Perhaps a topic that many might consider non-existent, gaining weight can actually be true struggle for individuals with an incredibly fast metabolism or who come from a history with disordered eating that has disrupted their natural metabolism. This can cause the body to have a difficult time absorbing nutrients and calories, or may be caused by genetics that cause their bodies to burn more calories than it is able to store.
Weight gain is by far the most common problem for most individuals, but for those out there that want to gain weight without eating junk food, weight gain can be just as hard as weight loss for other people. While a person may be tempted to gain weight quickly by eating cheeseburgers, fast food milkshakes, bags of chips and containers of cookies, this isn’t the way to do it, even if an individual needs to gain weight quickly.
Whole Foods for Weight Gain: Nourishing Choices for Lifelong Health
When considering weight gain, quality is just as important as it is for those looking to lose weight. Let’s look at it this way: a person looking to lose 15 pounds could easily eat diet bars and shakes, cut their calories, and lose a good bit of weight quickly. But is that the healthiest option for the long-term? No, because it robs the body of true nutrients it needs for a healthy, stable metabolism, not to mention how it can disrupt good bacteria in the gut and alter brain function.
Well, the same goes for someone looking to gain weight. It might take a bit longer, but eating healthy, calorie-dense foods will eventually lead to a steady weight gain, even if it takes more time. It’s also easier on the organs, digestive system and can help the individual learn to take care of their body in a more sustainable manner. So despite how tempting it can be to eat junk food and gain 10 pounds in two weeks, let’s look at some better food choices to eat instead and what the right combinations are for weight gain the healthy way.
These won’t only make you gain weight in a slower, steady way than junk foods, but they’ll also nourish other parts of your body as well.
Healthy Weight Gaining Combos: High Quality Carbs and High Quality Fats and Protein
1. Sweet Potatoes With Almond Butter (or Cashew Cream)
Here’s a key to gaining weight more quickly: Combine high fat foods with high carb foods. The body can use fat or carbs for energy, but it can’t use both at the same time. It will automatically try to use carbs first, but when carbs are absent, it will use fat. So, if you’re looking to gain weight, eat fat and carbs together, but choose the right carbs and fats (not a hamburger and fries).
Sweet potatoes are one of the most amazing fats you can choose because they’re high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, and low on the glycemic index. This means they’re energizing, nourishing, and because they’re starchy, they can help you gain weight when eaten with higher fat foods. Almond butter (or another nut butter) is a great choice to pair sweet potatoes with. Use at least 2 tablespoons for the best results. Almond butter is a great source of protein, fat, and fiber, plus — it’s also got protein! As a bonus, almond butter’s fats can help your body absorb all the good vitamin A (beta-carotene) in the sweet potatoes better since vitamin A is fat soluble, meaning it needs fats to be absorbed optimally.
2. Sprouted Grain Bread Sandwiches With Nut Butter or Avocado
If you don’t eat bread, start eating sprouted grain bread sandwiches. They’ll help put weight on you, but do it in a much healthier way than just eating refined bread off the shelf. One reason is because one, they’re a good source of carbohydrates, and two, they’re a good source of protein. You can find them at the store where the frozen bread is sold or just make your own. Just one tip: Don’t eat them with a fat-free spread or just fruit. You need to pair your bread with some healthy fats (remember the fat and carb combo we just talked about?). Spread some peanut butter, avocado, cashew butter, or whatever nut butter you enjoy on your bread. Top with fruit for a breakfast option or some veggies, hummus, and tomato for a lunch option. Sprouted grain bread can also be easier to digest meaning your body will absorb the nutrients better. If you don’t tolerate grains, try a grain-free bread made with flax, chia, and other high fat seeds instead, or feel free to use almond or coconut flour. Then pair this higher fat bread with some fruit or potatoes to add healthy starch to your meal.
3. Veggies Cooked in Healthy Oils
Oils can help you put on weight more easily because they’re high in calories and have no fiber, carbs, or protein meaning all their calories come from fat. But fat isn’t the enemy, nor are all oils. Some oils are actually great for your heart, such as olive oil and avocado oil. And while coconut oil is touted for weight loss, if you’re not eating any oils, coconut oil may help you add more calories to your diet and should not pose weight loss because it’s still a dense sources of concentrated calories. Cook your veggies in these healthy oils, but always avoid soybean and other processed, refined oils like vegetable oils which can be damaging to your heart.
4. Add More Nuts to Your Diet (and Preferably With Carbs)
Nuts and seeds are such healthy foods, but they are very high in calories per serving. Adding three or four servings of nuts or nut butters to your day will put on weight quite quickly, especially if you pair them with higher carb foods like fruit, whole grain crackers, oatmeal, sprouted grain bread, or sweet potatoes. These fats are also great for your heart; just be sure you buy them raw when you can since highly heated nuts may contain damaging fats.
5. Bananas and Peanut Butter
Bananas and peanut butter are a great combo to put on a little weight more easily. Bananas are a sugary, starchy fruit so they’re naturally going to store weight more easily than more water-rich, lower sugar fruits (cucumbers, berries, tomatoes). Peanut butter is also one of the most calorie-dense nut butters because it’s high in fat and protein to help you gain more easily. Pairing these foods together will help put on weight if you eat them every day, and in the meantime, it’s a pretty tasty way to do so!
Other Tips for Ultimate Health and Success:
- Make it a point to combine macronutrients at every meal. Emphasize high carbohydrate foods with higher fat foods, but be sure to choose from carbs such as: unprocessed (non-refined) grains, potatoes, and fruit. Choose healthy fats from foods such as: nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, olives, and their oils in virgin and cold-pressed form. Lastly, be sure you get enough protein in your diet from high-quality, whole foods such as quinoa, legumes, hemp, tempeh, plant-based protein powders, or your choice protein.
- Don’t neglect your vegetables even though they’re low in calories. Vegetables feed the body the best nutrients it needs for ultimate health, so work them in at every meal however you can.
- Add a snack to your day every single day if you don’t already. This can help add more calories and will help put weight on over time.
- Resist the urge to measure and count your portions. Eat until you’re full with the principles in mind and give your body time.
- If you exercise at all, it also wouldn’t hurt to cut the time in half for even better results. Resist the urge to burn a certain number of calories and just focus on being active for your heart and mental wellness.
- Remember that once your body receives enough higher calorie foods over time in forms it prefers to absorb, you will start to gain weight. Try not to stress since that can pose negative health effects and won’t help the weight gain. Remember, slow and steady wins the race — both in weight loss and weight gain.
If you have any tips for how you gained weight the healthy way, leave us a comment and let us know! You can also see our Nutrition Guide to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need and access free meal plan ideas as well!
Lead image source: Quinoa Power Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette