Part 1Eating to Gain Weight
- Determine how much more you need to eat to gain a pound or a kilogram. To gain a pound, you'll need an excess over your daily calories a.k.a. resting metabolic rate (RMR). For an average man this is 2500, 2000 for women, and if you are doing any activity then this will vary) . Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories per day that your body requires to maintain your existing weight. Here's how to figure it out with the Mifflin - St. Jeor formula:
- Find your weight in kilograms. To convert your weight from pounds to kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.
- Find your height in centimeters. To convert your height from inches to centimeters, multiply your height in inches by 2.54.
- Plug your information into the formula: RMR = 10 * weight (kg) + 6.25 * height (cm) - 5 * age (yr) + x.
- For men, x = 5.
- For women, x = -161.
- Understand that the formula calculates how many calories you would burn if you spent the entire day resting. You probably burn a few hundred more calories than your RMR would indicate during the course of each normal day.—The RMR is just a rough estimate to get your weight-gain diet started.
- Account for your activity level. Since you (hopefully) do not sit still in bed all day, you must account for the calories you burn through activity. Once you have your RMR, use the Harris Benedict Formula below with your RMR as BMR (Basal or Base Metabolic Rate) to determine your total daily calorie needs depending on your activity level. To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job or 2x training) : BMR x 1.9
- For example, a 19-year-old woman who is 5’5” and 130 pounds would plug her information into the calculator and find out that her BMR is 1366.8 calories. Then, since she is moderately active, exercising 3-5 days per week, she would multiply 1366.8 by 1.55, to equal 2118.5 calories. That is the number of calories that her boded to add to your diet. Now that you have an idea of how many calories your body burns in a day, you can calculate how many more you need to gain weight.
- Aim for one or two pounds per week. More than that could lead to a cycle of crash dieting, in which you gain and lose weight quickly.
- At first, try adding 500 calories a day to your diet. For instance, if you need 2300 calories a day to maintain your current weight, strive to consume 2800 calories daily. This should be an extra 3500 calories over the course of a week, which will lead to one pound of weight gained.
- Eat three meals per day, as well as two snacks. Eating on a regular schedule can help you make sure you're getting enough calories every day. Aim to have generously-portioned breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two snacks in between.
- Focus on hefty foods. You don't have to exclusively eat high-fat foods to gain weight. Actually, you'll gain weight more steadily and safely if you adjust your diet slightly to include denser foods and extra condiments. Consider these options:
- Drinks — Try protein shakes, juices or whole milk. Avoid diet sodas.
- — Hearty and dense breads, such as whole wheat, oat bran, pumpernickel and rye, are more nutritious than white bread. Cut thick slices and spread generously with peanut butter, jam, honey, hummus, or cream cheese.
- Vegetables — Look for starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, winter squash, beets). Avoid vegetables that are mostly water (broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, celery, and cucumbers).
- Fruit — Choose dense fruit (bananas, pears, apples, pineapple, dried fruit) over watery fruit (oranges, peaches, plums, berries, watermelon).
- Soups — Go for hearty cream soups instead of broth-based soups. If you have trouble with edema or high blood pressure, you may want to avoid store-bought soups that are high in sodium.
- Added oils — When you're cooking, add a generous amount of oil to your food. The healthiest oils are unrefined (extra virgin) oils such as olive, coconut, canola, palm, and (of course) butter. Less healthy but still acceptable sources of oil are those high in omega-6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory) such as safflower, sunflower, and peanut oils. Unhealthy oils that contain trans fats include shortening and soybean oil (aka vegetable oil).
- — Spreading delicious calorie-rich toppings on toast, crackers, pitas, and any other carbohydrate source is an excellent way to increase caloric intake. Some good high-calorie spreads are guacamole, olive oil, cream cheese, hummus, butter, nut butters, sour cream, cheese slices, and mayonnaise. For even more calories, mix these with shredded meats like chicken or fish.
- Supplements — Some nutritional supplements are designed specifically for weight gain. Investigate brands and products that are suggested for people suffering from illnesses that lead to weight loss, such as Crohn's disease or hyperthyroidism.
- Avoid trans fats. Trans fats can increase belly fat, as well as inducing unhealthy insulin levels. Steer clear of margarine, shortening, packaged snack foods, and processed meats.
- Eat more protein. A lack of protein in your diet can lead to the loss of lean body mass, even if you're consuming excess calories. Here are some foods to consider: :
- Boiled soybeans
- Soy or whey protein powder
- Peanuts or peanut butter
- Steak or hamburger
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