Category: Diet & Nutrition

Weight Gain Diet and Nutrition

If you’re naturally thin, then a proper weight gain diet becomes absolutely crucial in your endeavor to gain healthy lean muscle mass, probably far more so than your weight training program. The purpose of this article is to outline the fundamentals of a good weight gain diet and then we’ll look at specifically what and when you could eat over a sample day.

First up, is something you’ve almost certainly heard before…

Consume More Calories

The only way to gain weight whether it’s fat or muscle, is to consume more energy than you expend. There is no escaping this basic law of human anatomy regardless of how many explanations you hear to the contrary. Admittedly some of us have faster metabolisms than others but that simply means that those who do need to eat even more again.

The basis of any weight gain diet should contain nutritious, high calorie foods. If you find to hard to put on weight then the greatest challenge you face is to consume enough energy without feeling full all the time. Don’t worry it can be done… quite easily!

So how many calories should you consume? Well, there’s probably a separate formula for everyone who asks the question. Some base it solely on your weight and age, others take lean mass into account and the most complicated have you recounting every bit of activity during a typical day…

There’s a short article at the bottom of this page that has some formulas for calculating your caloric needs. It also briefly explains basal metabolism and why it’s important.

To sum up, calorie counting isn’t much fun and this is not something you have to do long term. Once you establish a quantity of food and energy that maintains your ideal weight, you will know instinctively how much to eat each day.

Protein

The issue of how much protein we should consume incites fierce debate between Nutritionists, Bodybuilders and Sports Scientists alike. We’ll leave the debate for another article dedicated to the protein issue. For now…

Just know that Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 50g of protein per day for the average male adult and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 56g. But this is for the average sedentary Westerner…

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein intake is 0.8g per kg or 0.36g per lb of bodyweight. A 140lb person would need to consume about 51g to meet their RDA. Sports Scientists concede that athletes and bodybuilders need more than this and conservatively recommend up to 1.5g per kg or 0.7g per lb of bodyweight. However…

If you talk to the vast majority of bodybuilders they will advocate a much higher intake than this. And they have some convincing arguments. In fact although in the minority at the moment the anecdotal evidence from bodybuilders is being backed up by some credible research. According to many lifters, coaches and some sports nutritionists an ideal weight gain diet should contain up to 2g per kg or 0.9g per lb of protein. This might seem like a lot but don’t forget you are consuming more calories than the general population and those calories have to come from somewhere. Is it unhealthier that they come purely from carbohydrates or just from fat? It’s probably best it it comes form all three.

So why is protein important?

From a weight gain perspective protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20 in total and 8 essential amino acids must come from food. Weight training increases the demand for amino acids and will break existing muscle down if it does not get enough from a weight gain diet. Without adequate protein, and more specifically, amino acids muscle gain is unachievable.

Good sources of protein include fresh and canned fish, lean cuts of red meat, chicken, turkey, low fat milk and yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, egg whites, soy products and whey protein powder.

Carbohydrate

Any weight gain diet worth its salt will contain plenty of unrefined carbohydrates. Just because you’re increasing your protein intake does not mean you should omit or even limit your carbohydrate intake.

Carbohydrate, which is converted into glucose and glycogen in the body, is the only macronutrient that can supply your body with an immediate source of energy – essential for any type of training.

Good sources of carbohydrate for a weight gain diet include whole meal bread, potatoes, brown rice, pasta, couscous, fresh and tinned fruit and dried fruit.

Fat

Certain dietary fats are crucial to both your well being and your ability to gain weight. One gram of fat contains more than twice the number of calories than 1g or protein or 1g of carbohydrate. A tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil contains as many calories as a banana for example so it makes sense to incorporate good fats into your weight gain diet. What is good fat?

Without going into too much detail about how fat is subdivided, the fats you want to consume are monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and avocados, and polyunsaturated fats found in oily fish, flax, sunflower, safflower and cod liver oil and some raw nuts.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are what the health care professionals love to talk about. And with good reason. EFA’s also known as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated fats, particularly oily fish. As well as having a numerous health benefits they also play an important role in muscle building.

In short, a weight gain diet containing fish like mackerel, tuna and salmon (to name a few) or supplemented with a product like Flaxseed oil will not only help you build muscle but will keep you alive longer too.

Meal Frequency

Finally, forget about eating 3 large meals a day with a few snacks. The best approach to an effective weight gain diet is to eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. Separate them by 3 hours so your stomach has time to digest each meal fully. If your goal is to consume 3300Kcals a day I would eat 3 larger meals of about 700kcals and 3 smaller meals of about 400kcals. You will find an example in one of the articles below.

One last point before we wrap up. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. They are the richest source of vitamins and minerals (particularly antioxidants) and have both health and weight gain implications.

The elements above have the most influence of your level and rate of weight and muscle gain. There are other important factors we haven’t touched on such as vitamins and minerals, fiber, water, alcohol and cholesterol… all very important to your health.

Now that you have a good grounding of what an effective weight gain diet should incorporate you can use this article as a starting point for reaching your weight goals.

20 Weight Gain Shake Recipes

When you are on a weight gain diet a good way to consume more calories is to drink weight gain shakes. If each weight gain shake was approximately 750 calories, if you drink 2 shakes per day that’s an extra 1500 calories or so that you are consuming in your diet.

I don’t like to think of liquid meals as a substitute for eating normal food. They should be used in addition to eating the normal 5-6 other meals you have in the day, which makes the time that you consume the weight gain shakes very important. I like to drink a shake after breakfast so you don’t feel too full for the rest of the day, as well as post workout when the muscles really need the nutrients.

I always choose Optimum Nutrition protein powder which comes in different flavors. I like Optimum Nutrition because I find it to be the best quality whey protein for the price, but feel free to use your favorite brand of whey protein.

To make the weight gain shakes all you will need is a blender, ice and a few easy to get supplements. You can also add some sugar or artificial sweetener to the shakes to make them taste a bit better.

Here is the list of 20 weight gain shake recipes and protein powder recipes:

13 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup skim cottage cheese
1/2 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
23 scoops protein powder (vanilla or chocolate)
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon peanut butter
8 oz water
2 cups ice
32 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 cups milk
2 packets of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate mix
1 banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
42 cups milk
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 egg
1/2 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
1 banana
52 cups milk
1 banana
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
3 dashes of cinnamon
3 teaspoons of flaxseed oil
6 1 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 cups milk
1 banana
1 egg
dash of cinnamon
7 2 cups milk
1 cup yogurt (strawberry)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
4 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
2 ice cubes
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon creatine powder
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
8 oz water
9Banana Bread Shake (I’ve taken this recipe from Anabolic Cooking)

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 banana
350ml water
1 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
1/2 Cup Bran Flakes
30g of Dextrose (post-workout shake only)
101 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
4 Ice Cubes
8 oz water
11 1/2 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 teaspoon creatine powder
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon peanut butter
1 banana
6 mixed frozen berries
12Peanut Butter Banana Shake

2 cups milk
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 banana
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
132 cups milk
1 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon glutamine
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 banana
142 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 cups milk
10 oz chilled sweet potato
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
152 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 cups milk
1 banana
1 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
162 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup cookies n’ cream flavored ice cream
2 cups low fat milk
1/2 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
2 tablespoons cottage cheese
1/2 banana
2 tablespoons honey
171 cup milk
1 tablespoon low fat natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
1/2 cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water)
1 banana
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1812 oz water
3-4 ice cubes
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
196 oz water
3-4 ice cubes
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
6 oz coffee (instead you may use 12 oz coffee and no water for a pre-workout kick)
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
202 scoops chocolate protein powder
1 cup low fat milk
4 ice cubes
8 oz water
1 tablespoon instant coffee

I realize it’s not always practical to make your own weight gain shake. If you don’t have access to a blender or the necessary ingredients to make a weight gainer shake, then high quality weight gainers is also a great option.

To readers – if you have a homemade weight gain shake recipe which is tasty and packs on the pounds, please let us know the recipe by leaving a comment below.