There comes a time when the lack of results from your weight gain efforts can leave you feeling disheartened and bereft. No matter what you eat or how many hours you train, you are just not seeing progress like you expected to. Well, you are not alone. Gaining weight is not easy, especially for those who are genetically built in a manner that their body’s milieu prevents them from gaining weight naturally.
The key is in understanding the problem from within and using that to your advantage. In your case, it means breaking down the reasons why you are not gaining weight and figuring out how to gain weight by tackling these reasons. Numerous reasons prevent a person from gaining weight including their body type, genetic make-up and external factors.
One of the most important factors is your body’s natural metabolism which is measured as the metabolic rate. People who are unable to gain weight usually possess a pretty high metabolic rate.
To put it simply, metabolism is the process by which your body breaks down the food that you consume and converts it into energy that you use to go about your day and life. Everything that occurs from the minute you eat food till you eliminate the waste products can be accounted for by metabolism. So, when someone has a high metabolic rate, it means that they undergo this process rather quickly- including the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
This is how metabolism affects weight-, people with a high metabolism burn out all the energy that they should be deriving from food instead of gaining weight through food consumption. Gaining weight is a slow process, and it requires the continued presence of proteins that can be converted to muscle mass. If you have a high metabolism, chances are that your body does not allow the time that is required for your body to store the energy but instead burns through it as quickly as possible and this is why you don’t seem to gain weight.
However, there are methods that you can use to slow down your metabolism and let me take you through some of them.
Ways to slow down metabolism
- Up the carb intake. For those trying to gain weight, carbohydrates are your secret fairy godmother and unlike what you always hear, it is not always about protein. By increasing your carbohydrate intake, you are tricking your body into looking away from the proteins and instead work on the carbs to convert them into energy. Meanwhile, the proteins can be used for building muscle mass. This does not mean that you need to binge on chips and soda- just consume more servings of whole wheat bread, rice or pasta.
- Know the numbers. Counting calories is not just for those who are looking to lose weight. By tracking your food intake, you can ensure that you remain in a calorie surplus which is important for gaining weight. Determine your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy your body burns at rest performing natural functions such as sleeping, digestion, etc. Your goal must be to consume more calories per day than what is burned out. To gain one pound of weight in a week, you need to consume 3,500 calories, which mandates a surplus of 500 calories per day.
- Confuse your body – fast occasionally. Self-preservation is the most basic instinct that you possess, and your body will do anything to survive. If you are someone who eats regularly and frequently, fasting occasionally will confuse your body into thinking you are entering starvation mode and slow the metabolism down significantly to preserve energy. Following a fast, consume a heavy meal loaded with carbs and proteins and there’s your win.
- Larger meals, smaller frequency. The traditional three meals a day is the best option for those looking to gain weight. If you consume frequent meals, your body will be constantly at work trying to digest it, thus boosting your metabolism further which is kind of the opposite of what you want. If you space your meals far apart, your metabolism slows down enough while it waits for the next meal.
- Workout and practise self-care. Do not perform high intensity or cardio workouts. Instead, focus on low-intensity workouts and take it slow- few sets at a time. What you need to focus on is low-intensity strength training that does not burn out too many calories, during and after the workout. Sleep more, and sleep better so that you do not need your morning coffee- which- surprise, surprise, is a natural metabolism booster. Try to lower your stress levels generally and work on staying in a comfortable state of physical and mental health so that you give your body enough time to focus on gaining weight.
Foods that slow metabolism
- Refined grains. Say yes to the carbs. Rice, pasta, bread, and so on have enough gluten and starch to slow your metabolism down and prevent you from losing weight. But because you are not consuming the healthiest version of these (which would be whole grain), add these in moderation to your diet.
- Yoghurt. An excellent probiotic, traditional yoghurt, not Greek yoghurt, is a well-known metabolism downer. There isn’t enough protein in regular yoghurt and hence breaking it down does not require much effort on your body’s part.
- Fruit juices. Consume this in moderation, and you are adding enough simple sugars to your diet to distract your body while the proteins can be used to build muscle.
- Granola bars. The misconception is that they help lose weight whereas the fact is, they are rich in fructose and can slow down your metabolism tremendously.
Supplements to slow down metabolism
If you are looking to slow down metabolism, weight gain supplements might not be the best way to go. While there are plenty of pills that boost your metabolism, slowing down occurs only as an adverse effect of a few others such as antidepressants. Biotin has been linked to slower metabolism levels by affecting the thyroid, but this is not an advisable option.
If you are looking to slow down your metabolism and gain weight, it is always a good idea to consult with your physician first. Natural methods are the best way to go about this, and with patience, you will see results.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.