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How To Gain Weight (Healthily!)

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What Do You Have To Gain?

We have previously promised a three-part series about changing one’s weight:

  1. Losing weight (specifically, losing fat)
  2. Gaining weight (specifically, gaining muscle)
  3. Gaining weight (specifically, gaining fat)

There will be, however, no need for a “losing muscle” article, because (even though sometimes a person might have some reason to want to do this), it’s really just a case of “those things we said for gaining muscle? Don’t do those and the muscle will atrophy naturally”.

Here’s our first article: How To Lose Weight (Healthily!)

While some people will want to lose fat, please do be aware that the association between weight loss and good health is not nearly so strong as the weight loss industry would have you believe:

Shedding Some Obesity Myths

And, while BMI is not a useful measure of health in general, it’s worth noting that over the age of 65, a BMI of 27 (which is in the high end of “overweight”, without being obese) is associated with the lowest all-cause mortality:

BMI and all-cause mortality in older adults: a meta-analysis

Here was our second article: How To Build Muscle (Healthily!)

And now, it’s time for the last part, which yes, is also something that some people want/need to do (healthily!), and want/need help with that.

How to gain fat, healthily

Fat gets a bad press, but when it comes to health, we would die without it.

Even in the case of having excess fat, the fat itself is not generally the problem, so much as comorbid metabolic issues that are often caused by the same things as the excess fat.

So, how to gain fat healthily?

  • Obvious but potentially dangerously misleading answer: “in moderation”
  • More useful answer: “carefully”

Because, you can “in moderation” put on less than one pound per week for a few years and be in very bad health by the end of it. So how does this “carefully” work any differently to “in moderation”?

The key is in how we store the fat

Not merely where we store it (though that’ll follow from the “how”), but specifically: how we store it.

  • When we consume energy from food in excess of our immediate survival needs, our body stores what it can. This is good!
  • When our body is receiving energy from food faster than it can physically process it to store it healthily, it will start shoving it wherever it can instead. This is bad!

This is the physiological equivalent of the difference between tidying a room carefully, and cramming everything into one cupboard in 30 seconds just to get it out of sight.

So, you do need to consume calories yes, but you need to consume them in a way your body can take its time about storing them.

We’ve written before about the science of this, so we’ll share some links to that in a moment, but first, here are the practical tips:

  • Do not drink your calories. Drinking calories tends to be the equivalent of injecting sugars directly into your veins, in terms of how quickly it gets received.
    • See also: How To Unfatty A Fatty Liver ← this is highly relevant, because the same process that results in unhealthy weight gain, results in liver disease, by the same mechanism (the liver gets overwhelmed).
  • Eat your greens. No, they won’t provide many calories, but they are critical to your body not being overwhelmed by the arrival of sugars.
    • See also: 10 Ways To Balance Blood Sugars ← the other 9 things are also helpful for not putting on fat unhealthily, so using these alongside a calorie-dense diet can result in healthy fat gain as needed
  • Get more of your calories from fats than carbs. Fats will not overwhelm your body’s glycemic response in the same way that carbs will.
  • Consider going low-carb, but even if you choose not to, go for carbs with a low glycemic index instead of a high glycemic index.
  • Need healthy fats in a snack? Enjoy nuts (unless you have an allergy); they will be your best friend in this regard. As an example, a mere 1oz portion of cashew nuts has 157 calories.
  • Need health fats for cooking? Enjoy olive oil, as it has one of the healthiest lipids profiles available, and is a great way to increase the calorific content of many meals.


Be patient, enjoy your food, and stick as best you can to the above considerations. All strength to you.

Take care!

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