Gaining weight with a fast metabolism can be a challenging journey, but it’s definitely possible.
However, it can be challenging for people who want to put on weight, yet seem to burn calories more rapidly than they consume them.
This article will explore the relationship between metabolism and weight gain, the pros and cons of having a fast metabolism, as well as effective tips and strategies for healthy and sustainable weight gain despite having a fast metabolism.
The Link Between Metabolism and Weight Gain
Metabolism refers to the process in the body in which food is processed and converted to energy. The basal metabolic rate is a number used to explain the amount of calories the body burns at rest, or in other words, the calories the body requires to function (1).
When people think of metabolism it might be common for them to automatically think about weight loss, however, metabolism can play a role in weight gain as well.
Someone with a slower metabolism likely requires fewer calories on a regular basis to function, which is why a slow metabolism is often linked to weight gain.
When the body burns calories at a slower rate, excess calories can be stored as fat. This is why some individuals may need to be more mindful of the energy they consume daily, as these individuals seem to gain weight more easily than others. It's essential to strike a balance and understand that both fast and slow metabolisms present unique challenges when it comes to managing weight.
The Link Between Metabolism and Weight Loss
Contrary to those with a slow metabolism, those with a faster metabolism require more calories on a regular basis. The faster someone’s metabolism is, the more calories they burn at rest, meaning it might be easier for them to lose weight.
These people may have an easier time achieving weight loss since the body burns energy quicker than it’s being consumed. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to gain weight and increase lean muscle mass, heaving a fast metabolism can make it more challenging (2).
Is it Good to Have a Fast Metabolism?
Having a fast metabolism is not necessarily good nor bad. Oftentimes, metabolism is based on many factors out of our control such as age and genetics.
However, if you have a fast metabolism it might be easier to remain lean and prevent unwanted weight gain. At the same time, if you are striving for weight gain, a fast metabolism might pose a couple challenges since more calories are needed to build muscle and increase body weight.
Other potential benefits of having a fast metabolism are better sleep, as you won’t be digesting your dinner hours later when you’re trying to rest, which can make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Another benefit of a fast metabolism is more rapid digestion which may help prevent bloating, fullness, or constipation.
In general, regardless of whether you have a fast or slow metabolism, there are ways to navigate your health and wellness routine to reach your goals.
Can You Gain Weight With a Fast Metabolism?
Although having a fast metabolism can make it more difficult to gain weight, it is actually entirely possible.
However, it’s key to adopt a targeted and specific plan that focuses on increasing calorie intake, choosing the right foods, eating at appropriate times, and incorporating resistance training into your routine.
The following sections will explore several ways that you can gain weight with a fast metabolism.
How to Gain Weight With a High Metabolism
Eat More Calories
One of the most basic principles of weight gain is being in a calorie surplus, which means consuming more calories than you burn. To best determine your target daily calorie intake, determine the amount of calories your body requires at rest and to maintain its current weight. Then, increase your daily calories by an additional 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
Given that it takes 3,500 calories to gain one pound, it would be estimated that someone could gain one pound in a week by simply increasing their daily calorie intake by 500 calories per day.
You can find out how many calories you need by using an online calorie calculator. For a more specific approach you can work with a Registered Dietitian who is trained to understand intricate equations to best determine your basal metabolic rate and daily calorie needs.
Optimize for High Protein Meals
Protein is a necessary macronutrient for overall health and plays a main role in muscle building. By including more high-protein meals into your diet, people can healthily gain weight, especially if they are also consuming more calories than they burn.
Consider incorporating high-protein and high-calorie supplements such as protein shakes or products such as Naked Mass as a convenient way to increase calories and protein. Naked Mass is a high-calorie protein supplement that also provides carbohydrates and fat to support muscle growth and weight gain.
In addition to increasing your protein intake, finding time to incorporate resistance training is especially helpful for healthy weight gain.
Increase Carbs and Fats to Hit Daily Calories
In addition to increasing protein for muscle growth, increasing your intake of both carbohydrates and fats is also important.
Carbohydrates will provide the body with energy necessary for workouts, and fats can help provide you with extra calories to better help you achieve a calorie surplus. While carbs and protein contain 4 calories per gram, fats provide 9 calories per gram which is why they can help someone consume more calories overall (3).
When choosing carbohydrates, it’s best to focus on complex carbs such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, and legumes. For fats, focus on unsaturated fats such as from nuts and seeds, olive oil, and avocados, for example.
Eat Mostly Nutrient-Dense Foods
When working towards healthy weight gain, focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods that will provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals. This way, you can be ensured you’re consuming a varied and balanced diet all while supporting your weight loss goals.
Nutrient-dense foods that are also dense in calories include dried fruits, nuts, full-fat dairy products such as whole milk or cheese, fats and oils, nut butters, and trail mix.
Don't Neglect Resistance Training
As mentioned earlier, healthy weight gain is more effective when a calorie surplus is paired with a resistance training regimen. Building muscle is an integral aspect of healthy weight gain.
Research suggests that combining protein supplements with resistance training can promote increased muscle mass compared to strength training alone. In fact, in one study, during 6 weeks of resistance training, those who supplemented with protein had 27% more muscle growth than those who did not supplement with protein (4).
Incorporating resistance training exercises like weightlifting, squats, and bench presses are all examples of weight training that can engage and target a variety of muscle groups.
For best results, aim to train three to four days each week, with time to recover between sessions.
Break Up Your Meals and Snacks
Having smaller, more frequent meals can be a helpful way to increase overall calories. Plus, this dietary approach helps ensure a frequent supply of nutrients and calories throughout the day, making it easier to meet your goals.
Especially for those with a fast metabolism, it is more likely that your body can benefit from more frequent eating. Some people struggle with feeling full too quickly, which is why having smaller, more frequent meals may help solve this problem and allow you to eat more.
However, it’s important to ensure that you’re incorporating nutrient and calorie-dense foods. How frequently you eat will depend on individual factors, but a good starting point is to aim for 5-6 meals daily, rather than the standard 3 meals per day.
Choose Walking for Cardio
While all types of cardio is important for overall health, it may be more beneficial to incorporate lower intensity cardio exercise when you’re trying to gain weight. Intense cardio can burn extra calories, which can make it more challenging to achieve a calorie surplus.
Lower intensity cardio exercise typically favors burning fat over muscle, which helps preserve muscle mass while still providing cardiovascular benefits.
Prioritize Optimal Sleep
As with any health goal, getting good quality sleep should never be overlooked.
Not getting adequate sleep can interfere with healthy hormone balance, including the hormones that play a role in hunger and fullness. Plus, inadequate sleep can disrupt metabolic health, making it more challenging to achieve your health goals.
For the best sleep, aim to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night to support your body’s overall health, workout recovery, and ultimately healthy weight gain.
What Foods Help Gain Weight Fast?
While including a variety of foods is important for overall health, there are specific foods that are more nutrient and calorie dense, potentially making it easier to gain weight fast. Try to include some of these foods to increase your calorie and nutrient intake for weight gain:
- Proteins: Chicken with the skin on, turkey, fish, beef, eggs, and plant-based protein sources like tofu and lentils.
- Complex Carbohydrates: Whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and sweet potatoes.
- Healthy Fats: Avocados, nuts and nut butters, seeds, coconut, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon.
- Full-Fat Dairy Products: Whole milk, full fat cheese, and whole milk yogurt.
- Starchy Fruits and Vegetables: Winter squash, corn, bananas, dates, prunes, and dried fruits.
How Much Muscle Should I Try to Gain Each Month?
Because everyone’s body is different, the rate of muscle gain varies from person to person.
In general, it’s appropriate to aim for 1-2 pounds of muscle gain each month.
More rapid weight gain each month may actually be more likely to come from an increase in body fat rather than an increase in muscle mass. Aiming for slower monthly weight gain allows for a more sustainable and healthier increase in body weight.
Regardless of your progress, it’s important to stick to a routine that feels realistic and sustainable.
Achieving healthy and sustainable weight gain can be challenging, especially if you have a naturally fast metabolism.
However, by understanding your body and having a specific and targeted approach, you can absolutely meet your weight gain goals.
By focusing on consuming nutrient-dense and calorie dense meals throughout the day, including resistance training, ensuring adequate protein, and prioritizing your sleep and overall health, you will be on your way to achieving healthy weight gain in the form of lean muscle mass.
Keep in mind that patience is key in this process, and rapid results are not always the most sustainable.
It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider who can help you develop a tailored plan that will meet your unique needs and goals.