Often nutrition, food and health blogs focus on weight loss. This is not surprising as the latest figures show upwards of 67% of our population is overweight or obese. But there are people who for various reasons need to gain weight–be it for sport, active youths or after being sick (this is often the case for older people in hospital).
Needing to gain weight is not necessarily a license to eat whatever your like. You certainly can eat more food and this is encouraged, but ideally majority of the food consumed needs to be nutritious rather than lollies and ice cream daily.
The key to weight gain is additional overall energy. Three main nutrients provide energy; protein, fat and carbohydrates. Fat provides 37kJ/g and provides the most energy per volume, while protein provides 17kJ/g and carbohydrates 16kJ/g.
Additional protein rich foods, particularly after physical activity, will help lay down the building blocks for muscle synthesis and regeneration. These foods include animal protein like beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, eggs, milk, yoghurt and cheese, and plant based proteins like nuts, seeds, legumes and tofu.
Healthy fats and low GI carbohydrates are also great for providing energy, as well as nutrition value.
The best foods to eat on a regular basis for weight gain are:
- Nuts and seeds–jam packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. An extra handful of these as a snack is not going to make you too full. Crush them up and add to salads and stir fries too for additional flavour, energy and crunch.
- Avocado–fantastic in salads or as a spread on toast or vita wheats. Avocado is a healthy fat, so nice and high in energy, but still providing good nutrients.
- Nut spreads— e.g peanut butter or almond butter —peanut butter often gets a bad rap, but its actually pretty good food and a legume! A decent spread on toast or bread will certainly help adding extra energy to your day.
- Milk–a rich source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12 and zinc. Drinking something can often be easier than eating more so beverages are a great way to get extra energy in. Feel free to have a chocolate milk or make a smoothie.
- Yogurt–also rish in calcium, protein and potassium, yogurts also contain probiotics to help your gut.
- Eggs–this protein is a powerhouse of nutrition. Add to salads, have scrambled with extra cheese on toast or have by themselves as a snack.
- Cheese–this can often be as easy one to fit in. You can sprinkle it over almost any meal to add energy, include in salads, melt on sandwiches and have as a snack
- Healthy oils—olive, canola, macadamia etc.—use these in cooking or as a dressing over food to add energy without adding too much volume
- Dried fruit—fruit without the moisture, so you get the same nutrition and can fit more in. Dried fruit is fantastic as a snack.
Happy weight gaining!