If you are like me and find it difficult to sustain a high calorie diet, you will love these hacks below. I find it nauseating to eat food in large quantities. My body revolts at every bite and I feel sick if I eat too much. For now I consume about 2500 calories a day and I know to keep gaining I would have to continue to increase it. Healthy weight gain is doable if you are smart about your food choices.
In short, you DON’T have to EAT more to take in more CALORIES!
To start your weight gain efforts, begin by increasing your calorie intake by 150 calories every week. Do this till your jeans start feeling a bit too snug. Or a cleaner way, is to get your body composition analysis done every week till you see your body fat % moves by more than 0.5%. In this case, scale back to previous week’s calories. Your macros should be adjusted as close as possible to a Zone Diet (i.e. 40:30:30 ratios for Carb:Protein:Fat).
Smart Food Choices for Healthy Weight Gain
Snack on Nuts and Seeds:
Consider walnuts, peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, etc to your food, salad, shakes.
6 Walnuts and 10 Almonds add to ~150 calories! i.e. equivalent to calories in 2 chapatis!!
Drink your calories:
Try shakes (banana, mango, etc) and top up with seeds, nuts. On days when you have fallen behind on your calorie intake, add a scoop of ice-cream to your shake. A banana shake will add 150-170 calories to your diet and adding a serving of ice cream (66g) will take it to 300 calories!
Eat more Fats:
Fats are more densely packed with calories. A gram of fat will give you 9 calories whereas 1 gram of protein or carb only produces 4calories. A diet high in fat is beneficial against inflammation and also preventing other metabolic diseases.
Drink Whole Milk, add Ghee to your chapati /rice /dals. Some people add a teaspoon of coconut oil to their coffee – it takes some getting used to but it is a great way to increase the good fats in your diet.
Ensure Adequate Protein Intake
ALONG WITH having meals with complete amino profiles: Protein intake of 1.8g/kg/day is optimal for body building. Anything more will only have small incremental results.
Meat, Fish, Eggs and Whey Protein are a complete protein source. They contain all the essential amino acids in adequate amount. Vegetarians have to take special care of this as most vegetarian sources of protein do not have a complete amino profile. Sometimes it is best for them to include a good quality protein supplement as part of their diet. The supplements are more for convenience than lack of options.
In summary, you need only 150–200 calories extra per week. You can combine the food choices above to achieve that. For example a handful of nuts with a glass of milk will give you about 250calories, similarly adding a tablespoon of ghee will be about 50 calories, etc. Shakes can give you as much as 300+ calories in one serving!
REGULAR STRENGTH TRAINING IS ESSENTIAL: Regular exercise will regulate your appetite and put those calories to muscle building instead of fat accumulation. The best thing you can do to stimulate muscle building is lift weights 3-4 times a week.
What About Taking Pills for Stimulating Appetite?
Some pills and supplement are effective in temporarily increasing hunger. However, even if they work and you are lucky enough to avoid their side-effects, they are a short term fix. Instead, increase your calorie intake slowly by 150–200 calories every week. You will not just enjoy your meals but will be on your way to a healthy weight in a matter of weeks.