Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weight gain ... the healthy way!

Contrary to popular belief there is a time and a place for weight gain. Many athletes are required to gain weight to increase strength, increase their size or increase their musculature. In sports with weight categories, being a heavier weight may not always mean being "fatter" but having a fit heavier body mass. The focus of a recent article in the SIRC Collection addresses athletic weight gain emphasizing a nutritionally balanced plan.

The article acknowledges that gain weight for athletes can be a challenge as weight gain comes from consuming more calories than are burned through activity. However, it is stressed that meeting this challenge can be done by increasing the energy intake by focusing on a variety of healthy foods.

Here are some of the author's suggestions to increase calorie intake for "healthy" weight gain:
  • Plan ahead. Eat at least three meals daily with snacks in between. Planning ahead will help you keep track of total calories of consumption in relation to the energy burned in training/competition
  • Carry energy-dense snacks (trail mix, granola, nuts, low-fat cheese, peanut butter sandwiches)
  • Drink fluids with calories (100% fruit/vegetable juice, 2% milk or chocolate milk). Try a smoothie or milkshake.
  • Try more starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, peas) which contain more calories. 
  • Add nuts, raisins, dates and other fruits to cereal and yogurts.
  • Include protein (lean meats, poultry, eggs, low fat milk, cheese, peanut butter and beans) to every meal
  • Eat snacks after workouts (fruit, fruit juice, low-fat milk, cereal, peanut butter on toast, bagels or crackers) to replace calories burned in training
  • Increase muscle by including strength training sessions in your training
  • Get plenty of sleep. Rest helps build muscle.
  • Be careful of supplements advertising weight gain and/or increase muscle size, to avoid risk of doping infractions, unsafe ingredients and questionable effectiveness. Most of the same benefits can be found through food options.
The key to remember is that weight gain should be pursued through a balance of healthy food choices, training and recovery. Having a well researched plan in place will be give you the best edge.

Resource from the SIRC Collection:
Woolf, K. (2012). Weight Gain Tips. Splash, 20(2), 12.

Other online resources:
Weight Gain Tips for Athletes
Gaining Weight for Athletes: Nutrition Plan to Put Weight On
Weight Gain in Junior Athletes

No comments: