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Why can’t I gain weight?

Do you keep asking yourself, “Am I eating enough?” when it should be apparent, from the fact that your scale isn’t giving you higher readings, that the answer is “No.” If you were eating enough, you would at least be gaining some fat. And the question is almost irrelevant, for the more muscle mass you have, the more food you’ll need. If you think gaining 10 pounds from your current weight takes a lot of eating, wait until you try to gain 10 pounds after you’ve put on 30 pounds of muscle. You have to eat progressively.

How do you know if you’re taking in enough calories to gain weight? The scale will give you progressively higher readings. How do you know if you’re taking in enough calories to gain fast? Not only will the scale give you progressively higher readings, your bodyfat will increase (use a skinfold caliper, don’t try to estimate by eye). This is not sophisticated.

What should you eat? Basically more of everything. But healthy food, people. Read labels and don’t buy grain products that contain flours that aren’t whole grain, don’t buy food with corn syrup added. Eat more vegetables, more lean meat and dairy, more fruit, more legumes, more healthy fats. If you don’t know if an item is healthy, find out. Information is too readily available today for you to justify remaining ignorant.

And you should learn how to cook. Take a cooking class of any kind, learn to cook some new foods. You’ll be much happier if you learn to make a few different dishes. You’ll find it much easier to stick with your weight gain diet plan, you’ll save money, you’ll save time, you’ll stay healthier. If you haven’t yet learned to cook, you can’t imagine how much easier it is to eat a lot, or a little, with a variety of well prepared meals. You’re going to be eating a lot of meals, a lot of food, in your lifetime. Invest some time and effort up front to make it more enjoyable.

Don’t have time to cook? Don’t have time to eat right, or to go to the grocery store? Then you don’t have time to be reading this website. Health first, entertainment second. Get going!

by David on August 23, 2007 · 31 comments

Filed under Weight Gain

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris August 14, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Hello im 26 years of age 5.7 H and 116lb and i am having problems gaining weight. one of my main concerns is how does one gain weight if eating wheat gives me imflammation around the heart. eating dairys seems to cause pains in my chest on my left side and eating animal proteen seems to cause a lot of heart burn? please if you could get back with me on a good answer i would much appreciate it. someone like me it seems that i am heavily male nurished and since i cannot gain any body fat due to the break down of body fat to protect my body from metabolic acids what would you suggest?

Matt August 17, 2009 at 12:15 am

Try eating different types of food, such as Asian food like Chinese noodles and fish balls/raw beef plus a bit of vegetables such as “choi sum”. Drink weight gain supplements (whey protein). Hit McDonald’s and go for the burgers. Hit the gym and workout with intensity. Don’t sleep too late you should try and get at least 8 hours sleep per night. Drink juice/water all the time so you keep hydrated. Dehydration will affect your workout intensity. Cut back on intense aerobic exercise which burns calories (such as running on treadmill, intense swimming and basketball) If all else fails make sure to see a doctor, there could be medical reasons for being super underweight. Good luck!

Andy February 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Hi, I am 25 years old, 5’11″ and 145lbs. I have been this wieght for the past 8 years. gaining and droping only a few pounds here and there. My problem is that I hate the textures of most foods and can’t eat them or i will puke! not kidding. this makes gaining wieght and staying healthly very difficult is their any liquids that i could just drink rather than eating a ton of food that i will just end up puking?

mike February 18, 2010 at 6:47 am

hi im 19 years old i’ ve been working out for more than one year and my weight went up from 140 to 170 pounds. But im not satisfied about it. I need to know hot to eat to gain bigger muscles and more body weight in a shorter time?

Unathi February 26, 2010 at 6:32 am

I’m 27 years old and very skinny, and I’ve always been. Are there any pills I can take to help me gain weight or any food that I can eat everyday to help me

Margaret March 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I’m 22 years old and very skinny, i can’t eat and don’t feel like eating food. Are there any pills i can take to help me gain weight? Am even lossing my boyfriend pls help.

heidi July 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm

first of all i’ve had this problem of never being hungry and as it turned out i have a serious medical condition, see your doctor get checked out once being treated potatoes will help eat a lot every day. however you like them french fries mashed and milk shakes lots of them. but see your doctor.

joy July 21, 2010 at 11:32 pm

People, you are totally missing THE KEY to gaining weight. You must go on a DIET. Every hugely fat person dieted their way up the scale. Starve yourself for days at a time. Then just let nature take its course. A doctor in San Francisco did this back in the 80′s with his patients who could not gain weight. Most of them actually ended up a little overweight. Don’t eat so much! Your body is programmed to stop burning calories during a famine, so trick it into thinking there is a famine going on. In my day, people were still eating a good diet in America. The fat girls were the ones who went on starvation diets. Try it. The SF Doctor said that after a few rounds of dieting people in the study started to view food differently and ended up getting fatter the more they thought about each calories and gram of fat.

Roland August 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I am 19 years old 5.4 HT & about 115 LBS. I eat steak dinners almost every night, I am basically eating every 30 minutes Ive tried every thing. I run about 2 miles a day. Any suggestions?

rich September 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

hey im 16, and i weigh about 104 pounds. sometimes it goes down to about 102, and sometimes up to 106 or so, but for the most part it’s been the same for the past like year or so. all the other guys in my grade weigh like minimum 130- 135, and not even many weigh that. many weigh like in the 160s or so. what can i do to gain weight?? it seems like even if i ate 10 burgers every day for a week that i’d only gain like a pound or two. any advice?

John November 2, 2010 at 4:06 am

Im 5’8 and weigh 62kg. Doesnt matter how much i eat, even 5 main meals a day wont do anything to put on weight. been to many doctors. I am now going to do a colon cleanse. not looking forward to it. a friend did one and shed 3.5 kg in 4 hours. turns out our colon has a lot of gunk in there. I think that years of eating poorly builds up bad bacteria that thrive and may consume all our nutrition? also, if our colon is not operating efficiently it will not absorb nutrition and will just pass everything out. i hope it works, because i give up trying!

Hamid November 26, 2010 at 7:27 am

Hi, i’m 27 with 170 high and 60 Kg high, please guide me to how can i gain weight for 10 Kg. My daily activity is too more than my diet. Please recommended me a good food plan. thanks a lot!

alina February 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I’m 20 l, 5″3 but only 97 pounds. I eat constantly but I still gain no weight. I don’t know what to do.

Ectomorph February 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I, too, am an ectomorph like most of you people. Perhaps, you are doing too much cardio and not enough heavy lifting. Compound exercises like deadlifts and shoulder presses and such are good for boosting testosterone. Don’t workout quickly. Nice and slow to really burn your muscles. Do not stop and be patient.

Eat healthy food like meats, potatoes, fruits and vegetables adding in healthy oils for easy calories. If you are not allergic, eat nuts, nut butters and eggs. Look into adding a healthy protein to help supplement. Always be sure to carefully research everything you put into your body.

I think if you eat too often without enough time between meals your body is constantly struggling to digest and not able to build muscle. Eat less meals with more food per sitting might help.

Make sure to get plenty of sleep because that is when muscle grows.

There is no easy way for this to happen. It takes dedication, patience and an understanding of health and fitness. Good luck.

KingDaddyV-Mac March 17, 2011 at 1:42 am

You guys don’t understand to gain weight do power lifts such as benchpress mainly lift your weight or more in order to gain, also to gain do not run at all try to stay the least active you can possibly be just bench press and call it a day. You need alot of rest and calories the average weight to gain a week is a pound or 2. Good luck :)

toya1 March 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

Milk Milk Milk……& pasta and squats/sit ups lots of it will do the job it worked for me I am 25, 5’8 & I was 130 had never been skinny in my life after my baby I lost a lot of weight went to the doc was told my thyroid&hormones where fine. before my child I was 160 (in all the right places) & loved it I lost 40 pounds gained 10 back I was eating lots of junk that didn’t work only gave me a cavity lol. so my doc told me fit a gallon of milk in with my every day diet &pasta …. two months of lots of milk and different types of pasta & nuts and I am now 150 trying to get to 160…… try it u will gain 1-3pounds a week it worked for me. Good luck.

Stan June 26, 2011 at 4:35 am

Hey, ive been trying to gain weight for some time now. I gained a couple pounds, but that’s it. I eat a lot too. I’m 5’9 and weigh 118. What foods will really help me put on weight? Will milk help? It’d be nice if I could at least gain 10-15 pounds soon. Let me know please.

tobo July 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

hey, im also trying to gain weight. I’m 20 and fall from 93-100 lbs. I lose 2 to 3 lbs in my sleep. I’m not very tall so i dont look as bad as it sounds, but my fiance told me that when he first met me i was disgustingly skinny, now he says that i dont look that bad just he would be happier if i gained about 11lbs more, but ever since he said that i looked that bad, i’ve been disgusted in myself, and that’s 10lbs later. I’ve tried everything, even ate until i was sick to my stomach eating high calorie foods, exercising, even taking prenatal vitamins. when i was pregnant, i only weighed 130lbs and lost it all in a week… please help me!!!!

imran September 9, 2011 at 7:01 am

i dont know why cant i gain weight.i do excersizes like push up and from dumbells.but my routine is very busy so sometimes i am unable to do my exercizes so suggest me what to do ?my weight is only 45kg and height is 5″10 inch and age 18.

Ajay September 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Hey guys, I feel you. I have the same problem. Sticking to a workout is key. You don’t have to go everyday and try not to because you will burn yourself out and give up. Stay consistent, every other day. Buy a good high calorie, high protein (per serving) protein shake. Drink as instructed, usually 2 scoops, x2 a day, with WHOLE milk. Eat One gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. 145lbs=145g of protein. Eat lots of pasta and chicken. When you work out lift as heavy as to can, without hurting yourself of course. Stretch before, during, and after your workouts! It’s not girly, and its key to healthy muscle growth. You want to gain mass therefore too many reps will burn too many calories. Anywhere from 5-7 GOOD reps is good. Try to work out in pyramids. Pyramids are when you decrease your reps by one or two each set and add more weight each time as well. Work out all body parts, a big upper body and chicken legs is not attractive, im jus sayin… Use as many different exercises, free weights and machines as you can, to hit each muscle in it’s entirety. @tobo (and everyone else), buy CASEIN protein powder. You will drink this right before you go to bed. It is a long lasting supplement that feeds your muscles while you sleep. Go back to the basics, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and crunches when your at home throughout the day. At the end of the day, you are who you are. We all have different body types, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fine tune yours to better, faster, stronger. The best thing to do is not get discouraged, and compare yourself to other dudes. Work with what you do have, accentuate the features you do have that you like about yourself or what others compliment you on. Dress for your body type, this isn’t just something that applies to women. V-necks and horizontal stripes are very helpful in this respect. Good luck! GET JACKED!!

venky October 15, 2011 at 3:32 am

I have the same problem…. i am not only skinny, but i am thin too.. the difference over here is my bones are also thin.. i am 144 pounds and almost 6 ft tall. Am almost 30 now.. Been taking extensive oily/fatty foods (inherent to indian food style). Lots of non veggie, lots of beer, sedentary life style et al. I was 60 kgs 10 years ago and over a period of time managed to gain just 5 kgs. Hit the gym for a couple of years.. stayed off it ever since.. lots of milk/water/fruits.. tried them all.. my body refuses to put on weight.. Any solutions?

imran October 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm

you should consult jiva ayurveda or mail ur oroblem to

Lillian October 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I am 30 years old 5’9″ and weigh 110lbs. I track my calories and with all the walking I do for work it says I burnt more than i consumed. I eat 6 meals a day having 2 protein shakes on top of that. I enjoy healthy food and can’t figure out how to eat enough to gain or even just maintain my weight. I had my thyroid checked and it’s fine. I tried eating fatty foods and ice cream and gave myself ulcers. I am definitely getting discouraged and depressed by all the anorexia/bulimia comments. If anyone has anything else I can try your help would be much appreciated.

Ryan mclean November 6, 2011 at 5:38 am

Whatsup guys, I’m a thin thin fella myslef but im working out and seeing slowprogress. You simpy need to go to the gym, eat a lot of portien, and work yourslef MUCH harder than what you currently are. Don’t go to mcdonald’s multiple times a week; eat healthy and take in alot of protein (whey protein if your looking to gain wight a.s.a.p.). I just entered college around 146 and im now around 151 since ive been working out. I dont use protein supplements and I’m basically 6’1″ but once I go on supplements I expect better results. There’s not much more to say than work out harder (look up workouts online or something…) and eat more protien. You will gain weight; it’s all about how hard you work yourslef and how dedicated you are to this change. You won’t see any results without a true effort… (obvously). Just work at it harder than anything you’ve ever done before and you will get the results you desire.

Shellyrenee January 16, 2012 at 2:19 am

I’m Shelly and I’m 16 going on 17 and I weigh 80 pounds …I eat as much as I can or I don’t eat much. I work out and get nowhere. And I can’t to get doctor because unlike some People me and my family can’t afford one. I’ve been trying to get bigger for years and haven’t gotten anywhere. I’ve looked up websites and found that nothing helps. I try asking friends and family but all they say is that I’m lucky. And I swear I’m not. I give up. ..:/

Sharon Rene Johnson February 9, 2012 at 11:17 am

My 31yo son has chronic pancreatitis and is in pain daily. But why can’t he gain any weight?! No matter what and how often he eats he can’t gain a pound! He has zero body fat and is literally skin and bones! Can you help?! Any suggestions?!
Signed a Deeply Concerned Mom!

Ed February 14, 2012 at 12:27 am

I am 16 years old 5’8 and weigh 115 lbs. I have been working out about 3-4 times a week, drinking my weight gainer and cant seem to put on very much weight. When i do put on weight i just seem to lose it a week later. I also play high school soccer so i am very active and that might be part of the reason why i cant gain weight because i just run it off. Any suggestions or ideas on how to put on some weight and maybe what to eat and how often. Thanks.

vicki May 16, 2012 at 1:51 am

All the sites online are geared toward teens or people wanting to build muscle with powders. I am 5’4” and about 100 lbs. for two years now due to an initial traumatizing and stressful year. I eat healthy, get more protein but no gain. Food intolerances and severe mold allergies limit my diet. I can’t afford all the expensive protein powders .

Ruby November 10, 2012 at 1:46 am

Im 17 and my boyfriends 16, he is currently under 100 pounds. He eats and cant gain weight, if he works out he loses weight. He is about 5’2 . Please help…I don’t want him to fade away. I don’t want to lose him.

Ajay November 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

@EVERYONE: (sorry this got more lengthly than I’d hoped)…a simple, healthy, food solution you may want to try to incorporate into you daily balance diet is Chicken and Pasta several times a week. The recommended caloric intake for “average” people is 2000 calories per day (which I’m sure your aware of). For people who have trouble gaining weight it should be roughy 3500 due to your (I’m assuming) high metabolism such as myself. It may sound somewhat trite, but it tends to yield positive results for people such as us. I like whole wheat pasta particularly but it’s best to mix it up so you do not get sick of it. Also try out Quinoa (something new I discovered). Its a grain-like crop that has good nutritional value and High in protein. If you are allergic to Gluten (for instance) Gluten-Free pasta and many other items are available at your local grocer. It may be a small section, but trust me its there I work at one;) If you have health issues such as
@Chris I strongly suggest you see a nutritionist for a specific diet tailored to your needs. When it comes to your health advice from others or reading some magazine I personally would not recommend (See a professional). You never know it may even be covered by insurance, the worst they can say is no, so ask!
@Ruby (and everyone as well) Casein is a longer lasting type of protein supplement. I drink it right before bed so my body can get some nutrients whilst I sleep and my muscles are rebuilding from my workouts. In some instances of weight loss, appetite, etc.. (Common)!Medical issues such as tapeworms, thyroid and anemia problems may be present. Once again I’m NO doctor but I’ve been to plenty. It can’t hurt to get checked out right??
There is always a healthy alternative to everything, you just have to look for it and do your research. Unfortunately it sometimes can be more expensive to eat healthy, but it doesn’t mean it’s not possible!
“Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools. -Napoleon Bonaparte”
*I was stuck at 126lbs after graduating high school. I’m now 28, 5’10, 152.8lbs (super-lean.) At one time I did get up to 160lbs. I’ve gone on to compete on state and national wrestling, MMA and submission grappling competitions since last time I posted in this forum. And like you, I have always been one of the “smaller” guys or “underdog” if you will. You are who you are, and there is NOTHING wrong with that. I’m still referred to as “thin” at times (which makes me mad), but you can always be a better, faster, stronger, healthier you! Use those ignorant comments people make and use it to fuel your fire within. (To get that one last rep in, or one last step, PUSH!) Nothing comes overnight. And anything in life you do that come with ease is not worth doing! Keep this fact in mind: Bruce Lee was only 5’6 145lbs!! Follow @ninjaajay on twitter if you’d like, I’m on FB as well, I’m not a trainer (on paper), nor a doctor, but I often am asked by others for guidance and have taught friends proper techniques at the gym. If you wanna know what worked for “me” look me up if I can help I will. Good Luck all!

Stephanie February 16, 2014 at 12:17 am

All load of bullshit. Do not overeat just be happy with your size if your naturally thin. I’m 20 years old going on.21 I can’t gain a pound past 120 I could eat 5000 calories of healthy food and heavy calories supplements eating alot is crook.for.some peoples body it’s just eat normal three meals a day that are healthy food with high calorie intakes.and drink gnc drinks they have high calorie in them but being skinny and buying so much.expensive calories food probably may run up to 300 $ or maybe more a.week , be careful people may say eat more but eating more is.more money to be spend.people who.say eat more are people who.are.built perfect with perfect bodies.who.can eat and gain.and not eat.and stay the same and not lose or gain weight.and stay.not looking.skinny are an ectormph like me can’t.gain.weight expect.your size be happy.. and just eat.and wait reach.that age.when your metabolism slows down

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