Want to gain a little weight, but concerned about making dietary changes
May 26, 2014 6:48 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to gain ~7-8 pounds to return to a weight that I find more comfortable for me - a weight I haven't been at since I was in college. I'm totally healthy, all blood work is normal, and I eat about average amounts for someone of my overall build and age (I'm a 27-year old female). I definitely still have an appetite and occasionally even eat quite a lot. I have a feeling my current weight is what my body is comfortable with right now, but I feel I don't quite look my best. The thing is, I know I would need to eat what most people would consider *excessive* amounts of calories to reach my goal. And I'm worried that if I upped my calories too much, I'd get used to overeating and eventually gain too much. Keeping in mind that I'm a healthy person, what should I do? Should I wait for my metabolism to slow down naturally and not even try gaining weight?

BTW, my diet is mostly vegetarian, with some fish. I eat a fair amount of vegetables, a reasonable (not large) amount of grains, incorporate dairy, and very occasionally indulge in sweets as a treat. Definitely not a health nut, just a healthier than average diet.
posted by Tess to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you exercise? I have some trouble weighing as much as I want to in general, but whenever I exercise regularly I always manage to gain some weight (I think it's a little bit from muscle and a little bit from I eat more when I exercise).
posted by brainmouse at 6:51 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had luck adding some healthy fats (maybe some olive oil in your cooking, nuts, etc) and increase your healthy carbs like quinoa or brown rice. Mix some into your salads and whatnot. It's pretty much calories in versus calories out so maybe replace some lower calorie options with some higher calorie ones.

Source: I have a crazy high metabolism, and since cutting out some foods because of intolerances I need to make sure I'm still getting enough calories and fats. I have kept my weight on and gained a pound or two.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:53 PM on May 26, 2014

Exercise and weightlifting followed by protein shakes (whey protein blended with milk). I gained about that much weight in a good way after cardio and weights two to three times a week for two hours each time. Studies show drinking the shakes within 30 minutes of exercise helps to build muscle. Plus I think I eat more, again in a good way, when I'm fit.

I'm fully vegetarian. Biochem whey protein is my favorite. You can have a protein shake in the morning too. Calories consumed in beverages tend to not be as noticed by the body, and milk and flavored whey protein is not a bad way to get some additional calories.
posted by vegartanipla at 6:56 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

yeah, I am a male in my thirties, but pretty much the only way for me to gain weight is to exercise, specifically to lift weights.

Re protein: whey is best, and you need less than commonly supposed to make a difference.

Also, pre-emptively, some women I know worry about "bulking up" from doing weights. Trust me, if it was that easy to turn into a hulking gorilla by accident, steroids would not be so popular with young men. Gaining muscle is hard, and you can work out quite a lot without being at all bulky or ripped, specially if you do high reps (ie sets of 15 reps or over).
posted by smoke at 7:13 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Gaining weight should be much like losing it--if you're seeing visible change within a week, you're probably not doing anything sustainable. You're absolutely right that binging until you hit your goal and then expecting to go back to a relatively restrictive diet is going to go well. I mean, possibly restrictive in a good way, but I don't think I'd call this "average" if you can stand to gain a few pounds, and while two weeks of eating terribly might give you the pounds you want, don't. Just relaxing your current eating habits a small amount will have the desired effect over time.
posted by Sequence at 7:32 PM on May 26, 2014

Also, pre-emptively, some women I know worry about "bulking up" from doing weights.

To be fair, my arms and upper legs are decidedly larger - with muscle - than they were when I never exercised. Enough that I now consciously seek out clothing that has sufficient shoulder/armpit and thigh muscle clearance because despite fitting in the torso/waist/pelvis, some styles and brands just don't fit in those places anymore. But it's true that my body doesn't look that much larger/more muscular in repose - it's only when using the muscles or flexing that they really stand out. And I very much prefer my body when it's strong and healthy.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:53 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've put on 3-4 kilos lifting weights. I'm overweight to begin with, or normal/overweight, depending on time of the month, but that weight gain gets read as loss by the people around me because of the way my shape is changing. So if you're keen on changing the look of your body, weight-training may not have the results you want.

(it's fucking awesome though).
posted by geek anachronism at 8:59 PM on May 26, 2014

Eat carbs before bed?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:05 PM on May 26, 2014

As a woman who has also sought to gain a little weight to feel more "right-sized," I'll second the advice to add some fat to your diet.
posted by desuetude at 9:48 PM on May 26, 2014

Add one extra 'snack' meal to your diet. Then, when you are at your stable weight, cut it out.

I suggest a dessert portion after dinner. I was starting to gain some weight just from a large portion of icecream each night (and a tummyache - that was actually why I stopped). Switched to a tiny bowl, back at stable weight.
posted by Elysum at 9:59 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't listen to anything that would require you to re-prioritize eating within your life. Its going to require more effort than you seem to want to exert to this.

So I say if you are still looking for a change, and aren't bothered by doing it in a less efficient, but more successful way, then I say just eat.

Eat that whatever you ate. Oh, do you see that piece of chocolate cake? Yeah, someone with your disciplined eating style can handle a piece now and then. Maybe even a piece every day. Yeah' that'll get you 8 pounds.

I am so crazy jealous of you, now live it up. Mangez bien!
posted by hal_c_on at 11:05 PM on May 26, 2014

I'm a little bit younger than you and in the same position. I naturally gained a few kilos post-University but in the past year and a half that has dropped away and I'm under my ideal weight. In the past month I lost two kg, and I now attribute that to cutting back on eating out (to save money). The fatty oils etc they must have been using was enough to act as a barrier to stop me from losing any further weight. Once I started cooking more at home, that dropped away. Potentially eating out a bit more shouldn't alter your overall diet much and may be enough to gain that extra little bit.

I tried snacking on chocolate etc, back when I was younger to force the weight gain, and found it just made me kind of queasy.

My other hope is that my my metabolism should slow down as I hit my late twenties and the issue will take care of itself.
posted by liquorice at 4:26 PM on May 27, 2014

I would not listen to recommendations that say "just eat anything" or "add crap food just because you can get away with it." That's a recipe for upset stomach and such. Unhealthy food is unhealthy at whatever intake level and should still be had in moderation to your comfort level.

nthing healthy fats like nuts, an avocado everyday (try in smoothies with full fat coconut cream and frozen fruit), healthy oils on salads and in vegetable cooking and an extra drizzle during eating. I would probably up carbs as well because I know that's how *I* pack on weight, which is not desired. Toast with peanut butter and bananas are one of my favorite breakfasts or snacks, which I have very sparingly.
posted by rawralphadawg at 6:29 PM on May 27, 2014

Some good suggestions here. I think it's probably right that I need to eat BOTH more carbs and more fats. I'm not a bread-lover, so I'm going to try to incorporate bread into 2 meals every day and see how it goes.
posted by Tess at 1:49 PM on June 15, 2014

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