How do I gain weight(fat) while remaining healthy?
September 10, 2005 10:31 AM   Subscribe

How do I gain weight(fat) while remaining healthy?

I went to a program this summer where I was eating very regularly, very much, and walking a mile or two a day (significantly more than my normal amount of activity).

I lost 10 pounds, and I was skinny before the summer began (I had a stomach flu and lost 5 pounds there and didn't get it back before the summer began). So now I'm too damned skinny[i.e., I'm colder than I was, and I get lightheaded when I skip a meal unlike before, and I'd rather look a little more flabby and a little less starving kid], and I got tested for everything from west nile virus to lyme disease to tapeworms, and got nothing that the doctor can find. She's recommended I wait a month or two and see if I return to my normal weight.

So I'm trying to gain my weight back for health reasons, and after seeing Supersize Me, I'm guessing that lots of crap food could up my weight but not do a great job with bettering my health. How do I give myself a little 10 lb cushion o' flab to keep me warm in the winter without hurting my health?

(Muscle is good too, but I guess I'm mostly talking about fat here)
posted by sdis to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Haagen Dazs has always worked like a charm for me, sadly.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:48 AM on September 10, 2005

I get the same issue sometimes. Little body + flying metabolism = unexpected weight loss when not eating well. (This makes my other lady friends hate me, but that's a different issue.)

Fat can be added in small increments, in a variety of ways to boost calorie consumption, and it won't seem so daunting as a complete change in diet.

Examples: Like coffee? Use heavy cream instead of half and half. Get lattes made with whole milk instead of 2%, or (if you can stand it), half and half.

Cooking? Use butter instead of olive oil when frying something. In soups, salads, sandwiches, throw in some extra cheese or meat. When cooking meat, get the more marbled cuts of beef and pork instead of the lean ones, more fat there. With chicken, eat that skin! Eggs are also good for this, I'll put them in salads and soups often.

Snacks: Cheese, nuts, jerky make for great snacks, and aren't as lean as other snacks out there. Peanut butter is also great for this.

Takeout: I often get pizza with a lot of veggies as toppings. So it's fairly healthy, yet still has a bit of decadent grease.

See if your doctor can refer you to a nutritionist, where you can work on gaining weight in healthy ways without resorting to junk food or constant meatbomb pizzas.

Here are more, similar tips on gaining weight.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:50 AM on September 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

whey protein
posted by matteo at 10:52 AM on September 10, 2005

Eat something with both carbs and fat, like pizza or french fries or ice cream or Doritos.
posted by kindall at 11:12 AM on September 10, 2005

I've always tended towards being a beanpole -- I'm almost 5'10", and for most of my adult life I weighed about 125 lbs., and was down to less than 115 (!) after I had jaw surgery. After my initial surgery recovery, I decided I didn't just want to gain 10 lbs. back to get to my old skinny weight, but instead wanted to gain at least 20 in order to get up to 135. I've always eaten anything and everything I wanted, and that never helped me gain much weight, so the number one thing I did was start weight training 2-3 times a week for the past 6 months. I was surprised by how much weight I gained with even just a little bit of muscle -- I got back to my "starting" weight of 125 within a few weeks, and hit my goal of 135 within another couple of months.

Having said that, of course you want to take in extra calories. For health's sake, go for nutrient-rich, calorie-dense foods. Snack on things like dried fruits, nuts, and crackers with cheese (or peanut butter). You can also try out the various healthy protein/snack bars out there -- I love Larabars, which are mostly dried fruits/nuts, and have lots of fiber.

I also love dairy (and I luckily have low cholesterol), so while I was packing the weight back on I ate a lot of smoothies/shakes made with full-fat ice cream or yogurt and milk (or even cream), plus frozen fruits and chocolate syrup or a packet of Carnation instant breakfast powder. These days I don't make as many smoothies, but a common breakfast for me now is (full-fat) Greek yogurt with honey and fresh raspberries or blueberries.

Meal-wise, I also combined dairy with protein & fiber -- the first meal I ate when they unwired my jaw, for example, was chili with plenty of sour cream, cheddar cheese, and avocado on top. Sauces are a great way to put extra calories into a meal -- my fall-back easy dinner these days is a quasi-chicken dijon (basically white wine, cream, dijon mustard, and tarragon) with mushrooms (sauteed in butter) and a green veg on the side. Baked or mashed potatoes on the side are good, too, with lots of butter and sour cream.
posted by scody at 11:13 AM on September 10, 2005

Lots of protein, whole grains, good fats (nuts, avocado, etc). Just eat quantity. Eat steadily throughout the day, and keep stuff like small yogurts, nuts, cereal, wholegrain bread/bagels w/ creamcheese, etc around. You'll get the carbs you need with all those.

As said above, peanut butter is great on bread/etc.

Add a bit of a weight workout to your routine. This is somewhat more geared to bulking instead of just gaining weight, and to my mind, its better to be putting weight in both muscle & fat than just fat.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2005

Weight Gainers
posted by blue_beetle at 11:50 AM on September 10, 2005

Eat lots of burrito's and lift weights twice a week. Eat when you are hungry, and eat what you crave.
posted by joshgray at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2005

Eat more. Eat stuff that's very dense in calories (say, fatty things). Continue to do exercise, but make it of the less-aerobic variety. Ideally, that should help you gain a healthy proportion of fat and muscle.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:39 PM on September 10, 2005

I'm not sure if "bad" foods are really "bad" if you're actually trying to gain weight. Supersize me is a bit of stretch, since most people will get bored with one type of food if they get too much of it (like mcdonalds). I remember when I was a high school student, I managed to get my hands of a very nice income for a highschooler and started going to McD's every day, I got sick of it in like a week.

Eat whatever you like, just eat more of it, and try to work out to keep your energy up. Lifting weights is a good idea, because you'll build muscle rather then fat. Muscle feels a lot better on your body then fat, IMO.

And yeah, as others said, balance carbs and fat. Your body will burn the carbs, and store the fat.
posted by delmoi at 1:08 PM on September 10, 2005

I too have a very lean physique and an overactive metabolism. I've been trying to gain weight (albeit, muscle without an increase in body fat%) and successfully gained 15 pounds since New Years, then hit a wall at 145 lbs.

My problem was/is that I just. can't. eat. enough. so my stomache essentially caps the number of calories that I can consume each day. I've started drinking a whey-based shake (ala matteo's suggestion) about a month ago to supplement my breakfast and I *think* that I'm starting to inch past the 145 mark.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2005

I'm in totally the same position, I'm trying to gain about 10 lbs, and I'm about half way there. For me, I had to change my eating habits and start eating more in between meals. I can't sit at lunch and eat a huge meal, I get too full and get stomach aches when I eat to much at one time. But now I keep stuff like cheese and crackers or trail mix with lots of nuts around, and just eat snacks throughout the day. That way I can keep up the calories without having to eat a lot at one time.
posted by orangskye at 1:37 PM on September 10, 2005

Oh, and I also started eating more of what my grandmother used to cook: chicken & dumplings, pot roast & potatoes, beef stroganoff or beef burgandy, etc. with big green salads (plus creamy dressing) on the side. Comforting and caloric! Plus you get leftovers that usually taste even better the next day.
posted by scody at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2005

OK, now I'm officially hungry
posted by matteo at 2:12 PM on September 10, 2005

Man, if only there was a drug that could induce the complementary vices of gluttony and idleness.
posted by ryanrs at 4:43 PM on September 10, 2005

This book is awesome for all things nutrition. It has a section on gaining weight healthfully--basically, eat lots of calorie-rich, nutrient-rich food, and make sure you get three meals a day with lots of snacks in between.

A summary of some of her suggestions:

Granola instead of corn flakes, fruit juices instead of water, dried fruits, bananas, peanut-butter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, whole-grain hearty breads (rye, pumpernickle, whole-wheat), lots of beans legumes, and dense grains, squash, beets, add nuts and cheese to salads, potatoes potatoes potatoes, nuts nuts nuts.
posted by schroedinger at 6:03 PM on September 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

I know that Ensure products are often suggested for patients who need help gaining healthy weight (and is very frequently given to chemotherapy/radiation patients when the treatments strip them of appetite); Ensure also just came out with a line of products (shakes and health bars - which I am taking and are both fairly tasty) for pregnant/breastfeeding mothers to help provide essential nutrients and assist with weight gain/maintenance. If I have a drink and a bar right before bed, that gives me an extra 275 calories for the day - and they're pretty little, so they won't make you feel totally gorged. Since the products can get a little pricey, I'm also trying out the (slightly less expensive) Pria energy drink (by the Powerbar people).
posted by roundrock at 7:32 PM on September 10, 2005

I would say that instead of focusing on just gaining fat, how about muscle and muscle tone? Muscle is more dense, and will make it easier for your body to add fat for stores. So, do some body building, and throw some protein in your diet in addition to your carbs and fats.

More Info
posted by id at 2:56 AM on September 11, 2005

How about drinking a couple of pints of Guinness every evening till you hit your desired weight? If you don't like the bitter taste of Guinness, there are plenty of other stouts out there like Murphy's which might suit your palate better.
posted by PurpleJack at 3:48 AM on September 11, 2005

The high-protein, high-fiber diets recommended in this thread are disturbingly similar to the regimen that I have used to lose weight.
posted by bingo at 7:01 AM on September 11, 2005

Great book I just got and am going through. Scrawny to Brawny
posted by striker at 10:10 AM on September 11, 2005

Yeah, I second the Guinness suggestion. Not only is the malt chock full of calories, but alcohol itself is full of calories, and it also slows your metabolism.

Ice cream and pasta are pretty sure winners, too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:05 AM on September 11, 2005

I have no idea why anyone would reccommend upping protein to gain weight. Assuming you're eating enough protein to begin with, it tends to fill you up, not fill you out. I have no idea what your personal metabolism is like, but if I needed to gain weight for some strange reason I would eat a lot of milkshakes. High calorie, high fat, high sugar, they'll go straight to your scrawny butt. Also, trail mix. Yum.
BTW, if you want that weight gain to be muscle, you want to eat a *lot* more, and lift some heavy weights. You'll gain fat and muscle at the same time. Get a bit heavier than you want to be, then go back to your more normal eating schedule making sure to get plenty of protein. That'll help you lose the fat you gained without losing the muscle.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:02 PM on September 11, 2005

Hey, someone asking the question I was going to!


So I drink way too much orange juice, eat way too much pasta, and try to cram my stomach as much as possible. And I just found out my life insurance has doubled because I'm underweight.

Thanks for the tips, all. I think I'll have to keep trail mix next to my desk and see how that goes.
posted by jragon at 5:16 PM on March 11, 2006

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