There are many nutritious foods that help you gain weight that most people don’t consider when they think about gaining weight. You don’t have to jump the gun and automatically down burgers, shakes and candy bars to gain weight. In fact, I know because I’ve done it. I suffered an eating disorder that almost cost me my life and had to gain 40 pounds just to be at an acceptable weight for someone my height. This was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but as someone truly knowledgeable and passionate about nutrition, I was determined to do it the right way. It took me longer to gain weight on healthy foods than it would have by visiting fast food places, but what most people didn’t understand was this was the only way I could handle gaining weight, without resorting to disordered eating. It took a total of one and a half years to gain the weight, but I did, and have maintained it ever since. I didn’t even have to eat anything crazy either. I simply added more healthy, calorie dense foods to my diet throughout the day, and I felt so much better in no time. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I promise, it can be done. Check out these healthy foods that help you gain weight if you’re underweight. They’ll help you gain weight slowly, which is safe for you, your mind and your body.
When I decided to recover, I was a raw vegan, so when deciding what to add to my diet,I chose to eat one of the most nutritional foods that help you gain weight in the right way- salmon. Salmon is known as a way to lose weight, but for someone not eating animal protein, it actually helped me gain weight by adding lean muscle mass. Salmon has essential fats that also stabilized my mood and balanced my brain chemistry, which was most definitely off balance from my disorder. I ate roughly 5 servings a week, and looked and felt like a new person.
2. Raw Protein Powders
I know protein powders get a lot of bad rap, but if you choose a good one, that’s free of additives, highly processed ingredients, sugar, fillers and stabilizers, it can actually be a very helpful way to gain weight. I was afraid to eat alot of protein out of gaining weight, and purposefully left protein powders out of my smoothies when I was suffering from an eating disorder. So, one of the easiest things I did to gain a healthy muscle mass without gaining what I feared as “fat”, I added one scoop of a raw vegan protein powder to my smoothies. I like Manitoba hemp protein, Garden of Life protein, as well as Sunwarrior protein for the cleanest options. This helped me gain lean muscle mass and my weight increased slowly over time. My blood sugar was also much more stable this way as well, throughout the course of the day from the beneficial plant proteins. I do suggest avoiding high processed proteins like whey, soy and even some forms of vegan proteins. Be careful to buy protein powders that will help you gain, but also won't cause inflammation in the body, such as the ones I listed above.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes were one of my favorite foods to eat when I was trying to gain weight. I previously avoided potatoes out of a fear of gaining weight, but sweet potatoes were actually perfect for helping me gain weight very slowly. They will help add weight to the body, but don’t have the same high glycemic index that white potatoes do, or the fat-storing properties. Instead, sweet potatoes just add healthy carbs to the diet, which mine was lacking in, so it helped balance out my macronutrient intake, and helped me gain a healthy amount of weight. I ate them around 4-5 times a week and they were one of my favorite foods to enjoy, once I decided I had to change my diet.
4. Almond Butter
Almond butter is a high calorie food and it, along with any nut butter (preferably raw, and unsalted), will help you gain a healthy bit of weight in a short amount of time. Try to eat several tablespoons throughout the day, but be careful as it’s easy to binge on nut butter when you’re hungry for a meal. Never eat it out of the jar when you haven’t eaten a meal yet. Instead, include it in your snacks and be sure to include whole meals into your day.
Most people assume quinoa is an automatic weight loss food, and it can be, but to someone who’s not eating enough food, or healthy carbohydrates, quinoa is a great answer. It’s rich in protein, and carbs, which help it to put healthy weight on the body slowly, but surely. I used to make quinoa pancakes, muffins, or eat it cooked a couple times a day.
Depending on what you put in your smoothie, it can be a tool for weight loss, or gain. So to keep your smoothie healthy, and still help you gain weight, include 2 tbsp. nut butter, yogurt ( no sugar added), protein powder, leafy greens if you wish and berries with chia, flax and even a banana if you wish. The combination of fat, protein and healthy carbs will help you gain weight slowly, but sugar, and it’s also really tasty!
7. Pastured Eggs
As a raw vegan before I recovered, I didn’t touch animal proteins, so when I had to gain weight in order to get healthy again, I decided I could eat eggs and fish instead of meat, which I don’t eat or like. So, having a few eggs a few times a week, helped me gain weight, relatively slowly, but effectively. Eggs have healthy fats and proteins, which will help put healthy weight on the body in a slower manner than eating red meat and other fatty meats will.
When eating foods to help you gain weight, be sure you eat all the other healthy foods too like berries, leafy greens, seeds like chia and hemp, along with green vegetables. Just because these foods are low in calories, doesn’t mean you have to leave them out. Just be sure to include the other foods listed above to help you gain weight with these foods, and you’ll gain a healthy amount of weight, fairly shortly, especially if you don’t have a lot to gain. You also won’t be sick or suffer skin issues, digestive issues or a bad relationship with food as you might if you just turned to junk to gain weight. Trust me, this way works and it’s safer for both your mind and body than eating junk. If you’ve ever had to gain weight, what healthy food did you eat?