Nowadays it seems like everyone is looking for a solution to weight loss. But if you’re reading this health article, you might actually be looking for a solution to the opposite problem: You want to know how to gain weight and build muscle in a healthy manner without having to resort to harmful drugs or expensive weight gain supplements that don’t work.
In a nutshell, weight gain can be achieved with the combination of good nutrition and a consistent weight training program. When it comes to nutrition, it’s essential to have a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and good fats if you want to add weight. Proteins are necessary, because they repair and rebuild muscles after a workout. The average person should take in 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight to be healthy. But if you want to gain weight, you should consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Red meat, eggs, fish, poultry are great sources of protein that also provide important amino acids that aid in healthy weight gain.
And don’t leave out the carbohydrates, which the body stores in the muscle tissues and liver in the form of glucose. When your body needs energy, it turns to these stored carbs for fuel. If you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will convert protein into carbohydrates to get energy, thereby robbing your body of the proteins it needs to help you gain weight.
Carbohydrates are comprised of three types: simple, complex and dietary fiber. Simple carbohydrates can be obtained from sources like fruit juices; complex carbohydrates come from potatoes, oats, brown rice, whole grains and pasta; and dietary fiber comes from vegetables such as sweet corn, black beans and broccoli, among many others. The best approach is to get your calories from eating raw foods, but this is not always possible for people who have trouble gaining weight. For them, meal replacements can be important tools.
To implement a weight gain program, it’s imperative that you eat several smaller meals a day rather than three larger meals. Why is this important? Because as the frequency of meals increases, so will nutrient absorption rates. More frequent nutrient delivery also means your body will be in a better position to regulate insulin levels, which factor into weight gain. The problem is that if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have time to prepare six meals a day. Meal replacements, which are commonly referred to as as MRPs (meal replacement powders), can provide a solution.
As the name suggests, MRPs are supplements that replicate the effect of having eaten a meal. MRPs don’t do anything more than a good, healthy meal; they just make eating more convenient and portable. You might think MRPs would be a grim and tasteless option. But the good news is that as more people have used and become knowledgeable about them, they have forced nutrition companies to come up with palatable products that really work. Quality MRP brands like Prolab, EAS, Met-Rx and Optimum Nutrition not only taste good; they contain an assortment of vital proteins and vitamins. (That’s not always the case with MRPs you find in the grocery store, so buyer beware.) You don’t need a kitchen to prepare an MRP; all you need is water or juice and a shaker. It’s almost like having a personal chef who provides nutritional meals at your command, any time of the day.
There are a few things to consider before you head out to the store and buy your first can of MRP. By far the most important criteria is the taste. No matter how nutritious it is, if you don’t like how it tastes, it isn’t going to help you. Next are the upgrades. Beware of companies that add extra whey protein or glutamine because these are rip-offs.
Photo by Laura Nubuck
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