Healthy Eating
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Visitor Questions
Q What can I do to gain weight?

While we are not able to give personalized dietary recommendations based upon individual readers' health concerns we do have a FAQ on this topic that may be helpful to consider as you try to gain weight.

I'm trying to gain weight. I understand that in order to do so must increase my calorie intake. How can I do this healthfully?

You're right on the mark in wanting to gain weight healthfully! That's exactly where many people mistakenly believe that seeing the scale go up is the best measure of how they are doing. It's not helpful just to "gain weight". What is important is to gain weight healthfully.

How weight gain affects a person's body composition is usually very important. Most of the time, a healthy weight gain is one in which there is a significant increase in muscle (lean body mass) and a minimal increase in fat. Increasing weight simply by increasing body fat is an unhealthy step for most individuals. There is really no way to increase lean body mass without increasing exercise, because the body has no reason to develop more muscle unless that muscle is needed to do something. Increased exercise also has the typical consequence of increasing appetite, which is helpful when a person is trying to increase weight.

It can be difficult to consume enough calories from healthy food if that food fills you up with too few calories. For example, soups are often delicious and very filling, but may not provide a lot of calories before you get full. Meals and recipes that contain mostly solid foods, and a moderate amount of high-quality fats (like the fats contained in nuts, seeds, olives, and olive oil) can be helpful. You might want to look over our website recipes (http://www.whfoods.com/recipestoc.php#recipes) and focus on those that are both appealing to you and have a calorie content on the higher side.

The rules for weight gain, weight loss, and weight stabilizing are not all that different. To gain weight, you need to consume more calories' worth of food than your body needs to maintain your current weight. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories' worth of food than your body needs to maintain your current weight.

We always recommend high-quality, natural, whole, organically-grown foods whether a person is attempting to lose or gain weight, or of course, keep their weight stable. A person should not abandon these high-quality, whole, natural foods if they are trying to gain weight. These foods always have the right balance of nutrients to nourish us, regardless of our weight goals. Both weight gain and weight loss put a premium on healthy circulation, healthy digestion and elimination, and optimal muscle tone. It's difficult to name any nutrient-vitamin, mineral, macronutrient, or phytonutrient-that is not an important supportive factor in one or more of these processes. One of the benefits of eating these nutrient rich foods is that they will be concentrated in important nutrients such as vitamin A, carotenoids, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids, some of the nutrients that are integral to promoting optimal health including that of your hair, skin and nails. Proper nutrition can also play a role in promoting sexual health as a well-nourished body can better function at its peak because it is having its nutrient needs met.

Building additional muscle usually requires additional protein, and high-quality protein intake can be especially important in a weight gain program. You may want to review the protein profile on our website for ideas about protein-rich foods and accompanying recipes. We especially like legumes, nuts, seeds, and fish as staple protein sources, and for individuals who can consume dairy products without adverse reaction, we like moderate amounts of those foods as well.

It can sometimes be difficult to gain weight without snacking, and we are 100% in favor of snacking as a means of increasing food intake without overeating at any one particular meal. However, we would also emphasize the importance of snacking on "meal foods" rather than "snack foods." An ideal snack from our perspective would be meal-time leftovers from a meal made from the World's Healthiest Foods. It's important when snacking to think about the snack as a "mini-meal" rather than a "tide-me-over" or "junk food" time. Many people are able to work in 1,000 additional calories of high-quality food per day through snacking, because their appetite can keep pace with between-meal snacks in a natural way.

Beverages are also an area of special importance in weight gain. It's important to continue optimal intake of plain, clean water in every type of meal plan, but when trying to gain weight, it can be very helpful if all other beverages are substantive in terms of nutrients and calories. Sodas (diet or regular), coffee (black or otherwise), and even fruit juices would not be helpful choices here because they either contain too few overall nutrients or too much simple sugar (or both). Soy milk, nut milk, or low-fat cow's milk shakes that combine fresh fruit with these protein-containing liquids are usually more helpful choices. If none of these types of beverages appeal to you, it makes more sense to simply keep up your intake of clean, fresh water and rely more on natural, whole foods snacks throughout the day.

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Over 100 Quick & Easy Recipes

Our Recipe Assistant will help you find the recipe that suits your personal needs. The majority of recipes we offer can be both prepared and cooked in 30 minutes or less, from start to finish. A number of them can also be prepared ahead of time and enjoyed later.
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