Quality Over Quantity | Nutrition Tips To Gain Weight
Gain weight without eating more?
That can’t be right… can it?
Well, it’s 100% possible. But you have to understand the nutritional value of what you’re eating. And that’s what this article is all about - nutrition guidance to help you gain weight.
Not all calories are made equal
When you hear the phrase calorie controlled diet, you most likely think of a weight loss, or a calorie-reduced plan. However, for some a calorie controlled diet can be a way to help them gain weight and bulk up.
Reasons for weight gain can be anything from improving athletic abilities, looking more lean and muscular to improving general health and daily functioning. Whatever your reasons, it’s important to gain weight steadily and healthily.As you may have read here, gaining weight will happen when you eat more calories than your burn. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? And it is really!
But what should those calories look like?
Just because two types of food are equal in calorific value, doesn’t mean they have the same effect on weight gain.
To gain the right type of weight in the right places, you need to think about the nutritional value of your diet. Training and, in particular, eating in the wrong way will give you limited results because the nutritional values in your food play a huge role in how your body stores those additional calories.
For example, although there may be some appeal in opening a family sized packet of Mars bars, food high in sugars and saturated fats will not allow you to put on muscle and instead can cause fat to be stored, mostly around your middle. That’s because milk chocolate and caramel are high in calorific value, but low in nutritional value.
If you’re looking to achieve healthy weight gain goals with noticeable muscle gain when combined with strength training, keep on reading.
The perfect plate
The healthiest way to gain weight is by gaining muscle, not fat.
The best way to do this is to eat a balanced diet and manage your macronutrients. Macronutrients, also known as macros, are the largest food contributor to your overall calorie intake. These are broken down into protein, carbohydrates and fats.
As a rough guide you can use the 40/40/20 principle:
- 40% carbs
- 40% fat
- 20% protein
But if you’re looking to consistently gain weight, you’ll need to take a more scientific approach.
How much of what should you be eating? Most of your calories for muscle gain will be spent on carbohydrates and proteins. You should aim to eat about:
- 1g of protein for each pound you weigh
- 0.3g of fat for each pound you weigh
- The rest of your diet should be carbohydrates
Keeping track of your macros can be tricky. Apps such as My Fitness Pal or a SmartWatch app can help you monitor your macro intake.
So, a man weighing 13 stone (182 pounds) should aim to eat 182g of protein, (0.3 x 182) 54.6g of fat, and everything else on his diet plan that day should be carbohydrates.
Most individual food items contain more than one food group (for example eggs contain large amounts of both protein and fat) so logging them in an app makes it much easier to manage.
The Pros of Protein
Protein is the stuff that rebuilds those hard-working muscles after a tough session. This, my friend, is the stuff muscles are made of! For this reason, you should aim to include protein in every meal.
Meat and Eggs
- Egg – always have these in for a quick omelet or boiled egg or two on the go
- Chicken breast
- Chicken thighs – these have more fat and calories than chicken breast and still high in protein
- Ground Meat
- Canned tuna – another easy thing to always have in and great value too!
- Salmon and other oily fish - high in omega-3 fatty acids but any fish will deliver a good punch of protein. Whitefish typically is lower in fat and calories.
- Whey protein powder – find out more about this magic powder in the next section
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt – this is easy to add to shakes and with fruit to meet your dairy and protein needs
Carbs are one of your new best friends and are a sure way to lead you to weight gain.
The golden rule of carbs is to avoid too many simple, refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta or white rice. Yes, they’ll meet your carbohydrate needs, but they lack many essential nutrients - such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - found in the complex carbs listed below.
Starchy Complex Carbs
The healthy carbs below are full of goodness. Eating them after a workout will also help your muscles to recover more quickly.
- Sweet potatoes
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grain bread
- Wholegrain rice and pasta
Fibrous Complex Carbs
Fruit and vegetables also meet your carbohydrate needs. You should aim to eat a portion in every meal.
- Winter root vegetables
- Dried fruits
Chewing the Fat (Won't Make You Fat)
It’s a common myth that fats make you fat.
This is simply not true.
Healthy fats are essential for brain development and they also help you to absorb ‘fat soluble’ vitamins.
- Any kind of nuts – these are full of both healthy fats and protein too. Keep some to hand when you’re out and about as they make a great on-the-go snack.
- Use olive oil to dress your meals or to cook with
- Coconut oil is great for cooking
- Avocado – as well as being packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are packed with nutrients, containing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals
- Almond butter or peanut butter – you can buy larger (better value) tubs of this from health food stores. Nut butters have a long shelf life so stock up. (It’s another great addition to add into shakes and smoothies to boost your calories, fats and protein.)
Supplements | The Best Whey to Jumbo Gains
Give your muscles the best chance to grow – feed them with protein.
But why choose whey over alternative food sources?
Because whey protein is one of the best forms of high-quality protein on the market at the moment and is an incredibly healthy way to boost your daily protein consumption. Whey is also highly digestible meaning the body can efficiently absorb it much more quickly than other protein sources.
And because protein predominantly promotes muscle growth, it will quickly give you larger muscles and strength without gaining fat.There are so many though - which supplements are best to gain weight?
Different brands will be tailored for different needs – so, if you are looking to gain weight, make sure you choose a whey supplement which is high in protein, carbohydrates and calories.
Let’s take a look at two of our mass gainers to get an idea of what you should be looking for in a supplement for weight gain:
Everything you need to gain mass in one convenient blend. Having a good diet is a great start, but for true results, this whey protein, carbohydrate and creatine (a product which helps muscles to produce energy) blend is the way to get there.
It packs a staggering 50g of protein, 144g of carbohydrates and a whopping 808 calories per serving (220g). With this in your tank, you’ll see results very quickly.
It doesn’t get more hardcore than this ultimate mass gainer. This advanced gainer means serious business, containing a high-quality blend of whey protein, multi-source carbohydrates and 6 types of creatine.
One serving (153g) of this beauty gives you 50g of protein, 70g of carbohydrates and 531 calories. No need to worry about over-burning at the gym when you can top up your calorie intake so easily.
Planning for Success
Ever been caught off guard and hungry? Finding the nearest thing to hand when hunger strikes may be convenient at the time but convenient food is not often the most nutritionally helpful to your weight gain and muscle building goals.
As with any diet, you must plan ahead. Focussing on the food groups which will give you maximum calories and protein consumption is the way to do this.
This means planning your week’s food in advance and in some cases cooking up what you will be eating throughout the week and freezing what you can. When you leave the house in the morning, you should already know what you are going to be eating that day.
If you find you’re hungry – eat! Just make sure you have healthy snacks easily to hand to avoid filling up on those empty calories which are more likely to store as fat than muscle.
Train to gain
Just remember: eating is your key to successful weight gain but without strength training, you may store the new weight as fat, not muscle. Lifting weights, and gradually lifting heavier weights, is the best way to build lean muscle and gain.
Skipping one gym session won’t hurt but skipping a meal could be a problem. Your diet will play the biggest role in your weight changes but if you want a lean, muscle dense physique then weight training is essential too.
Don’t give up
Making sure your mental game is strong is just as important as eating right and working out regularly.
If you eat more than you burn and lift heavy weights 3-4 times a week, you will gradually build larger muscles. It will take time and won’t happen overnight, so don’t expect instant results.
Just remember, if you are not gaining weight, you’re not eating enough.
Eat clean. Train heavy. Eat clean again. Repeat.