Starting a high calorie diet to gain weight can be tough, especially when it seems the world is obsessed with losing weight and low calorie diets! However, a high calorie diet doesn’t have to mean eating everything you see in the pantry. Here are my top 10 tips for starting and maintaining a healthy high calorie diet.
1 ) Calorie counting
The week before you start the high calorie diet, count the calories you would normally eat each day. Weigh yourself at the end of the week, and record this information. Work out the average number of calories consumed. Here’s a calorie counting tool. For example, enter “apple” in the search box to find how many calories are in an apple.
If it’s not practical to count calories you can estimate maintenance calories, which is 10 calories per pound of body weight. So for example a 150 lb person would need about 1,500 calories just to maintain their weight. But where are not here to discuss weight maintenance, we want to gain weight, so let’s move on.
2 ) Consume extra calories
Your body needs to be in a calorie surplus in order to gain weight. Add 500 calories to the average you would normally eat. The 3,500 extra calories you are consuming per week will allow you to gain 1 pound of weight per week. As long as you consume the additional 3,500 calories per week, you will gain weight, it doesn’t matter if you eat more on some days and less on others.
For example, if your maintenance calories were 1,500 calories, instead of always being on a 2000 calorie weight gain diet you could eat 2,500 calories on your workout days and 1,500 calories on your rest days. This could work better for you because your body demands more energy when working out. You will still gain the 1 pound of body weight per week.
The typical meal plan for an average male wanting to gain weight, is the 3000 calorie weight gain diet.
3 ) Track your weight gain progress
At the end of the week, weigh yourself. Look for a 1-2 pound difference. Every time you stop gaining weight for over two weeks, increase your calorie intake by 300-500 calories.
4 ) Avoid the bad fats
Even though you want to gain weight and the temptation of fatty foods can be tempting because they are high calories, trans fats and saturated fats is still bad news. These are the type of fats you want to try and avoid if you don’t want to have an early death.
I’m not suggesting all fats are bad news. In fact, there is healthy fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Some of them contain essential fatty acids which you need to get from other sources because the body can’t produce them. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for bodybuilders due to their function in building muscle tissue. Examples of healthy fats include avocado, olive oil, sesame oil, flax seed oil and oily fish.
5 ) Get enough protein
Supply your body with the protein it needs, or you won’t see very much weight gain. Protein can be easily incorporated into a high calorie diet. Good, cheap sources of protein include eggs, protein powder (whey protein isolate), chicken breasts and milk. Just add protein powder to high calorie shakes along with milk and fruit to make them taste yummy.
6 ) Replace sodas for water, milk and fruit juices
The best thing to drink on a healthy high calorie diet is water, low fat milk and fruit juices. Water is good for general health and milk and fruit juices are very high calorie drinks.
7 ) Keep food within arm’s reach
Stock up on high calorie foods like nuts, seeds, yogurt, cereal bars and dried and fresh fruit. These make great high calorie snacks which you can eat between main meals.
8 ) Carefully plan balanced meals
Make sure you are still getting enough carbs, protein and healthy fats. It’s important you have a healthy balanced diet even though you are gaining weight.
9 ) Workout with a purpose
Keep your workouts short and intense. Lift heavy with low reps. If you are a hardgainer you shouldn’t train more then 3 times per week. Focus on the basic barbell compound movements like squats, bench press, bicep curls, dead lifts, military press and pull ups. These are the best muscle building exercises.
10 ) Sleep
Get at least 8 hours sleep a night. Sleep allows your body to recover and rebuild muscle tissue. Muscle growth occurs during rest, so get your beauty sleep.
If you can’t gain weight then go and see a doctor to see if there are any underlying medical issues. The most common reason for being underweight is not eating enough but sometimes other medical reasons such as hormonal imbalances, depression and other conditions can prevent weight gain, and doctors can help identify the problem. You can also learn a lot from a weight gain program. The authors of these books dedicate their life to teaching people how to gain weight.
If you follow these 10 rules, you should start gaining weight very soon, and it should be a healthy and consistent weight gain. Keep in mind that every rule is equally important. There is no point in maintaining a high calorie diet if you are not working hard in the gym.