Protocol for Healthy Weight Gain

weight-gain

When putting on weight, there is just as important of an emphasis on eating healthy as when you’re trying to lose weight.  Gaining weight in a healthy manner should be done slowly. There should be an emphasis on whole foods, mindful eating and ensuring proper digestion to avoid that heavy, tired, and bloated feeling.


Ideally, to gain about a pound a week, you need to consume at least 500 extra calories a day. A great way to add extra calories into your diet is by adding healthy additions to each meal.

 

Best foods to add calories to your diet include:

Nuts and seeds– nuts and seeds are a simple and effective way to add calories and healthy fats to your diet. They are not going to fill you up to the point of feeling bloated or sick and can be added to just about any meal you can imagine. For example, on top of soups, salads, smoothies, wraps, and oatmeal.

Try: almonds, walnuts, pecans, nut butters, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds  

 

Healthy oils and fats: drizzling an extra bit of oil on your salad, soup, bread, and even into a smoothie is another great way to add extra calories to your meals.

Try: avocado, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, coconut cream/butter  

 

Dried fruits: similar to nuts and seeds, dried fruits can pack a caloric punch in a variety of meals. Be sure not to overdo it, as they are quite high in sugar and excess can cause a blood sugar spike. Optimize the use of dried fruits by always combining with a healthy fat such as nuts or some protein.

Try: raisins, cherries, cranberries, dates, apricots

 

Animal protein– if it is part of your diet, organic meats can be helpful in supporting weight gain. Try: organic chicken, beef, and liver as well as wild caught fish.

 

Whole Grains– whole grains can add calories and a lot of nutrients to meals. Be careful not to increase grains too quickly to avoid digestive trouble.

Try: rice, quinoa, millet, and oats.


Digestive Support

When gaining weight, it is important to be careful not to overeat. The goal is not to feel stuffed full and tired after every meal. Overeating can lead to digestive upset such as indigestion, gas and bloating.

 

If you are consuming only 3 meals a day and no snacks, you may want to add in the 500 extra calories through snacks rather than adding them to your meals.


Supplements for Digestive Support

Probiotics – probiotics support the body’s microbiome which is essential in proper digestion, absorption and elimination, not to mention mental health. Supporting your body’s healthy bacteria during weight gain is helpful.

Try: a broad spectrum probiotic supplement with at least 10 billion live cells. You may also wish to consume foods that are high in probiotic bacteria such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.

 

Digestive enzymes– as you increase the food you’re consuming, it is recommended to provide your digestive system a little extra support, especially while your body is adjusting. Digestive enzymes give your body a boost in breaking down proteins, carbohydrates and fat.

Try: supplementing with digestive enzymes 2-3 times daily before big meals.

 

Digestive bitters– digestive bitters help to stimulate gastric and digestive juices including hydrochloric acid and enzyme secretion. If hesitant about bitters, you may want to try dandelion which is a milder one.

Try: taking digestive bitters 20-30 minutes before each meal.

Note: try either digestive enzymes or bitters, not both at the same time so you know which works for you.

 

Flaxseed Oil– flaxseed oil is full of essential fatty acids and helps to increase daily calories.

Try: consuming 2 tbsp of flaxseed oil each day.

 

Amino acids– consuming amino acids before meals can help to stimulate the appetite and build body tissue.

Try: supplementing with 500g before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Helpful Herbs

Dandelion – dandelion greens are a very bitter herb which is excellent for stimulating digestive juices. They are also excellent to support liver detoxification.

Try: adding dandelion greens to a salad before meals or sipping on dandelion tea.

 

Ginger– is a warming herb, great for digestion and stimulating appetite. Ginger will help assist your body as it processes a bit more food than usual and keeps the digestive fire burning.

Try: drinking 1 cup of ginger root tea as desired.

 

Licorice Root– licorice root can be a helpful herb in increasing weight gain. 

Try: licorice root extract supplements or making a decoction with the root.

 

Ashwaghandha–  is an adaptogen herb that can be useful in managing stress, supporting the adrenals, nourishing the body and immune system, and promoting rest and restoration.  In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is a herb recommended for weight gain.

Try: supplementing with ashwagandha in tincture form 2-3x daily.


Lifestyle Support

Eat Regularly: Ideally, have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks at the same time each day.  

Try: having breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and snack.

 

Strength training: building muscle is a healthy way to gain weight and will keep your body strong as toned as you gain weight.

Try: a strength training routine 3-4x times a week.

 

Meditation– meditating on the idea of gaining weight can be helpful in manifesting this reality.

Try: a daily meditation which focuses on self-love, acceptance, and visualizing the outcome of already having gained weight.

 

Sleep– adequate sleep is essential for relaxing the nervous system and allowing the body to recover.

Try: to get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

 

Things to avoid

Stimulants– stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can inhibit or reduce hunger.

Try: replacing your cup of coffee with a roasted dandelion root or chicory root tea.

 

Fried /Fast Foods– fast food, while high in calories, is nutritionally void of value and is likely to cause digestive upset.

Try: skipping the fried food and opting for a healthy meal that is nutritious and satisfying. Make sure to include a protein and a fat with each meal and snack.

 

Vigorous exercise– intense cardiovascular exercise can increase weight loss and burn a lot of calories.  

Try: avoiding running and opt for a nature walk instead.


Shake Ideas

 

Green Machine

2 cups of spinach  

1 banana

1 avocado

½ cup pineapple

2 dates

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp ground flax

1 scoop of protein powder

1 cup of almond or coconut milk

 

Chocolate Banana Blitz

1 cup spinach

1 banana

2 tbsp nut butter

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder

2-3 dates

1 tbsp cacao powder

1 tbsp coconut butter

1 tbsp hemp seeds

 

 

 

kristin dahl