Gain Weight Without Making Yourself Sick
Move over “GOMAD” (Gallon of Milk A Day) and searching Dr. Google for the answers “how to gain weight fast”…Let these 14 essentials light the way.
So you want to gain weight, but you “can’t.”
Some people call it a “hard gainer,” others call it “genetics,” others call it “not eating enough” or “working out too much,” and others wish they had your problem.
No matter what your theory is behind why you CAN’T seem to gain weight…it sucks.
While the majority of America is seemingly hyper focused on weight loss with 1 in 3 Americans overweight (1) (and more than 85% of all people overweight by 2030 if trends continue, 2), for those who struggle with putting weight on (or keeping it on), it can feel equally disheartening. Being underweight can affect your body image, strength and often times even health.
I get it.
“I’m a Hard Gainer” (Story of my LIFE)
For most of my life I’ve struggled with my weight.
My pre-teens were characterized by being a healthy “early bloomer”—one of the tallest in my class, the first to shave my legs and wear a sports bra by age 9, and ranking in the top percentile on the BMI charts for my height and weight.
By age 10, I forcefully put a dramatic halt to this—wanting nothing to do with womanhood, and more than anything, wanting to be considered thin, pretty and popular. My adolescence, teens and early 20’s were spent battling my weight and destroying my metabolism through malnourishment, subsisting on fat free yogurt, baby carrots, apples and deli turkey. I counted calories and fat grams as if it were my job, and there was a time I even feared water.
Force Feeding Weight Gain: Hypermetabolic
Doctors sent me in and out of treatment centers and hosptials, like I was on vacation, and my weight forcefully yo-yoed, as protocols forced me to sit on a couch for 3-9 months at a time, eating Egg McMuffins, Ensure shakes and Pop-tarts to put weight on and keep me alive.
My nutritionists were always “shocked” at how my body would respond to the “absurd” amount of calories and large meal plans they’d put me on, telling me I was “hypermetabolic” due to the years of starvation and metabolic disruption to my system.
Eating a Michael Phelps’ Olympic Diet
Come age 24, when I chose to recover from my 15 years of anorexia and orthorexia, this once more meant fluctuations in my weight—rebounding up from death’s doorstep at 79 pounds and feeling like the walking dead, to a “healthier place” where my body could do things a normal 24-year-old body should do (like menstruate, think clearly,and sweat in yoga class).
Nevertheless, as I once more began the classic re-feeding “weight gain” diet, my body still struggled. At the time, I was in eating disorder treatment, and being fed the equivalent of what Michael Phelps ate to win his dozens of Olympic Medals—from takeout pizza, to milkshakes, ice cream, Snickers bars, peanut butter crackers, bagels and waffles—without burning a calorie or swimming a stroke my metabolism was super fast, and yet the my gain weight process was SUPER SLOW.
For almost a year, constipation and bloating were my daily nemesis, I rarely saw a green vegetable of any sort, and no one cared that I was both lactose intolerant and gluten intolerant, with underlying autoimmune diseases that wreak havoc on the body when fed inflammatory foods. However, as forceful and painful as it felt, I did gain weight, and everyone else (but myself) were happy with the number on the scale.
Confused: Health vs. Unhealthy Weight Gain
Despite wanting to be healthy and also restore healthy weight myself, inside I felt awful. Why did “getting healthy” and having a “healthy body” have to be such a painful, forced process? Why did my body have such a hard time to gain weight? Not once did anyone talk to me about the real reasons why my body struggled so much to put healthy weight on—and be in a healthy place for my body.
Redefining a Healthy Body & Weight for ME
After I got out of treatment and back to the real world, in my new 40+ pound heavier body, I felt like I was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz— not in Kansas anymore. In my new skin, and world of new opportunity before me (instead of standing face to face with death), I knew I had one of two choices—move forward or go back to my old ways.
I had no idea what “maintaining” my weight looked like—since for the past 15 years, my world had seemingly revolved around others wanting me to gain weight, and me fearing it so much…but I knew I did NOT want to go back down the road I had traveled.
In my new skin, I did my best to accept myself just as I was, with a few more rolls and much fuller face, without letting the old diet mentality slip back in—making me fear every morsel I put into my mouth.
Thankfully, at this time, I found an amazing CrossFit community that showed me the beauty of being strong, self-confident, and eating real whole foods. I decided to finish my Doctorate in Occupational Therapy and later furthered my education in Nutrition—both of which gave me realistic insight and truth about what holistic health is all about. And my faith and belief in the fact that I am truly fearfully and wonderfully made and here for a greater purpose than my body helped me stand firm.
Weight was seemingly no longer my issue!
Weight Issues Strike Again
Fast forward to age 28-30, my freedom from body image and the never ending struggle to gain weight came back with vengeance. This time, not in the form of an eating disorder, but a little something something known as IBS and SIBO—small intestinal bacterial overgrowth—gut dysfunctions where I could not keep food and nutrients in my body, no matter how much I ate or how healthy I ate. While I was no longer eating a steady diet of baby carrots or the opposite treatment extremes (fast food) at the time, everything I put into my mouth, ended right back up—in the toilet.
Bloating, gas, loose and watery stools and chronic diarrhea struck and lingered for a good 6-months until I really realized something was up beyond “bad digestion.”
In that time, I lost a good 10 to 15 pounds of redefined healthy muscle and feel-good body image I’d begun to find post-treatment and anti-eating disorder.
I felt horrible—inside and out—and self conscious, like people who looked at me, and knew my back story of my eating disorder, saw me right back “there”—at square one in the thick of “ED.”
Several people commented, “You should put on weight.” Others talked about me behind my back, “Lauryn has no right being on a stage talking about her eating disorder past. She doesn’t look healthy and she’s obviously still struggling.” And still others told me straight to my face, “Lauryn, if you’d put more weight on, your words and work you do to help others heal from their own food and body struggles would have more weight.”
An “angel investor” wanted to give me $100,000 to drive my bigger vision forward of helping people on a global scale and opening up a functional medicine center in the heart of Texas…until he met me face to face. He knew my back story—my recovery from a death gripping eating disorder and had seen my news feature on CBS—but after meeting me, he said he’d only fund my business on one condition—I gain about 15-20 pounds.
Will I ALWAYS Struggle with Weight?!
This set me over the edge—frustrated with my body and my weight.
Once I really realized that the SIBO and IBS had taken a toll on my body, I went to work on gaining weight…like it was my full time job.
More than anything, I wanted to help others and see my vision through, and if the only thing I had to do was put on 15-20 pounds….I could do anything right?
Weight gain proved to be harder than ever. No matter how much I ate—upwards of 3000 calories—the weight would not go on. And more and more came out.
About this same time is when I began to get more serious about the practice and art of functional medicine, and I threw myself into both self and formal study—training under some of the top leaders in medicine and the evolving functional medicine field.
Functional medicine is ALL about helping people get to the root of the health struggles, understanding what is going on “under the hood” or what is holding them back from being the healthy, vibrant person they want to be.
And as I began studying to help others…I also began learning and studying and discovering the answers to also helping myself…
Long story short, I discovered several reasons—real reasons—my body has struggled to gain weight for a LONG TIME…and several reasons why your body probably also struggles with weight issues too—both weight gain or weight loss.
You DON’T Have to Struggle with Weight Forever
No matter your personal history and relationship with your body and your weight; and whether you want to gain weight or lose weight, you don’t have to struggle forever—especially when you better understand the root causes driving weight dysfunction for you in the first place.
While I am not 100% where I want to be yet, I am getting there—up almost 8 pounds—and gradually healing the underlying mechanisms that have kept my body from being the optimal healthiest version of myself for YEARS.
If you’re tired of fighting your weight, here are 14 REAL reasons you can’t gain weight (beyond just being a “hard gainer”) and 14 essentials to reverse your struggle.
14 REAL REASONS YOU CAN’T GAIN WEIGHT + 14 ESSENTIALS TO GAIN WEIGHT THE HEALTHY WAY
1. Your Gut Microbiome is Unhealthy
The gut is the gateway to health (healthy weight included). Your gut is home to trillions of gut bacteria (100 trillion to be exact). Your gut bacteria and digestive system as a whole are responsible for: helping your body digest and absorb every single nutrient you eat, using every vitamin and mineral in your food, detoxifying every single toxin that comes in contact with your body, boosting your immune system, telling your neurotransmitters how to “think,” and governing how fast, slow and healthy your metabolism and hormones function.
Gut bacteria can be “good” (healthy), “bad” (pathogenic, infectious) or “commensal” (neither good nor bad. In the case of the weight gain dilemma, if you have a chronic gut infection (like parasites or unhealthy bacteria), bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), yeast or fungal overgrowth, or other “gut problems” (like low stomach acid, IBS, “leaky gut”), then weight gain will be an uphill battle.
Poor gut health is related to malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, cortisol imbalances (i.e. stress) and a super slow or, in your case, a super fast metabolism.
While most studies around gut bacteria and weight tend to show the healthier your gut bacteria, the healthier your weight is (particularly for those who are overweight and obese), clinical and empirical practice also shows the opposite to be true: the more unhealthy your gut bacteria, the less healthy your body composition and weight (3).
If you are genetically predisposed to be a “hard gainer” already, you can bet your bottom dollar that you will struggle more with your weight if your gut is not healthy in the first place.
Weight Gain Essential: Boost Your Gut Health
Boost your gut health in your daily life with these steps:
- Take a daily soil based probiotic and prebiotic
- Take 1-2 digestive enzymes with meals
- Add apple cider vinegar to water to boost stomach acid, and eat 1-2 spoonfuls of sauerkraut or fermented foods with each day
- Consume natural herbs and compounds that boost gut function and heal leaky gut such as: ginger, cilantro, oregano, raw Manuka honey, peppermint, collagen, colostrum, and L-Glutamine powder to add to water.
- Eat home cooked meals as much as possible, chew your food
Test, don’t guess. Work with a functional medicine practitioner to look into underlying gut dysfunctions holding you back from being in the healthy body you want to be. This may include stool testing, organic acids urine testing, SIBO breath testing, blood work or a mix of testing essentials.
2. You’re Not Maximizing Your Meals
Eating to gain weight can leave you stuffed—wondering how you can fit more “in”—especially when it seems like your weight is not budging. Everyone has their “sweet spot”—the right amount of foods that their body is able to utilize towards gaining weight, and it can be easy to undershoot this when it seems like you’re already eating all the time.
Your solution? Just suck it up and eat it! When I’ve hit this point, I find that instead of trying to fit in a whole other meal or snack, I instead look to maximize the meals I am already eating—and gradually add just a little bit more, so that my body and gut doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
Weight Gain Essential: Add Just a Little Bit Extra
Boost or maximize the meals you are already eating. Add:
- An extra tablespoon of coconut oil to your veggies
- A quarter of a cup more of sweet potatoes or squash
- An extra ounce of protein
- 5-6 more raw nuts
- A tablespoon of raw honey to your bedtime tea,
- Or (my personal fave), a heaping spoonful of Keto-friendly ice cream or homemade coconut ice cream after dinner. Little things can make a big difference.
3. You’re Counting Quantity (Not Quality)
Calories and macros are only half the weight gain battle. Most blogs and articles on weight gain, and even personal trainers, will tell you to focus on “eating more,” “eating big,” “carbing up,” “getting lots of protein,” and healthy fats, but rarely do they talk about the quality of the foods you are eating. You can eat all the Tyson (hormone and antibiotic) raised chicken, pesticide-laden broccoli, and carb-rich rice or pasta in the world, but if the food sources are poor quality foods, you may as well be eating, but starving (at a cellular level).
Perfection and 100% organic foods are not the goal here, but a nutrient-dense diet is. For instance, the time broccoli makes it from the farm to the grocery store shelf, it has already lost well over 70% of its nutrients (4).
What this means for you in your weight gain journey? The less nutrient dense your diet, the less vitamins and minerals your body is able to use to “build on” towards your metabolic goals, at a cellular level, and the less likely your body is to absorb that food in the first place.
Weight Gain Essential: Aim for Quality Nutrients
Choose the best quality foods you can afford and vary up the foods within your diet often. (Eating the same things leaves your body and metabolism starving for certain nutrients—even if you are hitting your calorie or macro goals). Nutrient dense foods include:
- Pasture-raised poultry
- Grass-fed meats
- Wild caught fish
- Organ Meats
- Bone Broth
- Organic “Dirty Dozen” at least
- Consume veggies within 1-3 days of buying, if possible
- Cooked and sautéed veggies (digest best)
- Dark leafy greens
- Prebiotic fiber rich veggies & tubers (cooked and cooled potatoes/sweet potatoes, cooked and cooled white rice, green plantains, asparagus, onion, garlic, jicama, rutabaga, fennel)
Especially antioxidant rich and digestive boosting fruits like:
- Bananas (green tipped)
- Avocado (1 small, 1/2 Medium, 1/3 Large=serving)
- Avocado Oil
- Beef Tallow
- Coconut Butter
- Coconut Flakes Unsweetened
- Coconut Milk (additive-free; organic caned best)
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut Yogurt
- Duck Fat
- Egg Yolks (pasture raised, organic)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fatty Cold Water Fish (Salmon, Sardines, Cod, Halibut)
- Fatty Cuts of Meat (grass-fed, organic, pasture raised)
- Flax Oil
- Goat’s Milk Butter
- Grass-fed Butter
- Grass-Fed Dairy* (Yogurt, Cream; No sugar, no additives, full-fat, plain; Limit amounts)
- Grass-fed Goat’s Milk
- Lard, Non-hydrogenated
- Mayonnaise (Avoid brands with canola oil or sugar)
- Palm Oil, Red Palm Oil
- Palm Shortening (for baking)
- 1-2 condiment sized servings per day
- Fermented/Pickled Veggies
- Fermented Condiments (Mustard, Ketchup, Relish, Horseradish, Salsas, etc.)
- Kefir (Water, Coconut)
- Kombucha (low sugar like Health Ade brand—only 2 grams of sugar, or make your own)
- Kvass (Beet Kvass)
- Miso & Natto (fermented varieties, no-additives)
- Yogurt (Coconut Yogurt; full-fat grass-fed dairy with “live and active cultures only)
4. You’re Eating Foods You’re Intolerant To
Food intolerances can go undiagnosed for years. Unlike allergies where you get a direct reactive “histamine” response (wheezing, sneezing, watery eyes), food intolerances are less overt—manifesting as other signs and symptoms like malabsorption, bacterial overgrowth, fatigue, chronic stress, skin breakouts, lowered immunity, and metabolic disturbances, including difficulty gaining or losing weight).
Even “healthy” foods can be “trigger foods” for food intolerances if you’re immunity or gut function is not able to handle them. For instance, eggs, nuts, grains, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and even broccoli (FODMAP) are common irritants to individuals with underlying gut issues.
In addition, while foods like gluten get a “bad rep” and many people have chosen to avoid it (because it seems “healthier” all around), there are dozens of other foods with high cross-reactivity to gluten, such as: instant coffee, dairy, rice, buckwheat, tapioca and quinoa (in fact, many of these ingredients are often found in gluten free products).
Weight Gain Essential: Experiment with Foods that Work for Your Body
If you are struggling to put on weight and tend to eat the same things most days, experiment with food variety or eliminating questionable trigger foods for you to see how your body (and weight) respond. The top gut irritating foods many people find they are intolerant to include:
- Dairy (especially conventional dairy)
Artificial Sweeteners Note: Don’t forget that “cutting out” doesn’t mean “restricting.” Instead replace these foods with other foods, such as tigernuts, pumpkin seeds, sunbutter, and coconut butter for nuts and nut butter; starchy tubers (like butternut squash, sweet potatoes or plantains) for grains; raw honey, xylitol, or pure maple syrup in place of most commercial sweeteners (in protein powders), and coconut milk/yogurt or full fat grassfed kefir and yogurt in place of conventional dairy.
5. You’re Forgetting Vegetables
Just because you’re in “weight gain” mode doesn’t mean that veggies have to go off the table. Vegetables provide your body (and gut) with essential fibers and prebiotics for digesting your food in the first place, as well as help ease digestion (and prevent bloating and constipation). Many people neglect veggies, especially on a weight gain diet, thinking that carrots and greens means eating like a bird. However, the opposite is true. Without veggies in your diet, your body does eat like a bird (not getting the well rounded nutrients you need to build into your cellular function and metabolic processes).
Weight Gain Essential: Taste the Rainbow
Aim for 1-3 veggies with each meal—especially dark leafy greens, prebiotic and soluble fibers (like cooked and cooled potatoes/sweet potatoes, roasted squash, carrots, beets). Preferably cook, sautee, steam or roast your veggies to enhance digestion (and prevent over fullness from raw veggies).
6. You Have a “Hollow Leg” (or Metabolic/Thyroid Imbalance or Mitochondrial Dysfunction)
Do you ever feel like your have a hollow leg—like no matter what you eat or how much you eats, your food goes nowhere? Although this is a funny expression that Uncle Joey used to joke with you about over Thanksgiving turkey, it may not be too far off if you have something else going on “under the hood.”
We briefly discussed the importance of gut health in point #1, but beyond the gut, an underlying dysfunction in your thyroid (metabolic mothership) or mitochondria (cells and cellular processes) can also challenge your weight gain efforts—especially if your body has ever been subjected to chronic stress. Stress wreaks havoc on your body as a whole—from circadian rhythm dysfunction, lack of sleep, poor quality foods, eating the same things every day, overtraining or under-training, antibiotic use, long-term medication use, a history of disordered eating and toxic chemical exposure.
For instance, in a study of individuals in recovery from chronic eating disorders (i.e. individuals with long term stress on their bodies), the subjects’ resting metabolic rate increased upwards of 20% for their height and weight—some needing upwards of 5,000 calories to gain and maintain their weight (5, 6).
This is significant since eating disorders are highly associated with chronic stress, thyroid and mitochondrial disturbances (3). Another example: toxic burden from overexposure to the 85,000+ unregulated chemicals in our plastics, cleaning and hygiene chemicals, toxic beauty products, heavy metals, mold, medications, tap water and pesticides can also wreak havoc on your body at a cellular level if you’ve had your fair share (7).
What this means for your metabolism? If the “balance” of your body’s processes is thrown off, then the last thing your body may want to do is “build” or gain weight. In fact, for some thyroid disturbances or mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to skeletal muscle breakdown, nutrient deficiencies and even unwanted weight loss, as your cells and hormones can become starved at a cellular level.
Weight Gain Essential: Get a Complete Blood Panel Run + Additional Testing (if Needed)
Look under the hood. Work with a practitioner to assess your metabolic health. Get blood work completed, including a complete thyroid panel, as well as complete iron panel (since iron overload and deficiencies can also influence metabolism). Your practitioner should be able to guide you for any further testing as well for things like: mold, autoimmunity, organic acids, and heavy metals if warranted.
Here are the ideal ranges for thyroid markers:
TSH 1-2 UIU/ML or lower (Armour or compounded T3 can artificially suppress TSH)
Free T4 >1.1 NG/DL
Free T3 > 3.2 PG/ML
Reverse T3 less than a 10:1 ratio RT3:FT3
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) & Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb) < 4 IU/ML or negative
Here are ideal ranges for iron markers, depending on the season of life you’re in:
Men: 40–135 μg/dL
Pre-menopausal Women: 40–135 μg/dL
Post-menopausal Women: 40–135 μg/dL
Men: 30–200 ng/dL
Pre-menopausal women: 30–100 ng/dL
Post-menopausal Women: 30–100 ng/dL
Pre-menopausal Women: 17–45%
Post-menopausal Women: 17–45%
Men: 275–425 μg/dL
Pre-menopausal Women: 275–425 μg/dL
Post-menopausal Women: 275–425μg/dL
Men: 175–350 μg/dL
Pre-menopausal Women: 175–350 μg/dL
Post-menopausal Women: 175–350 μg/dL
Soluble Transferrin Receptor
Men: 14.5–25 nmol/L
Pre-menopausal Women: 13–25 nmol/L
Post-menopausal Women: 14.5–25 nmol/L
Reticulocyte Hemoglobin Content (CHr)
Men: 24.5–31.8 pg
Pre-menopausal Women: 24.5–31.8 pg
Post-menopausal Women: 24.5–31.8 pg
7. You’re Eating on the Go
Optimal digestion happens in a “parasympathetic state” (rest and digest). Eating on the go, in addition to standing up while eating, distracted eating (watching TV, checking your phone) or eating out at restaurants, (more than eating in) is stressful for the body’s digestive system.Often coupled with this is also the dilemma of not chewing your food enough. The result? Poorly digested and poorly absorbed foods…and lack of weight gain.
Weight Gain Essential : Rest & Digest
Slow down at meal times. Eat your meals seated and preferably not on the go. Cook and prepare your foods as much as possible. Chew your food (really well), and mindfully enjoy your meals (i.e. refrain from distracted eating).
8. You’re Meal Timing is Off
The human body loves balance—especially circadian rhythm balance. Every human has an internal biological clock that operates in tandem with the sun—ideally, we have more energy in the morning as the sun rises, plenty of gusto and energy during the day, then a bell curve dip in the evening, ready to “tuck in” and wind down as the sun goes down. However, if we disturb this circadian function—including our meal timing, then our body and metabolism can get off as well. While there is no perfect time to eat, there are general guidelines and hours during which your body is able to digest best. Eating at the “wrong” time windows also affects your metabolism.
In one study, aimed at determining if time of day affected weight loss in mice, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center found: Mice on a reduced calorie plan that ate only during their normal feeding/active cycle were the only ones among five groups to lose weight, despite consuming the same amount as another group fed during their rest time in daylight (8).
Weight Gain Essential: Eat with Your Circadian Rhythms
Eat in tune with your circadian rhythms to maximize the fuel you eat.
Here’s a general guide:
- 6-8 Breakfast/First Meal
- 10-11 Mid-Morning Snack (if you eat a snack)
- 12-2 Lunch
- 3-5 Afternoon Snack (if you snack)
- 6-8 Dinner
- 9-10 Bedtime Snack (if you snack)
These guidelines fall in line with the way your body metabolizes food thought the day.
9. Your Body is in “Catabolic Mode”
Catabolism stands for “break down.” Anabolism is exactly the opposite: building up or weight gain. Together, catabolism and anabolism are integral and opposite parts of the metabolic cycle that require ideal balance to maintain a strong body, healthy weight, and muscle mass. If these activities are not in balance, the body can be in a catabolic state. The culprits to balance? Chronic stress, overtraining, prolonged fasting or restrictive diets, chronic infection, such as Lyme disease or H. Pylori, poor quality food intake, major surgery, burning a candle at both ends, lack of sleep, lack of water (dehydration), and beyond.
Excessive or prolonged stress, resulting in catabolism (without adequate compensating anabolism or recovery) has negative consequences for your weight gain goals.
Muscle tissue along and essential body fat throughout the body can become depleted. Without the sufficient anabolic process, the process of growing and repairing tissue doesn’t happen, sending the body into a net negative energy state, defined by gradual weight loss, reduction of muscle mass and healthy body fat.
If not reversed early on, chronic catabolism happens—making you a “hard gainer” with your body constantly trying to catch up and locking your metabolic cycle into a deficit with low energy, failure to gain weight despite excessive caloric intake, unexplained weight loss, hypoglycemia, shortness of breath and inability to take deep respiration, and more.Translation? Adrenal fatigue or “HPA Axis Dysfunction.”
Is this you?
Weight Gain Essential: Don’t Push Your Body
When your body is in a catabolic state, typical measures for weight gain, health and nutrition are not always tolerated. Your body is highly sensitive and may not be able to accept BOTH natural or synthetic anabolic compounds or hacks that have stimulating properties. This may mean taking a step back from high calorie loads, inflammatory foods (dairy, grains, nuts), hard workout sessions and nutritional supplements—all of which can be a “good thing” but cause more stress than good in the catabolic state.
A common error of trying to use more calories or more supplements to reverse the catabolic cycle prematurely (when the body is still in catabolism and yet to stabilize), is that programs that focus primarily on aggressive tactics often fail. In catabolic mode or “adrenal fatigue,: the body is trying to slow down in order to conserve energy because it perceives danger and a threat to survival.
Forcing more food into the body requires the body to use more energy for digestion and metabolite breakdown. And even though nutritional supplements may seem harmless to” boost your adrenals” or immunity, if your body is in “break down mode,” these measures can trigger adrenal crashes. Instead of trying to push your body out of catabolism, here’s how to approach restoring your body to a place where it’s ready to be “pushed” towards health instead:
Step 1: Prevent Catabolism from Worsening
Use basic whole foods nutrition, juiced vegetables, basic movement (walking, yoga), rest and cutting out unnecessary commitments and obligations.
Step 2: Focus on Essential Nutrition
Let food be thy medicine. Before pushing forward into high caloric meal plans once you have a stable foundation, the goal of step 2 is still gradual restoration of total health and function. This is best accomplished by focusing on eating micronutrients through nutrient dense foods (fresh vegetables and fruits, organ meats, fatty fish, grass-fed and pastured proteins, essential fatty acids), and customizing the exact nutrients to your needs. A one size fits all dietary plan is not possible here because of great individual variance. Consider working with a nutritionist to build a balanced, restorative meal plan for you.
Step 3: Proper Supplementation
Once a baseline of health and function is restored and the catabolic state has slowed, supplements may gradually be integrated to boost overall function. Some helpful supports may include: adaptogenic herbs (like ashwaganda, rhodiola, cordyceps or reishi mushroom), essential fatty acids (like cod liver oil), immune-boosting supports (Vitamin C, liposomal curcumin, glutathione and resveratrol). Work with a functional medicine practitioner on this one.
10. You’re Not Recovering Properly
Perhaps you are not all the way into catabolic mode…but you’re heading that way fast if stress (and lack of recovery) are your “norms.” You can eat all the sweet potatoes and ice cream in the world, but if your body is in “stressed out mode,” then you won’t see the labors of your high calorie intake work like they should. Beyond calories, quality sleep, hydration and workout habits are essential for a balanced bod (that can readily accept weight gain). If you under sleep, don’t hydrate or overtrain, then you won’t get anywhere (fast).
Weight Gain Essential:
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of filtered water each day (bonus: add lemon)
- Balance your workouts: Daily movement is not a bad thing, aim for 3-5 days of strength training, 1-2 days of power (HIIT), yoga or flexibility training, and
11. You’re Trying to Be Arnold
Your body is your body. Arnold’s body is his body. Cindy Crawford’s body is her body. Every BODY is different, and one of the biggest “get ups” in the weight gain game is keeping your eyes everywhere else, but on your own “ball.” The more we look to others’ bodies and characteristics as our own ideal (instead of determining our own), the further from our goals we will continue to be (because we will never fully get there).
Weight Gain Essential: Clearly Define Who Thriving YOU Is
Who is thriving, healthy, body confident you? What does he or she look like, act like, feel like, think like? If you could be the best version of you—not someone else, who would that be and qualities would you possess? Get a clear picture of that girl or that guy. Bullet point your top qualities of who you want to be in your healthy body and healthy mindset, then… put on the “as if” mindset in your own weight gain journey. The “as if” mindset is like putting on a superhero cape or princess dress as a kid and believing you were totally Superman or Belle from :Beauty and the Best.” So as we think therefore we become.
12. You’re on the Wrong Supplements
The supplement industry is a black hole with everything from protein powders to weight gainers, adrenal supports, multi-vitamins, probiotics and beyond. However, not all supplements are created equal, and most all supplements are unregulated—leaving those who are unfamiliar with the differences in strains, types, potencies, company reputations and overall quality of supplements in the dark about the “best” supplements for you.
Hate to break it to you, but many sups are nothing more than placebo effect, overheated during processing and manufacturing, not potent enough to make a difference and/or half-baked marketing lies.
For instance, it’s been estimated that upwards of 90% of probiotics on shelves do not contain the probiotics they claim.While supplements can be beneficial for getting in extra micronutrients you don’t get in your diet, or supporting underlying deficiencies or dysfunctions (such as poor gut health, poor thyroid or metabolic function, “adrenal fatigue,” etc.), it’s best not to go too crazy or depend on supplements too much as the “answer” for your weight gain success.
Weight Gain Essential: Invest in Quality Supps & Get a Plan for You
Less is more, and here are my top 5 weight gain supportive supplements most people can benefit from:
- Soil Based Probiotic: Megaspore Biotic (use code “THRIVE” to be able to check out under the Register Tab as a patient)
- Prebiotic: Sunfiber (helps digest your probiotic)
- Digestive Enzymes: Transformation Enzymes Digest
- Quality MultiVitamin: Metabolic Synergy by Designs for Health (use code LAURYNLAX at checkout to have access to check out)
- Clean Protein Powder: Equip Foods Prime Protein , Vital Protein CollagenConsult with your healthcare practitioner or get a custom supplement and nutrition plan for you
13. You’re Stressing Out (About Your Weight)
Did we mention stress is the number one culprit working against your weight gain efforts? It is.
Weight Gain Essential: Enjoy the Journey
Health is about the journey—not the destination. Along your weight gain restoration, enjoy the journey of building into your healthy lifestyle, body and mindset. You will get there. Focus on one day and one positive action step at a time.