What Causes Weight Gain?

Conditions list medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA

If you have a fast metabolism, you have the opposite challenge of many people. While others might complain of the difficulty and challenges that go along with losing weight, you have a hard time keeping your weight up to a healthy level. This is... Read More

If you have a fast metabolism, you have the opposite challenge of many people. While others might complain of the difficulty and challenges that go along with losing weight, you have a hard time keeping your weight up to a healthy level. This is because people who have high metabolic rates burnoff calories more quickly than they can replace them with food.

While some may think that being underweight is a nice problem to have, the fact is that those who are too thin are at greater risk for a number of health problems, including:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Slower recovery times from illness and surgeries
  • Tendency toward frequent infections
  • Problems with hair, skin, and teeth
  • Disruptions in hormone regulation
  • Susceptibility to orthopedic injuries and early onset osteoporosis

To solve this puzzle and gain weight despite your fast metabolism, you can take steps to increase your muscle mass. At the same time, you must increase your calorie consumption while decreasing your caloric output.

Increase muscle mass.
An important component of weight gain is boosting development of your muscles. Strength training is the best way to build lean muscle tissue, according to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois.

Working out with weights is a great way to strength train, and you can do so easily at any local gym. Aim for a balanced lifting program that incorporates all major muscle groups in your chest, back, abdominals, arms, and legs. Weight machines at most gyms will allow you to include exercises such as:

  • Abdominal crunches
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Bench press
  • Leg press
  • Leg curls

Keep the following pointers in mind for your strength training sessions:

1. Lift three times a week.
Three lifting sessions per week will help you add muscle to your frame. Be sure to allow 48 hours between sessions to allow for adequate recovery. For example, if you lift on a Monday morning, don't lift again until Wednesday morning.

2. Keep workout volume low.
To avoid eating up extra calories, make your lifting sessions as efficient as possible. Aim for more focused, intense workouts with the goal of pushing yourself harder for a shorter amount of time.

3. Use higher weight, lower repetitions.
Try to lift as much in each session as you can comfortably handle. A good rule of thumb is to try for enough weight lift that three to six repetitions of each lift will be tiring. Aim for a total of two to three sets, resting for 30 seconds between each set.If you don't have access to a gym, you can use handheld weights or wrist weights in your home. If hand held weights aren't accessible, get creative. Try using 2 liters of milk or a can of peas.

4. Increase calorie consumption.
In order to build muscle, you have to consume more calories than you burn off. Though some might be tempted to turn to a specialized weight-gain formula, you can save by consuming your extra calories through regular food. Healthy calorie-dense foods will offer a bigger caloric bang for your buck. Some suggestions include:

  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Avocado
  • Whole eggs
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain breads
  • Juices and sports drinks
  • Cheeses
  • Whole milk products
  • Avoiding or limiting foods and beverages that contain artificial sweeteners, often called "light"
  • Avoiding or limiting empty calories, such as those found in alcoholic beverages

5. Decrease calorie burn.
While trying to gain weight, you should cut back on additional physical activities and workouts. While you should to maintain a baseline of cardiovascular exercise two or three times a week, keep sessions short (20 to 30 minutes) and keep workout intensity moderate.

Focus on relaxing more than you usually do. For example, sit while eating meals instead of standing or grabbing and eating on the go. Studies have shown that even fidgeting can significantly increase caloric burn, so watch your habits! With a little attention to properly strengthening and fueling your body, you'll have a better chance of packing on the kilos despite your fast metabolism.


27 possible conditions

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose. Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.

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