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Gaining weight for an athlete is sometimes a long journey that can be a very difficult task.  One has to consume more (surplus) calories than they burn to gain weight consistently.  The key word is consistency.  If you’re not consistently eating more calories throughout the course of the day, week, or month, then don’t expect to gain weight. 

Consistency is the key to most anything.  If you’re trying to gain weight you should be eating at least 5 times a day and majority of the calories should be from whole foods. 

Clint Darden recently released a few videos that shared tips about how to successfully gain weight. I advise watching the videos to make sure that you understand that this is only for competitive and dedicated athletes who are serious about wanting to gain weight.  In addition, here are some quick recommendations and helpful tips that will help you in your journey in gaining weight. 

Get around big eaters, and make eating a social challenge.

Try to eat with others that have the same goals and aspirations as you, makes it easier to hold each other accountable.

Cook and eat with more oil.

When an athlete's day is spent "uncomfortably full," finding convenient ways to add calories is incredibly important - especially if that individual is active all day and can't be worried about getting sick in the gym or on the field.  Adding in some healthy oils - olive and coconut are good "go-to" choices - can make it easier to get an extra 200+ calories at each meal.  The healthy fats the athletes get are nice perks of this approach, too.

Eat faster.

If you want to lose weight then eat slower, but many people fail to appreciate that eating faster is actually a great option for true "hard-gainers."  You see, it takes time for the body to perceive fullness, so if you can get your calories in a bit faster, you can essentially trick yourself out of fullness. 

Have convenient calories wherever you can’t miss them.

One strategy is to make homemade protein bars.  They're made with healthier ingredients, and without preservatives.  Almonds, cashews, walnuts, really all nuts are packed with good calories as well as peanut butter.  The key is to plan ahead and have things at your convenience to grab as a small meal between the big three (breakfast, lunch, dinner). 

Use liquid nutrition.

With most athletes, we heavily emphasize eating real food and not getting calories from drinks.  In those who struggle to gain weight, however, big shakes can really help.

With that said, stay away from those garbage high-calorie weight gainers.  They're usually loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats - not to mention low-quality protein.  I would always much rather have athletes make their own shakes with a decent low-carb protein powder, then add almond or whole milk, you can also add coconut oil, fruits, natural nut butters, Greek yogurt, oats, ground flax, and even veggies.  If you're going to take in 1,000 calories in a shake, you might as well get some nutritional value from it.

Write it down.

One of the best ways to evaluate how much you're eating - whether you're trying to lose weight/fat or gain weight/muscle - is to simply write it down.  I'd estimate that in 95% of cases, having a "hard-gainer" do these immediately eliminates the "but I eat all the time" argument.  Sometimes, just knowing that you aren't trying as hard as you think you are is the biggest key to lacking progress.

Review medications.

Many medications can have a profound impact on appetite.  The most prominent effects I've seen are with ADD/ADHD medications, as most reduce appetite.  In one instance, I had an athlete struggle to gain weight for almost two years on Adderall, but then they put on over 20 pounds in a year after switching medications for their ADHD.  It's completely outside of my scope of practice to make recommendations on this front, but if appetite suppression is a concern, it'd be good to talk with your doctor about other options that might be available.

Make time instead of finding time.

Having an insanely busy schedule usually leads people to eat unhealthy, convenient foods - and they get fatter.  Many folks who are underweight actually go in the opposite direction; they simply forget to eat when things get busy.  If you want to gain weight, you need to make eating a priority - and that starts with plugging a specific time you'll eat into your schedule.


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