The best way to gain weight? I'm sure many of you reading this think it's a joke. NO! For those of us who, either by genetics, living circumstances or illness, are too skinny, this is no joke.
As an incredibly underweight kid (who was bullied, laughed at and called names daily for being skinny), the question I asked constantly was, "How do I gain weight?" The answer I typically got was, "Eat more." This was before the internet existed, so I had few resources. And, if you are or have been underweight, you know that "eat more" is not a helpful answer.
Okay, so I'm no longer a kid. I no longer awaken every day saying "I need to gain weight." My days are no longer spent eating to gain weight, or searching for the absolute, best way to gain weight. I'm still thin, but not painfully underweight.
A person is considered underweight if his or her Body Mass Index (BMI) is less than 18.5 (please refer to my page on Body Mass Index Formula to read more about what this measurement means and to calculate yours). If your BMI indicates you're underweight, continue reading about my healthy ways to gain weight.
There isn't just one best way to gain weight. There are many. And, there are as many unhealthy ways to gain weight as there are healthy ways. I'm only going to talk about the healthy ways here! In order to put those pounds on, you need to base your diet on specific foods, in certain amounts, at certain times, and serve them in certain ways.
But, there's more to gaining weight than simply using foods to gain weight. Physical activity also comes into play. For some people, strength training seems to be the best way to gain weight.
Herbs and supplements may also be helpful. Plenty of good, solid sleep and living a life with minimal stress also allow your body to heal (if it needs to heal) and put on those needed pounds.
First, let's talk about eating to gain weight. The thing you need to remember is to eat foods that are high in calories, but also high in nutrition - calorie-dense and nutrient-dense. Foods that satisfy those requirements include nuts and natural nut butters, bananas, avocados, fruit juices, and healthy oils such as olive, sesame and walnut.
I remember when I was the skinny kid, everyone tried to push high-calorie, non-nutritious foods on me - all kinds of junk foods and sugary snacks, bowls of ice cream and fatty meats and cheeses. Yes, eating a lot of these foods would probably have helped me put pounds on, but it would have been unhealthy weight.
Thankfully, my mother did not keep such things in the house - or, I would have eaten them, and my nutrition would have suffered. Food is fuel for our bodies - if the foods we eat don't contain the necessary vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and good fats our bodies need to grow and stay healthy, our health suffers. So, it is important to eat nutrient-dense foods.
So, if you're eating to gain weight, try that trick - go for a tapas meal (tapas are small appetizers or finger foods) instead of a Super-sized meal. Some people even find that eating foods with their fingers, rather than with forks and spoons, makes the food more palatable. Hey, whatever works (the best way to gain weight is whatever works for you)!
To continue on with the idea of eating smaller portions, try grazing. Instead of eating three larger meals during the day, eat multiple smaller meals.
Eating throughout the day keeps your blood sugar level and your metabolism in good shape - a healthy thing for everyone, large or small.
Another trick is to eat a good snack right before bed. Just as people who need to slim down are told to not eat after a certain time of day, people who need to bulk up can benefit from eating right up until bedtime.
What about beverages with your meal? Well, first of all, stay far away from carbonated beverages and sodas - they fill you right up so you feel like you don't have room for your food. Try to not drink anything at all within 30 minutes of eating. The exception being, if you're old enough and have no problems with alcohol, a glass of wine with your meal has been shown to stimulate the appetite.
Instead of eating solid foods, try having a couple of liquid meals or snacks each day. It's easy to make an ultra-nutritious high-calorie weight gain drink!
A scoop of protein powder, some calorie-dense fruit (maybe even an avocado thrown in for good measure), a spoonful of nut butter with some almond milk and ice cubes blended up and you've got a fantastic weight gain shake (be sure to check out my page on weight gain shakes for great ideas).
Weight gain shakes are particularly good for those who get nauseated eating (or have tooth or swallowing difficulties which prevent them from eating the necessary solid foods to gain weight). If nausea is a problem, try drinking the shake with a straw - put the straw toward the back of your tongue and drink up. Drinking your meal is one of the best ways I know to get those calories in when you don't feel like eating.
As I said above, physical activity is important if you want to gain weight - you want to gain lean muscle mass, not fat. Concentrate on exercises that build muscle, such as strength training (be sure to read my pages on types of exercise for more information). Muscle weighs more than fat - the more muscle you gain, the more you'll weigh!
As I said before, there is no one best way to gain weight. But there are many healthy ways to gain weight. Find what works for you. I am living proof that it's possible.
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