Gaining weight should be “simple.” Eat more calories than you expend and you’re sure to gain weight, right? Gaining weight
in a healthy way, though, can be a bit more challenging. Here are 10 steps to help you assure that you are doing what’s best
for you and your body as you pursue your weight gain goals.
1. Set attainable goals. Face it, very few people are
destined to appear on the cover of a fitness magazine.
Our body shape and size is determined primarily by
genetics and secondly by our lifestyle. Healthy weight
gain is a slow process that requires patience and
2. Eat breakfast. Every day. A well balanced
breakfast is an excellent way to wake up your
metabolism and your appetite. Make sure you have
a grain, some protein, and a fruit to start your day.
Try a yogurt berry parfait with granola OR a bagel
sandwich with eggs & cheese and some juice. In a
hurry? Grab a fruit smoothie OR cereal with milk and
3. Follow basic nutrition recommendations.
Contrary to popular belief, living on fast food, pizza,
and milkshakes is not the best approach to weight
gain. Although these foods can be incorporated into
your meal plan, be sure to balance them with fruits,
vegetables, whole grains, and a variety of protein
sources, such as meat, nuts, beans, and dairy.
4. Plan to eat 5-6 times/ day, at least. Prevent
excessive fullness by eating reasonable portions
spread throughout the entire day. Plan to have 3-4
meals each day with several snacks in between. At the
end of the day, your “energy in” must be greater than
your “energy out” in order to gain weight.
5. Vary your diet, especially the protein. Eating
the same foods every day can be boring. Get creative
and try something new. Start with a variety of protein
sources: cheese, nuts, beef, fish, yogurt, pork, beans,
chicken, yogurt, turkey, cottage cheese, lamb, eggs,
6. Pack snacks to-go for extra calories. Trail mix,
granola bars, fruit with peanut butter, chips, dried fruit,
veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, nuts, smoothies,
sunflower seeds, and cookies are portable options that
can help you keep up with your needs throughout the
day. Cereal with milk, ice cream, and hot chocolate
can be great snacks to end your day.
7. Choose caloric beverages. You’re going to drink
something, so pick fluids with calories. Juices, milk,
and even an occasional soda (non-diet, of course) will
do the trick.
8. Consider high-calorie nutritional
supplements. Energy-dense, high-quality nutrition
can be hard to come by, but Ensure Plus, Boost Plus,
and Carnation Instant Breakfast provide quick and
easy calories with the added bonus of vitamins and
minerals. Consider using these products as your
“nutrition medicine” on the days you’re not feeling
hungry, but know you still need to eat.
9. Balance cardio, flexibility, and strength training exercises. Exercise, especially cardio
work-outs, burns calories that you must replace by
eating more. However, it can help to stimulate your
appetite and assure that you build an appropriate
amount of muscle. 3-5 days of physical activity each
week can assure optimal outcomes. (Note: Severe
malnutrition can require a period of inactivity as the
body heals and repairs. Consultation with a medical
provider and/or dietitian can help to establish a safe
plan in these situations.)
10. Get regular sleep. The human body needs
adequate rest in order to “keep up.” On average,
most people need ~8 hours of sleep/ night. However,
some people function well on 6 hours/night while
others need 10+ hr/ night to feel fully rested. Bottom
line, listen to your body and get the sleep you need.