Liquid calories can help you gain weight.
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Gaining weight can often feel like an uphill struggle. It seems that no matter how much food you pile onto your plate, or how many calories you try to stuff down, you simply don't grow. They key isn't to succumb to high-calorie junk food, but to eat healthy foods. By increasing how often you eat, the size of your meals and eating more calorie-dense foods, you can bump up your calorie intake and gain weight.
Oil to the Rescue
Many people struggle to gain weight due to having a small appetite. If you're having trouble getting ample calories from what you eat, start adding liquid calories in the form of olive oil. Vegetables and salads may be more associated with a weight-loss diet than a weight-gain one, but by cooking each serving of vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil, or using the same amount on a salad, you add 120 calories without even noticing. If you're not a fan of olive oil, consider using nut oil, avocado oil or canola oil instead.
Back to Basics
A lot of your favorite meals from childhood and family dinners could be ideal for gaining weight. Typical dinners like lasagna and pizza might not scream "healthy," but they can be made more nutrient-dense with a few simple changes. For lasagna, use ground turkey, whole-wheat pasta, plenty of vegetables and some cheese sauce. For pizza, substitute the white-flour base for a whole-grain one, use real tinned tomatoes for the sauce, sprinkle on cheese, and add vegetables and meat or fish. You then have a high-calorie, healthy, family-friendly dinner.
Bump Up the Fat
If you usually stick to a lean meat at dinner such as chicken or turkey, or even a vegetarian meat replacement, consider switching to oily fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. A fresh tuna steak or piece of trout with steamed rice and mixed green vegetables is a good choice, as is a Thai salmon curry, or a mackerel stir-fry. For something even simpler and quicker, go with tinned sardines on a few slices of whole-grain toast. Other protein sources that also contain healthy fats are eggs, nut butters and full-fat cottage cheese and milk.
A good old-fashioned steak or burger could be just what you need for a healthy weight-gain meal. Red meat is a valuable source of vitamins B and D, as well as iron and zinc, notes Dr. Chris Kresser. Nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden recommends choosing grass-fed meat where you can, as it has a better fat profile than factory farmed red meat. Red meats such as regular ground beef, ground pork and steak are higher in calories than lean white meat, so a grass-fed beef burger in a whole-wheat bun accompanied by sweet potato fries, or a locally raised rump steak served with a couscous salad, trumps a grilled chicken breast with broccoli when it comes to a weight-gain meal.