10 Tips for Athletes Struggling to Gain Weight

At Peak Athletics we coach a wide variety of athletes daily with just as many goals when it comes to body weight and performance. Gaining weight…solid weight…takes just as much dedication and attention as proper training.

Below are 10 tips we have used with our athletes in order to pack on solid pounds that will improve their performance.

  1. Eat with Big Eaters

Almost every time we ask an athlete who has been having a hard time gaining weight what they ate that day, it equates to the caloric intake of a toddler. They typically either don’t have an idea of how much food they need to intake or how much they are actually consuming in a typical day. We encourage them to get around a table and eat with big eaters! If they finish their plate and get seconds, guess what…you are too!

  1. Cook with more Oil

When you are gaining weight you need to take every opportunity to add healthy calories to your day. Cooking with oils is an easy way to add 500-100 calories a day! We are big fans of coconut and olive oil.

  1. Eat Faster

The typical advice is to eat slower and give your food time to digest. In this case, we want to beat the clock! Fit more food in before your body has the chance to tell you that you are full. Sit down, pay attention to your meal and get it in!

  1. Prepare convenient snacks

To pack on some pounds you need to consistently feed your body. Having snacks ready to go and at convenient locations throughout your day will make it easy to stay on track. We make our own jerky and homemade protein energy bites which are packed with quality calories.

  1. Use Liquid Nutrition

With many of our clientele we try to stick with whole foods to get their daily nutrition. However, when you are gaining weight it can be hard to get enough food in through real food alone. An easy way to get extra calories is to consume several protein shakes throughout the day.

However, try to stay away from the garbage weight gainers that are packed with sugars and low quality proteins. We recommend using a quality low carb protein powder and then adding in your own almond or whole milk, coconut oil, fruits, nut butters, greek yogurt, oats, flax, veggies, etc and you’ve got over 1,000 calories from good sources!

One other note with liquids, make sure you are consuming plenty of water each day. We recommend most of our average sized athletes drink 3-4 Liters per day at a minimum in the off-season.

  1. Don’t skip feedings

Consistency is the key to progress in any endeavor, weight gain is no exception. Make a plan, stick to it and don’t miss!

One common mistake we run in to is skipping breakfast. Many athletes will wake up late, miss breakfast and then eat lunch at school. This gives them no fuel or calories for nearly 12 hours!!! Do NOT skip breakfast!!

  1. Review your medications

Many medications can have a profound impact on your appetite. We see this most often with ADHD/ADD medications and suppressing appetites, especially at breakfast. It is not in my scope of practice to make recommendations but if this is a concern than talk to your doctor about other options. We have seen dramatic changes after switching medications in the past.

  1. Track your progress

Just like training, if you track your nutrition intake you can make sure you are staying on track. One easy way we use is the app, My Fitness Pal. Every time you eat just hit the little blue + and enter your food. At the end of the day you can look at your total caloric intake and also see if broken down into macronutrients, etc.

  1. Make it count!

The goal of weight gain is to improve athletic performance. If you fill yourself full of empty calories, garbage carbs and sugars than you will perform that way. You will get out of your body what you put into it. Take the time and eat calorie dense, healthy foods, good fats, mega shakes, etc so you are filling up on nutritious foods that will make you better, faster and stronger.

  1. Make time and plan ahead

None of this happens by accident. To be successful you need to make time and prioritize your meals and preparations. Everyone has a little bit different approach to this. For some it is meal planning and cooking your week’s worth of food on Sunday. For us it is making a menu and shopping on Sunday so that we know what to cook each day. Whatever works for you, do it!

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