How can I gain weight if I am too skinny? A guide for women

How can I gain weight if I am too skinny?

Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M.D.

Your body does not have the shapeliness you desire, and you think your legs are too thin and your physique is not defined. How can I gain weight if I am too skinny? I've been there, and here I'll explain how I managed to gain weight:

If you want to gain more bodyweight because you are thin, the most important thing is to follow a diet that contains a significant amount of carbohydrates and proteins, eating six times a day. Also, practice anaerobic training to exercise with weights; this exercise increases muscle mass (hypertrophy).

It is important not to worry because there are diets and many things to do to gain mass. There are steps you can take to make you feel comfortable and safe with your body. Here we are going to show you different tips to gain more muscle and tone your figure.

Table of Contents

What are the reasons for being skinny?

If you are thin, your body has a greater amount of muscle fibers that contract slowly. These fibers help you burn more fat, but they do not hypertrophy easily, which means that you can struggle to increase your muscle mass. We can treat excessive thinness, but it becomes more difficult if it is hereditary or caused by a disease.

If you are skinny, it is also usually because your metabolism is fast and burns more calories than the average person. This again, make it difficult to gain muscle mass.

Once the goal of gaining weight is set, you must understand that you not only have to eat more but eat better. If you eat a lot but the food is not of good nutritional quality, then what you will get is an increase in fat around the belly and waist area. Besides, you may be lacking in many nutrients and, if this happens, adverse effects on your skin and nails will be the first to be visible.

Thinness can be due to different factors such as:

  • Diseases.
  • Bad nutrition.
  • Depression.
  • Heredity. It can be that the thinness of your body is hereditary. If your parents are skinny, it's very likely that this factor is in your genes and tends to make it harder to fight it.
  • Stress.

How can a woman with high metabolism gain weight?

To gain muscle mass, you must do training that combines metabolic stress with mechanical stress; you can achieve this with strength training. This training should consist of training muscle with several sets (3-6) with a range of 6 to 12 repetitions and a rest of 60 seconds between them.

If you need to increase muscle mass, you will increase your muscles, and muscle protein synthesis stimulated with strength training. It is best to accompany this exercise regime with an intake of protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and eggs. Energy intake in the form of carbohydrates is also essential.

Tips for gaining weight

How can I gain weight if I am too skinny?

Increase the number of calories in your diet

If you are thin because of poor nutrition, then the right thing to do is increase the number of calories in your diet without increasing the amount of food you eat. Generally, thin people have little appetite and are quickly satiated, making it difficult to insert extra food into the diet.

Therefore, try to include nutritional supplements and healthy but very caloric foods. This way you will consume more calories but with the same amount of food.

Below is a very accurate calculator for you to find out the calories you need to gain weight.

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Consume foods to gain weight 


Breakfast is the main meal of the day, and you cannot miss it if you want to gain weight. I recommend you include the following foods in your breakfast: oats, pollen, soy lecithin, nuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, amaranth, baking powder or tablets, and any citrus fruit.

You can mix all these foods in the blender with some fruits and soy milk or add them to yogurt or cereal. If you are thin, your body will  burn calories, even if you don't have anything in your stomach, that's why I recommend a good breakfast.


Try to consume foods that contain abundant proteins and essential oils in foods such as bluefish, salmon, tuna, fresh vegetables, either in juice or salad, many sprouts, seaweed, and foods that have added vitamins and minerals such as soy drinks.

Foods for dinner

Try to eat dinner 2 hours before you go to sleep so that you have time to digest food while you are awake and you will sleep more soundly throughout the night. Eat:

  • Cheeses: soybean, tofu, goat cheese, cottage cheese. These types of cheeses are extremely healthy and rich in protein.
  • Also, dried fruits, oleaginous, bee honey, mascabado sugar (piloncillo), integral bread.

 Table of healthy foods to gain weight

Here is a table of very caloric and healthy foods that you can include in your diet:

Food Kcal per 100 gr
Olive oil 884 kcal
Hazelnuts 628 kcal
Avocado 192 kcal
Barley 274 kcal
Dark chocolate 581 kcal
Coconut 354 kcal
Chickpeas 210 kcal
Granola 489 kcal
Butter 714 kcal
Chicken thigh 184 kcal
Nuts 643 kcal
Macadamia nuts 716 kcal
Raisins 299 kcal
Banana 336 kcal
Salmon 211 kcal
Pumpkin seeds 633 kcal

SourceUSDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

Reduce stress

When we are stressed, the assimilation of nutrients by our bodies is not correct. When you suffer from stress, your metabolism will burn a lot of calories. To reduce stress, try to calm down during the day and avoid being in a hurry or anxious.

The following infusions will help you relax: orange blossom tea, chamomile tea, passionflower tea, fenugreek.

Do not sweeten these teas with white sugar because it is harmful; it alters the nerves and disrupts your nervous system. If you have a sweet tooth, use a sweetener, bee honey or orange blossom,

Consume animal protein

This type of protein helps build more muscle, as it has a high biological value and amino acid composition. Animal protein also has vitamin B12, which is vital for our bodies. Look for proteins that have amino acids like glutamine or egg albumin.

Consume simple carbohydrates

I also recommend eating simple carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables or complexes with fiber such as pasta, flour, corn, or quinoa.

Take basic supplements

Consume zinc or magnesium at night, also ingest L-arginine to stimulate growth hormone and B-vitamin complex to better utilize nutrients.

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How to exercise to gain weight

How to exercise to gain muscle mass woman

You can both gain and lose weight by exercising if you know what you are doing. Weight training invigorates your body's systems, strengthens your muscles, and makes better use of nutrients. If you don't like to do weight exercise routines, choose any activity you want, such as dancing, running, or swimming.

Don't go to the gym every day

If you are a naturally thin person who wants to gain muscle mass, it won't do you much good to exercise 6 times a week for more than an hour. If you overtrain, you will consume a lot of energy, and consequently, you will burn more calories, so it will be impossible to increase weight even if you are exerting a lot of effort. It is ideal to go 3 or 4 times a week and do a maximum of 45 minutes a day of strength exercise.

Compound movements

If you are thin and want to gain muscle mass, you can't only concentrate on isolation exercises. The best way to create mass is to do multi-joint exercises such as

  • Bench press.
  • Deadlift.
  • Squats.
  • Chin-ups.

Focus on a plan that addresses all muscle groups. Try to train all the muscles in your body at least once a week.

Train frequently and with heavy weights

Exercises with free weights are best to gain volume and strength with dumbbells and weights. For the muscle to grow as necessary, it is essential to generate muscular hypertrophy to gain mass. We achieve this hypertrophy by stimulating the muscles when training with heavy loads.

Before we continue, "heavy loads” should be clarified ”Heavy loads” does not mean exaggerated lifting. You have to use weights that allow you to do the exercise with a good technique but without completing more than 12 repetitions.

The ideal is to do 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions with a weight that costs you some effort. The sessions should be with 6 or 8 different exercises. Practice at least 4 days of strength training per week.

Functional Training

Functional training exercises the body's muscles with the same weight but forcing them to make a greater force and effort. This type of exercise helps our body decrease fat and increase muscle strength, and consequently, muscle is defined.

These exercises are for thin people who want to define their bodies. The results are satisfactory because this training is intense and concentrated. You will notice the results after two months while working out at least 3 times a week.

We should increase the intensity by increasing repetitions and sets as the body gets used to the same weight. We have to do that because the muscle can always do more and work harder.

Some functional training:


This type of exercise is performed in suspension, which uses rubber bands or flexible rope and develops muscle strength to increase muscle mass. Also, TRX helps to improve balance, stability, cardiovascular capacity, and flexibility.


These exercises are circuit-based military training types; that is, they combine different practices that vary in muscle movement, intensity, and effort in the same class.

At Home

You can also perform a functional workout at home that consists of push-ups, squats, jumps, and concentrated high-intensity exercises in a few minutes. You can do the routine by watching videos, tutorials, and virtual trainers.

However, these exercises can be a little risky because you may not perform them perfectly. You can also exercise the muscle in excess. There may be a risk of injury exercising at home or a lack of motivation.

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Heavy training

Weights are the best option to gain muscle mass because you lift more than your body is used to doing. As a result of this stimulus, the muscle is hypertrophied more effectively, obtaining growth and definition.

Thus, when you perform heavy training, the muscles continue to burn fat for up to 2 hours after the workout. That allows the muscular size to continue increasing.

A high carbohydrate diet should accompany heavy training. The muscle that you have just exercised needs to replenish all the energy that has been consumed. With carbohydrates, it will be able to put weight on without increasing fat.

For the best effectiveness of this training, I recommend that you divide the work by muscle groups. Perform 8 to 10 exercises per session, with 3 sets of 10 repetitions. You can combine them in the following way:

Gaining weight routine

Day Muscles
Monday Chest + biceps
Tuesday Legs
Wednesday Rest
Thursday Back + triceps
Friday Legs + shoulders
Saturday Rest
Sunday Rest

Aerobic exercise

This type of exercise increases through continuous movement, respiratory resistance, and lung capacity. Some practices such as walking and running burn more fat, so if you are thin, don't overperform this training.

If you are at your ideal weight, I do not recommend aerobic exercise for more than 30 minutes. This way, you will contribute to better health without burning fat.

Bodybuilding Diet if you are skinny

Diet is essential when you are thin, as you may be eating improperly, which is a negative factor for weight gain. Some tips for feeding yourself if you exercise and are skinny are the following:

  • Eat at least 6 times a day.
  • Eat a complete breakfast very early in the morning with foods rich in protein and carbohydrates, such as bread, flour, eggs, and protein shakes,
  • Between meals, a snack, preferably a protein. You can include tuna, egg, chicken, banana, protein shake, chicken or turkey, and after exercise, foods rich in sugar, bread, pasta, and carbohydrates in the remaining meals.
  • For dinner, eat something light, like salads and proteins.
  • After exercising is the ideal time to consume carbohydrates and drinks that provide more energy to the muscle and allow you to stop exercising at rest.

Things to do to gain weight if you are a skinny woman

  • Increase caloric intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day. If you add 500 extra calories per day, you will gain about half a pound of weight per week.
  • Eat three main courses a day, every 5 hours, and between each meal eat a snack.
  • Consume more complex carbohydrates such as pasta, brown rice, wheat bread.
  • The best snacks have a high content of calories like yogurt, banana, and milk.
  • Try to make your portions slightly larger.
  • Never stop eating a good breakfast, including eggs and fruit juices.
  • Try to increase your meals’  calories, with moderate fat, containing a high content of proteins and high nutrients.
  • The proteins you choose should be of high quality, such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, seeds, and protein supplements. If you want to build new muscle, your body needs 0.8 gr/weight/protein per day.
  • Consume starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, potatoes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, peas.
  • Consume water after 10 minutes of eating, never before the main course.
  • Some healthy snacks to gain more muscle mass are nuts, dried fruits like dates, ripe fruits, and bananas.
  • Avoid trans fats. Recommended fats include unsaturated fats such as olive oil, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
  • Most of the calories used to gain weight come from fat and carbohydrates. Never replace them with protein.
  • Some drinks that help you gain weight are meringue, milk, juice. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they contain many calories and do not provide nourishment.


Don't think that because you are skinny, you don't need a specific diet and training. On the contrary, eat well with a healthy diet, including more carbohydrates and proteins in all your meals, but do not increase the intake of saturated fats.

Concerning physical training, do mainly exercises with weights. Try to do aerobic very occasionally because they burn a lot of fat.

Final note: In our articles, we only use trusted sources and scientific studies.