Believe it or not, there are many people in this world that are trying to gain weight, not lose it. This desire could stem from many reasons: a recent eating disorder, wanting to bulk up, after suffering from an illness, or simply because you might be a little too scrawny. Well, gaining weight may be easy as pie for some people, but for others, it is a nightmare; usually this is due to a very fast metabolism and genetics. But, there are ways to get around that. Gaining weight needs to be done safely, just as losing weight does. Eating a bunch of calorie- and fat-laden foods is not the answer; you need a good blend of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Below are tips and a plan that you should follow if you want to gain weight in the healthy way.
Step 1: Getting Started
The simple answer to gaining weight would be to consume more calories than you burn, which, as mentioned above, is harder for some people. However, that number shouldn’t be a guesstimate if you want to do this right. Talk with your doctor or use an online calculator to determine the amount of calories you should consume; doing it this way will allow you to gain the weight slowly and safely.
Step 2: Tips for Increasing Daily Caloric Intake
There are many small things you can do throughout the day to increase caloric intake, besides just eating more.
Step 3: Knowing Your Food Groups
Filling your calorie account with non-nutritious empty calories is a definite no. The extra calories need to have nutrients that your body needs. Here are the food groups to pay attention to:
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. You should be eating enough carbohydrates to provide you with energy, the nutrients you need, and have a little extra left over to add calories and, hopefully, weight. The best choices: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits can be snacked on at any time of day to increase caloric intake and provide excellent vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and can be sautéed in olive oil for additional calories. Whole grains also have many nutrients and an important one called fiber.
The body needs protein to provide structure to muscles and organs, to make hormones and brain chemicals, and for the immune system to function properly. Healthy protein sources are: fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some lean red meat.
Some fats are essential to the human body: Omega-3s (found in fish, canola oil, flax, almonds, and walnuts) and Omega-6s (found in sunflower oil, safflower oil, and corn oil). They are called essential fatty acids and are important for healthy hair, skin, and neurological function. Monounsaturated (found in olive oil) and polyunsaturated (found in some vegetable oils and some fish) fats are good for health too.
Step 4: When to Add the Calories
This part is fairly easy and does not take a lot of thinking. You can either eat heavier meals or add more snacks throughout the day.
Step 5: Supplements
Before taking any supplement for weight gain, be sure to speak with a physician or dietitian as this may not be the best option for you. However, there are drink supplements, such as Boost or Ensure, that are specifically made with protein and to add extra calories for those trying to gain weight. These will be ok to drink without a doctor’s consent.
Step 6: Exercise
Even though you are trying to gain weight (so not burn as many calories) exercise is still important to keep your muscles and bones strong. If you want to burn less calories, but still exercise often, cut back on the aerobics and add more strength training into your routine.