Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

What can I do to gain weight?

It seems that everyone wants to do things to help them lose weight, but many people are also trying desperately to gain weight.

Some of these people are either body builders who want to increase their muscle mass, people who want to increase their strength through training and diet or those whose bodies require more calories to meet their energy balance but they aren’t able to eat enough calories.

It is hard to imagine that people can’t get enough calories when it is so difficult for many of us to reduce how many we eat everyday, but it really can be a difficult and frustrating situation for many people to eat enough.

Sometimes it is just their metabolism that is burning excessive calories but sometimes it is a health condition including loss of appetite. Older adults are prone to this for a variety of reasons especially when recovering from an illness.

It is estimated that about 2% of the population is underweight according to their body mass index (BMI). An underweight BMI would be less than 18.5. People who are underweight can be healthy so it is a good idea to review your weight goals with your physician in case there is a medical reason for your inability to gain weight.

What can you do to gain weight?

  1. Add 500 calories per day to re-gain one pound per week as a start. Concentrate on nutrient dense foods instead of empty calorie foods that are high in fat. The goal is to regain lean muscle not body fat.
  2. If eating large meals is too overwhelming, it is a good idea to eat 6 smaller meals that are each complete in terms of nutrition.
  3. Add a smoothie to your meals. Drink whole milk with meals in place of unsweetened beverages or sugar sweetened beverages to increase nutrition.
  4. When you are thirsty, drink a vegetable/juice blend instead of water to quench your thirst with calories and nutrients.
  5. Be sure you are including protein at each meal whether it is 3 meals, 6 meals or a snack.
  6. If exercising, focus on strength training instead of cardiac workouts to reduce the amount of calories burned while increasing lean body mass.
  7. If you have diminished appetite such as following an illness, try a more bland diet packed with high calorie high protein choices such as Greek yogurt, lean meat, peanut butter, eggs, dairy, legumes, hummus, avocado and fresh produce.
  8. To boost your appetite — spice up your favorites for added flavor, take a walk to rev up your engine, drink after you eat to avoid becoming full quickly, eat warm food instead of hot to reduce offensive odors and prepare ‘comforting’ foods that you love. Sharing a meal with family or friends instead of eating alone helps increase your appetite too.
  9. Top it all off with higher calorie additions like sour cream, cream cheese, syrup, jelly, mayonnaise, salad dressing, butter and whipped real cream. Add half and half to soup or mashed potatoes, or mix in dry milk to recipes for a punch of calories and protein.

You will add weight as slowly as someone loses weight (never fast enough!) so don’t expect ti to come back overnight. Slowly increasing healthy foods, portions of foods and quality food choices will help you reach your health goal.

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