It’s best to have realistic expectations for weight gain. A young woman who’s always been thin probably has a genetic component to her fast metabolism, and may even have family members who are on the lean side. If you fit into that category, you’ll probably gain weight a little more slowly than you’d like. But if you consistently eat 250 to 500 more calories a day than you burn, a slow and steady gain of 1/2 to 1 pound a week is doable.
You can take a scientific approach by counting the calories in the extra foods you eat. There are online sites where you can look up the calorie content of foods, such as HealthAliciousNess.com. Or you can learn which healthy foods tend to be high in calories — like peanut butter or avocado — and plan your meals and snacks around those types of foods, without worrying too much about your calorie count. Lets look at 2 quick ways to approach a routine calorie surplus, such as increasing meal frequency and adding healthy fats to existing meals.
Go for Three and Three
To leave your “skinny girl” label behind, eat as often as possible to get in enough calories each day. A plan with three meals and three snacks works well, and means you’ll eat about every three hours throughout the day.
Good calorie-dense snacks include cheese and crackers, fruit with peanut butter or a trail mix made of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips. If you have a favorite treat, like oatmeal cookies or strawberry ice cream, it’s OK to work those in once in a while.
Choosing caloric drinks, such as milk or 100 percent fruit juice, helps boost your calories. If your appetite is small, try not to fill up on beverages at mealtime; instead, drink some calories with your snacks. Smoothies make great weight-gain snacks because you can sneak high-calorie ingredients and protein into them. For instance, you might blend whole milk, dry milk powder, avocado, mango and honey for a nourishing bedtime beverage.
Dress Up Your Usual Faves to Add Calories
A meal plan for gaining weight can include all of your favorite foods. The trick is to use your arsenal of calorie-dense add-ins to dress up the dishes. That way you’re eating a similar volume of food – but with more calories.
At breakfast, power up your plain cereal flakes with raisins or a sliced banana and some mixed nuts or seeds, or replace it with granola doused in whole milk. If you prefer a bowl of hot oatmeal, cook it in whole milk instead of water and add a pat of butter, or coconut oil or possibly a spoonful of chopped pecans and a drizzle of honey. The milk and mix-ins give you an extra 200-400 calories. In place of over-easy eggs, whip up a calorie-and-protein-rich frittata with 2 or 3 eggs, whole milk, shredded potatoes and chopped bell pepper cooked in coconut oil and topped with shredded cheddar. Have half a cinnamon raisin deli bagel on the side and you’ll munch 100 more calories than what’s in a slice of toast.
For lunch and dinner, choose entrees with protein and carbs, and add calories with add-ins. For example, drizzle extra olive oil over your shrimp stir-fry or into your sauce for spaghetti and meatballs. Blend powdered milk into chicken casseroles, beef stew, meatloaf and creamed soups or sprinkle grated cheese over chili or fajitas.
Change up your side dishes to pack in more calories. Instead of a raw spinach salad, saute several cups of fresh spinach in olive oil, and toss in slivered almonds and dried cranberries. If you normally mix cucumber chunks and grape tomatoes into your pasta salad, add in black olives and cheese cubes, then sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Make your own dressing with olive oil, vinegar and herbs; if you prefer it creamy, blend in a dollop of sour cream.
With these tips you will be well on your way to adding in an additional 300-500 calories into your daily intake. Remember the goal is sustainability and ease of implementation into your existing lifestyle so don’t look for complex recipes or hard to find ingredients or items that take to long to prepare. Remember the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Silly) and you will have no problems achieving the weight, and physique that you’re after.
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