After the recent bouts of bird and other flu many people have shun meat. But those and vegetarian men wonder how they can gain weight! The fact is even vegetarians have many options for healthy proteins and weight gain is never a problem. This discussion should prove a revelation for vegans too!
Vegetarians are of two types, one who allow eggs and those who do not. Vegans on the other hand totally avoid all animal-based products like milk, yoghurt, eggs etc. Fish is not an option for both hence, we do not add to our list. Both these types of people can also gain weight and muscle mass, albeit the time needed may vary. Therefore, no need to get disheartened, simply follow the tips below and soon you could find yourself in the bulkier men’s list.
Most slim men have good metabolism and despite heavy eating, they seldom bulk up. Even otherwise, many men have difficulty bulking up and constantly look for ways to fulfill their dreams. Both types of men miss one essential tip: Exercising.
Things Weight Gainers Should Avoid
Avoid junk food, inactivity and cardio at all costs. They should also avoid thinking about turning the tables too fast, as weight gain will not show up instantly. That said, weight gain should raised its head within a few weeks, if followed with conviction.
Remember, we do not want you to put unhealthy weight gain. Instead, we want your body to gain muscle mass first and then surround it with fat and as a result you should look bulky with lots of strength and power.
Steps to Disciplined Weight Gain
Gaining weight should come in a disciplined manner. There is no rushing in, no confused eats. We describe each step and explain why to do it and how. So, let us begin.
Step 1: Start Eating to Gain Weight
Many may wonder what is new here as we ate all our lives yet nothing happened. Well, now you will eat as we teach you to.
- Eat at least 5-6 meals daily. Anything less is not going to help you in any way. Every body has a capacity to digest and you need to feed more than it can chew (read more than it can digest :-)).
- Plan all meals so that your body never gets time to be hungry. Before your body can digest and signal it is ready for more food, eat much before.
- Gear up to eat all this and stock enough food to much on. Calorie rich fruits and condiments like bananas, peanut butter, almonds, almond butter and roasted peanuts + chocolate bars, thick curds (dahi) + bananas etc.
- Whey Protein powder + any fruit juice like orange or banana shake can also fit well. Many a time drinking is much easier than eating solid foods.
- Even a dessert like a big bowl of boiled rice + milk + sugar + almonds + cardamom powder should do the trick. (In India, we call this Rice Kheer)!
- Think of some goodies you had in past, part of your childhood especially if is healthy (if in doubt, ask us, and we will help you out).
It (eating regularly) may be difficult initially but soon your body will give in. This is the first step towards your weight gain for sure.
Once your body gets the hang of it, you can be sure that results are on your way. However, this is just the beginning and to quicken the process make sure you adhere to the next points as well.
Step 2: Eat Meals Loaded with Calories
- Remember the words “big bowl” we mentioned in point 5 above? Once your body gives in to 6 meals, start loading each meal with lots of calories. Now, instead of one banana, make it two. In fact, your ideal big meals breakfast/lunch/dinner should look like:
- Two slices of brown bread/1 roti, 4-egg omelet/200 grams of cottage cheese, one big bowl of sweet potato, 300 ml of milk + sugar or orange juice.
- Two rotis with 1 tablespoon of ghee, one big bowl of daal, one small bowl of vegetables, one bowl of roasted cottage cheese, and one large bowl of thick yoghurt (dahi) with sugar added.
- Dinner could include 1 big bowl of cooked rice, 1 big bowl of daal, one small cup of salad with lemon juice and rounded off with one large cup of ice-cream or fruit-cream.
- One of the balance 3 meals should be a cup of roasted peanuts/almonds along with a banana shake/orange juice.
- Except for yoghurt (dahi) which can come from the fridge, avoid anything old and stale. No frozen foods or snacks allowed (remember healthy weight gain!)
Here you may wonder why you will not add fat around your tummy with all these stuffing foods. Well, we will explain this in a moment. For now, please continue reading. 🙂
Essential Tips for Vegans & Vegetarians
- Instead of cottage cheese, you can always have Soy (soya) protein cubes – Tofu.
- Instead of meat, use garbanzo beans / chickpea (Chole in Hindi). It is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein and Copper, and a very good source of Folate and Manganese.
- Use pumpkin seeds (Kaddu ke beej in Hindi), almonds, pistachios, and walnuts for variety & taste. All are equally nutritious.
- Spirulina and Flax Seeds (Alsee ke beej in Hindi).
- An essential protein meal can be brown rice + Chole / Garbanzo beans.
Step 3: Include Fish Oil Capsules in Your Daily Routine
We know many vegetarians resent fish but don’t you need to gain weight & muscle mass both? Get the fish oil capsules from your nearby chemist/medical store. Human bodies can’t produce the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, but these acids help build muscle mass, increasing weight without adding flab.
Sometimes to gain something, you need to give up something.
Fish oil is one of the necessary nutrition your body misses badly and we are just asking you to excuse this one, not anything more. After all, it is your body who will gain and fulfill your dreams, so why not?
Step 4: Document All Your Inputs and Progress
This is one of the most important tasks. You should note down what all you had today and how you felt. How did your next day pass and what positives you can take out from it.
Some people felt gorgeous mornings after consuming banana shakes with powdered almonds whereas some felt eased out tasks with whey protein shakes. Note all down, every day without fail.
Congratulating yourself, your body, your brain is very essential step in this weight gaining process. When you write, you should feel good about yourself, your progress when you started having six meals.
When you read aloud, re-read and smile, your brain acknowledges your sense of achievement. More so this is necessary because you–as a vegetarian or vegan–have progressed this far.
Write your progress after every week and compare your values after every two weeks. Improvement, even if marginal, tells you that your new routine is paying well.
Every body is different. Some grow with cottage cheese while others willingly digest whey protein whereas some might gleefully accept Flax Seeds. It is important to know which one your body cherishes more.
Step 5: Use Every Opportunity to Eat Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates, in that order
Proteins help you get muscles. Fats provide lubrication and Carbohydrates the energy and each one plays an important role in your quest for healthy weight gain.
Each meal of yours should have them without fail. Further, ensure each source is healthy and nutritious at the same time. Here are some examples we want you to focus on:
Proteins: milk, eggs, cottage cheese / tofu, pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight almonds (peeled), peanuts, garbanzo beans/chickpeas, roasted Bengal Gram (Chana).
Recommended: High protein foods to eat
Fats: Ghee, safflower oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil; avocados, walnuts, almond oil, flaxseeds.
Carbohydrates: Fruits and vegetables; beans, lentils, peas; brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain products; honey and fruit juice.
Step 6: Ensure Your Bowels Clean Up Every Morning at Fixed Times
Clean bowels indicate your digestive system is fit and fine and roaring. If not, your appetite will simply vanish and your dreams come crashing down. Initially a day-or-two is okay for settlement but not on an extended run.
Eat fruits and veggies with fiber like Guava, Mango, Banana and plenty of milk. Milk is a mild laxative and helps flushing out your intestines.
Recommended: Best muscle building fruits for bodybuilders
This will doubly benefit you: help cleanse your bowels and provide additional fiber and protein and carbs.
Step 7: Drink 12-15 Glasses of Water Daily
Water helps you process the extra protein and calories you’re consuming.
Correct time to Drink Water
Drink 40 minutes post every meal. Ayurveda says “When you are hungry, there is fire, or Agni, in your tummy.” The food we eat is digested with the help of this fire. Once the fire dies out, drinking water helps more and flushes out the remains.
- Drinking cold water is easy than the one at room temperature.
- It is easier if this cold water is flavoured. Try adding Rose Petals to the jug of water in the fridge.
You can also drink unsweetened tea, fresh fruit juice, and other healthy beverages.
No soft drinks like cola, lemonade, Gatorade or other sweetened liquids. We are focusing on everything healthy and nutritious.
Step 8: Exercising to Gain Muscle Mass and Gain Weight Too
Right. We have underlined every essential step to enable you fulfill your dream body. You now know about foods that include protein, fats, carbohydrates and water, and know how to eat and when to eat. We also know that you must have followed all instructions and tamed your tummy to allow 6 meals daily.
We are also sure that, despite having excellent metabolism, some of you might have felt excess fat around your tummy. Because that is where fat is easiest to accumulate. Some of you might have put on some weight and feeling satisfied.
It is time to start the easiest part. We know, you may wonder why we call it the easiest. Because your body has had all the nourishment it needed, the carbohydrate storage is full and now you just need to channelize this energy into workouts. There is no need to panic. Rest assured, we would take up all steps in a systematic way so that everything falls in place, without you feeling any burden.
Let us start on our journey to gain weight and gain muscle mass.
- Join a gym* nearby or get a few dumbbells, a barbell and a set of weights.
Ensure the gap from the last meal you had is at least one hour.
- If you are scared of lifting weights, there is no need to worry. Start right away with Pushups and for the first 2-3 days aim for 15-25 pushups, twice a day in morning and evening.
- Find a doorframe on which you can do the Pull ups. In case you do find, then do the Pushups in the morning and Pull-ups in the evening, for 2-3 days.
- On the fourth day, increase the value to 35. Attempt more when you reach this figure and continue till you just cannot go any further. Note this figure in your diary.
- Next day before attempting the Pushups or Pull-ups, eat some protein, wait for 30 minutes and then go for it. Voila, you find you can now easily cross the figure. Practice makes a man perfect.
You need someone to guide how to exercise your muscles and whether you are doing it correctly or not. Hence, for initial few months, a trainer at the gym could prove immensely helpful. Once you get the hang of it, you can take your own decision whether to keep the gym membership or not.
Only a gym has proper benches, chairs that allow you to perform exercises with ease. For example, you might need to lie on your back and use dumbbells. This is very difficult at home, but at a gym, ….
Weight Lifting is Essential for Gaining Weight and Build Muscle Mass
Ask any bodybuilder and he will tell you that you can get big only only through weight training. In fact, weight lifting is an exercise designed to make muscles larger and stronger.
Sequentially work on all of your muscle groups and pay equal time on your arms, back, chest, abdomen and legs. Work on one group today, the other one the next day and so on. Initially, lift weights on, say, Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Repeat for 8 weeks, and note down your progress every day and compare notes every week.
We assure you that by the end of 8 weeks, all your body parts will show much strength and you would be proud of your efforts.
Step 9: Build Your Muscles without Injuring Your Body
Injuries occur only when you exercise without paying proper attention to your body strength. You need to train your muscles first. Whenever you exercise, do them till you cannot go any further. Drink a protein shake or have solid protein like egg whites. (Do you remember how you increased your Pushups?)
Next time when you attempt, you find the protein has built extra muscles and now you can progress even further.
- Always increase the weights on the next day. If you have had your protein before lifting weights, you will definitely pass with flying colours.
- Make repetitions till you just cannot do anymore. Ask your neighbour to safely carry the weight so you can relax. It is time for your post-workout protein shake. Your body needs it badly and any delay can do more harm. Even a banana or roasted peanuts or roasted flax seeds can replenish your drained energy.
- It does not matter how light you start. Make sure to increase your weights at every next attempt.
- Always focus on the body part you are exercising on for sure. Watch with careful eyes how the body part is responding, as this will help your mind to interact with you.
- Push yourself to the limits, as this is the only way to grow in strength. Next day will get your more muscles and more power.
- Whenever exercising different groups of muscles, after one set take some rest. Sit on a bench, have a small banana, wipe your sweat, walk lazily for a few minutes, and then start working on the next muscle group.
Step 10: Get a Good 8-10 hours of Sleep
Initially you may want to sleep even more. Go ahead; sleep as long as you want. Because until you body adapts, it will take time and you should allow. All your hard work, your eats, your drinks work only when you sleep.
Later, when initial tiredness is balanced out, you can comfortably relax your body in 8-9 hours. This is normal and compulsory, both.
Step 11: Make More Muscles when you Sleep!
Eat a 100-gram piece of cottage cheese/Tofu before you go to bed. This slow acting protein will work all night feeding your muscles quietly. Alternately, you can drink a casein based supplement as well especially if it comes in a flavor you cherish.
Step 12: Add Variety to keep your body interested
Once every 3 weeks, alter your exercise schedule. Say, opt for pushups or pull-ups so that your body cherishes this change. If you love swimming, do so for an hour. If you want to try yoga or pilates, go ahead and devote one day. Anything and everything works in your favour when you go for a change.
Step 13: Understand your body’s telltale signs!
If your hands or legs appear sore, go for a massage. It increases the blood circulation and soothes sore muscles and nerves. An oil massage is preferred and after it is over, allow an hour’s break before having a bath. Dry your body and cover it quickly.
If you feel like your body is not refreshed after a good sleep, allow it an off day. Sometimes compound muscles take longer to realign.
As mentioned earlier, talk to your body and never forget to congratulate for supporting your efforts. This comes from a Guru, who taught more than a 100 wrestlers.