My BMI is 18.5. Age 24, height 172.5 cm and weight 55 kg.
I am undergoing training for triathlon. I swim 3 to 4 days a week (6-8 km in 4.5hrs - 6 hrs).
I cycle around 50 km a week in 2.5 hrs.
I run around 5-10 km a week in 30 mins - 60 mins.

I read somewhere that on an average a human being burns
377 calories per hour while swimming,
400 calories per hour while cycling,
440 calories per hour while running.
I don't know exactly the amount of calories I am burning doing all these. Invariably I want to gain weight to reach 20 BMI.

Should I eat food containing more calories? Or the muscle development in doing all these exercise mentioned will help me gain some weight?

Please suggest.

  • 5
    Why do you want to gain weight while training for a triathlon? This answer should take care of all your weight-gain questions. This answer goes through the reasons why you shouldn't use BMI, a tool for populations, to guide you in personal fitness decisions. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 16:11
  • You aren't going to gain weight with the amount of calories you burn doing that much cardio. Question is, why would you want to gain weight as a triathlete? Shouldn't you want to be stronger and leaner at the lightest possible weight? And FYI those calorie levels are pretty low, you burn almost twice those amounts of calories, unless you are "running" at like 3 mph
    – user4963
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 16:48
  • @MarcoLeblanc Most online calculators already include BMR which skews the result if you already use BMR as your baseline. Those values look good to me, 20km/h on a road bike isn't that exhausting, the values in the question are pretty much those that I got and I am about 10kg heavier.
    – Baarn
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


By gaining weight, I think you meant gaining lean muscle mass! And if this is your main concern, then here are a few rules you need to follow:

  1. Lift weights - especially heavy weights by focusing on the major muscle groups like chest, thigh, butt, back and core. Try squats, deadlifts, benches, chin-ups, bent-over rows and lat pull-down machine next time when you are at the gym. Try to lift 2-3 days per week with at least 85%-90% of your maximal effort for 8-12 reps. And if you are worrying about spending hours in the gym or losing your high speed or the intensity (triathlon) with weight lifting, then you can always try to workout with higher intensity (perform multiple exercises as a group/cycle) with less rest in between exercises (10-20 seconds), and rest about 60 seconds at the end before moving to the next cycle. For example, try to perform squat, bench, lat pull-down as a group (supersetting) with only 10-20 seconds of rest in between exercises, then rest 60 seconds after completing the whole cycle. Repeat 3 more cycles.

  2. Consume more calories - but not just any, the right kind of calories. The way you are training right now (most triathletes do), yo will need lots of energy, if not you will continue to see your weight to drop- try to consume more of these foods from now on peanut butter, avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts and of whole eggs.

  3. If after about 4-6 weeks of trying the above advice, and you still don't see results, you might want to look into hiring a sports nutritionist who has knowledge about weight lifting or a certified strength & conditioning specialist who has knowledge about sports nutrition to give you a complete individualized - gain lean muscle mass program while still training for your triathlon.

Hope this helps!

  • 1
    How is lean muscle mass different than muscle mass?
    – user4644
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 21:41
  • Muscle mass is evidenced with offensive linesmen in football - big muscle mass with some fat. Lean muscle mass is evidenced with sprinters and wide receivers in football - not too big, but lean looking muscle mass virtually without fat. Their training regimen and their diet are different from one another.
    – QikMood
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 21:58
  • 1
    But the muscle mass is the same, right? You're just saying muscle mass without extra fat. Why not say that offensive linesmen have a bunch of lean muscle mass, and a bunch of fat?
    – user4644
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 1:37
  • Kate - I think you and I are talking about the same thing here - muscle mass. However, I believe the way I described in the original answer above with "lean muscle mass" might have got you and some people confusing. With that being said, I was trying to point out that you can gain muscle mass with minimal fat loss with a specific regimen or you can gain "lean muscle mass" with significant fat loss with another specific regimen including dieting.
    – QikMood
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 4:08
  • 1
    @Freakyuser - From the first glance, it seems like you are consuming pretty good amount of calories; however, try to substitute peanut butter instead of butter, 1 medium to large avocado instead of banana, and 2 whole eggs instead of one. Also, try to snack with a couple of handful of variety of nuts a couple times per day. It's important to reboot after training, but also very important to prepared before the training by consuming enough calories throughout the day. Let me know how you feel in a couple of weeks.
    – QikMood
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 16:45

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