Gain weight healthily: 7 tips
Although it is more often about losing weight, gain weight healthily can also be quite a challenge. Hundreds of thousands of people are even underweight or on the edge. However, that is not the only reason for wanting to gain weight. Even if you want to grow more muscle, for example, that means that you have to increase your weight! Unfortunately, that is not always easy. For example, having fries and ice cream every day is not a good idea. And what do you do if you have little appetite? We have listed the most important seven tips here.
Gain weight healthily
Gaining weight may seem very easy. In fact, hordes of people do it by accident. However, most overweight people have not gained all those pounds in a healthy way. Rather, their weight is a result of years of unhealthy snacks and ready-to-eat meals.
Gaining weight without excessive sugar and unhealthy fats is a bit more difficult. Still, it is wise not to resort to McDonalds and the local pizzeria. With unhealthy food you increase the risk of all kinds of health problems, and that does not make you happier with your healthy weight or your bulging biceps …
And good news: healthy weight gain is indeed possible. We give you seven useful tips!
1. Make your meals a little bigger
Are you already eating healthy meals, but not getting enough calories? See if you can make your meals more energy-rich in small steps.
For example, you can make your sandwich extra thick: spread the hummus twice as thick or add a slice of cheese. Do you eat a salad? An extra dash of olive oil makes a difference. Stir a handful of nuts into your yogurt or some dried fruit. With these kinds of clever tricks you can already gain dozens of calories per day.
When you are really full after a small meal, this of course does not always help. But often a small appetite is also partly a psychological problem. When your meal looks practically the same as normal, sometimes your brain is fooled a little bit and you are less likely to be full.
Eat more meals
Have you eaten soon enough? Then it can also be a godsend to eat more often. Even if you only eat one small plate at a time, you can often eat several small plates per day.
The standard daily schedule with three main meals is certainly not ideal for everyone. For example, you can choose to have lunch twice. Or you eat another portion later in the evening, as a sort of second dinner. Based on your daily routine, you can decide for yourself when it would be useful to include extra meals.
Eating more meals does not automatically mean that you spend more time cooking. You can also just have a sandwich with healthy toppings. Or also handy: cook larger portions in the evenings, and use the leftovers for lunch the following days . This can be done well with pasta, curries and stir-fries, for example.
Eat more snacks
If you don’t find extra meals very convenient, you can also opt for extra snacks in between. Snacks have a bit of a bad reputation, but that’s mainly because most people immediately think of chips, candy and biscuits. When you choose nutritious snacks, there is no problem at all.
When you’re struggling to get enough calories, snacks with healthy fats are a great option. Think of a handful of nuts, a piece of avocado, or whole grain bread with an olive oil dip. That way you can gain weight healthily, without having to reach for unhealthy fats.
But other calories can also be a good addition to your main meals. Think of a bowl of yogurt with fruit, raw vegetables with a hummus or yogurt dip, or just a wholemeal toast with a healthy topping. A handy tip: check what you are not getting enough in your main meals, and try to supplement it through your snacks.
Also useful if you do not have much appetite: drink calories. We do not recommend this for people who want to lose weight, because calories from drinking provide relatively little satiety and thus quickly lead to a surplus. But it is precisely this property that makes energy-rich drinks suitable for healthy weight gain.
Now it is also important here to remain a bit selective. Soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks are all not good options. These drinks are packed with fast sugars that can really hit your blood sugar. That is not healthy, and it also causes enormous sugar dips.
Better options are dairy drinks and smoothies. The former are rich in proteins and also provide a lot of calcium. The second provide fruit and sometimes vegetables, and contain enough fiber to prevent a heavy sugar spike.
Protein shakes can also be a solution, especially if you notice that you have trouble getting enough protein. However, make sure that you use the shake as a supplement to your diet, and not primarily as a replacement. Supplements should never replace natural food in your diet.
Eat enough fats
We mentioned above that high-fat snacks are very suitable for getting more calories. But in general: healthy weight gain is a lot easier if you include enough fat in your meals.
The reason for this is that fat is relatively rich in energy. Where carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 kcal per gram, you get no less than 9 kcal from a gram of fat. This means you are a lot faster at your target calorie intake.
Try to choose healthy, unsaturated fats as much as possible: olive oil, nuts, avocado and fish. Saturated fats, found in meat and dairy, are not necessarily unhealthy, but most people eat way too much of them. Then they do become a problem; for example, they increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, adding more fats to your meal is quite easy. A dash of olive oil can be combined with any salad, but also with pasta dishes, or even with a soup. Nuts are delicious in sweet and savory dishes, and you can vary endlessly with them. And slices of avocado on bread, or cubed in a couscous salad, are a delicious high-calorie seasoning.
Eat enough protein
In addition to fats, proteins are also of great importance. They supply amino acids, the building blocks of which all your body tissue is made. If you want to gain weight, they are particularly helpful for building more muscle tissue.
If you want to gain weight to become more muscular, you (hopefully) already know that proteins are indispensable. But protein and muscle tissue are also important if you want to gain weight in a healthy way to get rid of underweight. It is healthier to get your new kilos from both muscle and extra fat reserves, and not just from fat.
A good rule of thumb is to use at least two high-protein ingredients every meal. Fortunately, that goes faster than you think. Proteins are not only found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Soy, grains, legumes and nuts are also full of it. Yogurt with nuts, a sandwich with meat products or a chickpea curry with an egg are all great choices.
Bonus: strength training
Our last tip is not about nutrition, but it is still useful to mention. If you want to build muscle, it is obvious that you will also do strength training in addition to gaining weight. But also if you want to get rid of your underweight, strength training is a good choice.
As said: it is healthy to also gain partial weight in muscle tissue. Too many fat stores can be unhealthy, especially if that fat settles around your organs. By ensuring that some of the excess calories are stored in muscles, you prevent that problem.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go straight to heavy fitness if your primary goal isn’t to build muscle. You can build a lot of muscle with one or two training sessions of an hour. If you are primarily going for more muscle tissue, we recommend three to four workouts per week.