Every athlete I have ever met who struggles to gain weight has one common response: I eat a lot already.

The reality is that if this were true, that athlete would be gaining weight weekly with little issue, weight gain and fat loss really is largely a math equation.

(X - Y) = Z

So let's take Athlete X, who we will say is currently 145 lbs and is a varsity athlete who trains in some way 4 days per week. This athlete is looking to get to 160 lbs as fast as possible.

Using this, I would typically like this athlete in a calories range of 2900-3600 per day.

So an athlete that eats 2900 and uses 2400 a day will be moving towards a positive result. This inverse is also true.

Where Are We Now?

Before I have an athlete start eating at the top range right out of the gate, we need to do a food log that manages what the athlete is currently eating in order to perform. If after checking the log over a 3-5 day window we see that they are routinely eating 2100 calories a day, I will prescribe the low range for that athlete.


MVD stands for Minimum Viable Dose, AKA what is the lowest amount of food we can eat in order to start gaining weight. This process allows us to have room to grow in the future, and also to less abruptly alter that athletes intake. Too much too soon sets us up for failure in the short term.

Welcome To Your New Part-Time Job

With adults and extremely young athletes, we like to just establish rules first before diving right into what to eat. Often with teenagers, we need to go right to what they are eating and in what quantity, this means tracking food in an app and tracking calories and macronutrients.

We need to do this because of the different macronutrients jobs in the process. When things need adjustment based off of what we are seeing, we need these numbers to show us what hormones we can impact to get back into a groove gaining and growing.

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand, Water

You may have heard this analogy before in regards to time management and getting things done. If you have a bucket in front of you, as well as sand, pebbles, rocks, and water, you need to go in a particular order to maximize output.

Similarly, when an athlete is starting a mass gaining diet, I like to use this approach to teaching them how we can make it to those calories.

First, we need the big rocks that take up the most room and are most important. This comes in the form of our big 3 meals. An athletes "Big 3" should be the focus on them gaining weight. Go small or miss on one of the 3 and the other things won't help get us where we want to go.

After the big 3 are in, we need the pebbles (our snacks) these are things like Protein Shakes, Fruit, PB&J Sandwiches and more.

At this point, an athlete of this size starts feeling too full to eat, but without having the number of calories, we often need to find a way to fit things into the cracks (sand). This is where things Fairlife Chocolate milk come into play. Drinking some extra calories that fall into line with our needs is the perfect space filling item. We recommend Fairlife due to its taste, simplicity, and ease of purchase.

Lastly, water. DRINK A TON OF IT! We need our athletes hydrated so their body is flushing their system regularly. We want to have every system optimally running, and without enough water, metabolism amongst other systems WILL be compromised.

The Math Moves

What works when we are 145 lbs in regards to gaining weight, may slow or stop when we've reached 152 lbs. This just means the math has moved forward too. Those same athletes range for weight gain is now 3040-3800, so even if we were gaining good weight at 2900, that now isn't enough to continue to gain positively at 152.

This becomes the challenge for these athletes, in the first 6-8 weeks the math and the tracking are a daily tedious piece of the puzzle, but the long term rewards are a bigger, faster, stronger athlete that performs better on the field

Not All Weight Is Good. Not All Fat Is Bad

Sometimes in the chase for weight gain, we end up getting a little too big. While size is important, it is the quality of the mass that often is most important to a young athlete.

However, if an athlete truly has a need for greater size in a very short window, we often need to accept a slight gain in fat during this window in order to constantly have enough energy to build bigger. Losing the abs for 2-3 months is OK when 2-4 weeks of diet will usually strip you down and leave a better body in its wake.

Trying to stay too lean the entire time can have an athlete miss an important target.

We Can Help Just Ask

If you are having issues with weight gain (or loss) we can help. Just message us and we can set you up with a plan. We also know nutritionists and people that can help for more severe cases that exist.

Remember, we want to help improve our athletes, no matter you need we may know someone who can help.

We Hope This Helps

Any questions, please message us!


  • There are no comments yet. Be the first one to post a comment on this article!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published