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I'm a 15 year old teenager, I am terribly underweighted due tot he fact when I was smaller I had nutrition issues (Skipping breakfast on most days, not eating consistent food, eating junk food, etc). Since last year I've started to recover and I've tried to regain good nutrition habbits. I've started eating breakfast each day at specific hours (This applies to dinner, lunch too) and eating snacks between them sometimes. I eat very consistently. For example one of my days menu is like this: 2 slices of toast with butter on it and a mug of milk, a few nuts an hour later, a plate of fried potatoes with steak for lunch, corn-meal with cottage cheese for dinner, and always eating something on bread after dinner.

I also love riding bikes, I have a bike which I ride every day during summer mornings for about 30 minutes or an hour. I do push-ups in the morning after I wake up, however all this isn't helping by much.

My current weight is pretty drastical, I admit, it's actually terrible: 50 kgs on 1.84m height at 15 years. Yes, it's a terrible weight, and I'm supposed to have about 65-73 kgs at this height and age.

However with all this workout, school, push-ups, eating proper meals at proper times every day has only helped me gain 3 kgs. I started at 46-47 kgs and now I have 50. It feels terrible to be this skinny and everyone is telling me to "bundle up".

My question is, what advices can you give me? Am I doing something wrong? My aim is 60 kgs. 70 kgs would be ideal. What should I do? Should I eat more? Should I exercise less? Should I eat more consistently?

Please share your advices as to how I could gain weight and how I could gain some muscle mass.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You could do what I did and work a season commercial fishing. I shipped out at 135lbs (61kg) and finished the season at 165lbs (74kg). A steady diet of King Salmon and lots of hard work did me wonders.

I'm much shorter (1.7m) but I've always been "wiry". If you're a slow-gainer like me you need to realize (and make peace with the fact) that you are going to gain muscle mass slowly and that hypertrophy (i.e., "bulking out") won't happen as dramatically for you as your peers.

I have a number of suggestions for you.

  • You're 15 and (presumably) going through adolescence. Things could self adjust and in a year or two you might find yourself naturally gaining more mass as your hormone ratios change. Basically what I'm saying is you are still growing... give yourself some time to grow and don't worry about silly things like how much muscle mass you have. Go ride bikes before adulthood catches up with you!
  • Consider seeing a physician (for the above reasons). It is possible (but highly unlikely) that you could have some underlying hormonal or glandular condition. I think it's much more likely that nothing is "wrong" and your body will self-adjust as you get older, but it is something to consider later on.
  • 80% of exercise is diet. And your diet sucks. Yes, you're eating regularly (this is good) and not eating junk food (also good), but toast? potatoes? cottage-cheese? Where are the veggies? Where's the fruit? Where's the lean protein (an rough estimate is at least 1g for every lbs of body weight... you should be consuming 100-120grams of protein a day). Take a look at the Paleo Diet. Eat your fruit and veggies and make sure you get good lean protein. I would take a look here: Beginner's Guide to the Paleo Diet
  • Exercise the right way and exercise for what you want. Cycling will make you a better cyclist (with the associated walnut-crushing calves and thighs). If you want upper-body mass you need to do activities that engage and exercise those muscle groups. I would start at NerdFitness' Beginner Body Weight Routine and here's a secret: Pull-ups.
  • Since this sounds like a pretty drastic life style change - the recommendation that you see a physician before adopting a significantly new or different diet or exercise regime is warranted.

The right diet and right exercise made the difference for me. It took me the better part of a year but I was slowly able to put on muscle mass (After I got done fishing I went to university where I lost all muscle by replacing food and exercise with coffee and stress... its taken me over a year of hard work at the gym and in the kitchen to get it back).

I have a feeling this "problem" will sort itself out as your get older, but a better diet and more exercise will certainly not hurt. (And really do give youself some paitence... I'm just old enough to remember being the skinny kid)

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Thanks alot for your answer, it's very helpful. I did have an idea that things would get better as I'd grow up but I wasn't sure. As for the fruits, I consume those as well but not on a daily basis, just ocasionally. –  Bugster Jan 9 '12 at 6:35
    
This is a great answer and I would add gymnastic rings to the pull-up bar. Great way to improve upper body and core as most moves use a lot of different muscles. Check out books like Building the Gymnastic Body where the aim is to build strength through moving to more difficult movements(as opposed to just doing more of the same) as you get better. Examples of the exercises can be found around the net, but the progressions are explained very clearly in the book. –  Illotus Jan 9 '12 at 15:10

It's great that you're taking an interest in your health and nutrition.

To answer your question simply: eat more, eat consistently, keep exercising, begin weightlifting, and get enough sleep.

Now, some more detailed advice.

Take some time to learn about how the calories you consume affect your weight gain, and try counting how many calories you consume for a couple of days. No need to go crazy tracking things every single day, but you may be surprised at the amount of food you need to eat to get the amount of calories you want.

Learn about the importance and sources of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, so that you can get the right balance of these in the foods you're eating. Think about eating as fueling your body for the work you want it to do. In kce's answer, he suggests the Paleo Diet, but there are other options, and people disagree about what is best.

Keep doing what you're doing. Bike. Have fun. If you're eating enough food, biking isn't going to make you lose weight.

If you want to gain mass and get stronger, you'll need to add in some weightlifting. Biking will make only your biking muscles strong. Not your lifting muscles, not your running muscles, not your jumping muscles. Pushups are a good start, and you've already added 3kg. Imagine how much you'd add if you gained that much over an entire year.

Since you're pretty small, doing any lifting at all will cause you to get stronger and put on muscle. Focus on lifts or movements that use a lot of muscles at the same time. Don't do calf raises, or hamstring curls, or leg extensions. Instead, do squats (using just your bodyweight, dumbbells, or even barbell if you have access to that equipment and a mentor). Don't do tricep extensions, instead, do push-ups or bench press. Those are just a couple of examples. But, you don't need to worry about the details here too much right now, unless you're interested in getting the quickest gains possible. At your level, anything you do is going to make you bigger and stronger if you're eating enough.

If you start getting impatient about how quickly/slowly you're gaining muscle, or want to start tracking your strength gains, you'll need to switch to a more organized program with proper equipment.

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Push-ups are insufficient to stimulate large-scale growth, since they simply don't provide enough resistance. Your diet is insufficient to sustain large-scale growth, by dint of the fact that you remain undersized. Fixing these two issues should resolve the problem.

1. Stimulate Growth

Either buy a barbell and a power rack, or join a gym that has one. Get a copy of Starting Strength and start lifting heavy. You don't have to completely give up biking, but it will be counterproductive for your goal of getting bigger.

Compound exercises stimulate growth. Squats, chin-ups, and deadlifts will tell your body that it needs to get bigger.

2. Provide Fuel for Growth

Eat a ton of food. Real food is far superior to processed crap, but you'll need to eat a lot. Your best bets are high-animal-protein items like meat, eggs, milk, and fish. You'll also do well to take in a large amount of vegetables and good oils like coconut and olive. Eating a lot of food will provide the raw materials your body needs to make you bigger.

If someone else cooks for you, you have a choice: 1) man up and learn to cook, 2) try to explain and convince that person to change their cooking for you, or 3) remain undersized.

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