If you are looking to put on a few pounds in a healthy and controlled way but don’t know how to do it or what to eat, you’re in the right place. It is important to understand that there is a difference between “getting fat” and “gaining weight.”
- Gaining weight specifically refers to increasing fat mass.
- Gaining weight refers to a broader concept that includes not only the increase in fat mass but also the increase in lean mass, on which you should focus more.
In this article, we’ll explore the distinction between gaining weight and losing weight and give you practical advice for gaining weight in a healthy and balanced way, with a focus on what to eat.
How Do You Gain Weight And Keep It Off?
Let’s start with a key concept: to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than your body burns daily. This creates a calorie surplus that is essential for weight gain. Therefore, a high-calorie diet, continued for a more or less long period, depending on your needs, will lead to weight gain. However, it is important to focus attention on the starting body composition. For example, on the outside, you are thin, but your body fat percentage is higher than it seems.
This is primarily due to a lack of muscle tone along with an uneven distribution of body fat. In this case, it is advisable to work on increasing lean muscle mass while limiting the increase in fat mass. If, however, you have sub-physiological fat mass percentages, it will be advisable to also increase the fat mass to more suitable and healthy values. The average values are 15% for men and 25% for women. A good amount of lean mass is, in fact, associated with better metabolic health and is an important goal for improving your physical fitness.
What To Eat To Gain Weight
To gain weight healthily, it is essential to focus on a balanced, high-calorie diet that provides a sufficient amount of calories but also important nutrients and micronutrients. You can do this by choosing nutritious and healthy foods to gain weight, including:
- Sources of carbohydrates: whole grains, legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, chestnuts, fruit, and vegetables, which also provide mineral salts and vitamins;
- Sources of protein: white meat, oily and fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna), Greek yogurt and dairy products, eggs, soy, and derivatives;
- Sources of healthy fats: dried fruit, seeds, EVO oil, avocado, peanut butter;
It is important to note that although a high-calorie diet leaves room for some extra whims and snacks, it is better to do so in a controlled and balanced way to avoid eating in an unbalanced way and finding yourself consuming many junk foods rich in empty calories. A good start is to plan 5–6 meals a day to eat more meals without feeling weighed down.
How To Gain Weight Fast
If your goal is to reach a higher body weight and maintain it over time, the adverb “quickly” is not for you! It takes time to gain weight. When you’re trying to gain weight, some of it will inevitably be body fat. To set up a high-calorie diet, the first step is to know your calorie needs. A value that you will have to increase by 10–15% gradually will allow you to provide your body with the energy necessary to build muscles and gain weight. A weight gain of approximately 200–300 g per week is considered a healthy pace.
This allows the body to adapt to the changes, reducing the risk of excessive accumulation of adipose tissue. To really build muscle mass, resistance training, such as weightlifting, is key. Physical activity helps stimulate muscle growth, contributing to healthy, well-balanced weight gain. If you are already very physically active, it is important to adjust your calorie intake to compensate for the calories burned during training by consulting a nutrition expert to obtain a nutritional plan suited to your needs. Finally, remember to maintain good body composition, which is essential for overall health.