Diet to gain weight - fattening diet


The diet to gain weight is a nutritional regime aimed at increasing body weight and body mass index (BMI or BMI).

Fundamental principles to remember

It should be stressed that weight gain should not occur in a reckless manner; on the contrary, it is better to respect the right ratio between fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) as much as possible.

In other words, the goal of those who want to gain weight should be to increase muscle mass without exceeding the values ​​of body fat compatible with good health.

Furthermore, we remind you that:

  • The body of fertile women must contain more adipose tissue than the male one
  • 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 above all on the initial condition, when the weight gain is large, it becomes almost impossible to gain uniform growth between FFM and FM; in general, in these cases, the fraction that increases the most is the adipose fraction (except for some rare cases, such as the practice of bodybuilding with the use of anabolics).

Diet applications to gain weight

Subjects who try to gain weight fall more frequently into two categories:

  • People underweight (BMI or BMI <18.5), which can benefit concretely from the increase in body mass.
  • People in normal weight (BMI or IMC 18.5-25.0) who "see themselves thin"; in this case it is frequent that, in addition to the perception of thinness, a dissatisfaction is manifested for one's own body image referred to some very specific forms or proportions (for example: the size of the breast and the roundness of the buttocks for women, and the arm, calf or shoulder width for men).

Underweight people

Underweight people benefit significantly from the restoration of a normal body mass index.

Some positive effects normally found in those who, from underweight, reach the weight normal range are:

  • For women with amenorrhea, a regular menstrual cycle is restored (menstruation usually recurs when the weight is slightly higher than that in which the interruption occurred)
  • Improvement of anemia and related blood parameters (iron, ferritin, etc.)
  • Hypotension improvement (low blood pressure)
  • Improvement of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Improved constipation
  • Sensation of greater energy, less sensation of cold etc.
  • Decreased risk of complications for the fetus 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 the lack of calcium and vitamin D.

People in normal weight

The world is beautiful because it is varied and as such populated not only by line maniacs, but also by people who wish to put on weight.

It is thus that these individuals, envied and labeled by others as subjects with a rather wide backside (in spite of its real dimensions ...), are desperately looking for a way to put on a few pounds.

I suggest these people pay close attention to the unfortunate 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, fatty liver disease, 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 spend a few words on thinness and its meaning.

This article is aimed above all at those who suffer from ascertained constitutional thinness and who, as such, enjoy excellent health (eg adolescent thinness due to growth, 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 one's thinness is accompanied by a sense of general malaise or specific disorders, it is therefore advisable to carry out a preventive medical assessment .

If instead you are sure that your condition is absolutely physiological and independent of physical or psychological disorders, you can intervene by adjusting your diet.


Features necessary for weight gain and lean mass

Usually, those who are too thin would like to put on a few pounds to mask a body that is considered too thin.

For this reason, as we have already said, often the main objective is to buy some muscle mass, limiting the gain of fat.

However, a similar purpose 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 supplied by the diet are inevitably deposited mainly in the form of adipose tissue. The association of an adequate caloric intake with a physical activity mainly based on the use of heavy workloads, and on the right recovery times, increases the percentage of muscle mass and only marginally the fat mass.

Fundamental principles

How to structure the diet to gain weight?

The best method to increase body weight must respect some fundamental principles:

  • Follow a high-calorie diet, that is with a contribution of total calories (from carbohydrates, proteins and lipids) higher than that of a normocaloric diet (which instead should allow to maintain a constant weight)
  • Do not increase total calories beyond + 10% of the total. For example, if the normocaloric diet of a certain individual is equal to 2, 100 kcal per day, the corresponding high calorie is 2, 310 kcal.
  • Maintain the general nutritional balance, or treat the distribution of energy nutrients, the contribution of vitamins, minerals and other nutritional components (fibers, antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics, etc.)
  • Keep the fat at 30 and no more than 35%. For example, in a 2, 310 kcal per day high-calorie diet, 30-35% of lipids correspond to 693-809 kcal or 77-90 g
  • Do not take less than the normal amount of carbohydrates to favor protein; carbohydrates (complex and simple) should ideally be included between 50-55% of total calories. For example, in a 2310 kcal diet the total carbohydrates should provide 1, 155-1, 270 kcal, or about 310-340 kcal.
  • Do not exceed with proteins, especially of animal origin (they must correspond to 13-20% of total calories or to 0.8-1.5 g / kg of body weight)
  • Do not exceed with saturated fats and cholesterol; if in excess, they can favor the appearance of LDL hypercholesterolemia (bad cholesterol). Cholesterol should not exceed the threshold of 300 mg / day 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 overdo the added simple sugars (excess is harmful to tooth health and, in predisposed subjects, to 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 salted foods; if in excess, in predisposed persons, sodium may favor the appearance of arterial hypertension
  • Do not exceed with the fibers and with the antinutritional factors related to them (they hinder the nutritional absorption and decrease the weight increase); the fibers must remain around 30 g / day
  • Don't consume junk food and drinks; besides containing cholesterol, saturated or hydrogenated fats (with a significant fraction of those in trans conformation) and simple sugars, they are rich in residues harmful to health, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, acrylamide, etc.
  • Do not eat excessively abundant and / or rich meals that are difficult to digest, especially in the evening hours. They can promote the appearance of discomfort in the digestive tract (gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis, etc.) and impair sleep.

Choice of Foods

See also: How to get fat

What foods to choose in the diet to gain weight?

Let us pause for a moment in the evaluation of the most suitable foods to structure the diet to gain weight.

As we saw in the previous paragraph, even when we try to gain weight we must not forget the health aspect of the diet.

It would not make sense to try to buy a few pounds by smearing a margarine sandwich, frequently eating fast food 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 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 containing them (brioche, breadsticks, ice cream, confectionery, 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 the meat with the fishery products, with the eggs (in all, about 3 a week), with the low-fat cheeses, with the vegetable derivatives (tofu, seitan, wheat muscle, etc.) better if they are made up of legume-vegetable union .
  • If you find it difficult to reach the recommended protein intake through normal nutrition, you can possibly resort to protein supplements
  • Maintain high fruit and vegetable intake, but be careful not to exceed 30 g of total fiber per day; often this happens when, with 4-6 daily portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and many legumes are consumed.
  • Perform regular physical activity. It would not make sense to reduce the sport practice to avoid burning too many calories, thus renouncing all its beneficial effects; moreover, some types of motor practice (essentially those that involve the use of overloads) favor the increase of muscle mass.

Practical examples

Hypercaloric diet exampleExample diet to gain weight