Though weight loss is one of the biggest motivators when shifting to a healthier lifestyle, many 8fitters are also looking to put on healthy weight as well. Whether you’re looking to increase muscle mass, recover from illness-related weight loss, or reach a target weight category, it can be hard to navigate safe ways to do this especially with the plethora of — often contradictory — information out there.
You may think the answer to weight gain is simple: Just eat more food. However, it’s a little more complicated than that and anyone who has struggled to put on weight (especially those with a fast metabolism) knows this. There’s a multitude of weight gain meal plans and approaches out there, though it’s important to remember that not all methods are healthy and, like anything, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
To steer you in the right direction, below are some steady and long-lasting ways to manage your weight gain.
How to gain weight in a healthy way
Your body is like an engine that never switches off; your heart’s always pumping, your blood continually circulates, and your brain is constantly engaged. Even at rest, your body requires a steady supply of energy in the form of nutritious food. If you, for whatever reason, skip a meal, you’re depriving your body of much-needed fuel. This lack of fuel supply leads to dips in energy and, over time, compromises your metabolic process.
By eating regular meals, with about three to five hours between them, you’ll save your body from losing any important muscle tissue. 8fit’s standard meal plan typically includes three meals and one snack, but if your goal is to gain weight, three meals and two snacks might be more appropriate. Furthermore, eating one of those snacks before bed can promote weight gain, just be sure not to overdo it and choose something easily digestible – your body needs time to cool down and get into “sleep mode.”
Whatever meal schedule you choose, aim for consistency. As for bedtime snacks, here are some examples of foods that will supply nutrients without interrupting your sleep:
- Easily digestible carbs: We’re not talking sugar, which can make falling asleep more difficult, we’re thinking of healthy carbs like bananas, rice, quinoa or wholegrain toast.
- Low-fiber veggies: Try cooked or steamed veggies that go down easily. If you only have raw ones at hand, favor water-rich ones like cucumber, tomatoes or peppers.
- Lean protein: Combining carb-dense foods with lean protein helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable compared to having carbs alone.
- Tryptophan or melatonin-rich foods: Natural sleep inducers can be found in certain foods such as dairy, poultry, fish, and cherries.
Eat several foods at once
When you’re having a meal, try to aim for all three macros (protein, fat and carbs) plus fruit and vegetables. A wide variety of foods provides you with a broader spectrum of nutrients to fuel your body throughout the day. Here are some of our favorite food combinations that ensure you’re getting all the calories, vitamins and minerals you need at once.
Feel free to add them to your weight gain meal plan:
- Wholegrain toast + avocado + egg + greens
- Nuts + yogurt + banana
- Chicken + oil + rice + broccoli
- Chickpeas + tomato + couscous + olives
- Salmon + corn tortilla + cabbage + guacamole
- Lentil + rice + paneer (or feta) + spinach
Use strength training
Exercise is more important in gaining weight than most would think. Instead of doing just bodyweight workouts which strengthen your muscles but also shed fat, add weight training three to four times a week. Choose a program that progressively adds more weight and pushes you to work at your 1RM (one-repetition maximum). If you’re using the 8fit app, you’ll find exercises that include lightweights, which you can try in combination with your weight training and weight gain meal plan.
Eat nutrient-dense foods
A great way to rack up extra nutritious calories, without having to eat a ton or having to resort to junk food, is to choose healthy foods that pack a whole lot of carbs, fat and protein in small or manageable portions — think smoothies, soups or energy balls.
Here’s a list of nutrient and calorie-dense ingredients that will help up you increase your caloric intake:
- Chicken thighs
- Full-fat dairy
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butter
- Healthy oils
- Dark chocolate
- Starchy veggies (corn, potatoes, beets, pumpkin, root veggies, etc.)
Using 8fit for weight gain
Whatever your goal is, we do our best to assist and motivate you along the way. Once you download the 8fit app, you’ll be equipped with all the resources you need to gain weight in a healthy way. These are just a few highlights:
- Meal plan: Once your weight gain goals are set in your 8fit app, a customized weight gain meal plan is generated. It’ll include perfectly balanced recipes with just the right quantities you need to achieve your goal.
- Shopping list: Once you’ve got the meal plan set up, you can request a shopping list for your next trip to the supermarket. The ingredients are organized by category, making them a breeze to find.
- Fitness: It’s important to approach your weight gain goal holistically. The fitness section of the app creates a personalized workout plan that’s suited to the exact targets you have in mind.
- Tips: You’ll get regular support throughout your journey in the form of useful tips and reminders. You’ll get a nudge to remind you to drink water or to log your recent meal.
- Articles: The 8fit team writes articles daily with the help of our expert team of fitness and nutrition specialists, addressing the burning questions that cross every 8fitter’s mind.
Our favorite weight gain recipes
If you’re dreaming of a cheesy Spanish tortilla, craving crispy chicken, or looking for an upgraded coffee shake, you’re in luck. We’ve just added some new recipes to the app, all of which contain the perfect ingredients for your weight gain meal plan (meat, eggs, dairy, coconut, nuts, healthy oils, and hearty carbs). If you like what you see below, there’s more where that came from. Check out the 8fit recipe book today.
Potatoes with feta cheese & pesto
Ingredients (700-calorie version):
- 3 oz feta cheese
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 potato
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp pesto
- ½ cucumber
- pinch of black pepper
- Wash the potatoes and cut them into thin slices (around 1.5 cm). Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook them for about 10 minutes or until tender. Strain them and let them dry.
- In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a bowl making sure to get a lot of air in the mixture. Peel and chop the garlic clove and add it to the bowl with the eggs. Add the cooked potato and half of the crumbled feta cheese. Add pepper to taste, mix it again and cook the mixture on medium heat in a pan with the olive oil for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate and crumble on the rest of the feta.
- Wash the cucumber and cut into small pieces. Serve with the pesto and a sprinkle of black pepper.
Oat-crusted chicken with lemon yogurt sauce
Ingredients (700-calorie version):
- ½ cups Greek yogurt, plain
- ½ lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill
- ½ cups rolled oats
- ½ tsp tandoori spice blend
- a tiny bit of salt
- 6 oz chicken breast
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tomato
- For the yogurt sauce, combine the Greek yogurt with the squeezed lemon in a small bowl. Add chopped garlic, chopped dill and salt. Stir until evenly mixed.
- In a shallow dish, mix the spice blend a pinch of salt and the rolled oats.
Chef’s note:If you prefer a lighter texture, blend or process your oats first.
- Halve the chicken breast lengthwise and flatten it by using a meat tenderizer.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
- In another dish, beat the egg until frothy and dip the chicken into the mixture, then coat with the seasoned oats mixture.
- Cook the chicken in the pan until golden brown, for about 5 minutes each side.
- Add to a plate and drizzle the yogurt sauce on top of the chicken.
- Wash the tomato and chop into small pieces. Serve next to the chicken and enjoy.
Coffee coconut breakfast smoothie
Ingredients (600-calorie version):
- 5 walnuts
- 3 dried figs
- 3 Tbsp protein powder
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp instant coffee powder
- 1 Tbsp shredded coconut
- ¼ cups rolled oats
- Add all the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. Add ice for extra texture or to make your beverage colder.
- Serve in a glass and enjoy.
Take your time
Sustainable changes take time and weight gain is no exception to that theory. Even when following a weight gain meal plan, putting on pounds or muscle is something that requires patience and consistency. If you don’t see results immediately, don’t despair — just keep giving it your best and you will eventually reap what you have sown.
If you need help along the way, we’re always happy to take you under our wing. Sign up for the app here.