Even though weight gain is something most people want to avoid, there are certain times in life where weight gain may be desired—or even necessary—for various reasons. Whether you’ve lost too much weight by dieting, from depression, an injury, an illness or because you just happen to have a fast metabolism, there is no need to load up on fast food and junk foods that impair your health. In fact, you can gain weight fast and safely.
The Key to Gain Weight Fast and Safely
The key to healthy weight gain is to consume clean foods with higher amounts of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates at every single meal. Protein will help you build muscle to prevent muscle wasting. Since muscle weighs more than fat, this is important no matter what approach you take. Next, by combining a complex carbohydrate with a source of natural fat, weight gain will occur. Remember, the body stores carbohydrates and fat more easily than it does protein, but it can only use so much of one macronutrient at a time before weight gain occurs.This is one reason why many individuals who are attempting to lose weight limit either their carbohydrate and fat intake without changing their protein intake. So, the best way to take advantage of this is to flip-flop the idea and combine healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats together along with a clean source of protein at every meal.
Here are ten simple, effective and delicious food combinations that can help you gain weight fast and safely along with suggestions on how to prepare them.
1. Sweet Potatoes and Salmon
I’m a former pescatarian, and sweet potatoes and wild-caught salmon were two of my go-to lunch and dinner options during a time I had to gain weight. Sweet potatoes provide complex carbs the body needs for a healthy weight, and they’re rich in vitamins A and C to support the immune system. Wild-caught salmon is a powerhouse of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fats will help the body absorb the nutrients from the sweet potatoes and the protein will help build lean muscle. Over time, this will improve weight gain along with muscle strength too!
You can pan cook or bake salmon and serve it alongside some kale and sweet potatoes (or sweet potato fries) for a heart-healthy dinner. Or, enjoy these two items with a salad or roasted veggies at lunch. For more healthy fats, feel free to add 1/2 cup olives or 1 tablespoon olive oil.
2. Banana and Nut Butter
Bananas are a rich source of starchy carbohydrates that also contain natural sugars. Nut butter will provide nourishing fats and protein, and it will help the body digest the banana more slowly for long-lasting energy. Just be sure to choose natural nut butter, not those made with hydrogenated oils and added sugars. Look for one that’s organic and non-GMO if possible, and if you’re allergic to almond butter or other types of nuts, try using sunflower seed butter or coconut butter instead.
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Spread 2 tablespoons of nut butter onto a banana sliced in half, use this combination in a bowl of oatmeal or on a wrap, or chop up a banana and add a couple tablespoons of nut butter as a quick and healthy snack.
3. Avocado and Quinoa
Pairing avocado and quinoa together is a great food combination that will help you gain weight fast and safely. Avocado is high in mono-unsaturated fats that are beneficial for heart and brain health, and quinoa is a great vegetarian source of protein and complex carbohydrates. Because these two foods are calorie-dense per serving, you’ll notice you can easily add several hundred calories per day to your meals with just this combo alone.
I suggest pairing 1/2 an avocado with 1/2 cup quinoa over a bed of greens at dinner or serving it with your favorite veggies. For more calories, add another source of lean protein.
4. Plant-Based Meal Replacement Shake and Oatmeal
When you have a busy schedule, meal replacement shakes can be a dream come true. Try including some greens, frozen fruit, a source of nut butter, and a scoop of plant-based protein for a heart-healthy choice. For more calories, add in some oats to your shake for more complex carbs or have some oatmeal on the side. Good sources of plant-based protein include hemp, brown rice or pea protein.
5. Oatmeal and Peanut Butter
Oatmeal and peanut butter is a great combination you can use at breakfast or even as a bedtime snack. The complex carbs in oatmeal will provide some starch while the fat and protein in the peanut butter will provide additional calories and nutrition. Go for rolled oats whenever possible instead of instant, and attempt to choose natural peanut butter in place of those with detrimental hydrogenated oils. Just add a dollop or two of peanut butter to your oatmeal and enjoy it anytime of the day!
6. Nuts and Fresh Fruit
Combine some raw nuts with a piece of fresh fruit and enjoy it with breakfast or as a snack.The fats in the nuts and the sugars in the fruit will help you gain weight fast and safely. There is also some natural protein found in nuts, and the water in fresh fruit will help your body process the sugars in the fruit slowly which is better for blood sugar levels than dried fruit.
7. Eggs and Oatmeal
Eggs can provide a quick source of vegetarian protein and healthy fats if you choose pastured eggs which are kept outside and allowed to feed on grass versus kept inside and given a formulated food. Pair one or two eggs with 1/2 cup oats for breakfast, dinner, or just enjoy for a quick lunch. Feel free to add some fruit to your dish if you’d like, and season the eggs and oatmeal as desired.
8. Eggs and Potatoes
If you’re not into oatmeal or just tired of it, you can also use potatoes with eggs anytime of the day. Potatoes are very starchy and filling, and as mentioned, eggs are a great source of protein and can be a good source of fat if they are from pastured hens. Scramble some eggs and serve them over potatoes or make hashbrowns instead.
9. Brown Rice Pasta and Salmon
Brown rice contains amino acids and starchy carbohydrates that provide a decent amount of calories per serving. Pair the brown rice with salmon and some vegetables, and perhaps even include an additional source of healthy fats from avocados or a touch of olive oil.
10. Avocado and Rice
If you like sushi, you’ll enjoy using this option! Chop some avocado over a bed of your choice rice (whole grain if possible), and include your favorite source of lean protein for more nutrition. The avocado, rice, and source of protein will provide a variety of macronutrients to help you gain weight fast and safely but will also be heart-healthy too.
These are just ten safe food combinations that will help you gain weight fast and safely. Remember to consume as many green and yellow vegetables along with leafy greens as you can so you get enough nutrition. Implement these food combinations into your weekly meals as much as possible and combine sources of these daily at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You should notice the weight comes back on within a couple of months or less. It’s even better if you can add some weight-bearing exercise or resistance training to your routine so you can maintain some muscle mass and stay energized as well. As a bonus, you’ll feel pretty good and be taking care of your heart at the same time—no fast food required!
For some other healthy recipe ideas, feel free to check out these other veggie-inspired options!
Featured photo credit: Stephanie Frey via shutterstock.com