Sunday, August 1, 2010

What I Want to Know is… ‘How do I Gain Weight but Remain Healthy?’

I see some of you go ‘Finally!’ and some of you scratch your head and say ‘Huh? Some skinny people don’t like being skinny?’ Remember that body image is about individuality, so some people may need to lose weight to get to their ideal and healthy weight, while others may need to gain weight to get there. This is another post for the segment 'What I Want to Know Is...' A few of my readers asked how we can gain weight but still maintain a healthy diet and exercise program.

Because of the rate of obesity and obesity-related diseases in society today, there is no longer a focus on the underweight. This week, we’re calling out all the skinny ladies and gentlemen, and talking about how to gain weight the healthy way. For the gentlemen, you may also choose to gain muscle mass instead of fat to reach your ideal weight. Because as we all know, muscles serve a healthier purpose than fat.

Gaining Fat
As we have talked about in a previous post (Understanding the Concept of Calories), about 3,500 calories equals 1 pound (or 0.45kg) of body weight. So if you eat right and exercise, consistently gaining weight is also not as easy as it seems. But there is a way around it. You simply need to consume more calories than you burn from the right food and focus on the right types of exercise. It is a mistake to think that the solution to gain weight is junk food because even if we take calories out of the equation, junk foods contain a lot of other things like excess cholesterol and sodium that may be bad for your heart and other organs.

Before we talk about what kinds of food to eat and what exercise to do, I would like to make one thing clear. We cannot control where we gain weight. This relates to fat only, because we can control where we gain muscles to a certain extent. But we’ll talk about that in the next section. Women are sometimes lucky enough to pack it in the hips and bum where it is the most useful, but we are equally as likely to pack it in the stomach, the arms, or anywhere else. Thus, the key might be to go slowly, and watch where you are gaining weight before diving in all the way. If you wait till you’ve gained weight in the areas you didn’t want to, there may be no going back. Why? Because our bodies have the same limitations in reverse as well. You also cannot choose where you lose weight. And I can imagine how upsetting it would be to gain weight in your stomach, and then when you try to lose it, you lose the fat in your bum instead.

Now that we got that out, let’s focus on what exactly we can do to gain weight. Here are a few tips:
First off, visit Calorie Count to help you determine how many calories you need to consume to reach your ideal weight. There’s also a phone app called 'SparkPeople Tracker' that helps you track your food intake in a food diary sort of way.
Focus on getting your calories from healthy sources, like lean meats, fatty fish (salmon, swordfish, and mackerel) and nuts.
Rather than eat too much in one sitting, eat your regular amount, but add in some extra meals in between meals. So between breakfast and lunch, you could have a meal, and between lunch and dinner, you could have another.
Add health shakes, smoothies, fruit juices, and a few glasses of milk to your diet. They are light so they don’t fill you up, they are good for you, and they contain some useful calories. Please see my article on Food Myths that May Destroy your Diet Routine on tips for selecting the right smoothie.
Limit the cardio. Your weight goals are different from someone who is trying to lose weight, and so you should not be running for an hour every day. Cardio is still very important for everybody (yes, everybody) to stay healthy and active, but a few minutes of cardio each time would serve more of a purpose if you are trying to gain weight. And you really only need about 3 days a week of exercise, not more, if you are trying to gain fat.

Gain Muscle
For those who want to gain weight by putting on some muscle, you have a little more control on where you gain weight. Here are a few tips:
Focus a lot of your energy on strength training to build muscle. Strength training includes things like push-ups and lifting weights. Don’t skip the cardio entirely though, because you need cardio to warm up your muscles, and to maintain a healthy heart. I would recommend sticking to about 10 minutes of cardio and a lot more strength training per workout, rather than the usual 20 to 30 minute goal.
Dietary supplements are pretty important when you want to build muscle. If you’re concentrating on building muscle, your body needs about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, which is about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Because it is very difficult to get this large amount of protein from food alone, protein supplements can help to fill in the gap. My favorite protein supplements are protein shakes because they have some flavor, and taste like milkshakes :-)
Even though supplements are great, ensure that you also add a lot of protein to your diet to meet your daily protein target. This is where things like nuts, eggs, milk, and peanut butter (yum!) come in. There’s nothing better than what you can get naturally.
Junk food and greasy food should be limited as much as possible. Rather, try to add a lot of lean meats and fish to your diet.  

In summary, you can effectively gain fat and muscle while staying healthy and active. What has been your experience trying to gain weight? Feel free to leave a comment.

Cheers 'Eights' & 'Weights'!


  1. Thanks E&W. I'll probably read this post over and over again in the nxt few days. Lol.

  2. I'm quite slim and lately my skinny jeans has started sagging, I'm now officially a size zero.

    I really need this. I want to add weight everywhere but my tummy!

  3. Yaay! Finally the article I've been looking for!!! Indeed, some skinny people want to put on weight. There is nothing wrong with a little more bum, hips and things. YES!!! Please post more of this sort okay?

    This is MY article. Thanks Sue!!

  4. it good to finally found site / article such as these. lot of people are concern of losing weight. but we forget how to gain as well. thanks to these.

  5. Wonderful post... Very informational and educational as usual!

    Acai Optimum


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