If you're a thin individual, the right diet and exercise program can help you gain weight, primarily in the form of muscle mass. While resistance training and other exercise programs can be very effective in promoting muscle adaptation, you can't overlook the importance of nutrition. To gain muscle weight, whether you're skinny or not, you need to consume more calories each day than you're burning off and you also need to consume an adequate amount of protein.
Skinny people may have a high metabolic rate, which means they burn calories more quickly than the average person. For these individuals, in particular, calorie consumption is key. To gain one pound of muscle per week, you need to consume an additional 500 calories per day, according to Columbia University's Health Q&A Internet Resource, Go Ask Alice. If your body uses an average of 2,000 calories per day and you engage in one 500-calorie-burning workout per day, you need to consume a total of 3,000 calories each day to build muscle.
Protein consumption is fundamental in muscle building because protein is the macronutrient that repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue, which is a process known as protein synthesis. Although the recommended daily allowance for protein is set at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, for those attempting to build muscle, this is not enough, notes Go Ask Alice. Instead, you should consume between 1.5 and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. As an example, at the high end, a 150-pound individual would need 136 grams of protein per day to gain muscle.
Protein -- Timing and Sources
Consuming protein immediately after exercise can stimulate muscle growth, while postponing protein ingestion for even a couple of hours can suppress the body's ability to build new muscle, according to a 2009 paper published in "The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association." The type of protein you consume is another factor that may affect muscle growth. Whey and casein are two types of protein found in milk and are superior to soy protein for promoting muscle protein synthesis. You can purchase these as dietary supplements. A whey protein shake made with milk is an ideal post-workout meal.
Resistance exercise creates an increase in protein synthesis for a 24- to 48-hour period. Without resistance exercise, muscle adaptation cannot occur and the protein and calories you consume will be limited in their ability to further new muscle growth. If you're skinny, you need to engage in resistance exercise sessions each week to increase muscle protein synthesis, which will allow proper nutrition and calorie consumption to do its job of increasing muscle weight.