A common misconception about registered dietitians is that we help people lose weight. While that’s sometimes true, we also help people who are struggling to gain weight. In fact the question “Why am I not gaining weight even though I eat a lot?” is one we hear often in our practice.
The answer is of course complicated, and best solved in partnership with your doctor and your dietitian. But in the meantime, let’s review some common mistakes that may be curtailing your weight gain efforts:
1. You aren’t eating frequently enough
Try to eat five to six meals a day. Avoid intermittent fasting, which involves going longer periods without calories. Another tip is to eat a protein-heavy snack before bed. We suggest Greek yogurt, a protein shake, or whole grain toast with nut butter.
2. You aren’t eating enough at each meal
First, be sure to include a carb, fat and protein at each meal. Adding extra oil while cooking, sticking with whole fat dairy, and using condiments and sauces are easy ways to increase your calorie count. When snacking, reach for nuts or nut butters. Also consider adding a protein supplement or shake into your daily routine.
3. You aren’t doing enough muscle-building exercises
Try to work in two to three (or more) strength sessions per week. Muscle weighs more than fat, not to mention that adding lean muscle mass can make you feel (and look) amazing. It’s also important to fuel up after your workout with enough carbs, protein and calories. Talk to your Registered Dietician to see how much of each you need to stay on track.
4. You are filling up on liquids
Avoid sugary drinks like juice, electrolyte drinks like Gatorade, and diet or low calorie beverages. These fill you up and have too much added sugar and harmful chemicals. If you have the urge to sip, choose the right liquids for weight gain. These include protein drinks, full fat milk, full fat kefir, or smoothies. Also, remember that caffeine can decrease your appetite. Go easy on the coffee. Start your day with a decaf or better yet, choose one of the suggested sips listed above.
5. You aren’t getting enough sleep
The quality and quantity of sleep you get has a huge impact on physical (and mental) health. Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery, and also necessary to gain muscle. Establish a solid sleep routine that will help you catch more of those all-important Zs. Dim the lights and avoid sugar before bedtime. And of course, turn off your device. Mindless scrolling activates your brains, cuts into sleep time, and makes it tougher to fall asleep.
6. You have a medical condition
Conditions such as Hypothyroidism, Type 1 Diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac Disease and other underlying health conditions can be a reason why weight gain is elusive. Some medications also have weight loss as a side effect. And while genetics and a fast metabolism may be the root cause, it’s important to check in with your doctor if you are having unexplained weight issues.
Are you struggling to gain weight? We are here to help. Our team of Registered Dietitians offer both in-person and telemed appointments. Click here to learn more.