The weight gain diet is a nutritional regimen aimed at increasing body weight and body mass index (BMI or BMI).
Fundamentals to remember
It is good to emphasize that weight gain should not happen recklessly; on the contrary, it is good that you respect as much as possible the right ratio between fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM).
In other words, the goal of those wishing to gain weight should be to gain muscle mass without exceeding the body fat values compatible with good health.
Furthermore, we remind you that:
- The body of fertile women must contain a greater amount of adipose tissue than that of men
- In adults, when we talk about FFM we mainly mean muscle mass and body water (other tissues, such as bone, cartilage, organs, etc., cannot grow significantly)
- Even if the results depend mainly on the initial condition, when the weight gain is of great entity, it becomes almost impossible to gain a uniform growth between FFM and FM; in general, in these cases, the fraction that increases the most is the adipose one (except for some rare cases, such as the practice of bodybuilding with the use of anabolics).
Applications of the diet to gain weight
People who try to gain weight most frequently fall into two categories:
- Underweight people (BMI or BMI <18,5), which can concretely benefit from the increase in body mass.
- People of normal weight (BMI or BMI 18,5-25,0) who "see themselves thin"; in this case it is frequent that, in addition to the perception of thinness, dissatisfaction with one's body image is manifested with reference to some very specific shapes or proportions (for example: the size of the breast and the roundness of the buttocks for women, and the diameter of the arms, calves or shoulder width for men).
People who are underweight benefit significantly from restoring a normal BMI.
Some positive effects normally found in subjects who, from underweight, reach the normal weight range are:
- For women with amenorrhea, a regular menstrual cycle is restored (menstruation usually recurs upon reaching a slightly heavier weight than when they stopped)
- Improvement of anemia and related blood parameters (iron, ferritin, etc.)
- Improvement of hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Improvement of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Improvement of constipation
- Feeling of more energy, less feeling of cold etc.
- Decreased risk of fetal complications during pregnancy:
- for example spina bifida due to folic acid deficiency
- Decreased risk of skeletal pathologies in children, adults and the elderly:
- for example rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis due to calcium and vitamin D deficiency.
People of normal weight
The world is beautiful because it is varied and as such populated not only by line maniacs, but also by people who want to get fat.
This is how these individuals, envied and labeled by others as subjects with a rather large backside (despite its real size ...), are desperately looking for a way to put on a few pounds.
I suggest that these people pay close attention to the dire consequences of weight gain.
The most important is undoubtedly the acquisition of incorrect eating habits which, in the long term, can favor overweight, metabolic diseases, hepatic steatosis, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, etc.
Normality and Pathology
Is thinness a universally definable characteristic or can there be substantial differences?
Before analyzing the main aspects of a fattening diet, it is good to say a few words about thinness and its meaning.
This article is in fact aimed above all at those who suffer from established constitutional thinness and who as such enjoy excellent health (e.g. adolescent thinness due to growth spurt, long-lasting thinness, family inheritance due to thinness).
However, there are also many conditions in which thinness has a pathological origin (psychological problems, hyperthyroidism, parasitosis - see solitary worm, tumors) or depends on alcoholism or eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
If your condition of thinness is accompanied by a sense of general malaise or specific ailments, è Than we it is advisable to carry out a preventive medical examination.
If, on the other hand, you are sure that your condition is absolutely physiological and independent of physical or psychological disorders, you can intervene by adjusting your diet.
Characteristics necessary for weight gain and lean mass
Usually, those who are too thin would like to put on a few pounds to disguise a body that is considered too thin.
For this reason, as we have already said, the main goal is often to gain some muscle mass while limiting fat gain.
However, such an aim can only be achieved if the "fattening diet" is accompanied by an adequate program of physical activity.
In the absence of this combination, the extra calories provided by the diet are inevitably deposited mainly in the form of adipose tissue. The association of an adequate caloric intake with physical activity based mainly on the use of heavy workloads, and on the right recovery times, increases the percentage of muscle mass and only marginally fat mass.
How to structure the diet to gain weight?
The best method to gain body weight must respect some fundamental principles:
- Follow a high-calorie diet, i.e. with a total calorie intake (from carbohydrates, proteins and lipids) higher than that of a normal-calorie diet (which instead should allow you to maintain constant weight)
- Do not increase the total calories by more than + 10% of the total. For example, if the normocaloric diet of a certain individual is equal to 2.100 kcal per day, the corresponding hypercaloricity is 2.310 kcal.
- Maintain general nutritional balance, i.e. take care of the breakdown of energy nutrients, the supply of vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components (fibers, antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics, etc.)
- Maintain fat at 30 and no more than 35%. For example, in a high-calorie diet of 2.310 kcal per day, 30-35% of lipids corresponds to 693-809 kcal or 77-90 g
- Do not consume less than normal carbohydrates to favor proteins; carbohydrates (complex and simple) should ideally be between 50-55% of total calories. For example, in a 2310 kcal diet, total carbohydrates should provide 1.155-1.270 kcal, or approximately 310-340 kcal.
- Do not exceed with proteins, especially of animal origin (they must correspond to 13-20% of the total calories or 0,8-1,5 g / kg of body weight)
- Do not exceed with saturated fat and cholesterol; if in excess, they can favor the onset of LDL hypercholesterolemia (bad cholesterol). Cholesterol should not exceed the 300 mg / day threshold and saturated / hydrogenated fats should remain below 10% of total calories. For example, in a 2.310 kcal diet the maximum threshold corresponds to 231 kcal or 25,7 g.
- Do not exceed with simple added sugars (the excess is harmful for the health of the teeth and, in predisposed subjects, for glycemic homeostasis); for example, in a 2.310 kcal diet, total simple sugars should be around 270-280 kcal, or 73-74 g.
- Do not overdo it with salt and salty foods; if in excess, in predisposed people, sodium can favor the onset of arterial hypertension
- Do not exceed with fibers and with the anti-nutritional factors related to them (they hinder nutritional absorption and decrease weight gain); the fibers must remain around 30 g / day
- Don't consume junk foods and drinks; in addition to containing cholesterol, saturated or hydrogenated fats (with a significant fraction of those in trans conformation) and simple sugars, they are rich in residues that are harmful to health, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, acrylamides, etc.
- Do not consume meals that are excessively abundant and / or rich in foods that are difficult to digest, especially in the evening. They can favor the appearance of digestive tract discomfort (gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis, etc.) and compromise sleep.
Choice of FoodsSee also: How to Get Fat
What foods to choose in the diet to gain weight?
Let us pause for a moment in evaluating the most suitable foods to structure the diet to gain weight.
As we saw in the previous paragraph, even when trying to gain weight we must not forget the healthy aspect of the diet.
In fact, it would make no sense to try to buy a few pounds by spreading a margarine sandwich, eating fast food frequently or even abusing food supplements.
Here are some practical tips to avoid inappropriate eating habits that occur most frequently in the diet to gain weight:
- Limit the consumption of simple carbohydrates (sugary drinks, honey, sugar and foods that contain it in an important way, such as jam)
- Avoid using tropical oils and margarine or products that contain them (brioches, breadsticks, ice cream, sweets, fried foods and baked goods of dubious quality)
- Do not consume too much meat, which must be present no more than 2-3 times a week
- Replace meat with fish products, with eggs (in total, about 3 per week), with low-fat cheeses, with vegetable derivatives (tofu, seitan, wheat muscle, etc.), preferably made up of a combination of legumes and vegetables .
- If you find it difficult to reach the recommended protein intake through your normal diet, you can eventually resort to protein supplements
- Keep the intake of fruit and vegetables high, but be careful not to exceed 30 g of total fiber per day; this often happens when, with 4-6 daily portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and many legumes are consumed.
- Exercise regularly. It would not make sense to reduce sports to avoid burning too many calories, thus giving up all its beneficial effects; moreover, some types of motor practice (essentially those that involve the use of overloads) favor the increase of muscle mass.