Losing weight is one of the most commonly talked about topics in health and fitness, and it feels like it always has been. There are fad diets, training styles, fitness myths and a lot of false advertising that takes a lot of the limelight. For a lot of people out there, though, there’s a whole other side of the story that a lot of people don’t tell, and that’s about what to eat to gain weight. It can be just as big a challenge if you’re struggling to do it.
Gaining weight is a huge goal for a massive number of people out there, and that’s important to remember too. Whether it’s for health reasons, fitness reasons, training reasons or physique reasons, it’s always important to learn what is and isn’t a good way to reach your goal. Learning what to eat to gain weight is no different, so let’s take a look.
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Gaining Weight = Calorie Surplus
To get the ball rolling, it’s always a good choice to start from the beginning. That goes all the way down to what it actually takes to gain weight. The bottom line? More often than not, it’s calories. It’s no surprise, but there’s way more to it than just eating as much as you can.
To gain weight, you need to be consuming more calories than your body needs to maintain itself. That means more than you burn in a day, from exercise and from resting energy expenditure (how many calories you burn just ticking over). Any calories over maintenance go one of two ways. You waste it, and it leaves the body, or you can store it as either muscle if you’ve been exercising (to an extent) or fat. Fat is just stored energy, after all.
The issue is that’s not enough for a lot of people. For whatever reason, there are some people out there who, despite the science, find it really difficult to store calories, as muscle or as fat. (Typically called endomorphs, and we have an article about it here).
To help make a difference here, this is where weight training is going to come into a league of its own. Even if you find it difficult to store any fat, building muscle is always a good way to go about healthily gaining weight, as long as you do it safely.
So we know about how building muscle works now, but what about what to eat. That’s why you’re here after all, right? There’s more to it than just high-calorie food, and it does depend a lot on how often you choose to exercise. Let’s go into it.
An excellent place to start is looking at high-calorie foods. That much makes sense, after all. Sadly, that doesn’t mean you should jump straight into eating everything you see. It’s always vital that you eat a healthy balanced diet and avoid sugary, salty, or overly fatty foods. Being a low weight doesn’t always mean you’re healthy after all, and your health is always the main factor.
If you’re trying to get more calories in your daily diet, there are some great ways you can do it. High-carb and protein foods are awesome examples. Things like nuts, grains, meat, fish, healthy dairy and greens are always an awesome way to go about it, but a lot of the time, they have added extras too (we’re looking at you, sugar). Unfortunately, that’s where the problems often lie, so beware.
There’s more to learn about what to eat to gain weight than just looking at food groups too. It’s always useful to know some excellent ways to get the most out of your calories, and healthy snacks are an incredibly helpful way to do that too.
Here’s a list we found from VeryWellFamily that’s a great starting point:
- Avocado (180 calories per half)
- Baked beans (190 calories per half cup)
- Butter (102 calories per tablespoon)
- Cheese (115 calories per slice)
- Cream cheese (50 calories per tablespoon)
- Dark chocolate (63 calories per square)
- Eggs (78 calories each)
- Granola cereal (135 calories per serving)
- Hummus (25 calories per tablespoon)
- Mixed nuts (200 calories for a quarter cup)
- Pasta (390 calories per serving, cooked)
- Protein shakes (140 calories)
- Protein powder to add to milk (110 calories)
- Raisins and other dried fruit (130 calories per serving)
- Sour cream (23 calories per tablespoon)
- Wheat germ to add to cereal (120 calories per tablespoon)
- White rice (240 calories per cup, cooked)
- Whole-fat Greek yogurt (310 calories per cup)
- Whole-wheat bagel (150 calories per half)
In a nutshell, that’s about everything. Build muscle and increase your calorie consumption for your best shot at gaining weight healthily. There’s always more to it than people think, but stick with the general rule of eating healthily and watching your calorie consumption; you should make some good progress. Exercising only makes things easier, so make the most of both.
For more advice, see a health professional, and for a little more info on the whole thing, check out the NHS website.
Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.
If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.