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How to gain weight fast (or do the opposite)

Today in the Sleekgeek Coaching Program we took our clients through one of my absolute favourite lessons.

It’s called: “How to GAIN weight FAST“.

You may be wondering why in the world would we be teaching our clients that when 99% of them are looking to LOSE weight?!

Well, it’s all about gaining perspective and getting back to the basics of weight gain or weight loss (calories and energy balance).

Go into a shopping mall and ask random people how to lose weight and you’ll get 50 different answers. “Cut carbs” … “Do lots of cardio” … “Don’t eat after 7pm” … “Don’t eat fruit” … “Get into ketosis” … “Only eat things that your ancestors would have eaten” … and so on.

Ask those same people how to gain weight and they’ll pause, look confused for a second, and then tell you to just eat more.

But why are the answers so different when both losing and gaining weight revolves around calories and energy balance?

THAT is what we want to highlight with our clients.

Most people have heard the same weight loss advice over and over again to the point where they just flat out ignore it or write it off as “does not work”.

So they continue looking for something more fancy of trendy.

But the basics still work REALLY well. In fact, they tend to work the best because they’re do-able and sustainable.

When our Sleekgeek Coaching clients actually hear that same advice, given in an opposite manner, it can be quite an eye-opener.

They almost all have some kind of “AHA!” moment that sheds insight into one or two behaviours they might want to work with us to get under control for better results.

So, here are some very explicit and to-the-point tips on how to GAIN weight in a healthy way (so that you can think about what the opposite might be). These are legitimate tips that we give to the small number of clients who DO actually want to gain weight – so we know that they work well.

Weight Gain Tips:

1) Eat calorie-dense foods:

Any high-fat food will contain a lot of calories (9) per gram – that’s a good place to start.

So things like fattier cuts of meat (ideally grass-fed/pastured meat that will have a good fatty acid profile), fatty fish, coconut, avocado, cheese, nuts, etc.

While many carbohydrate-dense foods might contain less calories (4) per gram than high-fat foods, they still tend to be easy to eat in large amounts and easy to overeat.

2) Add good fats to everything:

High-fat foods help make our meals much tastier and we can often add them easily into just about any meal.

You can really bulk your salads up from 100-200 calories of leafy greens and veg to a 600-1,000 calorie meal with avocado, olives, feta cheese, and olive oil, for example.

If you’re drinking protein shakes, you can blend in some nuts or nut butter and coconut milk or coconut cream.

You can melt some butter over your veggies or potatoes, put cream in your coffee, and if you’re eating sushi then getting the salmon roses can pack a punch.

3) Drink your calories:

It’s much easier to drink your calories than to eat them.

So if you’re worried about feeling full too easily when you’ll want to squeeze in some homemade meal replacements by blending healthy fats and healthy carbs into protein shakes.

At a pinch, drinking things like lattes, milky tea, smoothies, and even veggie juices can help you increase your calories significantly throughout the day without them really filling you up too much.

4) Disobey your hunger and fullness cues:

To gain weight, you’ll likely need to start eating before you’re truly physically hungry and feeling like you NEED to eat.

You’ll also likely need to continue eating past the point of being comfortably satiated where you would normally have stopped eating.

These two things are honestly the hardest parts of gaining weight.

It might help to think about ranking your hunger on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being absolutely stuffed and 10 being the hungriest you’ve ever been): You’ll likely need to start eating at around a 5, 6, or 7 out of 10.

Similarly, If you were to think about being “50% full” (so still decidedly hungry) and “100% full” (where you’re exactly at a comfortable fullness)… You’ll likely need to continue eating a bit past that to “110% full” or even “120% full”. Wear loose pants!

5) Eat snacks:

The average person doesn’t need to snack much – other than for enjoyment and boredom – and should be fine with 2-3 large meals… But if you’re looking to gain weight then you’ll likely want to squeeze in some extra calories in between your meals.

Handfuls of nuts, chunks of coconut, pieces of fruit, protein shakes, biltong, leftovers, etc, all go down pretty easily and the calories really add up quickly.

Make sure that your snacks are super easy to eat (minimal preparation) so that they’re hassle-free and portable so that you can take them with you anywhere.

6) Use the power of social support:

Research shows that most people will typically eat more when they’re eating with other people than they will when they eat alone.

Maybe you plan to just have one plate, but then your friend gets up for seconds and you start to think maybe you should too (FOMO!).

There’s also, once again, and an element of distraction when eating with other people, so we tend to be less bothered by feeling full.

Restaurant meals are also usually LOADED with a crazy amount of calories but you’ll likely not notice the difference between their meal and your homemade meal in terms of how full you feel while eating.

7) Make it taste good:

It doesn’t have to be a decadent sugar bomb, but you don’t have to suffer through a plain chicken breast and steamed veggies all the time.

You should be looking for flavorful cuts of meat (such as pork belly or chicken thighs), high-quality artisan cheeses, cold-pressed oils, fresh seasonal ingredients, etc.

Experiment with different cooking methods that add the most flavour for your liking, and be sure to use plenty of herbs and spices to get the flavour popping.

8) Sauce it up:

Whether that’s a bit of melted cheese on veggies, peanut sauce on your satay, or a really good olive oil… add some mojo to your meals.

Most sauces add a lot of calories to the meal very quickly without you really noticing. Plus, they can add significant flavour as per point #7 above.

9) Add variety:

Boredom kills appetite – so be careful about eating the same meals over and over again.

If you do cook in bulk, try to spread the meals out and interweave them with a variety of different flavours and cuisines to keep your taste buds excited and stimulated.

10) Focus on making incremental improvements and adjustments:

This actually applies to both gaining weight and losing weight.

You should start off slowly and then make incremental improvements or adjustments as you progress.

In the beginning, you might only need to eat a little bit more in order to gain weight. But once you’ve gained that weight, you’ll need to eat even more in order to continue gaining weight.

This is why it makes sense to avoid trying to double your food intake overnight and rather just increase it enough to see progress. You can then increase it some more once that progress stalls.

What about Weight Loss?

You’ll notice that all of the weight gain tips above revolve around different ways to help you eat more food.

Telling someone to “just eat more” is as helpful as telling someone to “just eat less” (it’s not).

They may be simple and effective principles (like saving more money than you spend in order to gain more money) but in reality, it can be quite difficult to do.

This is why it’s helpful to have very specific strategies to follow to help you implement those basic principles.

So if you’re looking to LOSE weight… Are there any of the 9 weight GAIN tips above that you find yourself doing regularly?

If so, then that might be a clue on what might be standing in the way of you and your goals.

You should read the above weight gain tips BEFORE reading the corresponding weight loss tips below for better context.

1) Are you eating lots of calorie-dense foods?

You might want to put a bigger focus on lower-calorie high-fibre foods.

2) Are you eating too much fat?

Healthy fats are important, but they’re super high in calories and you don’t actually need to eat a lot of them in order to get their health benefits.

It’s totally OK to have some meals where your only source of fat is that you cooked your meat in or the olive oil that you drizzled over your salad.

3) Are you drinking too many calories?

Lattes, tea with milk and sugar, smoothies, and even veggie juices can contain a lot of calories that don’t really fill you up very well.

For weight loss, you’ll want to eat more whole foods that require lots of chewing and digesting.

4) Are you not paying attention to your physical hunger and fullness cues?

Are you actually genuinely physically hungry when you start to eat? Or are you just eating because you feel like it / are bored?

Do you eat past feeling comfortably satiated until you’re bordering on stuffed?

For weight loss, you might want to wait until you’re genuinely physically hungry before eating and stop before you feel full.

5) Are you snacking all of the time?

Believe it or not, you won’t die if you miss your 10am or 4pm snack.

In fact, if you want to lose weight, you need to get used to actually getting hungry before you eat.

6) Are you eating out too much?

A social life is healthy to have, but eating out too often will almost always lead to eating too many calorie-dense meals (even if they are healthy).

You’ll also likely eat more than you you would have at home.

For weight loss, you might want to eat out less if you’re finding it difficult to lose weight.

7) Are you making your food taste too good?

It’s important to eat healthy food that you enjoy, but you should also avoid foods that you tend to go overboard with and eat all the time (even if they’re healthy).

For weight loss, you’ll want to find a sweet spot between eating enough enjoyable foods that you find eating like this sustainable while not eating too many foods that you really enjoy and tend to overeat on.

8) Are you using sauces on everything?

Sauces are a quick way to add a LOT of calories VERY quickly.

Try to use half the amount of sauce that you usually do. Even better, see if you can get better at using herbs and spices to make your food taste good rather than calorie-dense sauces. Fresh chili can also go a long way to adding flavour.

For weight loss, you’ll want to focus mainly on using low-calorie ways to add flavour (herbs, spices, chili, etc).

9) Are you eating too much variety?

It helps to have a set of go-to healthy meals that you can make quickly and easily, which you know you like and you know are within your calorie goals.

If you want to eat less, you might want to try eating a little bit less exciting food.

10) Focus on making incremental improvements and adjustments:

This actually applies to both gaining weight and losing weight.

You should start off slowly and then make incremental improvements or adjustments as you progress.

In the beginning, you might only need to eat a little bit less in order to lose weight. But once you’ve lost that weight, you’ll need to eat even less in order to continue losing weight.

This is why it makes sense to avoid trying to halve your food intake overnight and rather just decrease it enough to see progress. You can then decrease it some more once that progress stalls.

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