Weight gain can help improve your performance in certain sports or fill you out so your physique matches that of other guys at school. Take in more calories than you burn daily to put on pounds -- but not just any calories. Foods full of unhealthy fats, sugar and refined carbs are likely to cause you to become fatter, not fitter. Aim to gain weight in the form of muscle by making as many quality nutritional choices as possible and with strength training at the gym. Nutritious meals and exercise help keep your body healthy, even if you're naturally long and lean with a high metabolism.
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How to Gain Weight as a 16-Year-Old Boy
If your doctor has indicated that you're underweight, or you're recovering from surgery, trauma or an illness, weight gain can improve your health. If you perceive your body to be smaller or skinnier than a lot of other guys at school, you might just be taking longer to reach puberty, which starts at 14 for some boys. During puberty, your shoulders broaden and more muscle mass develops. You may feel small compared to your peers, but you will eventually catch up. Puberty is not a process you can rush.
Even if your weight is technically healthy, increased muscle mass can help when you play sports, especially hockey or football. Add weight by increasing the calories you consume by 250 to 500 calories above what it takes to maintain your current weight. Your doctor can help you determine a good target number. This promotes a gradual weight gain of 1/2 to 1 pound per week. Accept the gradual process, as muscle takes longer to develop; fast weight gain usually means an increase in body fat.
Increase Calories at Meals
Include larger portions and calorie-dense choices in high-calorie meals to promote weight gain. Limit the sugar, fast foods and refined grains you eat because these foods promote fat gain and can be detrimental to your health.
Breakfast foods such as eggs, oatmeal, granola, smoothies and yogurt provide calories and valuable nutrients. Boost calories by scrambling eggs with cheese, cooking oatmeal in milk, spreading peanut butter on toast or adding raisins to cold cereal.
Extra servings of whole-grain bread, brown rice or whole-wheat pasta increase your calorie intake at any meal. Have substantial servings of protein, too, as this complements your weight-training sessions at the gym. Lean steak, white-meat chicken, cottage cheese and black beans are good lunch and dinner choices. You need green vegetables for fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Add calories to them, though. For example, melt cheese over broccoli or enjoy zucchini roasted with olive oil. When available, choose higher-calorie vegetables, such as starchy sweet potatoes, peas and corn.
Never Miss a Meal
School, sports practice and after-school clubs may leave you little free time to whip up snacks at home. Carry healthy snacks in your backpack to eat between classes or right after school. Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, trail mix, a peanut-butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, or cheese sticks and whole-grain crackers are better choices than a bag of chips or a sleeve of vending machine doughnuts.
If you're just not hungry between meals, drink your calories. Milk, 100 percent fruit juice, and smoothies made by blending a banana, berries and yogurt, offer calories and nutrients. Avoid soda and energy drinks, which have calories but no nutritional value.
Exercise for Weight Gain
Talk to a coach or personal trainer to help you with proper form in the weight room. Follow a program that involves at least one exercise for every major muscle group, including the chest, arms, legs, back, abs and shoulders. Start with just one set of each exercise, and progress to two or three sets, each containing four to eight repetitions. Use a weight that makes it difficult to complete these repetitions -- you need to challenge the muscles to make them grow. When the weight becomes too easy, add more. As you become more savvy, add additional exercises for certain muscle groups for more refined muscle development and strength.
Right after workouts, have a protein-rich snack to support muscle growth and repair. A glass of chocolate milk, two hard-boiled eggs with a banana, or sliced deli turkey with a whole-grain roll are options. This snack helps replace calories burned during the workout too.
Don't give up on cardiovascular exercise altogether. As a 16-year-old, you need at least an hour of physical activity daily. The weight room counts as some of this, but still play sports with your friends, walk the dog, do household chores or shoot hoops with your dad after dinner. Cardiovascular activity burns calories, but it also keeps your appetite strong and boosts heart health.