I know some of you will hate me for saying this, but I try desperately to gain weight, yet cannot do it. I’m told I have a high metabolism – that’s just the way it is, for now at least. Others say I need to stuff myself constantly with whatever I can get my hands on. This led me to a question: what is the healthiest, most effective way to gain weight?
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Before we begin, it should be noted that like obesity, extreme thinness should be taken as a serious issue. While I wouldn’t consider myself unhealthily underweight, the fact remains that many people are due to eating disorders or poor nourishment, both of which can lead to serious health issues. We should remember that neither extreme is healthy, and just because are bombarded with shows like the Biggest Loser and Weight Watcher programs, we shouldn’t consider being overweight as the only problem dealing with weight.
That said, we should all aim at a healthy, normal body weight. So, if you’re thin around the edges, what can you do? Here’s a few quick principles to keep in mind:
Principle 1: Unhealthy foods lead to unhealthy weight gain
Don’t think that by stuffing yourself with potato chips, burgers, and deep fried cheese sandwiches is the sure-fire way to add a couple pounds. In fact, these foods high in trans fat, saturated fats, salts, and sugars, can lead to other health problem like high blood pressure and heart disease. Sure, you may gain some weight; however, that weight will be fatty and unhealthy for the body.
Principle 2: Eat High Quality, Healthy Foods
While you shouldn’t stuff yourself with bad food, the fact remains that the more food you eat, the more calories you store and the heavier you become. In other words, eat a lot of good, but not a lot of bad. Develop a well-rounded meal plan, probably with about 4-6 meals a day. Include healthy fats with omega-3’s and 6’s (i.e. fish and nuts), unrefined carbohydrates, and good protein from lean meats and poultry. Also, be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Most people see a movie like Rocky and think that raw eggs are all you need, but remember: there’s a reason that’s a movie! Eat healthy, gain weight healthily.
Principle 3: Exercise adds Muscles, Muscles add Weight
First let’s address the myth circulating around that muscles weigh more than fat. We can debunk this with some quick math. If I weigh 130 pounds and add 10 pounds of fat, do I weigh less than if I was 130 pounds and added 10 pounds of muscle? No. I would weigh 140 in both cases – 10 pounds is 10 pounds. Fat, however, is more lumpy and obtrusive. Muscle, on the other hand, is going to be slimmer, stronger, and better for your body.
Regardless of the innocent confusion, muscles add weight. Plus, if you’re eating as much as your supposed to, you’ll have plenty of energy to burn. Bulk up with resistance training like weight lifting, as aerobic training, like running, creates more lean muscle. In both cases, you’ll grow in weight and size, but it is more noticeable with aerobics.
Principle 4: Stay Nourished and Consider Supplements
Covering all your bases nutrient wise is vital when bulking up. If you’re following the second principle discussed, you should be able to manage all your bases; however, in case you’re worried, you may want to consider a dietary supplement for any lost vitamins and minerals. Most one-a-day style supplements have everything you need, but some people see major progress in weight gain with protein supplements. Most supplements of that nature contain glutamine or Creatine, both of which help stimulate growth.
Principle 5: Track your diet
Finally, if you’re serious about weight gain, you try tracking your diet. There are programs out there like iProfile that are easy to navigate, have tons of foods cataloged, and offer print outs and summaries. You can also just keep a note pad and pen with you, marking down what and when you eat. Calorie count is what you want to pay attention to, however. As a part of this, you should find out how much calories a day you need to put on weight. There are some good tools on Google for this, and, likewise, some programs offer the same service.