Doing a gainer: healthy ways to pack on pounds

What is the best way to gain weight without supplements or other weight gain products?

Surprisingly, the best way to gain weight is also a great way to lose weight – weight training. The difference is, when you’re trying to gain weight you need to increase the number of calories you’re eating. If you wanted to lose weight, you’d need to decrease them.

Weight training will help you gain weight by building more muscle, which weighs about 22% more than an equal amount of fat. To get the most muscle-building effect from lifting weights, use a weight that is heavy enough to only allow you to do 8 to 10 repetitions. As soon as you complete a set, decrease the weight by 1/2 to 1 pound and pump out as many reps as possible. This is called drop setting, and it quickly fatigues a muscle, which is key to making it stronger and bigger.

The next step is to start eating more – but don’t stuff yourself with chips, cookies and burgers. If you fill yourself up on fatty foods, the weight that you gain will more likely be fat. And, lots of saturated fat can up your cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. Instead, look for foods with lots of calories but less than 10% of those calories coming from saturated fat. So even if the food is high in total fat, most of it will be heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, like in olive oil. By eating an extra 500 calories a day, you should gain about a pound a week. Here are some good choices:


Food Calories Saturated Fat
Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat 433 4
(8% of calories)
Sunflower seeds, 1 oz toasted 175 2
(10% of calories)
Walnuts, 1 oz 172 1
(5% of calories)
Low-fat granola, 1 cup 380 1
(2% of calories)
Orange juice, 8 oz 112 0

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