Your friends are all trying to lose a few pounds and get ready for summer, meanwhile you’re having a hard time just keeping the pounds on or gaining a few. Does this sound familiar? They may even be jealous of your slender figure, but if you are one of the many people who are underweight or have a hard time keeping at your healthy weight, it can be as difficult to gain weight as to lose it. Check out these Six Tips for Healthy Weight Gain..the answer lies in what you’re eating and how you are working out.
We’ve been experiencing this first hand recently with my husband who has always been very active and was born with a high metabolism. In fact our friends used to marvel at the way he filled his hollow legs with three plates-full of spaghetti!
However, living on our sailboat in Mexico we are a lot more active than we were at home (just getting groceries is a 4-mile round-trip walk with fully loaded backpacks!) Plus the weather has been really hot lately, which can decrease anyone’s appetite. And he now weighs less than he’d like to. So we’ve been working on ways to help him add about ten pounds and wanted to share these tips for healthy weight gain with you.
Whether you have a high metabolism, are recovering from an illness or surgery, have lost too much weight from breastfeeding, or any number of other reasons, here are some tips to help you with healthy weight gain plus links to some of our favorite recipes.
Key factors include lifestyle modifications, the right type of exercise, as well as eating more calories each day without loading up on junk and sugar, so go for densely packed, high calorie foods. It may take a few weeks to build up to eating more, don’t over do it all at once, but gradually add in more meals and calories each day and soon you should see some results.
Six Tips for Healthy Weight Gain
- Eat Six Times a Day
Eat three regular meals a day, plus healthy snacks in between. Stick to whole foods not processed and packaged foods. Start your day with a hearty bowl of honey-nut granola for breakfast topped with coconut milk. Or try some Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burritos (with fried or scrambled eggs, organic corn tortillas, beans, avocados, black olives, and salsa) for a robust start to your day.
Avocados contain super-healthy fat, so eat a couple a day if you like them. Try adding them to salads, soups, and smoothies, or plain with a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of sea salt and chili powder.
Grilled Salmon is high in healthy-fats and packs more calories than many other fish. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, and beets are a nutritious way to eat more calories too. And an occasional wholesome dessert like Healthy-liciouis Oatmeal Cookies or Apple Crumble can help to increase your weight over time as well.
- Snack Healthy
While I normally don’t advocate a lot of snacking, if you’re trying to gain weight, healthy snacking is key. Snack between meals: mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and again after diner*. So what are some healthy snack ideas?
— Trail Mix packed full of nuts and dried fruits, even a bit of dark chocolate (over 72% dark) which are all high in calories
— Celery or apples with peanut butter or almond butter
— Smoothies with coconut milk, bananas, berries, nut butters, flax meal, or organic whole-milk yogurt if you do dairy.
— Nuts and seeds like chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds…check out our favorite Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds recipe.
*[Note: It’s best for your digestion to go to bed at least three hours after eating so that you’re not laying down during the digestion process. Aim for an early dinner and then a small snack a few hours before bed.]
- Hydrate Carefully
I’m talking water and other hydrating drinks like herbal teas here, not coffees and sodas. Ensure you drink a healthy amount of water each day, drinking those glasses between meals and snacks, not too close to meals. Drinking a big glass of water just before a meal can fill you up and actually dampen your appetite. Water just before a meal can also dilute your digestive juices so you may not digest your food as well.
What about alcohol? Although drinking alcohol can add calories, health experts recommend keeping it to a glass or two of red wine per night.
- Avoid Low-Fat and Artificial Sweeteners
This probably goes without saying if you’re trying to gain weight, but stick to the real-deal. Healthy fats include olive oil, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and avocados. If you need to use sweeteners, stick to coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup. [Note: while many people think Agave Syrup is “healthy”, it is highly processed with toxic chemicals, and has recently been found to be harder on your liver and pancreas than high fructose corn syrup. Even Dr. Andrew Weil, a one-time fan of Agave, has changed his tune.]
Watch the ice cream and milk shakes too. Although you might be tempted to eat all the ice cream and milk shakes you want because they are high in calories, think about this: Frozen and cold fats are the hardest thing for your body to digest and can cause bloating, cramping, and indigestion even if you’re not lactose intolerant. Then you may not feel up to eating your next meal or snack.
- Choose Weight-Bearing Exercises
While all exercise is good for you, weight-bearing exercise like yoga and weightlifting (even using weight machines or dumbbells at home) will all build muscle mass. Some research even suggests that being mindful of each muscle you are working can help to increase muscle mass.
And yes, muscle mass can also increase your metabolism, but muscle is heavier than fat so will also add to your overall weight and help you to look toned not just bulked-up.
- Sleep Well
Getting a good night’s sleep is also key. Your body does most of its repair and rejuvenation while you sleep, and you’ll need that for building up muscle mass. The average adult needs between 7-8 hours of sleep a night. To determine your optimal sleep needs, aim to wake up naturally without setting an alarm. Maybe you need to head to bed a bit earlier. Or use try using essential oils like lavender oil or a night-time blend of essential oils to help you get a more restful sleep. Your muscles will thank you.
These lifestyle tips combined with hearty recipes and weight bearing exercise can help you reach your weight gaining goals. What are some of your healthy tips for weight gain? Please leave a comment to let us know.