For most athletes, healthy weight gain is harder to achieve than it sounds, especially if they do it the right way. Eating fried foods and sweets and eating out more often will help you gain lean body mass and muscle mass.
Here are some things to remember if your goal is to gain weight the healthy way.
1. Eat smaller meals
Try to eat smaller meals every three hours instead of three big meals at 4- or 5-hour intervals. This will help you get in more calories, but you will not feel as full throughout the day.
2. Disguise calories in food you already eat
Think about what you can add to foods you are currently eating to bulk up the calories, without feeling like you have to eat more food on the side. Some suggestions:
- Mix beans or rice into your vegetables.
- Mix nuts into your yogurt, or peanut butter into your smoothies.
- Stir cottage cheese or protein powder into oatmeal.
- Add avocado to your sandwich.
3. Go with healthy fats
Healthy fats lower inflammation and are high in calories for small servings. Examples include olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butter, seeds and fatty fish. Drizzling olive oil on your vegetables is a good way to get healthy fats at dinner. Aim to get 30 percent of your daily calories from fat.
4. Pay attention to carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an important nutrient for lean weight gain, providing glycogen that gets stored in your muscles. If you are active, you need adequate carbohydrate intake for glycogen to fuel your workouts and saturate your muscles. Carbohydrates should constitute 55 to 65 percent of your daily calories.
5. Watch your protein intake
Protein is important for rebuilding tissue and repairing muscles. However, excess protein does not get stored in your muscles. It gets eliminated via your urine, so no need to overdo it. Protein should tally 10 to 15 percent of your daily calories.
To help you gain weight, keep a log of everything you eat and review it with a registered dietitian, who can help you add to your meals in a healthy way.
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