Are you looking to fuel your body, boost your strength, and achieve a healthy weight gain? Look no further! We have put together seven easy tips and practical meal suggestions to help you on your journey to gain weight in the healthiest way.
When it comes to weight gain or weight loss, calories are king! To gain weight it is important you consume a calorie surplus. A caloric surplus is when the number of calories that you eat or drink is higher than the number of calories you burn. There are a number of healthy ways you can do this – try to incorporate one or many of the following strategies.
1. Bulk up your Gut-Brain Health Smoothie!
This is a really easy way to quickly add more nutrient-rich calories to your daily intake. Consider adding nuts, seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds, peanut or almond butter, avocado, or full-fat yoghurt (we recommend goat or other A2 dairy) to your smoothie. Adding healthy high-fat foods to your smoothie can literally add hundreds of calories to your meal! You can also add oats to your smoothie for extra carbohydrates, calories and a source of whole grains.
Smoothies also make a great snack in between meals. If you find it challenging to eat the amount of food needed to maintain a healthy weight or put on weight, smoothies can be a much easier way of drinking your calories!
2. Increase your protein intake
We recommend adding protein powder (either hemp, pea, rice, or whey if tolerated) to your daily diet when trying to gain weight or prevent weight loss. This will add additional calories and help reduce any muscle loss. Protein powder can be taken mixed with milk, water, or kefir. Again, a really easy-to-implement idea is to add one scoop of protein powder to your Gut-Brain Health smoothie. Other high-protein foods include chicken, turkey, lean red meat, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, and many dairy products. Keeping protein intake high can help prevent muscle loss during periods of weight loss. Prioritising a high protein intake is also one of the best ways to reduce age-related muscle deterioration and prevent sarcopenia.
3. Increase portion sizes
To consume more calories across the day, try to gradually increase the portion size of each of your normal meals or snacks. Add an extra bit of meat or carbs to your plate each time or try using a larger plate when dishing up your meals. As always, opt for nutrient-rich, gut-healthy foods as much as possible.
4. Eat more frequently
Having frequent meals and snacks is another effective approach. Aim to eat five or six smaller meals and snacks throughout the day instead of just three large meals. This can contribute extra calories to your intake without causing you to feel over – or uncomfortably – full. These smaller, more frequent meals are also ideal if you suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, or bloating!
5. Fill up on fats
High-fat foods are great for adding extra calories when trying to gain weight. Try to include a good source of healthy fats in each meal or snack to quickly boost your calorie intake and gain weight. These include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, hummus, nut butters, goat’s cheese, and oily fish like salmon and mackerel. Opt for the full-fat options too when choosing your milk, kefir, yoghurts, cheese, etc.
6. Strength training
Consider strength training to increase your lean muscle weight (rather than increasing your body fat). There are so many benefits of strength training – it improves bone density, increases muscle mass, promotes better posture, and enhances overall physical performance. If you are not experienced in weight or strength training, seek the help of a Personal Trainer or member of staff at your gym.
7. Support your appetite
You can naturally increase and stimulate your appetite by including some herbs in your diet such as wormwood and gentian root. Wormwood and gentian root are both great for anyone trying to eat more and have even been used in the treatment of anorexia. Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs if you have any conditions you’re working with.
Unfortunately, coffee can work in the opposite way and often suppresses appetite! So it may be worth reducing or eliminating your coffee intake while trying to increase your weight. If you don’t feel like giving up coffee is a viable option (we hear you 😉), then try opting for full-fat lattes or cappuccinos to add some calories to your daily cuppa.
Remember, healthy weight gain takes time, so be patient with the process. We recommend increasing your weight slowly and with a healthy diet. Aim for plenty of plant diversity, embrace the carbs and don’t fear the fats! It’s always a good idea to consult with your Healthcare Provider or a Nutritionist/Dietitian who can provide personalised guidance based on your specific needs and goals.
Questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays for bespoke advice on gut wellness.