Sip Kitchen

Gaining Weight for Health

September 17, 2020

Gaining Weight for Health

Most information around nutrition focusses on weight-loss, but some people need to gain weight, sometimes very quickly, for various medical reasons, such as leading into cancer treatments or recovering from eating disorders. We’ve had a few questions around this lately, especially in relation to a whole-food low-carb diet so we thought we’d look at a few things you can do to help gain weight while on this type of diet.

To gain weight quickly, you need to take in ~500-700+ calories more per day than you normally would which can be difficult for some people. This doesn’t mean go out and eat cakes and fried food, it means focussing on how you can get in more energy dense foods to help with weight gain as well as nutrient dense foods to help support your body’s recovery.

Some easy ways that you can add calories to your day to help gain weight include:

  1. Add more oils to your diet – Oils are high in fat, are calorie dense and are easy to add to meals. Just 20ml of olive oil will add 160 calories to a meal or snack. Some good oils include extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and MCT oil. To add in more oils just add more coconut oil to your pan when cooking, drizzle a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over a meal or add MCT oil (or cream) to your coffee.
  2. Introduce smoothies as a snack between meals - This is a great way to get in more nutrient-dense calories. Add in creatine, collagen or MCT oil to bump up the calories and add in some greens powder to bump up the nutrients (Good Green Stuff by Nuzest is a good option).
  3. Limit starchy vegetables at meals – Eating starchy, fibre rich vegetables will make you feel fuller faster. Aim to get greens through fresh herbs, sprouts, micro-greens and greens powders or juices instead of fibrous vegetables.
  4. Increase your intake of oily/fatty fish – The extra fat contains more calories and is a great source of essential omega-3 fats. Some good choices include: anchovies, mackerel, salmon and sardines.
  5. Eat fattier cuts of meat – Changing from eating only lean proteins, such as chicken, to fattier proteins is another way to get in more calories. Swap the occasional serving of extra lean ground beef or chicken breast for fattier cuts/varieties of meat such as lamb. Adding bone broths to soups is another great way to add in more calories as well.
  6. Eat nuts – Nuts are a whole food that are also very high in fat and are energy dense. It’s also really easy to eat large amounts of nuts. Snacking on nuts or nut butters every day can increase the total number of calories more than expected, helping with weight gain.
  7. Eat eggs - Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense, high-fat foods that you can consume. They are high in fat, protein, vitamins and minerals and very versatile so it is easy to prepare them in different ways so that you don’t get sick of them. It’s also easy to boil a few eggs before leaving the house to have on hand as a healthy energy-dense snack.
  8. Consume whole-fat dairy - Dairy-based foods are great for weight gain because they are both nutritious and energy-dense. Cheese, Greek yogurt, whole milk are easy options to add into the diet. You could try swapping one of your glasses of water for full fat dairy milk (or coconut milk).
  9. Eat more frequently - Have healthy high-fat snacks on hand such as nuts, eggs or dark chocolate.

 Not only will these foods help you gain weight, a lot of them are also nutrient-dense. The most common mistake people make when trying to gain weight is simply not eating enough of the right foods. Track your progress, adjust as needed and remember that sleep and stress can also play important roles and should also be emphasized for healthy weight gain.