Gain weight healthily is still a topic that is rarely covered on fitness blogs. Helpful tips are lacking because most people struggle with too many pounds. That’s why in this article I’m going to tell you how you too can reach your feel-good weight with whole, healthy, and indulgent foods.
Those who suffer from underweight or are naturally very slim are often envied for their disposition. Because in Germany there is a diet culture. The majority of the population has problems with obesity. Many wish that the pounds would finally fall off.
That’s why people who wrestle with the opposite are often met with incomprehension. But they often feel very similar about their own body image.
Healthy weight gain: 8 tips with which it finally works out
At first, gaining weight in a healthy way sounds like a contradiction. Finally, the motivation for a healthy diet for many is weight loss. I also had to listen to myself many times: "Well, then just eat a Snickers bar more" or "OMG, I’m so jealous of your metabolism, if I were you I would only indulge in pizza and ice cream".
To this one must say: I never had problems with my weight. Until I weighed only 38 kilograms a few years ago due to illness. That was the end of the fun. I had to gain weight! And with a gastrointestinal thing certainly not with sugar bombs.
This is what I did myself to get back to my normal weight in a healthy way:
1. Tip: Know basal metabolic rate, power metabolic rate and calorie surplus
Let’s first briefly you the basics. Even if calorie counting completely contradicts my attitude (intuitive and mindful eating), it is helpful in acute underweight to know approximately your basal metabolic rate and your power metabolic rate. Because as with losing weight, gaining weight is in theory very logical and simple.
If you don’t manage to gain weight, it’s usually because you consume more energy than you eat.
In the case of critical underweight, the cause of high energy consumption may be gastrointestinal disorders, food intolerances, hyperthyroidism or stress, for example. (This should always be clarified with a doctor. At the end of the article, I again give details of what it was like for me when my weight was life-threatening.)
So in order to gain weight healthily it is necessary to to ensure a calorie surplus. Who would like to gain weight healthily, should therefore ca. eat 500 calories more as necessary. For example, that would be a large avocado a day. Here you can calculate what your individual needs are. Then you simply get a feeling for what you should ideally eat daily in terms of calories and what that would be in terms of food (recipe ideas you will find below). Very important: it is only a matter of orientation! Not that you stress yourself out with all the calorie counting! Which brings us straight to tip number two.
2. Tip: Reduce stress to gain weight in a healthy way
Chronic stress is unfortunately part of everyday life for many people today. Its detrimental effect on health is already equated with smoking. Stress triggers the flight instinct and a chain of hormonal reactions in the body. For example, it inhibits the digestion and absorption of important nutrients (Blum, 2015, p. 150 ff.), which is counterproductive if you want to gain weight healthily.
If you are sensitive to stress like me and tend to lose weight when you are stressed, it is quite important that you do something about it! I know it is not easy to continuously take time to do autogenic training every day for example. I also know the feeling when the battery is empty. Then it even takes strength – as paradoxical as it sounds – to pick yourself up to relax. But it is worth it!
Try as often as possible to do active relaxation exercises, such as breathing, meditating, etc. to integrate into your everyday life. For example, I received this CD as a gift from my mother-in-law a few years ago and the exercises still help me so well when I’m stressed out. There are also super many freebies online, meditation videos, podcasts or yoga flows for example (this is a favorite YouTuber of mine).
3. Tip: never overeat
As with losing weight, when gaining weight in a healthy way, it is important to learn which foods and recipes do you good. At the same time, your thoughts should not permanently revolve around food. Because this leads again to stress (see tip 2). To achieve this balance between conscious nutrition and relaxation, you need to give yourself some time.
If you know your calorie needs (see tip 1), it’s important not to compulsively stuff yourself with large, high-calorie meals and then have abdominal pain, nausea or bloating afterwards. Gaining weight healthily means slowly getting used to an increased calorie intake. You’re more likely to eat for pleasure by eating lots of smaller meals (see tip 4), which you can then spice up with healthy calories (see tip 5). You should also always have healthy snacks in your bag (see tip 6).
4. Tip: rather eat 5 small meals instead of 3 big meals a day
In order not to overload your digestive tract, it is good to eat more often and in smaller portions. This can be, for example, breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and a good night snack.
While many people skip meals in the evening, especially carbohydrates, if you’re underweight, it’s actually very beneficial to eat a few more potatoes, a bowl of (gluten-free) pasta, oatmeal or a slice of whole grain bread in the evening (two hours before bedtime). Because the body also consumes energy while sleeping. You should avoid fatty, heavy food of course, also raw food does not tolerate everyone.
5. Tip: Calorie-rich and healthy weight gain: How to spice up your food
There is a list of foods that are both healthy and high in calories. These include:
- Peanut butter (also very rich in protein)
- Almond paste
- Dark chocolate (which contains little to no sugar)
- high-quality, native vegetable oils such as olive oil and linseed oil
You also automatically eat more calories when you combine these foods in a delicious way.