While many people around the world are trying to lose weight in order to improve their health, as well as their appearance, you might be one of the people who actually want to gain weight for their health or to improve their body composition and confidence.
Weight gain, for many individuals, can be just as challenging as trying to lose weight, but if your body does struggle to cling to fat, it might be an uphill battle to get to a point where you are at a healthy weight.
The obvious first step to gaining weight is to eat more calories in a day, but gaining weight, especially in a healthy way, is not really as simple as that.
Here are a few tips on how you can start to gain weight in a healthy way:
Stay Away From Dirty Bulking
Dirty bulking is basically just a simple way of referring to a diet that is aimed at helping you to gain weight, but basically just consists of you mostly eating unhealthy, high-calorie junk foods like burgers, pizza, ice cream, candy bars, chips, etc.
People who like to follow the flexible dieting approach and count their macronutrients can easily divide their recommended amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat into a few unhealthy meals throughout the day.
A food may have the amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat that you are after in a single meal, but that does not mean that it is healthy for you. The overall quality of the food that you are eating is still important.
You want to choose to eat foods that are as close to their natural forms as possible and have not been highly processed. Choose to get your carbohydrates from healthy sources, such as sweet potato and vegetables. Opt for high-quality sources of protein, such as chicken, pork, beef, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Obviously, it is also best to stick to protein sources that are as unprocessed as possible, and try to avoid those that have been deep-fried in vegetable oils.
While saturated fats and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good, you want to avoid trans fats as much as possible. Look for products that have been made with hydrogenated vegetable oil or that list trans fats and avoid them as much as you can.
You Must Increase Your Calories to Gain Weight
The most basic rule of gaining weight is to eat more calories than you burn in a day to create a calorie surplus that will turn into extra muscle (if you exercise correctly) and/or fat. You might have to only eat 500 to 1000 calories extra in a day to start gaining weight, but the amount depends on how quickly you want to gain weight.
You can work out a rough estimate of how much you burn in a day, if you do not have a fitness tracker that gives you an idea already, by trying different BMR (basal metabolic rate) and TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculators online and then using the average of at least three different ones. I suggest this because the calculators can often give you slightly different results, so it is good to do a few and go with the average as an estimate.
Your BMR refers to the number of calories that you would burn if you stayed in bed all day, and your TDEE is your BMR plus the calories you burn through activity.
Eat Enough Protein
You need to eat enough protein if you want some of your weight gain to come from muscle. To gain muscle, you could aim for 1,5 g of protein per kilogramme of body weight.
However, you should not eat too much protein in a single meal, because your body can only absorb around 30 g to 40 g of protein at a time. Spreading your protein out throughout the day is better if you want to absorb as much as possible.
Try Muscle-Building Exercises
Exercising is not only a great way to stimulate your appetite, but the right kind can help you gain muscle, especially if you eat enough calories and enough protein afterwards. The best kind of exercise could possibly be weight lifting and other types of resistance training like HIIT training (high intensity interval training).
Consider Using Cannabis to Stimulate Your Appetite if Possible
If it is legal in your country, perhaps you can experiment with taking cannabis oil as a way to stimulate your appetite if part of the problem of why you struggle to gain weight is because of a low appetite.
Fix Your Gut Health
If your gut health is not optimal, and you are not absorbing the nutrients in your food properly, then it could be harder for you to gain weight.
If you consume more collagen in your diet through sources like gelatine, bone broth, and supplements, it will help heal your gut lining if there is some damage to it.
When the gut lining is damaged, it becomes permeable and will let proteins and other food particles seep through your digestive tract.
You do not want to eat a thousand calories more a day, as well as a lot of protein, and then you do not absorb all of it.
Take digestive enzymes before a meal (you can also eat a slice of pineapple), as it can help you break down your food properly and improve the absorption of nutrients.
Just as with losing weight, gaining weight can take a long time, especially if your body is naturally very lean and struggles to cling on to any extra weight.
It all depends on how much you want to gain in total. If it is only a few kilogrammes, you could possibly do it in a few weeks or months, or you may have to push for a little longer.
We hope that these tips will at least give you a better idea of what to do when you want to start gaining weight. You also need to experiment and see what works for you and which changes you respond to best. Each person’s body is different, and that is why self-experimentation is crucial for us at The Hart of Health.