Smutty Fitness: Gaining weight in a healthy way
I've got a question that I guess is a bit different than most of the people who write to you. I'm wondering if you can help me gain weight.
Back story - I'm in my late twenties, 5'5", and have always been on the slim side. But because of some major life changes, and having to take a prescription medication long-term, and god knows why else, I've gotten a lot thinner. I'm weighing around 100 pounds now, and have been trying to get stronger and gain weight in a healthy way (eating balanced meals but increasing my portion sizes, and at the gym lifting heavier weights and doing a little less cardio) with no results. I can see all my bones and am feeling less than attractive.
If you have any suggestions at all, it would mean a lot to me!
Gaining weight can be as much a struggle for some individuals as losing weight is for others. However those in your shoes can find it difficult to get the support they need to help them succeed in their goal. Through my experience, those who are struggling to gain weight feel selfish expressing their need to others around them because many can view this is a non-issue. However, being seriously underweight can be just as much of a health risk as being overweight because you can be faced with low iron, low bone density and missed periods, to name a few issues.
You are right that you need to up your calories but you need to approach it in the same manner as you would if you are trying to lose weight. Each meal should start with nutritious foods but unlike weight loss where you are trying to lower the calorie content, you need to focus on increasing the calorie content. The tricky part is making sure these added calories are healthy calories and not empty calories, such as sugar and “bad” fat. What does that mean? You do not just get to eat muffins, cookies and fast foods in hopes of putting on a few pounds.
Step number one is increasing the amount of times during the day that you eat and trying to consume three larger meals and two “mini meals”. Take the word “snack” out of your vocabulary and ensure each meal you eat is full of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
So, how do you make your meals higher in calories while making sure they are still healthy? You need to choose the right foods to add to your diet. Let’s start with breakfast. Make a serving of steel cut oats but add in some fresh fruit, slivered almonds, hemp hearts, a scoop of high fat yoghurt and a serving of Udo’s Oil. Or make a smoothie with protein powder, hemp hearts, fruit, half of an avocado, some spinach and a bit of yoghurt.
Your mini meal before lunch could be cottage cheese with half of a cup of walnuts and a hard-boiled egg on the side. For lunch try and incorporate some lean protein with a healthy grain and vegetables. Try a half breast of chicken with a quinoa salad that is full of chickpeas and lentils. A mini meal before dinner can be a protein bar, my favourite being the Vega chocolate coconut, with a serving of chopped vegetables and hummus and then for dinner, opt again for lean protein with a big serving of a leafy green salad with a healthy, homemade olive oil dressing.
You sound to me as if you may find it difficult to eat a lot of food so take the smaller portions you are used too and fill them full of good fats. Make sure you replace any lost calories that you expend in your workouts. This can be as simple as a piece of fruit and a handful of almonds.
Aim for a pound to two pounds a week and monitor not only your weight on the scale but have someone take your measurements as well as your body fat composition. Also, make sure you talk to your doctor about your weight gain struggle just to make sure there is not a more serious issue at hand that needs attention.