Ironies rule lives. If you are plump, you want to lose the excess weight, and if you are thin, you want to put on some weight. The grass is always greener on the other side! While everyone wants to look slim and fit, a skinny frame might compel women to gain weight using different products, which may have unwanted side effects.
What is the point of trying an unhealthy method to gain weight? Remember, your health is precious. So, it is best if you opt for natural methods.
In this article, we have listed a few effective diet tips and a diet plan that can help you gain weight.
Diet Tips For Weight Gain
Weight gain can be a time-consuming process. But you have to be patient and practice it correctly. Your aim is to put on weight in a healthy manner, not to add unhealthy kilos! So, focus on eating food, but at the right time and in the right quantity, rather than searching for various weight gain diet plans.
The first step to gain weight is to increase your daily calorie intake. The next section tells you what high-calorie yet healthy foods will help you out.
1. Include Calories In Your Diet
Everything we eat has some calorie content. So like we eat food with fewer calories to lose weight, we need to eat food that has more calories to gain weight. You need to take in more than 250 calories daily to add roughly half a kilo to your current weight.
What You Need
Eat foods that are rich in calories like pulses, cereals, meat, bread, rice, dry fruits, and nuts.
What You Have To Do
- Add vegetables like French beans, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrots, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, pumpkins, and eggplants to your diet.
- Add a healthy portion of red meat to your diet too. But keep in mind not to overdo it. The aim is to add weight, not cholesterol!
- You can even add olive oil in generous quantities to your salads.
- Another way to add calories to your diet is by increasing the consumption of dairy products. Don’t cut back on the fat content in your milk. Do not ask for low-fat curd at the store. Make sure you consume a full calorie dairy product.
Why This Works
Foods rich in calories and proteins easily help people gain and maintain weight as opposed to other foods (1).
Avoid fast food or cereal bars.
Don’t get the wrong idea here. You need to increase your daily calorie intake, but you do not have to gobble up more food in just three meals a day. You have to increase the number of meals as well. Let’s see how this can be done.
2. Increase The Number Of Meals
Have six meals a day – three big meals and three small. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be heavy and calorie-rich. A heavy dinner adds weight to your body as your metabolism is not as active when you sleep as compared to when you are awake.
What You Have To Do
- For breakfast, go for a full bowl of cereal, toasted bread with butter, and fruit. If you’re not a big fan of butter, you can always pick cheese or a yummy spread of peanut butter.
- For snacks, have nuts and dry fruits, boiled veggies with a dollop of cream, or cheese sandwiches.
- You can add some more items to your dessert tray.
- And, once in a while, you can give in to your taste buds and indulge in cakes, pizzas, burgers and whatever else your heart fancies.
Why Does It Work
Frequently eating every three to four hours helps maintain consistent energy levels in your body (2). The meal portions are not big, so there is no fat gain.
Speaking of no fat gain, gaining lean muscle mass is something that you should focus on. Here is how to do it.
3. High Proteins Along With Calories
Only calories won’t add to your body weight; you need to include the right amount of proteins in your diet. Remember, if you want to put on weight and look fit, you need to build muscles, not flab.
What You Need
Eggs, lean meat, fish, skinless chicken, pulses, sprouts, and dairy products that rich sources of proteins. Fish such as tuna and mackerel are rich in oil and are one of the best ways to increase weight.
Why Does It Work
Proteins contain amino acids that are the building blocks of muscles. These food sources will give you enough protein necessary to build and tone muscles (3).
So, do you have to ignore fats completely? The answer is no. Consuming fats is not always a bad habit, provided you know the type of fats you are consuming. Here is why you should include healthy fats in your daily diet.
4. Healthy Fats
Good fats are necessary for muscle growth and production of hormones like testosterone. This is essential for the growth and strength of muscles. This also helps to elevate the metabolic rate, which in turn helps the body lose bad fats and gain good fats. Fats are essential for many vital body functions. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered good fats that can be obtained from nuts, leafy veggies, salmon, flaxseed oil, avocados oil, and many seeds. Healthy fats are also a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
If you still can’t gain weight, or if you are always traveling and do not have a kitchen to cook your food, you may try some of the weight gain supplements mentioned below.
5. Weight Gain Supplements
In some cases, just the diet and exercise may not bring results as quickly as you expect. Another way to go about this is by including some additional supplements in your diet.
What You Need
Whey protein is an increasingly popular supplement you can add to your milk or smoothies.
Why Does It Work
In this case, adding some supplements like whey protein contributes to the body mass and aid in muscle development (4).
If you are confused regarding how to plan your foods and the best time to eat, here is a diet chart you can follow to put on the desired weight.
Proper Diet Chart For Weight Gain
|Meals||Time||What to have|
|Before breakfast||7 a.m. – 8 a.m.||A cup of tea or cappuccino will full fat milk and sugar.|
|Breakfast||8 a.m. – 9 a.m.|
|After Breakfast||10 a.m. – 11 a.m.||A glass of full fat milk with a health drink of your choice or whey protein.|
|Lunch||12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.|
|Evening snack||5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.|
|Dinner||8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.|
|Before bed||10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.|
Here is a basic list of foods you should eat if you are trying to gain weight.
Foods To Eat
- Full cream milk
- Beans, lentils, and other such protein-rich foods
- Fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats and oils
- Healthy desserts
Believe it or not, exercise and yoga can also help you gain weight. Let’s see which yoga poses and exercises help you build lean muscle mass in the next section.
Yoga addresses the root of many conditions such as stress, poor metabolism, and lack of stamina. It helps to find a solution, and thereby, helps you to gain weight. It often increases the practitioner’s appetite.
- Sarvangasana helps to normalize your weight according to your age and height.
- Pawanmuktasana helps to release any complication related to your stomach and increase your appetite.
- Vajrasana works as a strength training pose and helps you to gain more muscles.
7. Exercises To Gain Weight
Here is a list of exercises that will help you build muscle. Make sure you do these exercises under the supervision of a professional trainer. Do not forget your sports drink!
- Twisting Crunches
- Leg Press
- Leg Extension
- Leg Curls
- Arm Curls
- Shoulder Shrug
- Seated Dumbell Press
- Triceps Push Down
- Barbell Squats
- Ab Roller
- Incline Dumbell Press
- Side Lateral Raise
- Dumbell Lunges
- Weighted Crunches
Why Does It Work
Developing your lean muscles as opposed to fat deposits not only makes you stronger but also adds mass (5). This is definitely the right mix to gain weight.
Apart from food and exercise, you also have to keep in mind other factors as discussed below.
8. Keep A Food Journal
You need to keep a food journal if you want to gain weight. Keeping track of what you have eaten throughout the day will obviously help you understand your eating habits better. Once you have weighed yourself at the end of every week, write that down as well. This will help you stay motivated throughout and encourage you to continue on the path to put on more weight.
9. Eliminate Stress
Losing or gaining weight has always been a stressful event for the concerned person. Stress often becomes a major hurdle in your way when you try to gain or lose weight. Therefore, it is important to be stress-free while performing exercises to lose or gain weight. Have a relaxing bath to reduce the stress. Or, put on some good music and dance till you drop. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises also work well to reduce stress.
10. Get Enough Sleep
The next big step is to make sure you get enough sleep. Experts say that sleep is very essential for a person’s health and well-being. Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is an essential determinant of your health and well-being. A person needs a minimum of eight hours of sleep every day to stay fit and fine. This will give your body enough rest so that it can function properly.
If you do strength training, your body repairs itself and builds better muscles during sleep.
11. Keep Yourself Motivated
Gaining weight is no joke. It is much more difficult than losing weight. However, if you want to reach your goal, you have to stay focused. Do not set unrealistic goals for yourself. You cannot expect to gain weight and flaunt the perfect figure immediately. In case you set your goals way too high, you will easily become overwhelmed and feel like quitting this entire thing soon.
Make sure your weight gain goal doesn’t exceed more than four pounds a month. More than that could be unhealthy and temporary. Always remember one thing – everyone’s body is different and unique in its own way. Once you are successful in achieving a healthy BMI, switch your focus from how you look to how you feel.
It is now clear what you have to do to gain weight. However, you should also get to the root of the problem. What is actually causing you to be underweight?
Reasons For Being Underweight
Anyone who is 15-20 percent below the normal weight, with respect to their age and height, is defined as underweight. For example, if you are a female aged between 25-50 years, and your height is 1.68 meters, your weight should ideally be 59kgs. However, when the body weight falls to 50 kg (15%) and 47 kg (20%), it is termed as underweight. A woman weighing 59 kgs should have a Body Mass Index of 20.90 kg/m. As the weight drops, the BMI comes down to 18.8 (-15%), which is still within the normal range or 17.7 (-20%), which is below normal.
For a man aged between 25-50 years with an average height of 1.76 meters, the normal body weight with healthy BMI should be 70 kg. Reduction of weight to 15-20% will also reduce the BMI. For instance, the reduction of weight to 60 kg and 57 kg can result in BMI of 19.4 and 18.4 respectively.
It is very important to understand the reason for a drastic loss in weight since the causes can be both psychological and physical.
The hormone thyroxin produced by the body is often regarded as the ‘conductor’ or the ‘orchestra’ of the body. If the thyroxin levels are normal, the metabolism, height, and weight are within limits. If the function of the thyroid gland is disrupted, the body’s metabolism, heartbeat, and temperature become deranged, and there is pronounced weight loss (6).
Overactive thyroid or Hyperthyroidism is associated with symptoms like goiter or a lump in the throat, exophthalmos (bulging eyeballs), high temperature, excessive sweating, nervousness, fatigue, increased heart rate, and weight loss despite eating properly (7). In case of hyperthyroidism, the doctor will ask you to undergo a blood test to detect the thyroid hormone levels in the blood.
Malignancy or cancer can cause rapid weight loss, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, and inability to gain weight (8). Since cancer has serious repercussions, it is important to consult a doctor who will do a thorough diagnosis and suggest a prognosis for the same.
Tuberculosis is accompanied by weight loss, coughing, night sweats, and extreme fatigue (9). If the drastic weight loss is due to tuberculosis, you need immediate treatment.Tuberculosis is a curable disease if diagnosed at the early stages.
4. HIV AIDS
HIV AIDS actually prevents weight gain (10). If medical tests confirm you are HIV positive, you need to take necessary medications and make some diet and lifestyle changes to improve your health.
5. Kidney Disease
Kidney problems cause a change in urination. You may visit the restroom several times, but still, you feel that urine was not sufficient. There will be fluid retention, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, skin rash and itching, a metallic taste in the mouth, and the smell of ammonia in the breath. The lack of appetite with fever triggers weight loss (11).
Sometimes, antibiotics lead to medication toxicity and lower your appetite (12). Due to lack of appetite, you deprive yourself of important nutrients that help in development and maintenance of your body. So, medicines can be one of the reasons behind acute weight loss. You have to check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have started a new medicine and are experiencing weight loss.
7. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are very common in the US, with one or two out of 100 youngsters suffering from them. The most common disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Other disorders are binge eating, body image disorders, and food phobias.
People with anorexia fear gaining excessive weight and have a distorted view of their body (13). Those battling anorexia usually starve or eat small amounts of food, and work out excessively. This problem is more psychological, which has more adverse effects on the general health of the person.
With bulimia, however, a person eats large amounts of food and then vomits it out, thus resulting in weight fluctuations (14). The person binges regularly and purges for a couple of months. It has dangerous repercussions, both physically and psychologically, since it leads to compulsive behavior.
People with anorexia are usually dangerously underweight, but those affected by bulimia can be either thin or overweight.
8. Enzyme Deficiency
If the stomach wall is not secreting sufficient digestive enzyme that is essential for digestion and absorption of nutrients that help in physical development, it can lead to weight loss (15).
9. Hereditary Factors
Weight changes in a person depend on the interaction of behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors. If a person tries to gain weight and fails, one has to understand the influence of genetic factors (16). If your parents are underweight, there are high chances that you will be underweight too.
Depression is one of the prime psychological reasons for weight loss. It leads to reduced appetite and causes drastic weight loss (17). One needs to attend a counseling session to reduce mental stress and depression before it begins to affect your health.
Being underweight can also cause health problems. Here is a list of health problems that may appear sooner or later.
Health Problems Caused By Being Underweight
- Weak Immunity: Generally, a person who is underweight has a weak immune system that acts as a guard against diseases. Very thin people are more prone to illness during the cold and flu season. Those who are underweight can also have cancer that may be due to abnormal cell growth in the body.
- Anemia: Many people who have low weight feel tired most of the time. This lack of energy is caused due to nutritional deficiencies, and it also affects blood circulation and causes anemia. Lack of folate and vitamin B cause anemia. Hence, underweight people should eat properly and take nutritional supplements.
- Fertility Problems: Low weight also causes fertility problems in women. Your menstrual cycle can become very irregular. This makes it difficult to sustain a pregnancy since it affects the uterine lining from where the fetus derives nutrients. Underweight women have 72% chances of miscarriage. Underweight men can have sexual problems like erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse, problems in ejaculation, as well as low sperm count.
- Bone Damage: Both men and women who have very low weight have an increased risk of osteoporosis. This happens due to hormonal changes and lack of vitamin D and calcium. Accidents can cause fracture or, sometimes, death in underweight people. In women, lack of estrogen can lead to weak bones. One should consult the doctor and dietitian, and start gaining weight by opting for a healthy diet plan.
People resort to absurd fad diets and have slimming pills to look great. Don’t forget that you can look glamorous by eating healthy.
Here is our list of the most influential figures in the world of fitness and health and their time-tested, effective expert weight gain tips. So say hello to a fitter, healthier you today!
Experts Tips To Gain Weight
a. Drink your calories but in a healthy form!
Try making a homemade smoothie with avocado and nut butter. You’ll enjoy a vitamin C boost from the fruit content plus a healthy dose of essential fats. Use full-fat milk as the liquid to boost calcium and calorie intake too. Adding a dollop of Greek yogurt makes this even creamier and more delicious.
b. Don’t let more than four hours go by without eating.
Some people get so wrapped up in their work that they literally forget to eat. Your body needs a continuous supply of energy since it’s like an engine that’s always turned on (your heart is always beating, blood is circulating, your brain and muscles are working). When you skip meals, the result is a dip in your energy piggy bank, which unfortunately includes muscle mass. Set an alarm on your phone to prompt you to eat every 4 hours during waking hours and have plenty of calorie and nutrient-dense snacks in hand. A mixture of nuts and seeds is ideal.
c. Get liberal with fats.
Good fats are having their time in the spotlight, and wide spectrums of health benefits are being uncovered. If you are looking to gain weight, a liberal use of fats, such as oils on salads and coconut oil in cooking, can boost calories without any cause for concern. Make sure you make salad dressings as tasty as possible and soak up any leftovers in the bottom of the salad bowl with some fresh bread – delicious!
Amanda Hamilton is UK TV’s top nutritionist. She is also a bestselling author and has played international sports.
2. Dean Johnson:
a. Like training, like nutrition – You to need to ‘shock’ what you put into your body. Keep it varied, don’t eat the same thing. Alternate between your lean meats & proteins intake.
b. Weight training – This is key. Weight training builds ‘muscle’, which weighs more than fat and not only will build muscle, but it will build lean muscle.
c. Plenty of rest – Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night. How can you expect your body to change and develop if you don’t have good, effective rest?
3. Parth Shah:
a. Start small.
Too many people try to follow elaborate eating plans. Keep things small, and start small. First, figure out how many calories you eat now, then gradually increase it later.
b. Eat protein.
Protein is crucial to gain muscle weight. The same rule applies – start small. Strive to add 5-10 grams of protein in each meal. For example, for the first week, start with breakfast, and add 5-10 grams of protein. The following week, add 5-10 grams of protein for lunch. By the end of the month, you will have added 20-40 grams of protein to your original diet.
c. Don’t be afraid of eating carbs.
Many people who are health conscious avoid carbs as much as possible. You cannot cut carbs and gain weight at the same time. But it’s still important to get your carbs from the proper sources.
Follow the rule of white – no white rice, no white bread, and no white sugar. I recommend getting your carbs from brown rice and oatmeal. If you need to sweeten something (such as your tea), try brown sugar.
Ensure how many calories you need per day to stay at your current weight (BMR), and then aim to eat 200 calories over this per day.
Aim for healthy calories. Good fats from foods such as avocados and nuts are a great choice. Don’t binge on chocolate and fast food in order to reach your weight gain goal. Very bad idea!!
Try to have a weight gain shake for breakfast. This will make it a lot easier.
Look at the omega fats. Hemp oil and seeds are amazing hormone stabilizers and so help regulate weight for the better, in either direction. They also fuel muscle growth like no other protein. Other oils contain omega fats, but none as naturally well balanced as hemp. Oils are great, just not cooked or processed in any way.
Natural fatty foods like avocados, nuts, and coconuts contribute to a healthy volume to body size without upsetting cholesterol as previously misunderstood. The body assimilates these rich foods very well.
If you want the weight without the bloat, look at good grains like millet, chestnut, and other non-wheat grains. Mix them in a blender for a hearty breakfast comprising of fruits, seeds, nuts, hemp oil, and coconut milk. Rich, tasty, filling, and excellent for fuelling health rather than heart attacks!
If you’re weight training, pause for a good minute between sets to allow the growth hormone to activate and provide more power to enhance those muscle fibers.
If you work out regularly and are looking for gain muscle weight, here are 3 ways to gain lean muscle weight more easily:
a. Have a protein shake within a half hour after you finish doing strength training and before bed.
b. Use Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) and L-Glutamine pre and post training as well as before sleeping.
c. Eat cruciferous vegetables daily to help eliminate excessive estrogen from the body.
a. Balance strength training with weightlifting.
Weightlifting is an Olympic form of exercise that trains the muscle to recruit more muscle cells for maximum strength. In turn, your body will gain more muscle mass and make it easier to burn fat. However, strength training builds both stability and strength. Strength training requires lifting weights comfortably at the 12 to 15 repetition mark while weightlifting is geared towards lifting weights at the 3 to 8 rep mark, with more sets than strength training. Women should know that lifting heavy will not get them bulking results but a more lean physique because their testosterone levels are only a small fraction as compared to men. The three best strength training exercises for gaining mass are squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. These have been proven to increase your testosterone levels naturally.
b. Sufficient protein on a daily basis is required.
Consume 1.5 grams multiplied by your body weight in pounds until your desired weight is reached. Proteins are the building blocks for lean muscle, which are vital for your weightlifting and strength training routine. Fish, nuts, eggs, peanut butter and lean meats are the best sources of protein. Protein shakes are another alternative to help optimize your diet and gains.
c. Caloric intake by altering your diet.
If you want to gain weight healthily, the quickest method is by changing your eating habits. For a woman trying to lose a pound per week, she should try to eat 500 calories less than burned on a daily basis. When you are trying to gain weight, this process should be reversed. The easiest way this can be achieved is by consuming your normal healthy meal plan along with protein shakes, but with the addition of other meal replacement drinks. Typically, meal replacement drinks are consumed in place of a meal, and they contain a moderate amount of calories, protein, and carbs.
a. Define weight. You should focus on gaining lean mass as opposed to scaling weight. Tip number one would, therefore, be to measure your lean mass and fat mass on a regular basis. If you are not gaining lean mass – change what you are doing!
b. I have been helping people gain lean mass for over 33 years. Without question, those who have a hard time with it are not eating as much as they think they are. Measure, weigh, and track all your food. Then, tightly follow your energy expenditure, and make sure you take more calories in than you use.
c. If you are having a hard time getting in the amount of food you need, use calorie-dense food such as oils (coconut, and olive oil), avocados, peanut butter, etc. in everything you eat to boost the calories higher.
a. Raw Milk
Raw, unpasteurized milk is loaded with fat-soluble enzymes, minerals, and vitamins that you just any get anywhere else as efficiently. The saturated fats present in this superfood will not only help you gain solid weight but also boost your testosterone levels (via good cholesterol) while keeping your fat burning high (via natural CLA and omega-3s)
b. Pasture-Raised Eggs
Like raw milk, this all-natural superfood is loaded with the cofactors your body needs for superhuman growth. Eat 3-4 whole eggs every morning with some Celtic Sea Salt for a truly well-rounded muscle-building meal.
c. Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend
Most cod liver oils use high heat and pressure to extract the oil, which denatures it. Fermentation, on the other hand, is a natural way to extract the oil. Combining it with high-vitamin, grass-fed butter oil gives your body a mega dose of super antioxidants to fight free radical damage from weight training. It also boosts your growth hormone and testosterone with the highly bioavailability vitamins D and A.
a. Make sure you’re focusing on strength training with challenging loads instead of cardio, using a variety of rep ranges from 5-20 reps per set. A combination of heavy, moderate and light weights with different rep ranges should be utilized. As long as you’re pushing hard, fatiguing the muscles and creating muscle damage, growth will occur.
b. Strength training should focus on compound movements like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, dead lifts, shoulder presses, etc. Those work the most muscles and have to potential to lead to the greatest growth. Isolation exercises like biceps curls, hamstring curls, and triceps press downs can be included to really stress the muscle. But they shouldn’t take the place of multi-joint compound movements.
c. Make sure you’re getting a slight surplus of calories each day to support the weight training, especially adequate protein to support muscle growth. Keep the surplus small, maybe 100-300 a day, so that it’s primarily muscle and you don’t accumulate too much body fat.
Follow the weight gain diet plan, exercises, and expert’s advice to see a visible difference. If you maintain a healthy weight, it means you have a good energy balance, and you are at a lesser risk of being prone to health issues.
So, which of these weight gain tips will you include in your routine? Do let us know in the comments section.
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