Maybe you’ve always been “petite”, not a big eater, or maybe your body type just allows you to eat basically whatever you want without putting on a gram. Well, most people would say that you are pretty lucky, but if you’re working your socks off in the gym to put some mass on, and the results still aren’t coming, that can be pretty frustrating. If your training isn’t the problem, then it’s most likely your nutrition that’s holding you back from putting on healthy weight.
Finding advice for healthy weight gain can be hard.
Finding advice on how to lose weight isn’t exactly difficult, finding advice on how to gain weight is much harder. Fair enough, the majority of people who are unhappy with their weight want to lose weight, not gain it. But still, for some people putting on a few kilos of quality weight is not easy! And if you mention your problem to someone else the advice you usually get is to eat more pizza and chocolate and just be happy that you have this “luxury problem”. Sure, frequently indulging in pizza and chocolate would most likely make you put on weight, but I will assume that it’s muscle mass and not fat you want to gain, and without compromising your health.
The basics of weight gain.
The basics of putting on weight is being in a calorie surplus, which can be a challenge as you might need to eat even when you’re not hungry. The purpose of this text is to give you some simple tips on how to increase your calorie intake, without feeling like you’re having to eat huge amounts of food.
Even if you would like to avoid counting your calories every day I would still recommend that you calculate your calorie needs, based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your daily activity – and remember that you need to add approximately 300-500 kcal on top of this to gain weight. Then calculate how many calories you normally consume in a day – chances are you’ll be surprised at how much you actually need to eat! And you might realise that you’re not actually eating as many calories as you think you are. By doing this calculation you will get an idea of how many more calories you need to consume each day. Here’s how you can get to that calorie surplus:
Liquid calories are definitely your best friend when trying to gain weight, as drinks usually don’t give you the same feeling of fullness as food does. Even when you feel stuffed you can usually get a drink down. Try having a protein shake as a dessert, or have one just before bed – and mix your protein shakes with milk instead of water to add even more calories and nutrients. You could aslo have a glass of milk with your meal, a glass of juice with breakfast and go for latte instead of americano on your coffee break.
Fat provides more than double the amount of calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates, which means that adding healthy fats to your meals is an easy way of increasing your calorie intake. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your breakfast porridge or smoothie, drizzle some olive oil on top of your pasta, cook your vegetables with fat instead of boiling or steaming them, or top your dish with some chopped nuts.
Choose the right foods.
By making smart choices in the supermarket you can add quite a few calories to your diet, without actually eating more food, and still staying healthy. To start with, don’t buy the low fat options of yoghurt, milk, mayo etc. This might sound obvious but maybe you’re still buying low fat options just out of old habit? Instead of green beans or broccoli, go for peas (which are more than two times higher in calories), try avocado instead of tomato as a side veg, choose oily fish like salmon and mackerel instead of white fish, and eat whole eggs instead of egg whites.
Calorie dense snacks.
Make sure you always have calorie dense snacks to hand, like nuts, dries fruit, nut butters, dried coconut etc. Instead of just having a piece of fruit, dip your fruit in peanut butter, or have some greek yoghurt with it. The most important thing is actually to always have some snacks to hand, whatever is convenient for you. Not eating when you’re hungry, just because you forgot to bring a snack, is never good when you’re trying to put on weight.
We all know by now that a sufficient protein intake is essential to building muscle mass. If you’re struggling to gain weight you should consider swapping your usual protein supplement for a gainer. Mass gainers are an easy way of getting more calories into your diet, and they will also provide a good amount of protein, as well as carbs and some fat. Products like INFORMED MASS®, Complete Mass™ and Complete Lean Mass™ contain oats as a carbohydrate source, which means they will provide a sustained release of energy and can be taken at any time during the day. One single serving of INFORMED MASS® contains over 500 kcal! Creatine is another supplement you should add to you weight gain stack, if it’s not already included in your gainer. Creatine will basically help you train harder, meaning that you’ll stimulate muscle growth even more.
Hopefully you’ll find one or two ways of increasing your calorie intake that works for you, and after a while of being in a calorie surplus and training hard, those results should start coming.
About the Author:
Karin has a degree in Food Science & Nutrition and works within the BULK POWDERS™ Product Team. Her role is to help make sure all our products hold the highest possible quality.