How To Gain Weight

Girl eating sandwich

While most westernized nations struggle with an obesity epidemic, it is easy to forget about those who have difficulty gaining weight.  While many of us are envious of this "problem," putting on the pounds is a very complicated endeavor for some.  Many people with chronic illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, emphysema, and major infections, trauma or wounds fight to keep on weight.  Eating plenty of nutritious food with adequate calories is a major factor in helping them to prevent progression of their disease.  Serious athletes are another group of people who may need to take in well over 5,000 calories a day to maintain their weight.  Having to consume this many calories, eating quickly becomes a tedious chore for them.

It's very important to eat nutritious foods when trying to gain weight.  Eating lots of extra animal fats and sugars may help with weight gain, but it won't be beneficial to overall health.  People with chronic diseases need foods packed with extra vitamins, minerals, and protein to boost immunity and replenish levels of naturally occurring proteins in the blood that help fight further advancement of the disease process.  Athletes also need extra vitamins, minerals and protein to repair broken down muscle tissue and to replenish nutrients that are naturally used up during exertion and sweating.

If you're trying to gain weight, try following some of the tips below.  You should see the scale creep up in no time

  1. First of all, you need to determine how many calories you need each day to gain weight.  Use the formulas below to determine your needs:
    • If you are suffering from a chronic disease such as those listed in the first paragraph and you need to gain weight, use this formula to determine calorie and protein needs:

      For calories, multiply your current body weight in kilograms (pounds divided by 2.2) times 35 and add 500 to gain one pound per week.  Example for someone who weighs 160 pounds: 160 /2.2 = 72 kilograms x 35 = 2520 + 500 = 3020 calories daily

    • If you are a serious athlete, you may need to play with the numbers a bit more.  Depending on your level of intensity, your calorie needs may vary from 3,000 to over 6,000 per day to gain weight.  Try using the formula above, and if you see no progress in your weight, you will need to continuously adjust your calorie intake until you do. 
    • If you're just an "average Joe" trying to gain weight and you're not suffering from a chronic disease and can't remember when you last went to the gym, try this formula:  (Weight in kilograms x 25) -30 + 500. 
  2. Start eating several small meals each day instead of a few large meals.
  3. Add extra healthy proteins to your diet.  One quick and easy trick is to buy nonfat milk powder and add it to as many foods as you can -- put some in your soups, mashed potatoes, yogurt or other easily mixable foods.  Other examples of high protein, high calorie foods that are healthy include skim milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, eggs, fish, poultry and extra lean cuts of beef.  Fancy protein powders from the gym or "nutrition stores" do not contain anything that is better for your body than real foods.
  4. Add extra healthy fats to your foods.  Fat have more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrate, so they're a good addition to a weight gain diet.  Steer clear of unhealthy fats that come from animal products -- butter, mayonnaise, cream, gravies, high fat dairy products and heavily marbled meats.  Choose olive oil, canola oil, and Benecol or Smart Balance margarine instead.
  5. Most "nutrition drinks" like Ensure and Boost contain lots of sugars and empty calories.  Try Sugar Free Carnation Instant Breakfast with skim milk instead.  It's much cheaper to boot.
  6. Try some of these high calorie recipes and shakes from The American Cancer Society


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