Believe it or not, it’s actually harder than you think to gain weight, especially if you struggle with it due to a medical condition or mental illness. It took me 5 months to gain 20 pounds, even on a very strict & calorie-dense meal plan & it’s partly because my restrictive eating patterns threw my digestion & metabolism out of whack!
Since I know how hard it can be, I want to share some of my tips that really helped me on my journey towards getting my health back & gaining back the weight I needed to thrive & to get my digestion, metabolism, hormones & life in check.
Most importantly, aside from all these things, I want you guys to know that PATIENCE is so important! Just like you won’t get a six-pack overnight or meet your target weight in a month, the same thing goes for weight gain – there is no magic fix, especially if you want to do it healthily & by nourishing your body with real food & it takes time & lots of hard work & effort. BUT IT’S DOABLE!
Now, for my tips!
- If you had a meal plan for weight loss, once you reach your target, it’s important to increase your intake enough to maintain vs. continue to lose. You used the plan to lose weight initially & if you use it the same way, you’ll continue to lose.
- Nuts & seeds are your BFF! Add them to salads, fruit bowls, oats, chia pudding, toast, etc. Great way to add calories & good fats without adding bulk/overwhelming amount of food.
- Don’t restrict carbs: they’re the primary source of energy & fuel for muscles. If you’re currently adding ~1/3 cup grains/legumes/beans to meals, increase your portion to 1/2 cup on days you feel hungrier/work out.
- To read more about carbs: Carbs Are Not The Enemy!
- Hydration is key but don’t use water before/during meals to trick your body into thinking it’s full.
- Ditch fat/sugar-free, low cal/carb food labels. They’re full of chemicals, artificial sweeteners & processed/refined ingredients that won’t do much for your body except deplete your gut & ability to absorb nutrients & digest food.
- Add healthy oils to marinades/dressings. If you’re cooking, use avocado or coconut. If it’s for a salad, use olive oil (it has a lower smoke point so it’s best not to cook with it) & instead of oil sprays, use the actual oil.
- Protein shakes optimize results if you’re lifting weights; amino acids & protein help with muscle growth & you can also throw in nut butters/seeds/avocado & other calorie-dense foods
- If you usually use egg whites, use 1 whole egg & 2 whites
- Reflect on your thoughts. Are they disordered? Are you purposely restricting & is that why you can’t gain weight? Are you consumed by someting that holds power over you mentally?
- Don’t compensate for food with exercise: if you’re trying to gain weight/build muscle, listen to your body & eat more on days you workout
- Don’t weigh yourself obsessively to prevent the risk of getting hung up on the number (this is especially true if you’re in ED recovery because seeing the # on the scale can trigger old ED thoughts & behaviours)
- MORE SNACKING! You can afford it & it will help keep your energy levels & mood consistent & on point throughout the day.
- Don’t lose sight of the fact that food quality is important! Sure, a Big Mac & large fry a day would hasten the gain but it provides little to no nutrition or real food to your body.
- My mentality is if you want to gain weight, adopt a healthy approach & nourish your body with wholesome real food! BUT, BE PATIENT because just like weight loss goals aren’t achieved overnight, neither is weight gain!