If dairy is already a staple in your diet, switching to fattier versions can be an easy way to gain weight. Full-fat milk -- also called whole milk -- is higher in calories than its reduced-fat counterparts, which helps provide the extra energy you need to put on a few pounds. And because milk is versatile in the kitchen, you can use it in a variety of dishes that can make up part of your weight loss diet.
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Calories, Full-Fat Milk and Weight Gain
Adding weight means eating more calories than you need -- usually 250 to 500 extra calories daily. That adds up to enough extra calories over the week to gain between 0.5 and 1 pound, which will come from a combination of lean tissue and muscle.
As a moderately high-calorie food, full-fat milk can help you meet the recommended calorie surplus. A 1-cup serving of whole milk provides 149 calories, so if you drink two cups daily, on top of the food you need to maintain your weight, you would gain slightly more than a half-pound per week. For an extra calorie boost, try full-fat chocolate milk. It has 208 calories per cup, so drinking two cups on top of your regular diet provides enough extra calories to gain fourth-fifths of a pound weekly.
Other Benefits of Full-Fat Milk for Weight Gain
Full-fat milk has other benefits that help you gain weight; at 8 grams of protein per cup of plain or chocolate whole milk, it's a good source of high-quality protein. The proteins in milk are "complete," which means they contain all the amino acids you need to gain lean mass, including muscle tissue. You need 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight when you're bulking, so the 16 grams of protein in two glasses of full-fat milk would provide about 13 percent of the daily protein needs for a 150-pound person.
The fat in full-fat milk also helps you gain weight. In addition to upping the calories in milk, fats -- along with carbohydrates -- serve as a concentrated source of fuel for your muscles. Drinking milk can help ensure you feel energized and able to keep up with the demanding program needed for muscle gain. A cup of whole plain milk has 8 grams of fat and 12 grams of carbohydrates. Chocolate milk is higher in carbohydrates, at 26 grams per cup.
Make Full-Fat Substitutions
Use full-fat milk to gain weight by drinking it in place of reduced-fat or nonfat milk. Nonfat milk, for example, has just 83 calories; if you drank two glasses of full-fat milk instead of two glasses of nonfat milk every day, you'd take in 924 extra calories each week -- enough to gain a quarter of a pound, even without any other dietary changes. Switch to two glasses of whole chocolate milk, and you'll get even more extra calories -- 250 extra calories a day, or enough to gain a half-pound weekly.
Other Serving Tips and Tricks
Use milk as the base for high-calorie smoothies to help with weight gain. A cup of full-fat white milk, blended with a cup of peaches and an ounce of macadamia nuts -- soaked for an hour in water for added creaminess -- or macadamia nut butter contains 410 calories, including 11 grams of protein. Or try a higher-protein berry almond smoothie by blending a cup of full-fat chocolate milk with a cup of blueberries and an ounce of almonds -- soaked in water until they're soft -- for a shake with 454 calories and 15 grams of protein.
Use full-fat milk to make your morning porridge -- whether that's oatmeal, or a quinoa or amaranth porridge -- to add calories for weight gain, and use whole milk in cold cereal, too. Add a cup of whole-milk to creamy soups to thin them out -- this can make them easier to pour into a thermos and drink on-the-go -- and add whole milk to pureed vegetable soups for added creaminess.