
Great post, definitely needed the wake up call. Just one thing, how would you measure calories based on food that isn’t ready made. E.g. you go to a restaurant and order.. rice, curry with potato and chicken. Weird combo but yea. Since it isn’t labelled with how much calories it has, how would you ho about this process?
I wrote this a while back which has some good guidelines – https://www.fitmole.org/eating-out-guide/
But in short, it can be tough.
You will never know the exact calories, so you just need to do your best to estimate (e.g. learn what 3oz chicken or 1 cup rice looks like so you can use that as a standardized value and make estimates based off that). Other than that, when it comes to fat loss and eating out, just don’t eat until you’re stuffed and pick options that are super high in fat, and always make sure there’s some protein in the meal.
I’m a female 46 years old been 120lbs forever I have lost 5 lbs in the last 2 months and haven’t changed nothing didn’t know if everything slowing down makes you loose weight before you start gaining weight
Are you on your menstrual cycle? That can affect weight gain.
Not many honest and straightforward posts out there – it really is hard to consistently eat a lot. Thanks for sharing!
Here’s a hint for guys who want to eat more calories. Drink olive oil or eat butte. Easy peasy.
ya that’s super nasty but it can work.
I weight 125 lbs 6ft and I tracked a 4800-5200 calorie diet for 10 weeks using my fitness pal, monitored and limited my activity to moderate weight lifting no cardio, and playing video games, yes gainer shakes were included with the meals. Have. Not. Gained. A. Pound. Fat man
are you sure you’re tracking accurately? Legit eating 5000 cals per day will make most ppl gain weight.