If you are one of the people who are currently trying to gain weight, you know how hard it can be. I’m sure you, like many others in your shoes, feel that you can use all the help that you can get.
When trying to gain weight, it’s all about the small things. The details on the small, everyday choices you make. Sometimes just changing one or two day to day things can really make the difference between no results, and significant weight gain.
1. Eat enough calories. When trying to gain weight, you have to eat enough! Set goals for how many calories to eat (more on that in #9, 10, & 11), and make sure you are hitting your goal each day.
2. Eat a lot of complex and simple carbs. You can eat more carbs before getting full than you can other types of food (like proteins). So, carbs are the best type of food to eat when you are trying to gain weight. Focus on eating more carbs (breads, pastas, cereal, starchy fruits & veggies (bananas, potatoes, beans, etc), bagels, etc).
3. Don’t fill up on proteins. Protein is very filling, so you can’t eat as much of it. When trying to gain weight, try to limit your protein intake and focus on eating more carbs.
4. Don’t be afraid of fats. When you’re trying to gain weight, fat is your friend! Fats are the most concentrated source of calories. For the long term, people generally want to limit saturated fats. But when trying to gain weight, eating a lot of saturated and unsaturated fats will allow you to take in the most calories, helping you to gain the most weight possible.
5. Eat quickly. You will be able to eat more that way. The quicker you eat, the more you can get in before your brain realizes that you’re full. So, eat quickly.
6. Eat lots of snacks. Eating high calorie snacks throughout the day can help supplement your caloric intake and make sure you are eating enough to be able to gain weight.
7. Have dessert with every meal. Who doesn’t love dessert? We all know what it feels like to think we’re completely full...but then suddenly have room open up when someone offers us dessert. Eat as much as you can at dinner. And then reward yourself with dessert. This will help keep you excited about food, as well as helping you to take in additional calories with each meal.
8. Limit excessive activity. When trying to gain weight, you don’t want your body to burn all of the calories that you are eating. So, limit excessive activity. If you feel you must exercise, make sure you increase your caloric intake to compensate for those extra burned calories.
9. Figure out what your BMR is. BMR stands for your “basal metabolic rate.” Use an online BMR calculator to figure out what your specific BMR is. This number is the number of calories your body burns each day at complete rest.
10. Know what your specific daily caloric needs are. Once you know how many calories your body burns at complete rest, you need to make sure to eat more than that. Many of the online BMR tools will factor in your activity level, and will tell you how many calories your body burns with your specific lifestyle. Make sure you are eating more calories than your body is burning each day.
11. Track your calories. Make sure you are taking in more than you are burning. To gain weight, you must be taking in more calories than you are burning. So it’s not good enough just to know how many calories you should be eating. You need to track your calories so you know that you are actually eating enough.
12. Drink high-calorie drinks. Drinks high in sugar can be a great help when you’re trying to gain weight. In between meals (and with meals if it doesn’t fill you up too much), drink high calorie drinks. Drinks such as sodas, milk, and juice are great options for you when you’re trying to gain weight.
13. Eat right before you go to bed. Your body continues to burn calories while you sleep. So, don’t let your body undo all your hard work! Eat a meal or large snack right before going to bed.
14. Create & follow a meal plan. Plan your meals in advance so you’re never stuck without anything to eat. Making a meal plan will help you make sure you are getting enough calories in each day. If you have a meal plan created beforehand, this takes the guesswork out of it when you are busy. At the beginning of each week, create a meal plan for the entire week. Include all of your meals, desserts and snacks. Make sure you have all the foods on hand that you will need for the week.
15. Keep track of your progress. When you are looking in the mirror each day, it is hard to see the progress you are making. So, track your progress. Keep track of your weight at the beginning, and each week. That way you can have something to reference and see that you are making progress! It’s also a good idea to take pictures of yourself at the beginning, and during the process. This gives you the opportunity to actually see the results.
16. Remember your goals. It is easy to get discouraged when you are trying to gain weight. On top of keeping track of your progress, also don’t forget your goals. Write down the reasons why you are wanting to gain weight. When you find yourself feeling frustrated, remember the why’s and that will make it easier for you to work on the hows.
17. No distractions while eating! As stated in #5, if you eat quickly you will be able to eat more before feeling full and having to stop. Any distractions that you have while eating will slow you down, causing you to eat less. So, while eating limit distractions. No talking on the phone, texting, chatting with friends, etc while eating.
18. Go to the grocery store! Stock up with foods that you like, and foods that are easy to prepare. Make sure you always have access to enough food. Spend some time at the grocery store each week, stocking up on foods that you like.
19. Have at least one snack between each meal. Like #6 says, eating snacks throughout the day can be very helpful. But sometimes it is hard to remember to eat snacks, especially when you’re busy. So, at a minimum, make sure you have a snack in between each meal.
20. Find a friend or join a support group. Just like with anything else, it’s easier to reach your weight gain goals if you have support. Find a friend that has similar goals as you, and take the journey together. Or, join a weight gain support group. If there isn’t one in your area, create one. It’s always nice to have someone else who understands your goals to support you, get excited for your accomplishments, and keep you accountable.
21. Join a couple FaceBook or Google Plus weight gain groups. If there isn’t a support group in your area, and there aren’t enough people for you to create one (or you just don’t want to), and online group can have the same benefits. There are several different weight gain groups online. Joining one of these groups can help give you that support and accountability that we all need. They are also a great place to get ideas on meal plans, schedules, products to try, etc.
22. Take a weight gainer. Weight gainers can drastically increase the results you see. Weight gainers help to increase your appetite (helps you to eat more), and slow your metabolism (so your body doesn’t burn calories as quickly).
23. If you need help figuring out which foods will help you gain weight, see a nutritionist. You might not know which types of foods you should be eating when you’re trying to gain weight. If this is the case, a nutritionist can be very helpful to you. Nutritionists know all about foods and how they affect your body, so they can be a great resource when you’re trying to figure all of this out.
24. Look up weight gaining meal plans online. Like #14 says, creating and following a meal plan can help you make sure that you’re eating enough every day. A nutritionist can help you with this. If you don’t want to spend the money on a nutritionist, but you still need some help figuring out what foods to eat, then online meal plans can be a huge help. There are dozens of meal plans that you can find online that are structured specifically for gaining weight.
25. Don’t weigh yourself every day. If you weigh yourself every day, you are seeing the numbers go up very slowly. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re seeing such small results. Instead, weigh yourself only once a week. This will allow you to track your results and make adjustments when necessary. But it will help you see larger increases, that can help you stay excited and motivated.
26. When you do weigh yourself, do it in the morning. Weighing yourself in the morning allows you to see the true results, with no other factors coming into play. Your weight can fluctuate throughout the day. First thing in the morning you don’t have to worry as much about water weight, or your recent huge meal altering the scale.
27. Keep snacks with you at all times. Again, eating snacks throughout the day can really help you with your weight gain goals. But you never know when an opportunity to eat will come up. You never know when you will feel hungry, or when you’ll have some down time. So, have ready to eat snacks with you at all times. Keep snacks in your purse, backpack, car, office, etc. That way, whenever you have the inkling for a snack you will have one available.
28. Find a picture of someone that looks similar to your goal. Look at that picture every day to remind you of your goal. We already discussed that setting your weight gain goals is very helpful. But what are those goals specifically? And what exactly do those goals look like? It’s a lot harder to visualize what a number will look like. But if you find a picture(s) of someone who looks the way you want to look, that can help you to stay motivated.
29. Ask yourself throughout the day: “can I eat more?” If the answer is yes, then do. If you aren’t constantly asking yourself if you can eat, you might not realize that you can. After every meal, don’t just stop when the plate is empty. Ask yourself at the end of the meal, “do I have room for more?” If you do, then load the plate up again. Also ask yourself this throughout the day. If you feel like you can eat, then do.
30. Keep a food log. Tracking your goals and progress isn’t the only thing you should be tracking. You should also track the foods you are eating. This helps in three ways: First, it helps with meal planning. It is a lot easier to plan meals when you are able to look back on what you’ve made before. Second, it helps you make sure you are meeting your caloric needs each day. Third, it helps you remember what foods you enjoyed, what foods filled you up too quickly, etc.
31. Set a timer. A missed meal or snack is a missed opportunity to help yourself gain weight. Make sure that you never miss a meal. Keep a timer with you (the alarm on your cell phone is great), and set that alarm/timer for each meal and snack of the day. Plan your meals for realistic times that you know you will be able to eat. When the timer goes off, it’s time to eat!
32. Eat until you’re full. And then eat a little bit more. Usually when we think we’re full, there’s still a little bit of room left in there. Eat until you feel full. Then eat another serving. Even if your brain thinks you’re full, odds are you still have the ability to eat at least a little bit more. Every extra calorie you eat is a calorie that your body can’t burn. Those extra calories really add up, helping you to add on weight. If you can’t bear the thought of eating another bite, then try eating some dessert. There’s always room for dessert!
33. If you have a large enough appetite, take weight gainer shakes. Weight gainer shakes can be very filling, so if you don’t have a very large appetite than it’s more beneficial to fill up on foods like carbohydrates than it is to take weight gainer shakes. But, if you have a large enough appetite, weight gainer shakes are an easy way to get in additional calories.
34. Make sure you don’t have a nutrient deficiency. If you feel you are eating a lot, and you still aren’t gaining any weight, there’s a small chance you could have a nutrient deficiency. Many nutrient deficiencies can cause a loss of appetite (as well as numerous other health issues). So, if you have tried everything else and you still have a low appetite or you aren’t gaining weight, it might be a good idea to meet with a doctor and make sure your health is on par.
35. Eat 3 large meals a day. Don’t forget the basics! As important as snacks are when trying to gain weight, you have to make sure to be getting in 3 large meals every day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and a meal right before bed) are essential when trying to put on pounds. Eat as much as you can at every meal. More carbs and fats, less protein.
36. Never skip a meal. Don’t let a busy schedule, an empty fridge, or a small appetite get in your way of reaching your goals! Never, ever skip a meal. Use the other tips above (meal planning, stocking your fridge, setting a timer, etc) to make sure that you never end up skipping a meal.
37. Eat junk food, at least for now. Again, it is ok to eat fats, even saturated fats, when you are trying to gain weight. Most people shy away from “junk food” (processed food, soda, fast food, etc) because it causes weight gain. For people who are struggling to gain weight, “junk food” is not junk at all...it is exactly what you need!
38. Don’t do cardio and calorie burning activities as part of your workout. Again, weight gain=calories in-calories out. If you burn more calories than you take in, you won’t gain weight. Keep it calm, don’t overdo it with exercise.
39. Resistance training as your only form of exercise. If you want to work out, do resistance training. This won’t burn as many calories as cardio exercises. If you want to work out while you are trying to gain weight, resistance training can help you gain muscle while not burning too many calories.
40. If you’re trying to put on muscle, enlist the help of a personal trainer. You have to be careful when trying to build muscle, because you can also end up burning a lot of calories in the process. A personal trainer can help you come up with an exercise regimen that will help you build muscle, while avoiding the types of exercises that will burn too many calories.
41. If you’re gaining less than 1 pound a week, make adjustments. When trying to gain weight, 1-2 pounds a week is a good amount to work towards. If you are doing all of the usual weight gain techniques, you should be able to gain at least 1 pound a week. Gaining less than 1 pound a week can cause you to get discouraged because you are not seeing results. If you are gaining less than 1 pound a week, start incorporating some of the tips in this list that you might not already be doing (see a nutritionist, take a weight gainer, focus on carbs and fats, limit proteins, etc).
42. If you’re gaining more than 2 pounds a week, make adjustments. Gaining weight too quickly can cause undesired side effects (stretch marks, long term health issues, etc). If you find yourself gaining more than 2 pounds a week, tone it down a bit. There is plenty of time to meet your goals while doing it safely.
43. Use others’ comments as motivation. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see results and progress. Listen to others when they tell you you look good! On the other hand, some people like to say rude things. If you hear words like “anorexic,” “weakling,” “you need to eat more,” etc coming out of people’s mouths, understand that this comes from ignorance and insecurities on their end. But also use it as motivation! Sometimes others’ negative comments can be just the motivation you need to keep working. Don’t let others’ comments get to you and get you discouraged; but do use them as motivation.
44. Read success stories. Sometimes you just need to know that what you are trying to do is possible. You need to know that you’re not the only one out there who is trying to accomplish this, and that there are others who have been able to do it. Read others’ success stories to remind yourself that it is absolutely possible! Read their stories and use them as motivation, and to find tips on what they did to accomplish their goals.
45. Think of a good reward. When you’re in the middle of gaining weight, sometimes just the weight isn’t motivation enough. You might need just a little extra something. Think of a reward that will help keep you going when it gets hard. Whether it’s something as simple as a new pair of shoes, or a night out with friends, or something extravagant like a laptop or trip, find something that will help keep you motivated. Something that, when it gets hard and you get discouraged, will help you want to get to the end.
46. Buy a new outfit. Don’t punish yourself for not being at your ideal weight yet. Buy a new outfit that fits you now. Feeling great about how you look will help you understand how it feels to feel good about yourself, and will help you get motivated to work harder to look and feel even better. After you’ve bought a new outfit that fits you now, buy one that will only fit you when you’ve reached your goal. It can help give you that extra motivation you just might need when it gets hard. This works for guys too...we all want to look our best, so find something that you can look forward to looking great in.
47. Focus on small wins. If you have a lot of weight you want to gain, the task can seem a bit daunting at times. So, while you’re working towards and remembering your main goal, focus on small wins. When you gain your first 5 pounds, give yourself a pat on the back...that’s progress! Set up small goals you can attain along the way to your end goal. Then, reward yourself for the progress you are making along the way. Remember that every step toward your goal is a good one.
48. Once you’ve gained it, maintain it. After putting all that work in, you don’t want to go back to where you were. For you, staying at your goal weight might take a few lifestyle changes. And that’s ok. A few changes are worth how great you’ll feel at your ideal weight. Understand that maintaining your goal weight is a lot easier than reaching it in the first place (or again if you allow yourself to lose all the weight you’ve gained). So, continue to meal plan, track your calories, eat carbs, etc so that you can continue to have the benefits of being at your best weight.
49. Don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect, especially when we are working hard towards a big goal. If you make mistakes, have setbacks, or aren’t making progress as quickly as you’d like, don’t beat yourself up! Doing that will only discourage you and cause you to lose track even more. If you have a setback, just get back on the horse and start again. As long as you’re always willing to try again, you are not a failure.
50. Stay motivated! You know what will motivate you better than anyone else. Find what motivates you and stick with it!