Q. I’m a 30-year-old man and I’m struggling to gain weight. I exercise 5-7 hours a week. My health is good. I really enjoy vegetables and other healthy foods, but it’s hard to get enough calories without adding soda and dessert to my meal of chicken salad, for example. I know sugar causes a host of bad health effects, but what alternatives are there? How can I get more calories without causing collateral damage?
A. You’re absolutely right: You don’t want to get those extra calories by loading up on soda and dessert!
(See also: Why is Sugar Bad for You?)
Fortunately, I can think of lots of ways to add calories without resorting to foods that undermine your health and nutrition.
Focus on Nutritious, Calorie-Dense Foods
Nuts and nut butters, olives, and avocados are all nutritious foods that are relatively high in fats, which makes them calorie-dense. So:
- Add sliced avocado to salads and sandwiches
- Snack on nuts and olives
- Add a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter to your smoothie.
(See also: How to Make the Perfect Smoothie)
Skip the Low Fat Options
You can increase your calorie intake by choosing whole milk, cheese, and yogurt rather than the low-fat versions of these foods.
Don’t Get Watered Down
You could also try one of the strategies I outline in “How to Eat Less without Feeling Hungry,” but in reverse. To avoid getting too full before you’ve eaten enough calories, avoid drinking large amounts of water or tea with or right before meals.
Turn Down the Volume
Vegetables can be up to 98% water and all that water takes up a lot of space! Of course, you don’t want to back off on the veggies; they’re loaded with nutrition. Instead, cook them to reduced the water content and the volume. You might have difficulty eating six cups of raw spinach in a salad, for example, but no trouble eating a cup of cooked spinach (it’s the same amount!).
Layer on Healthy Calories
- Sautee that spinach in olive oil to add more healthy calories. (Add some garlic too. It’s not high in calories but it’s delicious)
- Top it with a sprinkle of toasted almonds and add another hundred tasty calories.
- Or, try my recipe for Asian Style Broccoli Salad …and double up the nuts!
Got the idea?