While it’s not as common a goal as losing weight, there are a significant number of people that have weight gain as their goal. The reasons are as varied as the individuals but could include wanting to gain weight for a sport, wanting to put on some pounds after rehabilitating from an injury or you are just underweight and have trouble making the scale go up or your Doctor has asked you to gain weight.
Before heading out on your weight gain journey, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to visit your Dr. for a checkup first. It may be that you aren’t even underweight. While I’m not a fan of the BMI, underweight is defined as having a BMI under 18.5. (The media plays a big role in how we view our bodies and it may just be that you are fine in the skin you’re in) However, there may be medical reasons why you find it hard to gain weight and your Doctor will be a good place to start. OK, all cleared by your Doctor? Then let’s look at ways to help you put on some pounds.
Gaining weight will generally follow the same formula as losing weight-but in reverse. If calories in has to be lower than calories out to lose weight, then it stands to reason that the reverse of that will have the opposite effect—and it does! So the scientific universal formula for weight gain is calories in must be greater than calories out.
It seems simple and all you have to do is increase your daily allotment of McBurgers right? Well, not so fast. You want to do this thing right and in a healthy way-and slowly. So without further ado, here are some tips for your bag of tricks.
1. Determine how many calories you are taking in now and how many calories you need based on your daily activity. You can use a good online tool for this. Whatever the number, it represents the number of calories that you need just to maintain the weight that you are at (I know, I ended my sentence with a preposition-I’m crazy like that) Now that you know what the number is, you need to increase you r daily caloric intake by, oh, let’s start with a 500 calorie per day increase. When you gain or lose weight or change your activity level or have changes in health then your caloric needs change so always keep updated with what your caloric target is. Food diaries are a great tool, especially at the beginning.
2. Try to eat more often-YEAH!! If you eat 3 meals a day then try adding a couple healthy snacks throughout the day.
3. When you do eat your regular meals, increase your portion size. If snack #1 was going to be a yogurt (I know… yuck!) then have 2 yogurts instead. At dinner, have a second serving of veggies. The goal is to try to increase your portion sizes with each meal
4. Focus on good foods. Whole grain breads are dense and you can cut thick slices and put on your favourite topping like peanut butter, honey, hummus… Mmmmm. When picking veggies pick the ones that have less water content. Things like cucumbers have a lot of water so will make you seem more full while taking but you take in less calories… you don’t want that… you want potatoes, carrots, corn etc. Same goes for fruit… pick the more dense ones like a banana over an orange (dried fruits are good!)
5. Fats are where it’s at (My momma said I was always good at rhyming words) Fats are so good because they pack 9 calories per gram while carbs and protein only have 4 the losers. BUT… pick healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, peanut butter, avacados, hummus, oils… all good! And the good thing is you can add some of these to everything you eat. Cooking eggs? Cook them in oil… Having toast? Spread on some hummus… Having a salad or cereal? Sprinkle on some nuts or seeds and add some more oil to your salad. You can add healthy fats any time you sit down to eat. Toss some dried fruit on a salad or granola. Top your potatoes with oil or cheese or go wild and throw some chili on top of them.
6. Sick of eating? Drink your calories. There are lots of healthy meal replacement drinks that are good but why not make your own smoothie? Make it with milk, fruit, honey… whatever… then sprinkle in some seeds. You can also try replacing some of your water intake with juices or the occasional sport drink.
7. Remember, slow gain is the best. To increase your weight too rapidly only increases the chances that the weight you gain will be from fat mass and not lean body mass. A gain of about one half to one pound per week should be your target.
1. Gain some muscle. You want to make sure that you add some lean muscle and that all your weight gain isn’t just from fat. If you incorporate a resistance routine three times per week (like body weight exercises or lifting weights) then you can gain some lean muscle mass and what’s even better… the increased workload may even boost your appetite… WIN!! If you want to gain muscle mass then add in some extra protein to your meals too. Protein intake that is too low can actually make you lose body mass so keep your intake to a healthy level. Beans, peanuts, chicken, tuna… all good!
2. Avoid extra “cardio” type workouts like jogging and just focus on resistance exercise.
3. After a workout, have a light snack that includes protein such as an egg on toast, whole wheat crackers with cheese or simply a glass of chocolate milk. The protein will be building blocks to help repair and build muscle after your exercise.
4. Incorporate a stretching routine into your day. OK, this in itself won’t help you gain weight, but with the extra resistance training, stretching will help keep your body free from pain and keep your body moving properly.
**Tell friends and family what your goals are so they can be involved and help to support you in your goals. Join an online group with other like-minded individuals so that you always have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. Don’t discount this-having the proper support is key to anything in life.