If you feel like you're too skinny, gaining weight can enhance your self-esteem -- and if your doctor has recommended you gain weight, it will boost your health as well. Trying to gain a lot of weight in just two months, though, might set you up for failure. Expect a modest weight gain -- a maximum of 8 pounds -- during the two-month time frame, and use the time to develop lifestyle habits that will help you maintain a healthy weight over the long term.
Add Calories to Gain Weight
To gain weight, you'll need to boost your calorie intake so you're eating and drinking slightly more than you need to maintain your weight. Don't try to pile on several pounds a week if you're trying to add muscle, or you'll just gain too much fat -- instead, aim for a 1/2-pound gain each week. Each pound stores 3,500 calories, so you'll need 1,750 extra calories weekly to gain 1/2 pound -- or 250 extra calories per day. However, if your doctor recommends putting on weight more quickly -- a pound or so per week -- adding 500 calories to your daily intake will allow you to reach that goal.
Don't expect to see major changes in just two months -- you can likely only safely gain between 4 and 8 pounds during such a short time frame.
Diet Tips for Extra Calories
Fill your diet with healthful foods to get the calories you need for weight gain. Load up on nutrient-dense foods like fatty fish, chicken and turkey breast, whole grains, beans and lentils. These foods also supply protein, which you'll need to gain muscle mass. Be sure to add healthy fats to your meals. Eating fat, which has more than twice the calorie density of protein or carbs, is one of the easiest ways to get more calories without feeling too full. Prepare veggies with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, add a few chunks of avocado to your sandwiches and wraps -- and use it to garnish chili and soup -- and opt for fattier fish, like salmon, instead of leaner options, like sole.
Introduce more liquid calories in your diet. Milk or nondairy milk alternatives -- like soy milk -- are ideal sources of both calories and protein. Juice, which can also help you take in more calories, supplies a few essential nutrients, such as vitamin C. Drink caloric liquids between meals, paired with calorie-packed snacks such as nuts and dried fruits.
Tweak Your Workouts to Gain Mass
An exercise program that includes strength training is especially important for weight gain. Without triggering muscle growth through weight-lifting exercise, you'll just gain fat. Make squats a key component of every full-body strength workout -- they're the best move for adding muscle mass to your frame, reports Muscle & Fitness Magazine. Squats work most major muscles in your body and trigger hormonal changes that help you build new lean muscle tissue.
Get the most muscle mass from your exercise by sticking to relatively low rep ranges -- eight to 12 repetitions per set, recommends Muscle & Fitness -- and lifting heavy weights. Consult a fitness professional before you start. She can help you choose a good starting weight and ensure you're lifting with the proper technique to maximize muscle gain and minimize your risk of injury.
Set Realistic Expectations for Two-Month Results
Don't expect to go from skinny to ripped in just eight weeks. Gaining a significant amount of weight is a months- or years-long process. And how quickly you gain weight, especially as lean mass, depends partially on your genetics. Softer, stockier body types tend to gain both muscle and fat more easily, while people with more lithe physiques face more difficulty putting weight on. If you're new to exercise, however, you should see significant "newbie gains" in both your muscle tone and strength in the first few weeks of your weight-gain program.
As you near the end of the two-month period, talk to your doctor about using supplements to continue getting good results. While protein supplements don't offer additional benefits when you're just starting a fitness journey, they can increase your results when you're already somewhat fit, according to a study published in Sports Medicine in 2015. Your doctor can help you figure out if supplements might help and recommend a protein supplement that meets your unique needs.
- McKinley Health Center: Gaining Weight the Healthy Way
- Muscle & Fitness: 7 Training Steps to Pack on Size
- University of Colorado: Eating Strategies to Gain Weight
- University of New Mexico: How Do Muscles Grow?
- Sports Medicine: The Effects of Protein Supplements on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Aerobic and Anaerobic Power in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review