Sunday, June 6, 2010

How Can I Gain Weight Without Drinking Supplements?


I'm a 16 year old guy who is currently underweight. I am 5'2" tall and weigh 86 pounds. I am not an active person and do not excercise much. I've tried taking supplements before to gain weight but I dislike drinking them. As I would choose to eat healthily to gain muscle mass instead of drinking supplements, how much calorie must I take a day and what should I eat to gain weight healthily?
I usually have oatmeal and bread for breakfast, and  noodles or rice with meat and vegetables for lunch and dinner.
I look forward to your reply, thanks a lot!

Dear Sammi,
The number of calories you need depend on all sorts of things: I suspect you are still growing at your age and your body is using an increased number of calories to fuel that growth.

You have just a few options in order to ingest more calories: One is to add snacks to your diet, another is to eat larger portions of the foods you are currently eating, and a third is to add fat to your meals. A fourth healthy option is trying some high-calorie shakes or bars which can help you get in hundreds of calories quickly and eaisly. I wonder what kind of supplements you've had in the past, and whether you don't like the taste of them, or don't like the full feeling you may get after drinking them.

I would suggest starting with snacks. Many students do not have the opportunity to take a mid-morning snack, so let's start with afternoon and evening. Aim for 300 calories at each snack time to gain one pound per week. You can try an energy bar (like Clif bars), or some peanut butter on crackers or toast. Nuts are high in calories (almost 200 calories in just 1/4 cup) as well as dried fruit. Some of the tastier high-calorie drinks would be a milkshake or a Carnation Instant Breakfast (powder you add to your own milk that raises the calorie count to at least 250 if you use whole milk).

Next, try adding some fat to your meals: a spread on your toast (peanut butter, nutella, cream cheese) can add a hundred calories; butter on your noodles or rice adds about 100 calories per tablespoon; and you can have your vegetables stir-fried instead of steamed to add some more fat calories. If you're eating very little fat now, your total intake of fat should still be in line with the guidelines as long as you just add a little to each meal.

Another option is trying to eat a larger portion of the foods with calories, like oatmeal, toast, noodles, rice, and meats. Finally, fruit juice has a lot of calories, which people don't realize. Just 8 ounces usually provides a good amount of vitamins, but also 80 calories. If you can drink some more juice this might be an easy way for you to add another 100 or so calories each day.

For every 500 additional calories you can eat each day, you'll gain about a pound at the end of that week.
Good luck!