Need a Healthy Weight Gain Diet?
Diet-Related Tips on How to Gain Weight
If you are looking for a healthy weight gain diet you will find this page helpful. While not saying much about specific foods, other factors such as how and when you eat are important. These will be examined here.
Eat less often to gain weight
Two meals per day are recommended by many:
This sounds, at first, like the wrong strategy but understanding the reasons will convince you that it is the all-around healthier strategy for most people and actually better for a healthy weight gain diet.
Steve Arlin is a 6'2" 240-lb bodybuilder who consumes a high proportion of raw fruits and vegetables.
James Rafferty, speaker and director for Light Bearers Ministry in Oregon State has found that two meals per day were a help to him.
Many of the Japanese Sumo wrestlers eat only once per day. When they eat and what they eat are not to be recommended for other reasons. (They'll often eat a very large meal late in the day with large amounts of carbohydrates such as pasta.) However, their goal is weight gain and if more than one meal per day was the way to do it they would eat more than once. This is evidence that you do not have to eat frequently to gain weight.
James White: "During the past three years I have dispensed with flesh meats, and have taken but two meals a day. I have worked hard and incessantly as few men do, and have come up from one hundred and thirty-four pounds to one hundred and eighty." (James White, husband of well-known health writer, Ellen White. Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene p.221)
Eating less often gives the digestive system a chance to completely digest each meal and be better prepared for the next one. Eating too often tires the digestive system and makes it less efficient.
Don't eat between meals
For a healthy weight gain diet don't eat between meals. The effect of eating between meals has been studied. Eating again before the stomach has finished doing its job on the previous meal and has emptied its contents causes serious problems with digestive function and efficiency.
Think of eating peanuts. You wouldn't try to swallow them whole. Imagine this (better not to do it): you pop a handful of peanuts into your mouth, chew them thoroughly and just when you are ready to swallow you add another one (maybe the biggest one you can find). Wouldn't you then continue chewing until the new peanut was also well broken up before trying to swallow the whole works?
Your stomach works the same way without you being aware of it. If new food arrives, the stomach starts working to get the new food to the right consistency to pass on to the intestines. The first batch just keeps churning around in your stomach with the new food and, depending on the item, and how long it has already been there may cause putrefaction or fermentation. Radiometric studies have documented stomach food retention times as a function of meal frequency. It is surprising how long some of the food from one meal can remain in the stomach when other food is regularly introduced. So, for a healthy weight gain diet don't eat between meals.
Do not overeat - maybe even fast
Again this sounds like the wrong strategy for a healthy weight gain diet but it also is related to digestive system efficiency. The main objective and short-term result of fasting is generally not weight loss but health in other ways. Often, if eating habits have been wrong for some time (and this wrong might well include eating lots and often in an attempt to gain weight) the digestive system, being constantly overworked, may lose much of its efficiency. The way to begin to regain this efficiency is to fast, giving the digestive organs a rest. This allows the body to concentrate its energy on tasks other than food digestion and generally get things working better including the digestive mechanisms.
"Others become thin and feeble because their vital powers are exhausted in disposing of an excess of food. The liver is burdened in its effort to cleanse the blood of impurities, and illness is the result." (Ellen White, Ministry of Healing p. 240)
Uchee Pines Health Conditioning Center in Seale, Alabama recommends fasting with only water for two days. This apparently is long enough to send a signal to the body something like "there is a food shortage going on here - better start packing away the groceries." A healthy weight gain diet needs to include digestive efficiency and fasting does this.
Chew your food well
I got just a moment to ask one well-known health speaker (Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute) about this problem - trying to gain weight - and the quick and simple answer was: "Chew your food well and exercise." The topic of exercise will come soon but think about the logic of chewing your food well. Your body cannot utilize anything until goes through a series of steps:
- Mechanical breakdown into small pieces - chewing and churning in the stomach.
- Chemical alteration into small molecular units - chemical and enzymatic activity.
- Absorption into the blood stream for distribution to the cells.
- Metabolism to produce energy to carry out the needs of the organism.
Have you ever eaten certain foods, especially things like corn on the cob or foods containing whole seeds such as flax, sunflower or sesame and seen evidence of it later in the toilet? If you are passing whole seeds it's obvious that at least part of your digestive system is not working well. And that is most likely the first part; the part over which you have conscious control. Make it a habit to chew your food thoroughly. Your body will get more caloric value from the same amount of food and you will enjoy it more. A healthy weight gain diet requires that you actually digest your food.
By the way, here is one tip for your friends with the opposite problem - those who would like to lose weight. Most of those people eat too much food just because it tastes good so they want lots of it. Here is the question: from what do you gain enjoyment when you eat - the final amount of food in your stomach or the time it is in your mouth, in contact with your taste buds? In fact, many just cram it in to the bursting point and then the discomfort begins and probably lasts much longer than the time they enjoyed the food while wolfing it down.
Avoid large amounts of liquid with meals
For a healthy weight gain diet, eating food with the right amount of water content is important for proper digestion. This has been understood for a long time:
"Eat slowly and allow the saliva to mingle with the food. The more liquid there is taken into the stomach with the meals the more difficult it is for the food to digest ... The benefit you derive from your food does not depend so much on the quantity eaten as on its thorough digestion, nor the gratification of the taste so much on the amount of food swallowed as on the length of time it remains in the mouth." (Ellen White, Health Reformer, Review and Herald 1884 no. 31)
I like to think that if our meal is mostly in the form of fresh fruits and veggies we are getting about the right amount of liquid with the meal. Drinking a large amount, soups etc. will dilute the digestive process. If you are eating quite a bit of fairly dry food in a meal such as bread or popcorn it might be appropriate to drink something to get the liquid proportion to a more ideal level.
Follow these tips towards a healthy weight gain diet, choose foods for overall health and exercise and you will gain healthy weight and have better health as a benefit.