The Skinny on Why You’re Skinny

Written by on September 4, 2014 and it's about , ,

(Updated December 2014) In an era obsessed with getting smaller, we skinny folk, hardgainers, ectomorphs, string beans, babeshows, or whatever you want to call us naturally thin people—we’re outliers. When it comes to fitness, at best we’ll find ourselves slotted into a footnote: “Oh yeah, and if you’re naturally skinny—must be nice—you’ve got a fast metabolism and stuff so, ya know, just eat more.”

That “just eat more” advice would work fine for most people, but the fact that we aren’t most people is precisely why we’re being given that advice in the first place, and also why that advice is rather naive. For most people, eating lots of food and gaining weight is second nature. If you tell the average woman to “just eat more,” she’d be able to. Hell, she’d probably even like it (until she got fat).

What most people don’t realize is that telling us to eat more is as silly as us telling them, “Just eat less—duh.” That’s not going to solve any problems. In fact, if you go around telling people that, you’re probably going to get in a fight. (And if you’re going to go around getting in fights, it might help to build some muscle first. Luckily, that’s what this article is about.)

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve realized there’s a lot more at play here than how much you eat. And you’re right.

So what’s going on here, and what can you do about it?

You want to gain weight?!

While most people struggle with fat, we struggle with muscle and strength. When we’re looking to get healthier, we aren’t looking to trim down, we’re looking to power up. This can be frustrating because it’s such an uncommon goal. But why is that?

Part of the reason is that muscle and strength, at least for women, isn’t nearly as popular as skinniness. Even women with totally healthy and attractive bodyfat percentages are hopping on the weight loss bandwagon because they assume that smallness is sexier than strength. Smallness isn’t sexier than strength, but the fact remains that weight loss is the fitness industry default.

This wasn’t always the case, and curves used to be a fashionable accessory. Between the 30’s and 70’s, mainstream weight gain products and marketing campaigns for skinny women were pretty common:

Curves used to be fashionable, and there were ads targeted at naturally skinny women who couldn't gain weight

Then foods started becoming cheaper, higher in calories, and tastier. People started eating more. Nowadays people are consuming around 200 more calories from carbs and 200 more calories from fat than they were in the 70’s (study).

…and they’re getting fatter. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 1960, 13% of Americans over the age of twenty were obese. In 2008, that number had risen to 34%.

So it’s understandable that the health and fitness industries now concern themselves exclusively with weight loss. Obesity is a far more widespread problem than skinniness, and most people have no issue whatsoever moving the scale up. However, it means that when we read fitness information, we need to be constantly asking ourselves, “Does this apply to me, or is the article assuming that I’m overweight?”

Even when it’s a curvaceous body being advertised, weight loss is still assumed to be the way to get there. Since most people are overweight, if not obese, the assumption is that the curves are already there, and we just need to whittle away the fat to reveal them. (Not to mention that naturally curvy gals will often be photoshopped thinner.)

Even curvy women are used to advertise weight loss. If you're a skinny gal trying to gain weight / build muscle this doesn't help at all.

This is even true with the “strong is the new skinny” trend. Muscle, health and strength are being advertised—which is awesome—however more often than not even strength is marketed at women who want to finish a muscle-building program smaller and lighter than when they started.

So you could say that the new strength trend is for fat loss (heavy weightlifting and protein + a calorie deficit) instead of weight loss (cardio and veggies + a calorie deficit). The goal is to come out leaner instead of just littler.

This still doesn’t help us.

That’s because our problem isn’t just a pop culture disconnect, it’s that we actually are naturally skinny. So why are we skinny people seemingly so different from everyone else?

female body shapes & somatotypes—female ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph

There are a number of factors that result in a large variety of body types. Our body type is called the “ectomorph” body type. The ectomorph, is shaped by a number of traits that result in a naturally slender physique: a narrow bone structure, a fast and adaptive metabolism, a modest appetite, higher insulin sensitivity, smaller stomach size, and skinny-gal hormones. Combine enough of these traits together and it can become incredibly difficult to gain weight.

We’ll discuss these ectomorph traits over the course of the article.

To start, let’s talk about bone structure.

 

First. Bone Structure & Fat Storage Patterns.

According to Columbia University, before puberty, both men and women have more or less the same body shape—that of a string bean. When puberty hits, a couple things usually happen: testosterone causes the growth of broader shoulders and develops more muscle mass; and estrogen causes people to develop broader hips and to store more fat in their breasts, butts, hips and thighs.

This happens to different degrees in different people; however, most men will be shaped far more by testosterone, and most women, far more by estrogen. This causes men and women to look very different from one another. Both may develop the desirable v-shaped upper body, but it’s predominantly women who have bigger hips, thighs, butts and breasts from the estrogen.

At this point you might be thinking, “But I went through puberty and I’m still a string bean!”

Everyone has different degrees of the two hormones, creating a wide variety of body shapes. Of these, the narrow “string bean” bone structure is actually the most common. Check it out:

female body shapes & bone structure—skinny banana, pear, hourglass, athletic

Narrow bone structure (aka banana, rectangle). This is the most common female physique, shaped by average amounts of both estrogen and testosterone. North Carolina State University found that 46% of women had this bone structure. (This doesn’t mean that most women are thin, just that most women have narrower bone structures.)

The pear shape (aka triangle). The pear body type is shaped even more heavily by estrogen. Estrogen causes structurally broader hips. It also causes fat to hang out primarily in the thighs, buns and boobs. It can sometimes be difficult for women with this body type to build muscle in the upper body. This describes about 20% of women.

Athletic physique (aka inverted triangle). This is the body type shaped more heavily by testosterone, although testosterone levels are still just a very small fraction of what men typically have. This body type will often have broader shoulders, smaller breasts and an athletic edge over other women when it comes to sports performance and building muscle. Around 14% of women have this body shape.

The hourglass physique. This physique is shaped more heavily by both testosterone and estrogen. It’s a more hormonal physique overall. The testosterone creates structurally broader shoulders, and will also make it relatively easy to build muscle. The higher estrogen levels mean that the hips are naturally wider, and also that fat is stored primarily in the buttocks and boobs. However, while popular in the media, only around 8% of women have this body type.

These are generalizations of course, and most people have a predisposition towards a couple of the body types above. As a thin gal, you’ll probably find that you have a narrow bone structure with hints of the other body types showing through in varying degrees.

skinny female body shapes—skinny banana, thin pear, slim hourglass, narrow athletic

While the amount of fat and muscle on your body is largely within your control, your bone structure and where you tend to store fat is largely due to genetics—more precisely, to due with the hormones you were exposed to as your body developed.

Luckily, if you aren’t totally thrilled with your bone structure, you can change your body shape by changing your lifestyle, exercise and nutrition habits.

Fat gain creates a pear shape. The more fat you gain, the wider your thighs, butt and waist will be, giving you more of an endomorphic “pear-shaped” physique.

Fat loss creates narrow shape. The more fat you lose, the smaller your waist, hips and thighs will get, causing you to develop more of a narrow physique.

Muscle-building creates an hourglass shape. The more muscle you build, the bigger your butt, back, shoulders and thighs will get, creating more of an hourglass physique.

Admittedly, we’re generalizing here. Different body types have different fat storage and androgen receptor patterns, and will store fat and build muscle differently. However, having a healthy amount of body fat and strong musculature will usually result in an aesthetically pleasing and healthy physique (article).

If you’re naturally skinny though, developing strong musculature is much easier said than done. There’s a lot more than just our bone structures making us skinny!

 

Second. Metabolism and NEAT.

Many naturally skinny women feel like caloric bottomless pits. They feel as if no matter how much food they shovel into their mouths, their weight still refuses to budge on the scale.

That being said, many experts argue that most women burn more or less the same amount of calories each day—that naturally skinny women just underestimate how much they eat (study, study, study). So why does it often seem like you’ve got this furnace-like string bean metabolism making it impossible to gain weight?

Well, that’s because those experts are wrong.

You do burn about the same amount of calories as everyone else does while you sleep (BMR), while you’re roaming around and being active (TEA), while you exercise (EPOC), and while you digest food (TEF).

… But you’ve also got your skinny-gal metabolism kicking things into overdrive in a far more elusive way.

Where your metabolism may differ from other women is with regards to your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). These are the calories burned through unconscious activity—things like heat production, fidgeting, and postural control (study).

Most people’s bodies are fairly frugal with calories, and try to store as many as possible for rainy days. Not us. We’re caloric high rollers, baby, and we’re all about spending calories like there’s no tomorrow!

For example, I don’t get cold. Ever. I live in Canada and don’t even own a winter coat. My friends joke that I’m a human furnace. I also pace when I talk on the phone, tap my feet and bob my head along to music, and just generally find sitting still really damn difficult.

How much of an effect can this have? A pretty huge one, apparently. A study looking into metabolisms found that most people burned 3% more calories sitting in a chair than they did lying motionless on their backs. Add in some fidgeting though, and people burned 54% more calories just by casually relaxing in a chair. The same is true with standing. Casually standing burns just 13% more calories than lying on your back, whereas a skinny-gal may burn 94% more calories while standing (study).

Why some women are skinny—metabolism

This means that while you may be doing the same things as your friends and colleagues, you may be burning far more calories than them. Over the course of a day, that can mean 475 extra calories burned if you spend most of your time sitting, or 750 extra calories burned if you spend most of your time standing.

Even if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, this more than cancels out the extra calories people have begun consuming since the 70’s. No wonder everyone is inadvertently gaining weight except for us.

Moreover, James Levine, a leading metabolism researcher, recruited ten obese people and ten lean people and measured their postures and movements every half-second for ten days. (He did this by using kinky high-tech undergarments.) The lean people spent two more hours standing than the obese people, burning an estimated 350 more calories each day. This held true even when naturally skinny people gained weight, leading him to believe that this is largely genetically predetermined (study).

And that’s actually only the beginning. Things get really interesting when you start overfeeding us.

A hardgainer’s response to overfeeding

Different people respond very differently to overfeeding. In one study, participants were overfed by 1,000 calories per day for eight straight weeks and instructed not to exercise (study). At the end of the eight week study, some people gained 0.79 pounds of fat and some gained 9.3 pounds of fat. That’s more than a tenfold difference in how much fat was stored.

The group of people who resisted weight gain were called “hardgainers.” That’s us.

This hardgainer phenomenon puzzled researchers for a long time; however, it’s now attributed to unconscious movement.

When overfeeding, almost everyone’s metabolism revs up, but it’s usually not nearly enough to offset the effects of overeating. If your friend eats a 200 calorie cookie she may burn an extra 50 calories and store 150 as fat.

We hardgainers respond to overfeeding by turning up our caloric furnaces far higher than the average person, producing more heat, moving more, and fidgeting more. We might eat that 200 calorie cookie and burn all 200 extra calories.

Other studies have found the same skinny-gal phenomenon (studystudy).

This will help keep you lean, but it will also keep you small.

What you can do about it

So that “just eat more” advice is actually quite naive. Our already overactive metabolisms eagerly adapt to any attempt to overfeed. To put this into perspective, most people’s calorie requirements fall within the range of bodyweight X 13-23, with the naturally plump being on the lower end and the naturally skinny being on the higher end. For a 120 pound woman, that’s the difference between burning 1,560 and 2,760 calories each day.

That’s a huge difference.

You might be able to eat the same amount of food as your best friend, add in an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’sand still not gain weight.

However, we aren’t simply trying to gain weight; we’re trying to gain muscle. Luckily, our bodies adapt to heavy weightlifting stimulus by building up extra muscle before sending the surplus calories off to the furnace. Calories that need to be invested in your buns aren’t extra calories, after all, so they won’t be discarded.

You know how chubbier women often have to do all kinds of cardio in order to stay slim? Well our adaptive metabolisms keep us lean by default.

The tricky part is that we actually need to cue our bodies to build muscle, since we don’t have a lot of it naturally. To do that we really do need to lift some seriously heavy weights. There’s no way around it.

You also need to get into a calorie surplus…

 

Third. Appetite Hormones and Stomach Capacity.

The fact that we’re awesome at building lean muscle while we’re in a hearty caloric surplus is all well and good, but the problem remains: eating a huge caloric surplus is really damn hard. To make matters even more frustrating, nobody else seems to understand this.

Here’s why:

Skinny-gal appetite hormones.

Maybe you’ve read about the “Paleo” approach to dieting—about how avoiding grains, beans, peanuts, potatoes, dairy, and junk food can help you become lean and muscular. This restrictive approach to nutrition works by cutting high calorie foods that people often overeat.

However, overeating probably isn’t a concern of yours.

You may have wondered why some women hangrily wrestle to control their appetites. One reason is the interplay between leptin, insulin and your appetite (study). For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use just insulin as an example here.

When we eat, our insulin levels go up. As our insulin levels go up, our appetites go down. This leaves a nice pleasant feeling of fullness (meta-analysis). This is how our body tells us that we can put down the fork. Insulin also allows our bodies to store fat and build muscle (study), making it extremely important when trying to change your physique.

Naturally, thin women tend to be rather sensitive to insulin (study). This means two things: 1) that your insulin rises eagerly in response to food—i.e. in goes food, up goes insulin; and 2) it means that your body is hyper-sensitive to insulin—i.e., up goes insulin, down goes appetite. This is good as far as health and appetite regulation goes… but awful if you’re trying to eat more.

Most people nowadays are much less sensitive to insulin, especially chubbier people (study). Since their insulin response is blunted, their process looks more like this: in goes food, in goes a little more food, up goes insulin, up goes a little more insulin, and finally down goes appetite. By the time their insulin gets high enough to trigger a feeling off fullness, they’ve often already eaten three more burritos than they should have.

…And this is why they often need to avoid things like burritos. Protein is highly insulinogenic (study), meaning it will do a great job of filling you up. Fibre will help keep you full for longer. The high protein and high fibrous veggie approach that Paleo takes can be pretty effective at managing appetite. This is probably why it’s caught on like wildfire. (However grains, beans, carbs, and all the other things that the diet demonizes aren’t actually unhealthy. As a result I’m guessing that this diet, like the low fat diets of the 80’s, will just be a fad.)

You don’t need to baby your insulin though, because your insulin sensitivity is already babying you. 

Although this might seem like a pain in your too-small ass, being insulin sensitive is actually pretty sweet. Having more insulin sensitivity in our muscle cells and less in our fat cells helps to direct more nutrients toward muscle and less toward fat, making it easier to build muscle leanly. We skinny folk hit the genetic jackpot with this one, and we want to hold onto it at all costs.

Luckily, as long as we approach building muscle cleverly, we can not only hold onto our rad insulin sensitivity, we can also improve upon it. Being lean increases insulin sensitivity (study). Heavy weightlifting increases insulin sensitivity (study). So does building up more muscle mass (study). If you take a skinny girl who already has a genetic advantage, and put her on a hearty muscle-building program, she’ll be an insulin sensitivity powerhouse. This is excellent news as far as your body composition goes.

But while having heightened insulin sensitivity is a tremendous muscle-building and fat prevention asset, it certainly doesn’t help us overcome our appetites. For that we’ve got to do the opposite of what most people do, turning to higher calorie foods that are easier on our appetites. Here’s a chart listing some foods and how filling they are per calorie:

Why some women are skinny—appetite manipulation (how to eat more)

The study concluded that foods which are rich in fibre, protein, and water are more filling. This is troublesome because fibre, protein, and water are also essential for health and building muscle.

This is where things get controversial.

Focusing on high fibre and low calorie vegetables is common among women who want to be healthy or lose weight. If you’re trying to build muscle though, this can be a mistake.

When it comes to healthful weight gain and building muscle, following mainstream health advice can backfire. For the general population, filling + low-calorie = magic health combination. Popular diet foods tend to be things like: celery, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach, chicken, cucumbers, peaches, etc. These can be our worst enemies.

These mainstream “health” foods make it nearly impossible to consume enough calories overall (study). Foods like broccoli, which are essentially just fibre and water, would fill you up miserably without contributing much to your daily calorie consumption. While broccoli is technically a healthy food, this makes it a very poor staple food choice if you struggle to eat enough.

If we try to follow a diet constructed around low calories foods we run the risk of consuming so few calories that we run into malnutrition issues. As an already skinny guy, whenever I’d go on my “health food” kicks I’d inadvertently become anorexic. I’d be doing everything I could to improve my health and build muscle, however my friends and family would grow ever more concerned about my health.

Focusing on micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) at the expense of macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) is getting your priorities ass-backwards. You’ll survive way longer eating just sugar than you would eating just celery, since the sugar is at least satisfying your body’s most basic energy needs, while the celery is not. Priority number one should be making sure you get the energy you need to thrive (short and long term health) and priority number two should be getting the micronutrients you need to thrive (long term health).

If you’re trying to consume 2,500 calories per day, 2,200 calories from whole foods and 300 calories of dessert is way better than 2,200 calories from whole foods, skipping dessert, and missing your target by 300 calories. Both have the same amount of micronutrients, however the “clean” diet fails in an even more important way—it doesn’t meet your basic energy requirements.

We don’t need to be using reduced fat coconut milk, drinking light beers or making cauliflower mashed “potatoes”. We’re better off eating foods that are still minimally processed, still rich in micronutrients, and yet higher in calories. Foods such as sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, trail mix, muesli, eggs, and dairy… and burritos. 

These are nutritious whole foods that are also calorically badass.

Hell, if you need to eat some “dirty” calories to meet your lofty energy requirements, well, it might be time to get a little dirty… at least nutritionally… in moderation.

(I really hope calling foods “clean” and “dirty” is also a fad, as studies show that it’s a great way to develop weird food fetishes.)

Anyway, there are a million other ways to manipulate our appetites, and we wrote a couple chapters on it in the Bony to Bombshell program, but there’s one more trick that we can cover here pretty quickly.

Whole foods in liquid form such as smoothies and milk are also high in calories and easy on your appetite (study). Adding a protein/fruit smoothie into your day is a pretty easy way to add more calories, micronutrients, and protein into your diet without maxing out your appetite. With some cleverness you can make them taste pretty good, too.

Stomach capacity

Perhaps you’ve read about the “intermittent fasting” approach to dieting, where you strategically reduce the number of meals you eat. Since some people have very large stomachs and enjoy eating very large meals, this is a diet designed around eating fewer meals instead of smaller meals when dieting. This helps people consume fewer calories overall (study).

Unlike the Paleo diet, I think intermittent fasting will stick around. When it comes to building muscle, it’s less effective than a traditional meal pattern, since eating fewer meals means less protein synthesis (study).It works quite well for people with naturally large stomachs/appetites, since it helps manage appetite. Appetite manipulation aside, however, it isn’t any more or less effective than a regular meal schedule when it comes to losing fat (study, study, study).

That being said, these are not the woes of a skinny woman. Again, this is often because of the natural physiology that goes along with your body type. In a 2001 study conducted at Columbia University, researchers discovered that obese people had markedly larger stomachs than people of normal bodyweight, and that binge eaters had larger stomachs still. Stomachs are sort of like balloons, with each balloon coming in a different size and each being able to inflate to different degrees (study).

Are we stuck with our stomach sizes? In another study, scientists recruited a group of obese people and split them into two groups: one group ate what they normally eat, and the other was forced to eat itty bitty meals. Four weeks later, the group that ate in their typical manner, not surprisingly, had the same stomach sizes as they did when they started. The itty bitty meal group, however, had reduced their stomach size by 27 to 36 percent (study).

More relevantly, the researchers in the first study suspect that the binge eating behaviour was the cause of the larger stomach sizes. The binge eaters weren’t born with larger stomachs, but rather adapted to their eating habits by growing larger stomachs over time. This suggests that by gradually eating larger and larger meals, we could gradually increase our stomach sizes. Sort of like how stretching out a balloon makes it easier to inflate it.

With that said, skinny folk don’t need to increase their stomach sizes. Simply eating more meals (study), adding snacks between meals (study), eating more calorie-dense foods (study), or using any number of other appetite manipulation tricks is plenty. Eating larger meals might help, but you don’t want to create unhealthy binge eating habits, pack so much food into your little stomach that you cause acid reflux, or eat so much that you need a nap after every meal.

Just don’t go intentionally trying to skip breakfast. If anything you’ll want to be adding in some meals or snacks, not taking them out.

 

Heightened dopamine sensitivity

There’s of course another reason why people tend to eat a helluva lot of food that has nothing to do with appetite or stomach capacity. Eating food causes the release of dopamine, and that release of dopamine causes feelings of intense pleasure. In fact, that’s how our bodies let us know that we’re doing something pleasurable in the first place. This helps us shape our behavior around what our bodies feel is important.

Unfortunately, modern junk food, which is high in both sugar and fat, can create an extremely large dopamine response (study). Some people argue that this can create unhealthy “addictive” habits surrounding junk food (study).

When people get bummed about their love lives (or lack thereof), tired after a long day of work, or stressed out by life in general, it’s common to turn instinctively to fatty/sugary food because your body knows it can get a hit of dopamine there. They aren’t eating because of physiological hunger insofar as they don’t need more calories; they’re eating simply for the predictable pleasure response. This is your typical rom-com scenario where the heartbroken gal drowns her sorrows in a tub of ice cream.

When enough dopamine is released, it eventually satisfies that insatiable craving or urge. Some people are more sensitive to it than others, thus some people need to eat a ton of food in order to stimulate a large enough dopamine response to satisfy their cravings. Bony hearts, however, are often amendable with relatively small portions of ice cream.

…But turning to ice cream in tough times isn’t even something that naturally skinny people tend to do in the first place.

Eating for that pleasurable hormonal response is more of a naturally chubby person thing (studystudy). As skinny people, our stress response is often far more affected by other factors, factors that turn our appetites off. When we get stressed, bummed, or tired, we often lose our appetites entirely, or entirely forget to eat. In tough times we tend to find ourselves losing weight, not gaining it.

So if you get in a fight with your lover, they might storm off and raid the fridge; meanwhile… you’re busy forgetting to have dinner.

 

Fourth. Mainstream fitness = weight loss.

Health, fitness and weight loss are often bundled up together, so it can be really hard to figure out how to exercise in order to gain weight.

Jogging, pilates, spin, light weightlifting circuits, yoga, CrossFit, Insanity, bootcamps, and p90x all make it harder to eat enough to even maintain your weight (study, study). This more true for some people than others, however, as naturally skinny people, both low and high intensity aerobic exercise tends to cause us to burn more calories than we consume (study, study). These types of programs also don’t do much to promote muscle growth (studystudystudystudystudy). These are great programs for general fitness and losing weight (both muscle and fat)—which is what they’re all designed for—but they’re awful for gaining weight, building muscle, and preserving muscle while losing weight.

Since mainstream exercise promotes weight loss, and since we aren’t trying to lose weight, oftentimes we just skip out on exercise altogether. That’s a problem for several reasons. First, it isn’t healthy for our bodies. Second, it isn’t healthy for our brains. Third, ectomorph or not, a sedentary life will ever so slowly lead to the dreaded “skinny-fat” physique. It might take decades of inactivity to get there, but it’ll usually catch up with us.

That’s where things get really tricky though. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We can do everyday fitness routines, get no visible rewards, and struggle even harder to eat enough to maintain our bodyweight… or we can skip out on exercise and slowly let our health degrade.

And it’s a little stressful too. I mean, if we combine some sort of general fitness program with a “bulking” diet we run the risk of getting fatter. We may be thin, but Hell, at least we’re good at it! The last thing we want to do is lose our natural advantage by becoming chubbier.

Check this out:

Fitness for building muscle. If you’re eating a surplus of calories and gaining weight, you can build muscle at first if and only if your workouts are relatively heavy for you. As a result, in beginners, many different types of exercise can stimulate a little bit of muscle growth at first (study). Beyond that very early stage though, it doesn’t matter how grueling the workouts are, how fearsomely your muscles burn with a hellish fire, or how much you want to pass out on the floor… if the stimulus isn’t heavy enough, it won’t cause adaptations that will make your muscles bigger and stronger (studystudystudystudystudy). If you keep eating in a calorie surplus, at a certain point you will begin to gain fat instead of muscle.

The good news is that if you follow a proper weightlifting program, your muscle cells will soak up the extra calories and you’ll be able to build exclusively muscle:

Bony to Bombshell Muscle-building / Weight Gain Program for Skinny Women—Nairita

Frankly, even if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll probably want to go with the “strong is the new sexy” approach to weight loss and do a type of exercise that will help to build and maintain muscle mass so that you’re only losing fat. We skinny people don’t have much muscle to spare!

Fitness for fat loss. A twelve week study looking at body composition while losing weight found that all participants lost 21 pounds on average, regardless of whether they were doing no exercise, light workouts, or heavy workouts. However, the type of exercise participants performed had a huge impact on the type of weight they lost. The ones who weren’t exercising lost an average of 14 pounds of fat and 7 pounds of muscle; the ones who were doing light weightlifting lost an average of 16 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle; and the ones doing heavy weightlifting lost an average of 21 pounds of fat and 0 pounds of muscle (study).

The findings of another study looking into fat loss and exercise are even more extreme. It found that the lighter weightlifting group lost an average of 13 pounds—7 pounds of fat and 6 pounds of muscle. The heavier weightlifting group lost 18 pounds, losing 22 pounds of fat and gaining 4 pounds of muscle (study).

While in a calorie deficit, general fitness exercise makes you smaller, whereas heavy weightlifting will make you leaner (and perhaps ever so slightly more muscular).

Why does this happen? Lighter exercise causes our bodies to make endurance adaptations. We improve blood flow so that we can fuel our muscles for longer periods of time. Conversely, heavy weightlifting stimulates muscle growth by making our muscle cells more sensitive to insulin. Our muscles will hog more of the calories we eat and use them to become bigger and stronger. This is also why when losing weight it’s important to lift, as that’s what preserves muscle mass.

Fat Loss Versus Weight Loss in Women

So if you don’t already have extra muscle hangin’ around, you’ll want to start lifting some seriously heavy weights. That isn’t the only option, but it’s the best option. It’s hands down the most effective way to gain weight, build muscle, improve body composition, and become more of a visibly healthy babeshow. Here’s what it looks like in real life:

Bony to Bombshell Muscle-building / Weight Gain Program for Skinny Women—Randi

 

Summary

People come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Each body type is a little different and often responds best to a slightly different approach; however, in general, being healthy, fit, and strong will result in an aesthetically pleasing physique, regardless of genetics.

That has little to do with why we’re skinny, though. The reason we struggle to gain weight is because we have a number of ectomorphic traits that make it difficult to get into a caloric surplus—such as a raging metabolism, an adaptive “hardgainer” metabolism, a small stomach capacity, amazing insulin sensitivity, and greater dopamine sensitivity.

It’s often frustrating, but these can be great things. We never need to be hungry or hangry, we don’t need to restrict the foods that we love, and, perhaps best of all, we don’t need to deal with the weird negative psychological effects of perpetually trying to become smaller (study).

The problem is that nowadays weight gain is a rare goal, especially in the women’s health and fitness industry.

The skinny-gal approach to nutrition. Since most people eat too much, the emphasis in most diets is on what to remove. There’s also a lot of fear surrounding foods that are higher in calories, like those containing sugar, carbs, gluten, and fat. Since we’re actively trying to eat more, the first thing we should be doing to our diets is cleverly adding things in. We don’t really need to be restricting anything.

So put some milk and sugar in your coffee. Blend up a fruit smoothie to drink alongside it. Ask for an extra egg when you’re out for brunch. Put some olives in your martini. And at dinner, maybe have a fruit salad instead of a salad salad.

The skinny-gal approach to fitness. Similarly, since most fitness advice is about moving more and improving our general fitness, we need to take a bit of a different approach. If your goal is to gain weight, heavy weightlifting is a far better way to get strong and build muscle. Once you become good at it you’ll probably realize that building muscle isn’t as out of reach as you once thought.

Now I’m not saying it’ll be easy. To say that this was a huge challenge for me is an understatement. I tried and failed more times than I can remember before finally wising up and having success. You, too, will need to be clever, and you’ll need to develop good habits. I’m hoping this article helps with that!

The good news is that once you’ve successfully packed on some pounds, maintaining muscle is actually pretty easy. A pound of muscle only burns around 6 calories per day (studystudystudy). If you were to gain a whopping twenty pounds of muscle you’d only need to consume an extra 120 calories to maintain it. That’s a small glass of milk.

Bony to Bombshell Muscle-building / Weight Gain Program for Skinny Women—Yoifran

Questions? Tips and tricks? Success stories? Drop ’em below.

Finally! A muscle-building & weight gain program for naturally slender gals

Bony to Bombshell Full Workout Fitness Program Download

Bony to Bombshell is a weight gain fitness program for thin women who want to be visibly (aka jaw-droppingly) healthy and strong. The program includes everything you need to become bootyful – a training program, a nutritional guide, exercise videos, the kindest community around and individualized coaching from us.

So, what'd you think? 135 responses below.

Laura

Reading that was worth every minute of my time!! So refreshing to be able to understand my body/the way it works. I have never found any resources dedicated to us skinny mini’s and have been getting things all wrong for years because I was reading articles geared towards other people. Great work guys!

Shane Duquette

Really glad you’re digging our approach, Laura 😀

We’ve got some cool articles in the works—always for us skinny folk—so stay tuned. Also, if there’s ever anything in particular that you’d like to learn about, let us know! We’re always open to suggestions 🙂

brenda

I am 14 years old and have not had my period. In school I am really skinny and am usually caked anorexic , I don’t know what to do, what do you recommend.

Shane Duquette

Hey Brenda, I wish we could be of more help, but that’s something that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor. If they determine that the right thing to do is to gain weight and/or build muscle in a healthy way… that’s where we step in 🙂

Brady

I stumbled upon this website after Googling, ‘skinny to muscular’ Sometimes, I feel like if I look stuff up online that it might renew my motivation to get active again and make my current physique not seem so bad. However, lately I have felt the urgency of needing to do something, and fast, or I will never take my clothes off again or wear a swimsuit for that matter. Even now, I can’t say that I’d wear one. I am 5’6”, 120lbs, at 31 years old. I never thought I would feel so disappointed in my own body. I have tried to workout hard at the gym but I always seem to get so discouraged because I can’t figure out my body and what it needs being a skinny gal and staying skinny.

This website has definitely been the most refreshing site I have ever visited. Most of the others do not address the life long skinny battle and only assume that I am someone who can follow their regimen and Viola! I’m a babe. Not the case, ever. The articles and information that you have provided made me feel like you were answering my cry for help. Thank you for creating this website and I look forward to learning more from you.

Cheers!
Skinny Brady

Shane Duquette

Oh man, as you can probably tell, I had the same issue. I’d always do all these programs designed for chubbier people, and skinny me would just get skinnier and skinnier. I assumed it must be that I just had a genetically crappy body. Not the case, I was just doing programs designed for other people. I hope we can help you accomplish your goals, too. Over the coming months (and years) we’re going to delve deeper and deeper into this stuff on the blog, have more and more transformations and case studies coming out of the member area, and turn this into a better and better resource 🙂

As you go though, you might be able to also tackle this from a mental perspective. No matter how in or out of shape we are, I think we should always be able to confidently rock a swimsuit, you know? I mean, who says we need to look like cover models to feel confident in our bodies, right?

cheri

haha right

Emi

Happy to see this article up 😀

I’m a ‘narrow athletic’ ectomorph with a big appetite actually – my stomach is pretty stretchy haha. Maybe it’s a good thing I store fat on my stomach and not hips, otherwise I would’ve kept eating chocolate all day long and never have bothered to actually build muscle. Now that I’m trying to though, I’ve never met a more difficult to pass challenge. Trying to consume 2300-2500 calories in one day sometimes is gruesome [if I remember to snack not so much], but especially the 116gr of protein often seems like I could never eat enough to get there t__t

I wonder if ectomorphs loose muscle more quickly than other bodytypes? I mean, if slack off for a week or two [only one workout instead of three] I see the scale going down, despite eating the same things.

Shane Duquette

Ahaha a stretchy stomach is a huge asset! Struggling to eat enough is definitely one of those #ectomorphproblems situations.

I would say ectomorphs lose WEIGHT more quickly than other body types. Hard to say whether we lose more muscle mass. Generally the more mesomorphic types hold onto it more easily because of their higher testosterone levels and naturally larger muscles, but I’d guess we hold onto it better than endomorphs? Provided we still lift now and then, I think we should be okay. I’ll keep an eye out for research looking into this!

I would guess that the weight loss you’re experiencing with only a week out of the gym is mostly fluid, not actual muscle. A week or two isn’t long enough for muscle atrophy to really be a problem, but enough for muscle inflammation to go down (because you’re no longer damaging them in the gym) and perhaps for glycogen storage to decrease. If that’s the case, it would then level off and hold steady.

elaine

Hi, Interesting site . I am 60 years of age and not overweight but flabby wondering if this program is adaptable for a woman 156cm 50 kg who needs to tighten up and has a Rotator Cuff injury due to following a DVD Les Mills Body Pump 6 months ago.

Shane Duquette

Hey Elaine,

You should be okay to do this, and we’d love to have you—provided you get cleared by your doctor first. In fact weightlifting is especially important as you get older 🙂

Darcy

Finally found a website that describes how and why my body is the way that it is!
Reading this article definitely helped me a lot and I look forward to reading more from you guys. I do have one question though; Is eating right before bed bad? I work a night job and my eating schedule is waaaaay off. I wake up at 12- 1 p.m. and I’m not really hungry till 4-5 p.m. (when I have to go to work & is usually my first meal of the day). I snack through out work (usually junk food) then when I arrive home from work at 2-3 a.m. I binge eat. Like I will eat anything I find till I’m full- or overfull, then 30 mins later, I go to bed and the cycle continues the next day. I know that I’m not hungry when I wake up because I’ve ate so much from the night before. Is this why I’m becoming the dreaded skinny fat with skinny arms/legs and protruding lower belly and chubby face? I’m 19 years old 5’2 and 105 pounds, I do drink protein powder and do minimal exercise example:
standing all night with a lot of fast pace walking, I never sit down for more than 10 minutes throughout whole night (from my job)
Thanks, hope to hear back!!

Shane Duquette

Hey Darcy, really glad you’re digging the site 🙂

Eating right before bed is fine from a body composition perspective. While you sleep is when your body is building the most muscle, and having plenty of nutrients digesting away is great—it tends to help. Eating a lot in one meal is okay too. What matters most if the overall quality/quantity of what you eat, not when you eat it.

…However it may not be best from a digestion and sleep perspective. Some people get acid reflux if they eat a big meal and then lie down. Other people don’t sleep as well if they’ve eaten a big meal recently.

Walking and light exercise would burn calories and maybe get your heart rate up, but it wouldn’t help you build muscle. I’d recommend lifting (heavy) weights, eating well, and trying to get plenty of good quality sleep 🙂

Hanna

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I found this article the same way as Brady and I couldn’t be happier reading it. For years I suspected I had some kind of a serious medical disease which kept me so skinny and with dangerously low levels of fat in my body. Trying to eat a lot of high calorie and fatty foods didn’t help me at all – my weight stayed the same or even decreased to my horror. I also never thought of the fact that my favourite sports (skiing, swimming, jogging) contribute to weight loss rather than weight gain.
Looking back I have to admit I was really unaware of everything related to how my body works, why I couldn’t gain weight, why my training habits didn’t suit my goals etc.
I have been weight training for a couple of months now and I can already see the results. I can’t believe how easy it has been for me to actually grow muscles.
This article has answered a lot of my questions and confirmed many suspicions I’ve had regarding fitness trends, different diets, metabolism etc and how different people get different results. I know now that I only get the results I want when I eat and train in harmony with the needs of my own body. I’m looking forward to reading more of your articles!

Shane Duquette

Really glad you’re enjoying the site, Hanna 😀

Yeah, there’s a paucity of information out there for us naturally skinny folk. We’re rare, so I get it—but still… it’s rough growing up and having absolutely no idea what’s going on with our bodies.

Great job gaining weight! Sounds like things are going really well 🙂

Good luck!

C ferguson

This is an amazing article!! I’m 5’2, 120lbs and have been lifting but it seems I’m not going anywhere. When I gain, the lbs go to my hips and thighs, so I do more exercise on bottom body instead of top. My upper body is so scrawny 🙁 I just don’t want muscles on my shoulders and arms in frightened of having Bruce Lee’s upper build lol because my waist is so small. I love this article…. I’m a skinny pear 🙂

Shane Duquette

Hey C,

Really glad you enjoyed the article!! 🙂

It’s really really common to worry about bulking up looking bad, especially in the upper body, and especially for women. That doesn’t mean that your fears are real though. They might be, but I think if you do some more upper body work you’re really going to like how it looks! Also keep in mind that lifting will make you bigger in the areas that you train. Bigger in a shapely and appealing way, but bigger nonetheless. So if you tend to gain weight in your lower body, and then you train your lower body, that will make your lower body bigger still! If you don’t tend to gain weight in your upper body, and you avoid training your upper body, that will mean atrophied and untrained muscles in your upper body.

Just my two cents, but if you train your ENTIRE body, while putting a bit of extra emphasis on the areas you want to grow/improve/tone, then I think you’ll really like how your body starts to look 🙂

I hope that helps!

Catherine Monica

Wow. This morning after my workout I googled, “go from thin to muscular.” I have never been more ecstatic at a Google result. I have always loved heavy lifting, but have gotten so discouraged in the past because I would see little results even when I would stay dedicated to lifting heavy weights regularly for months. Which would lead me to stop, then restart all over again months later hoping it would be different. I am 5’9 and about 119 pounds. I have more muscle than most thin girls my height, but I really want to be more curvy. After reading this article, I can say that I have never been more knowledgable about my own body. Thank you so much for what you are doing. I used to have a passion for working out and had dreams of being a personal trainer. I had given up on those dreams through so much discouragement with my own body. My dream has come alive again. Thank you again! Keep it up!

Shane Duquette

Hey Catherine, so glad you loved the article! Glad we could help.

We’ll be coming out with some new stuff soon, so stay tuned 🙂

(And there’s always the program if you want a package with everything you need!)

stephanie

Thank you so much for this article!!! I am 5’9″ and 115 pounds and no one understands the difficulty you face in a society where the focus is on weight loss. There are limited resources out there but this gave me significant knowledge! I’ve gained 5 pounds in the last couple of weeks from eating more and I plan to continue my journey using your tips. Thanks again!

Shane Duquette

Congratulations on the five pounds, Stephanie—that’s amazing 😀

I hope we’re able to help you more over the coming year.

Best of luck, and stay tuned!

M

Happy to have arrived at this article. I am nearly 5.6″, 27yrs, and a mere 89 lbs.! Recently, I was at the GP clinic where the horrified doctor asked me if i throw up after eating. I know for certain I don’t have an eating disorder unless you call “eating 5-6 decent sized meals a day (digesting it!) and being light as air” a disorder. I love food and don’t care much about being a bombshell.
One thing I definitely want to improve though is my strength, because, well you can tell, at my weight , it sucks.
I would like to get on with the strength training and wish to know how this programme can help. However, wonder if you recommend it for someone like me or you think better to go to the doctor and get a check up first?
I should mention- I don’t have diabetes, overactive thyroid or cancer- phewwww. Perhaps also important to mention- I follow a veggie diet.

Shane Duquette

Hey M,

People used to wonder if I was anorexic. I wasn’t, but I certainly appeared that way. I know firsthand how hurtful those comments can be. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

You’re wondering if you’re too skinny for the program? Hell no! That’s our specialty. Of course you should consult with your doctor—this would be true of any exercise program—but dealing with the very skinny is what we do best 🙂

No problem with being a vegetarian either. It makes things a little trickier, sure, but you already know how that is—you can’t stroll into a barbecue, close your eyes, and point at something on the menu like some of your friends can… but as far as building muscle goes there’s no problem 😀

I hope you decide to join us!

Steph

Thank you for the great article, very enlightening! I’m 5’7 117lbs, I’ve always been comfortable with my skinny frame growing up but at 31 years old I realize the importance of building muscle mass and also how difficult it is for ectomorphs! I think the only part I struggle with in your article is that CrossFit is targeted to weight loss, as a Strength and Conditioning program which involves heavy lifting, why is CrossFit not a suitable fitness regime? I have actually been quite pleased with CrossFit results and weight gain. Thanks again!

Shane Duquette

Hey Steph,

CrossFit is designed to be an extreme sport version of a general fitness program. It’s quite good at improving general fitness (not the best, but good), the risk of injury is quite high, it’s good a strong community, many people find it a ton of fun, lots of people find it pretty gruelling, tiring and draining. Lots of advantages and disadvantages.

There are some strength components, sure, and many people do gain some muscle from it—especially at first (and especially if they eat a ton of food)… but it’s so so far from being optimal at building muscle that it’s not really a good choice if your primary goal is building muscle. If you’re someone who struggles to build muscle, like a lot of our readers, then it would be a very poor path to choose.

Why isn’t it good for building muscle? The volume per week per muscle group isn’t close to ideal for building muscle, and that’s one of the main determinants of how effective a program is. The exercise selection isn’t really appropriate, it’s often combined with a Paleo approach to nutrition (which is super bizarre pseudoscience, and also awful for building muscle). The exercise intensity isn’t really appropriate. CrossFit does use weights, and sometimes those weights are heavy enough, and sometimes the movements are appropriate… but it’s hard to find a part of it that is ideal for building muscle.

Not surprisingly, we have a lot of people coming into our programs who have struggled with CrossFit. I’m sure there are many others that have a great time doing CrossFit though and get the results they’re after. If it’s working for you, I see no reason to stop! 🙂

Julie Swink

BEST Google search on how to go from skinny to muscular ! Whoa ! So thankful for the awesome information I found her. Hoping to gain maybe 10 lbs from now to Fall by lifting heavy & eating more-ish.

Thank you so much!
Julie

Shane Duquette

So glad you dug it, Julie 🙂 Good luck gaining those ten pounds!! Let us know how it goes!

Stephanie

This makes so much sense!! I fidget constantly and now I know why I’m so exhausted all the time. I’m not nourishing my body enough to even fidget! That is the hard part, eating. I can so relate to the not eating and forgetting to eat. Being a mom keeps me pretty sidetracked. I can’t wait to join the program! I have one question, will there be an eating guideline or plan included with this plan? I have no idea where to start. Thank you for doing all of this research and helping the “skinny kid” be first pick for the first time in her life.

Shane Duquette

Hey Stephanie,

Ahahaha yeah I’m the same way, and have the same problem—and I’m not even a mum! Oh man, you must burn so many calories! Sounds like a pretty great reason to burn ’em though 🙂

Absolutely! We’ve got a ton of information about how to design and customize your own nutrition plan to suit your preferences, schedule, budget, appetite, etc. We also have sample meal plans that are optimized in a more general way for all of those things already. Aaand we can work with you on that stuff on a personal level in the community 🙂

I got your email too, and I hope to see you in there soon!

Karla

Well written and very informative article! Thank you so much for posting this. I am starting a journey to put on more mass as currently I am weighing in at 51kg (110 pounds) and I’m 5 ft 6. I rock climb 3-4 days a week so although I have built up lean muscle in my upper body I feel as if I have plateaued as I have become so used to lifting my own body weight I can’t get any stronger. I would like to gain at least 4kg (8-9 pounds) to bring me up to a healthier weight range and assist with strength training. Initially I used to go to the gym and lift weights however admittedly I did find this quite boring but I am determined to put on more mass so am willing to do whatever it takes – just wondering if you think your program will be suited to me?

Shane Duquette

Hey Karla,

You sound like a pretty great fit! Coming in already healthy, strong and athletic will be a huge asset when it comes to building muscle, and I bet you’ll come to like lifting weights once you get into the sport of it. It can be a little dull at first, especially if you just lift haphazardly, use machines, etc… but most people we work with find that as soon as they’re on a structured plan, that making steady strength (and aesthetic) improvements can be pretty fun and addictive 🙂

I hope you decide to join us!

Marie H.

Hey there,
So, I’m 14, 5″4 and 105 pounds. I’ve tried eating unhealthy foods, but I can’t gain any fat. I’ve tried eating healthy and exercising, but I can’t gain any muscle. It’s like God hit the pause button on my weight… I know I’m pretty young, still going through puberty or whatever, but I was just wondering if it would be healthy for me to participate in this program?

Shane Duquette

Hey Marie,

Most of the research looking into weightlifting as a teen are very very positive. They show healthy improvements in body composition, strength, willpower (and thus reduced likelihood of addiction), and even beneficial adaptions in the brain!

Eating more and eating better, especially as someone who’s fairly slender, also has the possibility to improve your health, strength and energy (and appearance).

Everything we’re doing is “natural” and healthy, so it won’t mess up your hormones or development or anything. (You wouldn’t be starving yourself, becoming obese, or training to compete in the olympics or anything, all of which are so extreme that they’d likely affect you in a negative way.) In this more moderate case, where the goal is to look amazing and feel awesome, eating well and lifting will help optimize your hormones and development as your body sees fit.

Of course you’ll want to discuss this with your parents and doctor, but I see no reason why you can’t start. If they give you the all-clear and you do sign up, just make a post in the community and we can make sure that the exercises are appropriate for your age and experience level. We already use a lot of progressions and take a slow and careful approach to gearing into heavy lifting, but with you we would start you off a little bit lighter still, for example 🙂

Dali

Omg this is PERFECT!!! Good Job putting this together. I am very glad I found this. I am 5’9″- 123 lbs – 31 yrs old – 2 kids later and still super skinny and tall on top of everything so yeah this was very helpful .. I work out pretty much all the time but I’ve clearly been doing that completely wrong plus the nutrition part is what always gets me because i’m so clueless to what i can and cannot eat and then I’m spanish and we eat a lot of unhealthy meals that taste super delicious lol ….I am so tired of people looking at me crazy when i say i want to gain some weight and the “eat more” quote.. GOD, they need to stop with that. I’m not saying I want to be unhealthy and fat …anyway…. looking forward to see some real change in my body. i’m so pump!!!!

Shane Duquette

Hey Dali, really glad you dug the article!

Hehe my mum is a Cuban who’s madly in love with Mexican/Spanish cuisine. She even has a little greenhouse next to the kitchen where she grows her own assortment of habanero peppers. I know it’s a little different from the food in Spain, but you might be surprised at how well it can work for healthfully building muscle!

Some of the best fast food options around here are Mexican (e.g. Chipotle), my all-time favourite bulking meal is chili, and Spanish food seems to usually be based around tons of nutritious whole foods (avocados, beans, chicken, seafood, meat, cheese, fresh fruit and veggies, etc) combined with easy to digest carbs (rice, tortilla, etc). Should make for a pretty brilliant high protein muscle-building diet… not to mention it’s delicious! 🙂

Good luck!!

Antecessus

Omg. This is so me! Thank you!! It explains so much! I have been asked if I was anorexic before, and I often get people asking me if I’ve eaten enough, and they doubt me when I say I’m eating all the time! Heck, I’m 4 months postpartum, and despite all the avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, and frequently box of cookies a day, I gained a total of 5lbs after baby weight… so frustrating!

I’m vegan too, so there’s plenty of foods that could help me gain, but I just won’t go there. The odds are against me lol. I’m just worried about how much weight to start lifting. I’ve hurt my neck before, not doing it correctly and using too many weights. I’ll have to do more reading!

Either way, thank you so, so much!!! I understand myself better! 😀

Shane Duquette

Really glad you liked it! We’ll be posting some more detailed articles on lifting soon. You don’t need to lift super heavy, just heavy enough to cause your body to adapt by becoming stronger, not just developing more endurance. Most people in this field would say that 1-5 reps is “heavy”, 6-12 reps is moderate, and 12-20 reps is light. Any of those rep ranges will build muscle (and muscle will be best built with a combination of all of them). When starting out 12-20 reps is fairly safe (although sometimes painful, since it causes lactic acid buildup in your muscles).

There’s also a lot to be said about progression! It might not have been the heaviness of the weights, but the difficulty of the movement pattern. We’re in the middle of coming up with a version for Bony to Bombshell, but in the meantime you might find a lot of value in this article here 🙂

Does that help at all?

Eliasani

Do all pear shapes have wide hips? And, in case of extreme or unexplained weight- loss do they tend to look narrow shaped? Thank you.

Shane Duquette

Everyone is a little different, and these body types aren’t perfect. Not all pear shapes have wide hips. The body type is usually defined by storing more fat in the hips and legs though, creating a heavier bottom half.

When they lose weight it can really depend! If they go on an extreme diet and lift weights, for example, they’ll probably build muscle while losing fat, creating more of an hourglass shape. If they adopt a low calorie vegan diet or something and do lots of cardio (or no exercise at all), then there won’t be much protein or muscle stimulation to keep muscle around, so they may get skinny-fatter.

Does that help / make sense?

Amanda

I am literally almost in tears right now. I have never found anything like this at all in my years of search for a plan to gain weight and feel great. I have struggled for years and years to gain weight. I’m 18 and am so skinny that I get called a twig, stick, and many other names including often getting told that I look sickly and anorexic. I am so glad that I found this. Even though I am a struggling college student right now I will definitely be saving up my money to join this program and start to feel happy and healthy. I also love all the articles they are all very interesting and everything that I read I agree with.

Shane Duquette

I’m so glad that you liked the article, Amanda! Thank you so much for all the kind words. I can definitely relate to people thinking I was sick or anorexic, even though I was really trying my best to eat a lot, exercise and be healthy. It’s something we hear a lot from our members, too. Something all of us skinny people seem to experience 🙁

That’s awesome that you’re thinking of signing up! I hope to see you on the other side soon 🙂

Alessandra

Hi! I’m really happy i finally found something helpful for me and my type of body. I’m 18 years old and i live in south América where almost every single girl has curves and al they want is to lose weight! I’ve never found someone with my same problem and i felt completely out of place. Thanks forma sharing this with us 😀

Shane Duquette

Really glad you like it, Alessandra 🙂

I feel the same way here in Toronto, Canada. It feels like everyone is trying to lose weight, and I’m this lone skinny guy. What I love about this website is that we can take these people who feel alone in their skinniness from all over the world and bring them into one community where everyone is struggling with similar things and working towards similar goals 🙂

Jessy

I can not tell you how excited I was to find this site!! I am 25 yrs old, 5’3, and about 95 lbs. I have been this way all my life and have hated it! I’ve gotten all of the rudest comments you can imagine about being skinny throughout my life and it has shattered my self esteem. I always thought something was wrong with me even though doctors have given me a clean bill of health everytime. But now, I am feeling more confident and just want to build some muscle and tone my body more…and I never realized I have been doing it all wrong! I’ve also never known exactly why my body is the way it is. I feel so much better about my body now and am so glad there are other people like me out there! Thank you for this amazing article!!

Shane Duquette

Hey Jessy,

I’m so sorry to hear about all the rude comments you’ve gotten, and about how your self esteem has suffered as a result.

Really glad you liked the article! Hopefully now you can go about doing this the right way 🙂

Jessy

Thank you!! ☺

Sophia

Thanks for this!! I’ve been on the skinny side my entire life. Almost everyone I know has commented on my weight one way or the other, and i’ve even been accused of being anorexic (behind my back and from a friend, no less). The one thing that doesn’t fit me in this article is the small appetite – I eat like a beast and I used to out-eat most guys my age ;P I just recently started lifting weights and already I’ve seen myself developing curves I never thought I’d have. It’s been inspiring to see how much the women here have completely reshaped their bodies. Makes me want to keep going!

Shane Duquette

Aghh I hate it when people assume the worst like that. I’ve had people think that about me as well, so I know how much that can hurt. It’s even worse that it’s from someone that you care about—someone who should be assuming the best of you instead of the worst.

Congratulations on already having such great success! That’s amazing 🙂

Keep it up!!

wants2know

Really amazing article. So thoroughly researched and written in great detail.

I’m curious what you make of someone who is thin framed but with a propensity to gain fat (although maybe it’s not as fast as other body types). I’ve always struggled with whether I’m a true ectomorph since I’m really thin but feel like I also can put on fat, especially in my abs and thighs for how lean I am elsewhere. I’m 5’6″ and 118 lbs with body fat at 25% approximately. Would I classify as an ectomorph? If I eat recklessly it goes to my stomach basically and the rest remains thin. I workout quite hard, to keep things in balance, and can relate to the hard gainer part of being an ectomorph as adding curves/mass to calves, glutes, etc. seems to be so hard.

Your input would be fantastic. I’d love to add muscle and tighten up but again not certain if I’m in the same category composition wise.

Shane Duquette

I got your email too, but I’ll answer here so that others can benefit from the answer as well 🙂

It’s rare to find someone who fits one body type perfectly. Most people are a combination of several. What you’re describing is fairly common, both in general and in our community.

25% body fat isn’t that high! You’re not overweight or anything. I get that your body fat percentage is higher than you’d like though, and it’s certainly possible to get it down. You’ve really got two options for getting started:
1) Aim to lose weight while preserving muscle mass. Lift well, eat a lot of protein, eat in a calorie deficit, and strategically adjust each week based on the results you’re getting. You should be able to preserve all of your muscle mass while doing that. It’s even possible to GAIN some muscle while doing it.
2) Aim to gain weight without gaining (much) fat. Lift well, eat a lot of carbs (and a moderate amount of protein), eat mostly whole foods, get plenty of good sleep, and strategically adjust each week based on the results you’re getting. You should be able to build muscle fairly leanly.

After you’ve accomplished one goal, or at least moved significantly closer to it, then you can slowly switch to the other. You zig-zag towards being lean and muscular, rather than trying to achieve both simultaneously.

It can seem difficult now, or like you’ve got bad genetics, but over time you pull more nuclei into your muscle cells, making it more easy to build/maintain muscle. Your muscle cell insulin sensitivity improves, sending more calories towards muscle and fewer towards fat. You learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t, and you develop better habits. This will all make it feel like you have far better genetics.

Does that make sense / help at all?

Molly

This was an awesome article and really informative.
I have a few questions, if you have the time. I’m 5’1″,95lbs, 24% body fat without exercise, and kind of a cross between an hour glass/athletic–34, 25,31 bust/waist/hips. I’m not exactly looking to have more curves (I have a hard enough time trying to find clothes that fit). Ideally, I’d like to feel capable and strong and hopefully go down a cup size without it affecting my chicken legs + bum. I’m concerned that a lot of the cardio reccommeneded for fat loss, will just shrink me, versus balance my proportions. What’s your take?

Shane Duquette

Hey Molly,

Okay I see what you’re saying. Jared’s wife has a lot of trouble with that too, having to tailer the waist in on all of her clothes.

You’re right, if you focus on cardio you may lose weight from everywhere, including losing muscle. That might make your lower body a little flatter. It won’t do a good job of making you stronger, either. However, cardio is great for your health and general fitness, and it’s never a bad idea to have some in your life 🙂

I’d recommend lifting as well though. If you eat in a calorie surplus (i.e. gain weight) this will make you curvier, especially in your butt, shoulders, hips, and thighs. The more weight you gain, the curvier you’ll get. To prevent this, and to help you go down a cup size, you’d just eat in a slight caloric deficit (i.e. lose weight). When someone first starts strength training they tend to build muscle even in a deficit, and that extra muscle will make you quite a lot stronger. (It will also make your legs and butt a little thicker / improve your muscle tone.)

In addition to building muscle, you’ll also become a lot better at using the muscles you already have. Learning to activate the right fibres at the right times, learning how to use muscle groups together, how to lift things with proper leverages, etc.

Does that help / make sense?

Molly

Thanks Shane! This does make a lot of sense and it is really helpful, I really appreciate the work you put in to respond to all the questions/comments!

Malena

Hi, guys! Always a pleasure reading your articles!!! I’m wondering afer reading the list of exercises that you wouldnt recommend as muscle-building exercises, and CrossFit is one of them. I am 5´3” and 105 pounds, and my goal is to weight at least 110 by the end of the year (while loosing some of my belly fat while I’m at it). I started a CrossFit training program a few weeks ago,and some of the girls that train there are just HUGE, they compete in the CF Games and all, ad they lift serious weight. So I was surprised to find CrossFit among the exercise programs that you would not recommend. Is there any reason for this? Do you think they are “cheating” on CrossFit and doing some other training on the side? I would love to know your thoughts about this. Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Hey Malena,

A lot of CrossFit athletes were professional athletes and weightlifters before CrossFit even existed. For example, Rich Froning was an all-star baseball player in high school and an excellent football player. He then got an athletic scholarship to college. After college he became a firefighter. Throughout this whole period he was presumably lifting weights. At that point he turned to CrossFit and became a world champion competitor.

I wouldn’t say they are “cheating” on CrossFit per se, but I also wouldn’t say that CrossFit made them fit or strong—they were fit and strong already. CrossFit may have made them fitter and stronger however. CrossFit is actually a pretty cool way for advanced lifters and extreme sports sort of people to turn fitness into a competition/challenge. I think it has a great sense of community and friendly constructive competition. The injury rates are high, but for advanced competitive lifters and athletes this is a risk they’re willing to take… and they’re also sturdy, rugged, and coordinated people that are less likely to get injured in the first place.

Do these people do more than basic CrossFit? Probably! If you want to excel at a particular task, you generally need to train that specific task to a certain degree. If you want to be the very best, that generally requires a combination of exception genetics and exceptional dedication. The CrossFit competitors are all genetically gifted people and likely train in a very specific and deliberate way for the specific tasks they’ll be faced with during the CrossFit games. Since they’re so dedicated, they probably invest a lot more time and energy into training and recovering and supplementing (and perhaps performance enhancing drugs) than the average enthusiast.

The reason we don’t recommend CrossFit for building muscle is because it’s not that effective. It’s most effective than many other fitness programs, since it does involve lifting weights, but it’s not nearly as effective at building muscle as something designed for building muscle (like bodybuilding), or nearly as effective at building strength as something designed to develop strength (like strength training). It’s also far more dangerous, far more time consuming, far more expensive, far more difficult, far more painful. It’s not a bad approach, it’s just not the best option for most skinny people who are trying to build muscle and improve their health/appearance.

If you were a professional athlete or lifter asking me for a good way to improve or maintain your strength and fitness while having a blast competing against other likeminded people… I would enthusiastically recommend something like CrossFit 🙂

Does that help / make sense?

Shane Duquette

To use the example of champion CrossFitter Rich Froning again, he’s got the same height and bodyfat percentage as Frank Zane, who was the top bodybuilder in the world for many years (during the 70s). Frank Zane almost certainly used steroids and devoted his life to building muscle. Rich Froning has ten more pounds of muscle.

Rich Froning also trains several times per day.

You see similar stats and lifestyles with female CrossFitters. They have physiques that may not be achievable without drugs. Certainly that are unachievable without world class genetics. They also often train several times per day.

Malena

Thank you for your answer, Shane! Keep up the good work. Greetings from Argentina 🙂

Shea

I’ve searched & searched but have never found anything this comprehensive. I’m awestruck at how great this article is & actually thought it was written by a female. I just figured, only another skinny female could understand me. I love that I felt like this article covered everything that I am dealing with & that you back it with research, I love research! I am curious, as a 5′ 3″ 100lb female who is pretty weak, should I bother with jumping into your program or perhaps work on some basic strength training? For example, I can barely deadlift a barbell no plates.

Shane Duquette

Hey Shea, so glad you liked the article! All of the issues in this article were ones that I struggled with personally as well. (Plus I’ve got a similarly skinny sister who I grew up with.) I think us skinny men and women perhaps have more in common than we realize, sometimes. In this case a love of research 😉

We don’t start the program with barbell deadlifts, don’t worry. We begin with progressions that are easier to teach and safer for you to learn… yet still allow you to build muscle at a very rapid pace. I think you’ll dig it 🙂

And I really hope you decide to join us! We’d love to have you.

Stacy

You are SO awesome for this article. Finally, I have found a home on your blog! OMG…I am
sucking up all this information like my life depended on it because I am sick of my boyish
body.

Question for you Shane: I started incorporating some moderate junk foods (the cornbread from
Au bon pain for instance, is 480 calories, lots of peanut butter mixed with coconut milk and
bananas etc.), and part of me is fairful that I will still be thin but not with some cellulite…
But, it’s such a super quick way to add extra calories. However is this a bad idea? Thanks!

georgina

I’m so delighted to find this website! For ages I always wondered why I couldn’t find a website that caters for us skinny minnys!! I’m 21,5’2 and 92 pounds. My weight and figure has really started to depress me lately with nasty comments being thrown around. This website was a godsend! I’m in college and have limited funds but I’m just wondering…if i trained doing heavy weights would it actually give me a bum and decent legs? I have literally no hips so I’m just wondering is there anything i could do to give myself that curve at the hip or am i skrewed ? I’m more concern about these areas…also i have been called dangerously underweight for my BMI. I sleep all the time, for some reason im always tired and because of this and going from pillar to post in relation to staying in different places along with the lack of money, I just don’t know what to do anymore!
Thank you for making this website!

Vanessa

Oh. My. Gosh!!! I’m so happy to have found this site! I was getting so frustrated not being able to find information for my body type. Its only been the fact that I have had children back to back that has helped me maintain my 112 lb at 5’4, former 100 pounder soaking wet, body. 8 kids in all and it was the last 3 that finally gave this boy body some shape! Lol Only in the last five months have I had this insane tenacity to work out and get fit since I’m typically not athletic at all. In this process I’ve been able to pick up information here and there but only by sifting through all the “weight loss/build muscle”programs…you have it all concentrated down and so easily explained for a beginner like me!
By reading just one article, I already feel a sense of relief! Thank you!!#

Shane Duquette

8 kids?! Wow! Congratulations x 8! 😀

So glad you liked the article, Vanessa. I really hope it helps you accomplish your goals!

amanda

I feel like a lightbulb finally went off in my brain !!! In college I weight lifted hated running and did martial arts .I ate tones of bacon hamburgers and fried chicken(I worked at wendys ) and then I took protein shakes … I felt better in my body than i did growing up . After college I used to work at a job where I lifted 5 gal paint buckets with ease another job were i lifted furniture ,I ate veggies bread and meat I felt great ! After I had my baby I lost all the fat I carefully gained with breast feeding and muscle and I felt terribly depressed I ate and Ate but non of those glorious curves stayed . I dont eat when im stressed and not working has stressed me out about money , food etc. I finally understand my body after reading this article . As i sit here I am noticing my twitchy fingers hovering over the keyboard twitching . my son gets hangry and is slim like me so is my husband . Now I can help them .will be sharing so the haters understand.

Aly

Wow. I’m 11, 5 foot 3 and 80lbs. I am an noodle and now am working towards my goal or stronger, not skinnier

Shane Duquette

Best of luck accomplishing your goal, Aly! Rock on 😀

Tessie

I love this Article!

High school I was a worry wort on being underweight. And gaining was a challenge. Now in the army, I have to prove to others, i’m more then a string bean. Just the other day, A girl at drill basically called me anorexic! She says cause I’m tiny, I must not eat. Even when I tried to explain why I’m so small, she interrupted me and acted like she knew my body. I love food. I love trying new foods and cooking anything asian related! In the Army, I’m known as a 92G(cook) and the food we have to cook is pig related and all the others know i can’t eat it or i get sick. (plus the food is always gross anyway!) And when we get to go eat at a deli, I’m broke!! Can’t eat if you have no money. (national guard gets terrible pay). Her saying all that made me mad, reading this though made me happy. I’m gonna send her this link and tell her the shove it where the sun don’t shine. I hardly have trouble maintaining a healthy weight and gaining muscle mass but sometimes I get a bit antsy and check it anyway.

Thank you for posting this and I definitely want the book!

<3 J.I. Jane

Nadine

Thank you for this article, I’m going to bookmark it and use it as a reference. I love seeing the before and after pictures. I wish there were girls I could relate to, I’m 5’7 and weigh 98-100lbs. I’m really trying to change that now, I’m sick of not being able to dress the way I want, avoiding short sleeve shirts, skirts and dresses. I goal weight would be 115-125, I thought when I got pregnant I would gain weight, but to no avail. I’ll give this a shot with high hopes.
Thank you!

soodeh

Hi,
The article was greatt!! I really loved it, specially because it seemed that finally somebody understands me!!
You mentioned that we want to gain muscles, I thought it’s probably because you are a guy. Though developing stronger muscles helps the breasts look better on a woman, but we know that fat is what will actually make women’s breast bigger.
So I was wondering if there is any way to gain fat, let it stay in the breasts part, and make it into muscles in other areas and in breasts too??

Shane Duquette

Hey Soodeh, so glad you thought the article was great! 😀

We made this site not because we thought that women wanted to build muscle, we made it because we had tons and tons of requests from women reading our site for skinny men (Bony to Beastly) who were asking for a women’s version 🙂

Your hormones and genetics will influence where you store fat, but gaining fat is fairly straightforward. Not necessarily easy, but straightforward at least. You’d need to eat enough to be in a calorie surplus. Once you’re in a calorie surplus your body will start storing some of those extra calories. If you’re lifting weights and eating a hearty amount of protein then much, if not all, of that weight will be muscle. So to make sure that you also gain fat you’ll need to eat even more, driving that calorie surplus even higher, and assuring that there are so many extra calories that your body will have to store some as fat.

That would probably give you the visual change you’re looking for, since the muscle will also be helping to fill out and hold up the areas you’re eager to build 🙂

I hope that helps!

hdotpdot

This was a great read. The problem is now, I need to stop being picky with my food and motivate myself with weight training, which is a little hard.

Shane Duquette

Ahaha, yes, this is true.

I’d recommend building your diet out of foods you already like. No need to switch over to entirely eating salad or anything. And with the training, start small! Anything is better than nothing 🙂

Good luck!

Adrianne

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this article. I’m 29, 5’4″ and 106lbs, and although that’s at the lower end of a healthy bmi, I’m still “skinny fat”. I’m don’t regularly exercise and last summer I decided I wanted to tighten up my mid section and legs, but everything I read online didn’t really seem to fit my body type. I needed up getting down to 100lbs and still wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, all that happened was that I lost my boobs and butt! So, if I start weight training will I simultaneously lose the little layer of fat that I have while also building muscle? I assume this means I don’t need to restrict my diet like I thought I’d need to to lose that last bit of fat? Would this program be suited to my body type?

Shane Duquette

Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that, Adrianne. Unfortunately, I can relate to following advice that was poorly suited for my body type and winding up even scrawnier 🙁

Building muscle while losing fat is not common, as muscle is best built in a calorie surplus and fat is best lost in a calorie deficit. However, you’re in a good position to be an exception to that rule. Numerous studies have shown that people who are new to lifting weights (properly) will often simultaneously lose fat while building muscle if their diet is also on point. (The other exceptions are obese people who are lifting weights while dieting, and bodybuilders taking steroids.)

Your diet would need to be pretty good. Not in a crazy way, but good in a couple specific ways: a good amount of protein, and not an absurd amount of junk food (especially if it’s very high in fat), for starters. Your weightlifting program would also need to be quite good.

Yes! This program was designed specifically for women with your body type, and I’m very confident that we can help you accomplish your goals 🙂

I hope you decide to join us!

Bee

Hi I love this article brilliant insight in to how your body works. I am currently 8st 5pounds and naturally toned already. For the life of me I’ve been trying to gain weight for years and it is really getting me depressed, I’m currently eating 2500-3000 calories a day for the past week to try and gain weight, not really exceeding but I do a lot of working and light lifting throughout the day and I have a child that keeps me active lol. I’m quite musculature already so I’m very reluctant to lift any weights etc. What do you recommend for me I will do anything if it will definitely work but I want to gain it relatively fast not in a week obviously but I want to gain at least 10pounds in the next few weeks, is that realistic? Thanks

Shane Duquette

Hey Bee,

Are you saying that you want to gain weight, but you don’t want to lift weights because you don’t want that weight gain to be muscle? So you want to gain fat, yes?

People can gain fat fairly quickly, yeah. If you eat enough food you’ll gain fat. How much you eat will determine how quickly you gain the fat. You’ll gain a little bit of muscle while doing it too, simply from gaining weight. You can minimize the muscle gained by not eating a lot of protein.

Does that help?

Bee

Hi, thank you for your prompt reply. Yes i want to gain fat as I’m quite slim and I have a natural athletic physique. I’ve been eating so much a day for years now but maybe I haven’t been consistently enough or been eating for a lengthier period. I’ve been eating healthy high calorie foods like Avocadoes and natural fruit shakes like banana smoothies etc as well as a little binge eating too, but I’m just not getting the results that I crave. I’m putting the weight on my boobs and a little on thighs but it is very minimal and doesn’t stay. Do you know how much realistically some body can put on before it shows? I’m guessing it will be more than 3-4 pounds. I just want to be a fuller woman but im not sure what to do to get a fuller figure all round. B

Shane Duquette

Yeah, consistency is a big part of it. A few days of overeating + a couple days of under-eating won’t always result in weight gain. You could start keeping track not just of your daily calories (and a rough estimate will do) but also your weekly calories. Just to make sure that at the end of the week you’ve eaten enough to be in a surplus overall.

Five pounds will sometimes show on smaller women, depending on where the weight is. Ten pounds will usually be quite remarkable. Mind you, we’re more experienced with seeing muscular gains, not fat gains. Maybe it’s a little different with fat.

The foods you’re eating are very healthy. If you want to gain fat you may find that dessert helps too. A nice healthy dinner + a ton of calories from higher calorie foods.

Shane Duquette

Also worth noting that it’ll likely be your genetics that determine where the fat goes. Unlike with muscle, it’s not entirely in your control.

Bee

**i do a lot of walking but no exercising or lifting weights, I’m quite muscular naturally

michael

So I’m a guy who read this and I’m 21, at 12 I was 74lbs, and my senior year in high school I was the most I ever weighed 125. I’m now taking a nutrition class in college and a lot of the information we’ve gone over so far coincides with what I read here. Personally this was hugely informative and makes my life (body) so much more understandable and I believe it will help in my own endeavors for gaining weight mainly muscle.

On the criticism side the only thing I can think of missing from this awesome article is being aware having too little body fat in comparison to the rest of your body as you gain more weight, or as ya’ll say bombshell.

Shane Duquette

Hey Michael. Thanks for the kind words, man! Glad you dug it. Have you seen our Bony to Beastly site for skinny dudes? You might dig it 🙂

What do you mean about having too little body fat as you gain weight? That’s more of a cutting issue rather than an issue people often run into when bulking, but I think I’m misunderstanding you there.

Shane Duquette

Oh! My max weight at the end of university was 130 at a height of 6’2. I definitely feel ya on the skinny guy front 🙁

Lisa

Thank you so much for this wonderful article! I’ve been searching so long for something like this and I just happened to stumble across it today. I’m the skinniest of everyone in my family and I’ve always been underweight. I thought I’d catch up but I realised my sisters have been heavier than me at my age. I’m 27, 5’6 1/2 and had been stuck around 115lbs but now I’ve gone up to 121lbs thanks to dance. I dance 3 days a week ( modern, ballet, pointe) and although there’s no weightlifting I had to build a lot of muscle strength to be a stronger dancer. I used to be very disappointed with my weight but puberty gave me a slim hourglass/ athletic shape and I’ve decided to just live how I am. My ideal weight is 125lbs though and I think your method will really help me. I’m also a hardgainer and I lose about 5 lbs every time I get sick with the flu or so. I think I eat well enough, I love fruits and vegetables especially. I really appreciate you writing this article. Love from the Caribbean island of Grenada :).

Shane Duquette

Our pleasure, Lisa! Really glad you liked it. And congrats on gaining those 6 pounds!! That’s awesome 🙂

I really hope you’re able to gain those last four pounds! I agree. I think with some good lifting and a big diet you’ll have great success 🙂

Makida

Thank you,thank you, thank you! I have been trying so hard to figure out what I could do to gain weight for the last 11 years+. I thought after having my daughter I’d keep some of the weight and be able to tone it out, but I ended up being smaller than I was before the pregnancy. I can’t tell you how many so called diets/exercise routines I’ve done and fail miserably at but I knew that it had to do with having a high metabolism. You clarified everything for me. But I’m also from Toronto and I get cold quite easily, I figured that was because I was small. Being 30,5’4 and always being 101 lbs sucks but I find hope knowing that I’m not the only one thinking like this and for that I thank you again. Definitely going to sign up! Motivation is key!

Shane Duquette

Really glad the article helped, Makida! You sound like exactly who we wrote it for, and exactly who the program is designed for. I hope you do decide to sign up! 😀

Ana

I weigh 110 and my height is 5’8″. I’ve been trying to gain for years but it’s impossible. im too scared to try exercising because I don’t want to loose weight. What would you recommend?

Shane Duquette

Hey Ana,

I know exactly how you feel. That’s how it was for me as well. I would try to exercise to build muscle / gain weight… and it would just increase my metabolism to the point where I would lose weight. I know how frustrating that is.

What would I recommend? I’d recommend following a good weightlifting program while making sure to consume enough calories and protein. If you do a good job of this, the weightlifting will cause your body to invest in building new muscle, and the calories and protein will allow for that growth.

We’ve got a free beginner’s lifting guide here: http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-workout-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

We’ll also be coming out with a free beginner’s nutrition guide within the next couple of weeks.

And if you’d like a fully optimized lifting and nutrition program that includes a yearlong membership in the community and coaching from us along the way… there’s the Official Bony to Bombshell Program. If you’re really serious about this that’s what I’d recommend.

I hope that helps, and good luck!

Sydney

Wonderful Article! I’ve just gotten back into exercising after being lazy for 4+ months (And it’s quite noticeable if I do say so myself).
I’m an Endomorph/Mesomorph with a somewhat hourglass-ish shape and I’m trying to lose fat. Recently I’ve started the T25 workout (when I say recently, I mean a week ago! XD). I’m curious of what other types of workouts there are for me!

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words, Sydney! Really glad you liked the article.

T25 is sort of an intense “no pain, no gain” approach to general fitness, from what I can understand of the workout structure. (So not much related to body composition or strength, but rather blood vessel development, oxygen delivery, muscular endurance, etc.) Bony to Bombshell is more about strength, muscle growth (and fat loss while maintaining muscle mass, if you so choose). Different styles of training with different goals and outcomes 🙂

As someone who already has an athletic physique and an hourglass shape you may not need a program that focuses on building muscle/curves, as you may develop them very easily (or already have them). If you wanted to lift for growth and strength though, I bet you’d love the results of something like this too!

Best of luck with your training 🙂

Carolyn

This is amazing!!!! I have been looking for information like this for such a long, long time. I have always been a skinny gal and struggled with it forever but this year has been especially frustrating. I gave birth to my daughter in June and after gaining 60 pounds during pregnancy (and never looking better honestly), I did what EVERYONE told me to do and started moving and exercising postpartum to get my body back. Between light exercise and breastfeeding I have dipped below what I was prepregnancy! Its so frustrating that the only information I have been able to find is just to eat more. Which of course I have been really putting an effort into. I have thought about stopping breastfeeding but my goal was to make it to a year and my daughter is so healthy it feels wrong to stop just for my own vanity. Nobody has any sympathy for a woman who has lost all her pregnancy weight and then some but I look and feel terrible. Just skinny and bony and worn out. I’m 5’9 and 115lbs. Anyway, I can’t afford the program now but I will definitely be saving up! So interesting! Thank you so much for all the work and time you have put into these articles. Can’t wait to read more.

Jared Polowick

Hi Carolyn,

Congrats on your new little one!

Breastfeeding is more energy and protein intensive, so you’re right, you’ll need to make up for that by getting in a bit more calories and protein. However there are ways to make this easier. Having more liquid calories is one trick, as liquids don’t affect your hunger the same way chewing your food does, so having smoothies is a quick tip to getting in some more calories pretty easily!

All the research continues to demonstrate just how much better breast milk is for your LO over formula. Obviously if there is medical condition preventing breastfeeding, there is nothing wrong with formula and it would then become the best option, but we’d encourage you to find some improvements to make to your diet to make it easier to get some more calories. For example new research found how the sucking creates a vacuum on the nipple, and some of your LO’s spit gets brought into your body for analyzing, so your body’s more developed immune system can send important antibodies over to her through breastmilk to keep her healthy!

Getting in those extra calories should also help with feeling better. My wife and I just celebrated the birth of our first child 3 weeks ago, I was just saying to some friends how for my wife it’s like the perfect storm for not feeling good: lack of sleep, hormones going crazy, completely new routine, and she’s in a calorie deficit (losing weight never feels good in the moment).

PS we do have a payment plan option to help spread out the cost over 4 months. Give us a shout at us@bonytobombshell.com or through the contact page if you’d like more details 🙂

R.

Hey guys, I’m 22 years old, 5’7 and weigh 107 lbs (I typically fluctuate between 105-110lbs) the most I think I’ve ever weighed was 115-117 lbs when I was a full-time dancer AND participated in P90X 6 years ago. Obviously, I have a high metabolism, because it takes a LOT for me to gain weight, and it’s typically muscle if it is any sort of weight. But the thing is, I eat really well. My mom is former nurse and has studied health and nutrition for years, I take a lot of supplements, eat organic foods, but I still splurge like any average American does. Anyway, I recently was in a conversation with a bunch of people about weight, and I brought up the fact I am also physically smaller boned, and how I feel that with my petite build, I don’t feel that weighing 107-110lbs is necessarily a BAD thing, or an indication that I’m unhealthy. Because I’m not, again, I will stress I eat an extremely healthy diet, and I’m also very active, I’m a former ballet dancer. I’m just super lean, and my bone structure is a lot smaller than how the average woman is built. So, this one chart was insisting that a 5’7 woman *has* to weigh at least 135 lbs. It was a feat for me to reach a 115 pounds, I can’t fathom breaking the 120 lbs barrier. Anyway, am I wrong in using the build/bone structure as a reasoning for being so small and a lightweight? I’ve been told that’s a bad excuse, but in my instance of being petite and 100% healthy, I can’t think of any other reason why that doesn’t make sense.

Shane Duquette

Being “the small boned type,” as Reg Park once famously said, is closely associated with being lighter and naturally carrying less muscle mass. You’re totally right that your bone structure itself will weigh less, and you may also have slenderer muscles. If you became good at lifting you’d likely be the person that was considered strong for their size.

Are you at a healthy weight? That depends! Eating nutritious foods is very important, as is being active, but the most important thing is eating the right amount of food. Someone on the verge of starving to death because they only eat salad is in far worse shape than someone maintaining a healthy weight on McDonalds, you know? However you are right, different people will have very different healthy weights. Your ideal, healthy weight might be far lower than most other people if your bones weigh substantially less.

You also need enough protein, calcium, vitamin D and heavy lifting to keep your bone structure strong. This is especially true because your bone structure is narrow and more fragile, and it sounds like you’ve got a body type that would benefit from lifting more than cardio if you wanted to pursue general health, as that would bring up your weak points (strength and bone density). Another approach would be to take your genetics to their extreme and become a fantastic decathlete or marathon runner or whatnot, although that may not be as healthy.

Anyway, yes, what you’re saying totally makes sense. I think your BMI will always be on the low side. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem—and may even be a very good thing!—so long as you rock your body type well 🙂

Kaity

Wow. Thank you for caring to put so much time and effort into sharing your knowledge. This was so helpful to me. I’ve struggled with being a tiny 5″ and 94 lbs at my worst and maybe 108 lbs at my best (that’s a complete estimate though. I never really cared to weigh myself at my best). I’ve always thought I had a “problem” with my appetite. I just get full quicker than most people I know (now I know why, thanks!). The only times I ever had a big appetite were when I was training to become a firefighter and worked my bitty butt to the max and when I was pregnant 🙂 For me, exercise (a LOT of it) has been the only thing that has ever boosted my appetite. However, since I had my daughter (18 months old now) I just don’t have enough time yet to be able to get back into much of an exercise regime (at least not one intense enough to boost my appetite). So along with my exercise went my appetite. Lately, I feel like I’m constantly trying to put on weight (simply to avoid all the horrible “You’re so tiny!” and “Don’t you eat?!” comments that are usually followed by the feeling of being completely misunderstood and judged). I’ve tried just eating more, but I’m always in a battle against my appetite. I keep telling my body, “EAT MORE, c’mon DO IT!” and my body says, “please… no more. I don’t waant it.” and even though I uncomfortably force myself to eat more, I’ve had minimal results. I now realize I haven’t been taking into account the types of food that I’m eating. After reading your article I really feel like I have the information I need to be able to manage my appetite and gain more weight. I’m also inspired to do some heavy lifting when I get the time. Thanks again for the article, and even for taking the time to reply to EVERY comment. They’re each so informative in themselves. And it’s just so impressive that you take time to help out strangers. So I guess I’m also inspired to help out strangers. Lol. 🙂 Honestly though, I really am.

Shane Duquette

So glad we could help, Kaity! I can definitely relate to your struggles with eating enough to gain weight, and I’m so happy that we’ve been able to help you succeed at it without feeling like you’re always force-feeding yourself. Good luck! 🙂

Lea

Guys, can you help me? I don’t know what to do with my body anymore.
I’m 20 years old, 4’11 and 104 lbs and still I’m not skinny, I’m actually kind of fat, I have huge legs with no thigh gap, big hips and a very flabby appareance. In the past I tried to bulk and the result was even more cellullite, even a bigger butt, even more fat in the hips and a bloated face. But I’m afraid of losing weight since I’m already at an healthy BMI of 20 and don’t know how lower I could go.Thank you!

Shane Duquette

Hey Lea, when you’re relatively new to lifting and eating for muscle gain, you can actually gain some muscle and strength even while losing fat. Since a lot of your concerns have to do with your body fat, I’d recommend cutting first. I know that will mean losing a little weight, but that weight would be in the form of the fat you’re trying to get rid of. Once you’re leaner and feeling better about having less fat, from there you can slowly bulk up while trying to stay lean, and it’s easier to stay lean once you’re already lean 🙂

Just make sure to follow a good, heavy lifting program and eat plenty of protein (around a gram of protein per pound bodyweight) as emphasize muscle retention and growth!

Andrea

Reading this website has been a breath of fresh air! I am 20, 5’2” and have never been over 97 lbs (my goal was 100 by 18yo). I love eating healthy (but I do also enjoy junk food) and I am active, so I didn’t think there was hope for me to ever gain weight while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but now I know that I can! I am seriously looking into this program, but as a student my budget is limited, but I know where to start now. 🙂

Shane Duquette

Hey Andrea, really glad you’ve been liking it!

I’m going to send you an email with a student discount in it 🙂

(Any other students reading this can send us an email at: us@bonytobombshell.com for that same discount.)

Swathi

Finally something!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article. I appreciate your effort. I’m Indian, 24, 5’2 and weigh 94 pounds. I’m extremely unhappy the way I look. My parents were quite the same when they were of my age. are my genes faulty or can I do something about it?

Shane Duquette

Hey Swathi,

Yes, your genes may not be helping you build muscle. If you’re naturally less muscular though, there’s a good chance that you’re built well for something else. For example, a lot of us naturally thin people naturally have good cardiovascular health and endurance, meaning we don’t need to do tons of cardio in order to be in good shape.

To get a stronger and more muscular physique though you may find that you need to approach it very deliberately, following a dedicated muscle-building program in the gym and eating a muscle-building diet. If you can do that, I think you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish, even with genetics that aren’t great for building muscle 🙂

Wen

Finally a great article for naturally skinny people! I’ve always been thin and in high school when asked if I was anorexic, I would reply, no I’m bulimic just to traumatize them (I’m not bulimic nor anorexic). I find that no matter what, I can’t seem to force myself to eat more than what my body asks for. I have no cravings for junk or sweets. I eat when I’m hungry and I’m naturally attracted to eat healthy foods. I’ve also always been a slow eater and I think that helps your body to know that you’re full compared to people who swallows way too fast. Also I’m an anxious person so I think that doesn’t help with the weight…and i sweat easily… I’ve also checked for my thyroid many many times and seems like I’m fine! Just a super metabolism! I’m 31, 5’4 and currently at 95lbs (because I just passed through a stressful part of my life and when I stress I lose easily). My highest weight was 115lbs and to be at that weight, I was doing Tae kwon do 3x a week and playing ultimate Frisbee which opened my appetite and made me eat a lot more… I was also drinking more beer back then. So I agree with the article. When I train (muscle mass), I gain weight and appetite. My only problem is when I stop training. I lose the weight so easily. I also tried to do the calories counting thing but had a hard time forcing myself to meet the numbers and I get so hooked on trying to gain. My conclusion is, train and eat as your body ask for (I do eat calorific food – olive oil, avocados- in my diet) but I don’t count anymore nor look at the scale. As long as I feel good in my body, that’s what counts.

Shane Duquette

Hey Wen,

If you eat super quickly you can definitely get ahead of your appetite and accidentally eat too much, although in your case that might be a welcome effect! 😉

The guy who invented the body type classification system, William Sheldon, called us naturally thin people “ectomorphs” and said that we were the anxious ones. While I don’t know of any high quality research showing this to be true, there does seem to be a link—at least enough of one for me to be curious about it.

Most ectomorphs lose their appetites when stressed, which is the opposite response to most.

Sounds like you’ve found a system that works really well for you! That’s awesome. And thank you for sharing! I bet a lot of readers will see themselves in your comment 🙂

Praise

Hi!
I’m 16 and weigh about 45kg. I’ve tried to eat a lot and at right times but it never helps. My collar bones are overly visible and my parents keep complaining.
My stomach size must be small because I get so filled easily.
Are there any foods I should eat more to gain healthy weight fast?
I look forward to your reply, and thank you for this site!

Shane Duquette

Hey Praise,

We’ve got an article with some advice about that here:
http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-nutrition-guide-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

Lots of good ways to eat more food. Snacking (e.g. fruits), calorically dense foods (e.g. trail mix), liquid calories (e.g. smoothies), and not trying to eat a “perfect” diet—lots of room for dessert when trying to gain weight / build muscle.

Brittany Manbeck

Hi my name is Brittany. I’m 19, and about 5’3.5″ and about 90- 100lbs. I’ve always been this small even ever since I was little too. I’m really trying to gain weight because I always have to hear from my Nana about my weight all the time about me needing to see a doctor and everything. And when I do gain a little weight it comes right back off. Thanks for this article it was also really helpful.
Please, please help me!

Shane Duquette

Hey Brittany, have you seen our beginner’s nutrition and workout guides for women looking to build muscle and gain weight?

http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-nutrition-guide-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-workout-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

If you want a more comprehensive program, you also sign up for the official Bony to Bombshell program, which even includes coaching 🙂

http://bonytobombshell.com/weight-gain-program-for-women/

Goran

Hi Shane,
I see that you (and most others) are advocating low rep, heavy weights.

What do you think of this article?

I was able to find the cited studies online (just google the univ. + topic), but I don’t have the technical knowledge to interpret it correctly.

Shane Duquette

Hey Goran, sorry about your comment not posting right away. We don’t censor or pre-approve comments or anything like that, but you included a link, which got it automatically flagged as spam. (You can post a link in the text field that says “your website” and it won’t be auto-flagged as spam.)

As for the article, Jim Stoppani is a legitimate source and he’s accurately explaining the results of good studies. The only confusion is that you think we disagree. We don’t! The science is very clear that using both higher and lower reps is ideal for growth, so the Bony to Bombshell program uses a strategic blend of higher and lower reps. That’s also what we recommend in all of our articles 🙂

I think I see where the confusion is coming from, though, and I’m going to take that into consideration when writing from now on. We do talk about endurance work being atrocious for building muscle, and it is. However, when we talk about endurance work, we’re talking about jogging, aerobics, etc. In that article, Jim Stoppani is talking about higher rep bodybuilding stuff. That’s still considered strength work, the purpose is still to make your muscles bigger and stronger, and it’s still very effective. The difference is that you’re emphasizing metabolic stress instead of mechanical tension in order to grow the muscle. Like Stoppani says, the best results are achieved when you use both.

Does that help / answer your question?

Goran

Yes it does! I see I should have spent more attention when reading both here and the article. I’ve just recently started on my quest to gain weight and muscle and I am pretty green on this. However, this site is helping!

Thanks for taking your time to clear up my confusion/question. I’m very impressed with this site and your focus on having everything referenced in empirical studies – something that seems to be sorely missing from most sites trying to offer information on this topic. Keep up the good work.

Shane Duquette

Thank you, Goran! So glad that you like it. Best of luck gaining weight and muscle! We’re here for you if you need any help 🙂

Raisa

HI there, so I recently came across this article and it was very helpful but I still have a lot of questions. I am 17 and my body is extremely messed up, like I have fat legs but my waist is thin and my upper body is extremely thin, I’m only losing weight from my upper body and not my my lower part which sucks because it makes me look much more unattractive than I already am. I don’t know what to do because i highly doubt many women have my ugly body structure, I have terrible self esteem issues because of my body and face, what can I do? :/ I have tried to eat less, eat more, exercise nothing works on me and it concerns me a lot.

Shane Duquette

Hey Raisa, it sounds like you have a pear body shape. That’s common for women. In fact, it’s the most stereotypically feminine body fat storage pattern. Frustrating, I know, but definitely not a bad sign as far as your genetics go.

The solution is to lose fat and build muscle. Losing fat will help you trim up your lower body, building muscle will replace your chubbier lower body with a more muscular, curvaceous one while helping you build up a stronger, more toned upper body.

I suspect the reason that things aren’t going smoothly right now is because you aren’t doing the best job of building muscle while you’re lose fat, which is possible for almost every woman who is new to weightlifting. You may even be losing muscle as you’re losing fat, which is resulting in a skinner appearance.

Are you following a good lifting program, eating enough protein (around a gram per pound bodyweight) and losing weight at a moderate pace (around a pound per week)?

Raisa

Thanks for answering back!! I have been eating tons of protein but I haven’t been able to find a good lifting program. I m not allowed to go to the gym and I don’t really have those weightlifting stuff at home :((( I m exercising my legs a lot (eg pulses, squats, lunges) I have only started recently though but i hope to continue for the rest of the year. The problem is I m extremely underweight and I m scared I might lose too much fat if i exercise too much I m also worried I might keep gaining weight in my lower body if I eat a lot. I don’t know what to do at all :(((

Shane Duquette

If you were able to lift weights you could expect to gain some muscle as you lose weight. If you aren’t lifting weights, any exercise you do will help, although you’ll probably still lose a little bit of muscle.

Here’s an excerpt from the rough draft of a little cutting guide that I’m writing:

“Overweight test subjects were assigned to one of three groups. The first group just dieted. The second group dieted and did aerobics. The third group dieted, did aerobics, and lifted weights.

The dieting group lost 14.6 pounds of fat over twelve weeks, proving that even just a calorie deficit can produce weight loss. The downside is that they lost 6.5 pounds of muscle along with that fat.

The dieting and aerobics group lost 15.6 pounds of fat over twelve weeks. A little bit of extra fat loss from the aerobics, but they still lost an appreciable amount of muscle—4.5 pounds.

The group that added in strength training lost 21.1 pounds of fat. That’s 44% more fat loss than the diet group and 35% more fat loss than the aerobics group. Even more impressively, they only lost half a pound of muscle. Not perfect, but very close.

This study isn’t a black sheep either. All the other studies looking into body composition during weight loss are finding similar outcomes. In a 2014 study, for example, the aerobic group lost 7 pounds of fat and 6 pounds of muscle. The lifting group lost 22 pounds of fat and GAINED 4 pounds of muscle.”

Have you seen our beginner’s workout guide for women looking to build muscle and gain weight?

http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-workout-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

You’ll want to do the lower body stuff, yes, but you’ll also want to do the upper body stuff! Building some muscle mass and tone in your upper body will help balance out your natural pear shape.

If you don’t have any weights at all and you aren’t willing to get any, just do the best that you can without them.

Does that help at all?

Raisa

Yes this definitely helps, thank you so much!!!

Candy

Hi I am 22 years old. Weigh like 113 lbs last time I checked. & I am 5’2. But I am too thin for my own good I feel. I eat & eat & nothing helps me gain weight. I do not know what could help. I want to get thicker thighs/hips & waist. But my body does not work with me. Any advice or workouts that could help if that’s what I need. Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Hey Candy,

You could start with something like this and then evolve it as needed/wanted:
http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-workout-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

I’d also check out this nutrition guide, since that’s what will allow you to move your bodyweight up:
http://bonytobombshell.com/beginners-nutrition-guide-for-women-looking-to-build-muscle-gain-weight/

And if you wanted a more detailed/optimized approach to all of this, plus coaching throughout your entire transformation (and your transformation would be guaranteed), you could do the Bony to Bombshell program 🙂

http://bonytobombshell.com/weight-gain-program-for-women/

Diana

Hey, firstly, this article was extremely informative/ helpful and I can’t thank you enough for it. I just have a few questions I can’t seem to find the answers to no matter how much I look. I’m not sure if i’m pear shape because I barely store any fat in my hip waist area. Heck I don’t even store much fat in my thighs but instead all my fat goes to my calves? Does that happen to pear shaped women? My upper body won’t store fat at all and it’s getting really annoying for me because I don’t look very good in the body I have. I started exercising about 2 months ago, I recently found some good leg workouts and I also do upper body workout so I don’t know what’s wrong?

Shane Duquette

Hey Diana, that’s definitely a stranger situation. Are you sure that your calves are storing fat and not muscle? Or that your bones in your legs aren’t thicker?

The good news is that these things tend to get solved when you gain enough muscle and/or lose enough fat. In your case, it sounds like you’d benefit more from building muscle in your thighs and upper body to balance out your calves, and it sounds like you might be headed in the right direction already! Have you been succeeding in gaining weight over these past couple months?

Liberty

I have to echo the sentiments of so many others—I am blown away by the thought, time, and care that went into this….this has to be more information in one article than I’ve gotten anywhere else COMBINED. I’m 5’9″ and have been 105-110 lbs since I was 15 (I’m now 30.) I’m narrow from head to toe, like a normal person that got stretched! I struggle with feeling like something must be deeply wrong with me, yet I carried three babies to full term, gained a healthy 35-40 lbs each time, all my girls were 8-9 lbs at birth and born at home without complications. So my body has to be stronger than it looks, right?? :p I think my biggest struggle is that while I love food and will happily eat whatever is put in front of me, I’m also bad about taking time to feed myself extra….all my energy goes toward my girls (all homeschooled, and they EAT all my SNACKS lol….) anyway I got myself a kettle bell and I am feeling motivated to give this a shot. I’d honestly love a little fat too (boobs and a butt would be nice!) but most of all I just want to feel strong and healthy….not like a weakling! Thank you so much for this site and I’ll be a frequent visitor!

Shane Duquette

So glad you loved the article, Liberty! Thank you so much for the kind words.

It sounds like you have an incredible family, and definitely: being naturally thin doesn’t mean that your body isn’t capable.

I’ve found that keeping some fun variations of trail mix around can help me when I’m busy and need some easy calories. They contain an absurd amount of calories, often with most of those calories coming from whole food, they require 0 prep time, it takes seconds to wolf down a handful, and it would actually be pretty good for them if your girls stole some 😛

Pax

Omg, everything finally makes sense. I have been so so puzzled about my body all my life!

lizzy

Love this article. I’ve finally gotten what’s going on with my body. I find it very difficult to eat n sometimes I won’t even be hungry at all. I lose weight faster than I gain it. I stopped exercising ( hoping to add muscles) as soon as I discovered I was losing more weight. Pls guide me on what to do. Thanks.

Shane Duquette

Hey Lizzy, you’re exactly who we made this site for. Have you considered signing up for our Bony to Bombshell Program? We can help you make sure you’re gaining weight, building muscle, and moving closer to your ideal body every week 🙂

Sajar

This is pretty much the greatest article I’ve ever read in my life. As someone who has gone between 88 to 95 pounds at 30 years old, I’ve heard my fair share of homicidal-thought-inducing comments like “Doesn’t anyone feed you? You need some biscuits and gravy! Are you anorexic? Are you sick? Must be nice to have your “problem” . This, coupled with the hate filled stares by people unhappy with their weight, has created so much insecurity that I resorted to hating on myself just to make people want to be around me. Then one day I said, fuck it. I’m getting a personal trainer, getting my version of healthy and will walk my skinny proud ass around regardless of the bitter bastards. I can’t help my genes but I can help how people’s opinion on them affects me. Kudos again to this study because it has boosted my continued desire to be fit and healthy without the mother effing biscuits and gravy. You are awesome.

Shane Duquette

So glad you liked the article, Sajar!

Wow, that sounds frustrating. Getting comments like that ourselves is exactly why we made this site, and I really hope it can help.

Sounds like you’re already on the right track. Good luck! 😀

Sophie

Hi, thanks so much for writing this. Im 19, 5′ 6.5″ and 42kg/90 pounds. Im not looking to gain much weight but some sort of curve would be good as i am currently a stick insect. I am also asked if i eat enough whenever i go to the doctors, and am getting sick of all of the articles on weight loss. If you have any tops, especially as im celiac (gluten free) and a lot of supermarket gluten free food is also marketed as diet food, that would be fantastic. Thanks so much, S.

Shane Duquette

Hey Sophie,

I can totally relate to all of what you’re saying. All of our tips are for people in exactly your situation: thin, and struggling to eat enough to get the body they want. Fortunately, even as a celiac, all the same weight gain principles still apply. We’ve had a lot of members go through the program with harsher food restrictions than that, it just involves some strategy. I think you’ll do fine 🙂

If you’re looking for a free beginner’s guide, we’ve got an article on the eating side of things here.

Monica

Hi im 16 years old im 5’2 and weigh 140 pounds im skinny fat which means i gain weight mostly in my stomach so i wanted to gain weight in the right places and lose weight in my stomach what should i do ? I do workout everyday i only do butt thigh and sometimes ab workouts which is resistance traning but i have no weights and i the only unhealthy things i eat is white bread white goods and canned goods

Shane Duquette

Hey Monica, it sounds like your nutrient partitioning is off. When you’re eating too many calories, your body is storing too much fat instead of building muscle. When you’re eating too few calories, your body is burning too much muscle instead of burning fat. It’s a really complex issue since it can have multiple causes. Perhaps you’re not doing a workout that’s good for building muscle, or eating enough protein. Or your calorie intake is swinging too high and too low depending on the day. Even smaller factors can play a role here, like how well you sleep and how stressed you are. I’d start by improving your workout program and diet, though.

It’s not so much about how healthfully you eat, but what kind of body composition changes your diet is encouraging. So a diet that’s high in protein but low in fruits/veggies isn’t as healthy as it could be, but it could build muscle and burn fat just fine. What you might be doing is the opposite of that: eating healthy, but not in a way that builds muscle or burns fat very well. Ideally we want you doing both: eating healthy in a way that has you building muscle and burning fat optimally.

Have you read our beginner’s guide to nutrition or our beginner’s guide to working out? Those should help you get started. If you want a full program to guide you through the process of toning up your stomach while building muscle in your butt and thighs, I’d recommend The Bony to Bombshell Program.

Topaz

Hi, ( this might seem late but here we go) I’m a 14 yrs old African American, who weighs 105lbs ( last time at the doctors office that was my weight I don’t check at all unless I go to the doctor for a checkup), and is 5’3. I’m naturally skinny and I’m not sure where to start in gaining muscle. My legs aren’t to skinny (kinda really fat unlike the rest of my upper body) but from the waist up (excluding head) I feel that I look like a skeleton. And me having long legs and arms doesn’t help either. I think it would be nice if I had just a bit of curve and maybe slightly bigger boobs, just slightly because being flat does have its benefits I suppose. Thanks for taking time to read this.

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