It might be tough for some to imagine, but there are people who want or need to gain weight. Whether your desire to gain weight is due to an illness that caused unhealthy weight loss or you are naturally thin and want to bulk up, it is important to make healthy changes.
Just as someone trying to lose weight should make healthy long-term lifestyle changes, so should someone trying to put on pounds.
Master Your Diet
The key to healthy weight gain is to increase the number of calories you eat from healthy, whole foods. It would be easy to fill up on empty calories from sugar or eat foods high in saturated fat to gain weight. Unfortunately, this is not the type of weight you want to gain.
Your goal is to choose high-calorie foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It is also important to choose foods that create a well-rounded diet. You want a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, but you need the healthiest choices in each category.
Another healthy way to gain weight is to eat with greater frequency. Health professionals often recommend eating at least six times per day and increasing the calorie content at each meal. For instance, someone trying to gain weight might enjoy a snack comparable to another person’s meal and a meal 25-50% more caloric than that of an average person.
If you are trying to gain weight, you want to eat before your body signals hunger. You should also eat a high-protein snack before bedtime. This promotes muscle repair and prevents your body from going hungry overnight.
When you are trying to gain weight it can feel as if you must constantly eat. One way to avoid stuffing yourself full of food is to drink high-calorie beverages. This does not mean you should down sugary sodas and juices.
Instead, look for high-calorie protein shakes or juices made from whole fruits and vegetables. You can even blend protein powders into fresh juices for an added calorie kick.
Alter Your Fitness Routine
Adjusting your fitness regimen can also help you gain weight. Strength training helps you build muscle, which is dense tissue that weighs more than fat. Be sure to boost protein intake when you increase weight-training efforts because it helps your muscles refuel after an intense workout.
You will also want to limit your cardiovascular activity. Though cardio exercises are necessary for heart health, you do not want to burn too many calories. Speak with your doctor or personal trainer about an acceptable amount of cardiovascular activity to help you reach your weight goals while maintaining your overall health.
What to Include in Your Diet if You Need to Gain Weight
There are a number of healthy foods you can add to your diet if your goal is to put on the pounds. Begin by focusing on high-fat foods from plant sources. This includes nuts and nut butter, avocados, seeds, and healthy oils.
Ask your doctor to check your cholesterol levels before increasing the amount of animal fat in your diet. This includes dairy products and eggs. If your levels are normal, you can add a few full-fat dairy products, including cheese, yogurt, and milk.
Also look for sneaky ways to add fat to a meal, such as sprinkling nuts and seeds on a salad, dressing it with olive oil, or adding shredded cheese or cheese cubes.
Other healthy food options that can aid weight gain include potatoes, dried fruit, and beans.