Trying to Gain Weight?

  • 2 Minutes Read

Although the majority of people using food and activity trackers are trying to lose weight, many of you are using a tracker to gain weight. This post provides tips on how to use MyNetDiary to gain weight.

Trying to Gain Weight?

Although the majority of people using food and activity trackers are trying to lose weight, many of you are using a tracker to gain weight. This post provides tips on how to use MyNetDiary to gain weight.

There are three key components needed to gain weight and increase muscle mass:

  1. Adequate calories
  2. Adequate protein
  3. Adequate weight resistance to challenge muscles

This post will address the first two issues. If you are unsure if your weight or sport training is appropriate to build strength and muscle mass, then consider working with a personal trainer or athletic trainer.


To gain weight, you must consume more calories than the total you burn from all sources - basal metabolism, thermogenesis, and physical activity. Theoretically, you should be able to use the same estimate for weight gain as for weight loss: 3500 calories is approximately 1 lb body weight. To gain 1 lb of body weight, you need to create a surplus of 3500 calories. If you need to gain 10 lbs, then you need to create a 35,000 calories surplus over time. Those extra calories go to building tissue - both lean body mass and body fat depending upon how much you exercise. The most common mistake I see in young men trying to bulk up is the lack of adequate calories to support muscle growth and weight gain while training.

If you use MyNetDiary, consider entering an expected Exercise Plan to help boost Target Daily Food Cals - this will prevent the problem of "low balling" your estimated total energy expenditure at the end of the day. After you log your food and exercise, be sure to use the Daily Analysis for the final calories accounting for consumed calories and calories burned from exercise. Read "Calories & Weight Goals: How it Works at MyNetDiary" for more detail.


There is not one specific macronutrient mix that is perfect for growth/gain - a range of calories from fat, carbs, and protein can meet your needs. Most folks know how to boost protein but they miss the mark with calories. Part of the problem is hyper focusing on protein intake to the exclusion of consuming enough calories from carbs and fats.

Sports nutrition texts often recommend a protein intake anywhere between 1.2 grams protein/kg body weight - 2.0 grams protein/kg body weight (0.5 g protein/lb body weight - 0.9 g protein/lb body weight). But that assumes you are also meeting your caloric needs for weight gain so that protein can be used for growth/repair. Go too low in caloric intake, and the body goes hunting for fuel from other ingested nutrients as well as from stored sources. So make sure you have enough fat and carbs in your plan to give you plenty of calories - that will allow your body to maximize use of protein for tissue building and repair.

MyNetDiary uses the midpoint of the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges from the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes. For protein, the default goal is set at 21% total calories. If you are trying to gain weight, then MyNetDiary is calculating calories high enough so that 21% total calories is likely providing about 1.5 - 1.8 g protein / kg body weight. You can check that yourself by looking at your protein goal and dividing it by your body weight in kg. You can convert your body weight from pounds to kilograms by using an online calculator. If you want to change your protein goal, then read "Customizing Your Nutrient Goals."

For an older but great online article, I recommend Nancy Clark's "Bulking Up: Helping Clients Gain Weight Healthfully"

Special Medical Condition?

If you are underweight from a medical condition then ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian who specializes in that condition. Board certified practice specialties include pediatrics, oncology (cancer), gerontology (aging), sports, and renal (kidney).

Sports Nutrition Books

Benardot, Dan. PhD, RD, FACSM. Advanced Sports Nutrition, 2nd edition.

Clark, Nancy. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5th edition.

Colberg, Sheri. Diabetic Athlete's Handbook.

Weight Gain->Calories & Protein
Mar 18, 2014
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

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