Hi Ade Rai,
I have been struggling to gain weight. All my life, I have always been underweight, and someone once told me I am ectomorphic.
What does that mean? And more importantly, how can I gain weight?
I have got to the point where I eat anything, anytime and still don’t put on much weight. I am 180 centimeters (cm) tall and weigh between 63 and 65 kilograms (kg).
Hi Mr. Sukamto,
Thank you for your letter. I was like you too once, at 16 years old I had already reached my full height (183 cm) and my weight at that time was 55 kg. To make it worse, I didn’t have much of an appetite for food and I was already a competitive badminton athlete playing at the provincial level, training three to four hours a day and riding my bicycle everywhere I went. Today, I weigh 90 kg, so I have one or two tricks up my sleeve to share with you.
First, let me explain the term “ectomorphic”. It basically means you have a light bone structure and a really fast metabolism. But that doesn’t mean you cannot gain weight. I would like to start by asking you to stop eating anything anytime. It could potentially do more harm than good. As we age, our metabolism will slow down at some stage. The pace at which it slows down will most likely be much faster than the pace at which you can control your eating. That’s when things get out of control and your weight will balloon up easily.
Our bodies consist mostly of water, bones, muscles/connective tissues (including organs) and fat. So basically it has four major elements, the first three I mentioned above are usually grouped and can be referred to as “Lean Body Mass”. The fourth is simply body fat.
In gaining weight, what we ultimately want to achieve is increasing the weight of Lean Body Mass while maintaining a healthy level of body fat (usually around 10 to 15 percent for men and 15-20 percent for women. Having said that, out of the three Lean Body Mass elements, bone weight doesn’t differ that much over the years while water weight should remain constant even though it fluctuates throughout the day. Ultimately it is the muscles or, more aptly, skeletal muscles that we want to increase.
To date, scientific references have singled out the most natural way to gain muscle weight is by stimulating it through resistance-type exercises. If you have never done resistance-type exercises before, try doing them three times a week for 30 minutes each. If you prefer working out at home, do some push-ups and pull-ups, as these two exercises really stimulate the skeletal muscles in the upper body; then do some squats to build the lower body. It would be better to work out at a proper gym that will supply you with a better range of equipment, a variety of challenges and even personal training options for faster results.
When it comes to nutrition, please make sure you have your three square meals a day plus two to three healthy snacks in between. On your plate, the portion is very simple, one-third protein, one-third complex carbohydrates and one-third fruits and vegetables. For snacks, you can add some calories from roasted (unsalted) peanuts, non-fat yogurt, steamed tofu, a salad with light peanut dressing or even protein supplements. Make sure you get enough rest by setting a fixed bedtime and wake-up time and adhere as much as possible to this routine. Add in some multivitamins and Omega-3 supplements if you want. If you happen to smoke, by all means quit this habit altogether.
This rounds out a total yet simple approach to gaining weight the healthy way. I am not talking you into taking up bodybuilding as a sport, but I am asking you to build your body with structured activities that also build health, fitness, strength, speed, power, balance, agility, flexibility, endurance and better body composition.
Hello Ade Rai,
I seem to always disappoint myself every year with my New Year’s resolution. Every year I set out to lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising and improve my diet. But I fail each time. How can you help me to make 2012 different? I know it’s coming back to me having enough motivation and all that. But I really need your perspective and who knows, with a little push from a world champion, it could work!
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we seem to always fail at following through. It’s always good to know WHY we fail to follow through and identify whatever answers we come up with as nothing more than excuses, justifications and the game of blaming others for our failures.
Then all we need to do is find the real WHY we have to follow through today, and magnify it in our mind with the pleasure of reaching those goals and the pain of not reaching them. It’s also a good thing to be precise with resolutions, instead of just saying “I want to lose weight” try to go the extra mile by saying “By September 2012 , I will have lost 6 kg of fat; to achieve it I must exercise three times a week, eat more vegetables and ditch all the sugars, flour and fried foods in my diet!”
Good luck with your resolution and please keep in mind that it’s painful not to follow through. I know you’ll be glad you did.
Thank you for all your questions. Please keep them coming to my email at email@example.com. I will be more than happy to answer them for you. Stay strong and stay healthy!