While not as common a goal as losing weight, there are a significant number of people who have weight gain as their goal. The reasons are as varied as people, but can include wanting to gain weight to play a sport, wanting to put on a few pounds after rehabbing an injury, or simply being underweight and having trouble getting on the scale or your doctor has asked you to do so. weight gain.

Before you embark on your weight gain journey, I would give in if I didn’t encourage you to visit your Dr. for a checkup first. You may not even be underweight. While I’m not a fan of BMI, underweight is defined as having a BMI less than 18.5. (Media plays a big role in how we view our bodies, and you may be fine in the skin you’re in.) However, there may be medical reasons why you find it difficult to gain weight, and your doctor will be a good place to start. OK, all approved by your doctor? Then let’s look at ways to help you pack on a few pounds.

Gaining weight will generally follow the same formula as losing weight, but in reverse. If the calories in have to be lower than calories burned to lose weight, then it stands to reason that the opposite will have the opposite effect, and it does! So the universal scientific formula for weight gain is that calories should be greater than than calories burned.

It sounds simple and all you have to do is increase your daily allotment of McBurgers, right? Well, not so fast. You want to do this well and in a healthy way, and slowly. So, without further ado, here are some tips for your bag of tricks.

NUTRITION

1. Determine how many calories you are consuming now and how many calories you need based on your daily activity. You can use a good online tool for this. Whatever the number is, it represents how many calories you just need to maintain the weight you’re at (I know, I ended my sentence with a preposition: I’m crazy like that) Now that you know what the number is, you need to increase your daily caloric intake by, oh, let’s start with an increase of 500 calories per day. When you gain or lose weight or change your activity level or have health changes, your calorie needs change, so always stay up to date with what your calorie goal is. Food diaries are a great tool, especially in the beginning.

2. Try to eat more often-YES! If you eat 3 meals a day, try adding a couple of healthy snacks throughout the day.

3. When you eat your regular meals, increase your portion size. If snack #1 was going to be a yogurt (I know…yuck!), then have 2 yogurts instead. At dinner, have a second helping of vegetables. The goal is to try to increase your portion sizes with each meal.

4. Focus on good foods. Whole grain breads are dense and you can cut thick slices and top with your favorite toppings like peanut butter, honey, hummus… Mmmmm. When picking vegetables, choose those with less water content. Things like cucumbers have a lot of water, so they will make you look fuller while you eat them, but you take in fewer calories… you don’t want that… you want potatoes, carrots, corn, etc. Same goes for fruit… go for denser ones like a banana over an orange (dried fruit is good!)

5. Fats are where they are (my mom said I was always good at rhyming words) Fats are so good because they contain 9 calories per gram, while carbs and protein only have 4 of the losers. PURPOSE…choose healthy fat. Nuts, seeds, peanut butter, avocados, hummus, oils… all good! And the good thing is that you can add some of these to everything you eat. Cook eggs? Cook them in oil… Toast? Spread some hummus… Got a salad or cereal? Sprinkle on some nuts or seeds and add a little more oil to your salad. You can add healthy fats every time you sit down to eat. Toss some dried fruit into a salad or granola. Top your potatoes with oil or cheese or go wild and throw some chili on top.

6. Tired of eating? Drink your calories. There are plenty of healthy meal replacement drinks out there that are good, but why not make your own shake? Make it with milk, fruit, honey… you name it… then sprinkle on some seeds. You can also try replacing some of your water intake with occasional juices or sports drinks.

7. Remember, slow gain is best. Gaining your weight too quickly only increases the chances that the weight you gain will come from fat mass and not lean body mass. A gain of about a half pound to a pound a week should be your goal.

EXERCISE

1. Gain some muscle. You want to make sure you add some lean muscle and that all of your weight gain isn’t just from fat. If you incorporate a resistance routine three times a week (such as bodyweight exercises or lifting weights), then you can gain some lean muscle mass and what’s even better… the increased workload can even increase your appetite… WIN! If you want to gain muscle mass, add some extra protein to your meals as well. Protein intake that is too low can cause you to lose body mass, so keep your intake to a healthy level. Beans, peanuts, chicken, tuna… all good!

2. Avoid extra “cardio” type workouts like jogging and just focus on endurance exercise.

3. After you exercise, have a light snack that includes protein, such as an egg on toast, whole-grain crackers with cheese, or just a glass of chocolate milk. Protein will be a building block to help repair and build muscle after exercise.

4. Incorporate a stretching routine into your day. Okay, this by itself won’t help you gain weight, but with added resistance training, stretching will help keep your body pain-free and keep your body moving properly.

SUPPORT

**Tell your friends and family what your goals are so they can get involved and help support you in your goals. Join an online group with other like-minded people so you always have someone to talk to and exchange ideas with. Don’t discount this: having the right support is key to anything in life.

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