To gain weight, you must take in more calories than you burn through activity. While this may seem easy, the key to gaining weight healthily and without raising cholesterol is to increase your intake of healthy foods while remaining active and avoiding foods high in trans and saturated fats. Consult your doctor before making changes to your diet or exercise routine, especially if you suffer from high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes or another medical condition.
Determine how many calories you currently take in each day, and add an additional 500 calories to that number. Increasing your caloric intake by this amount will result in 1 pound of weight gain per week, provided you do not increase your activity level.
Eat five to six meals and snacks per day instead of three larger meals. This ensures that you take in enough calories over the course of the day. If you try to obtain all your calories through two or three larger meals, you may find you feel full too quickly, especially if you are underweight or not accustomed to eating large amounts at meals.
Choose snacks that are high in calories but low in cholesterol. Nuts, olives, hummus and avocado slices are good choices. Serve whole-grain crackers or pita plain or add hummus and avocado to either, or sprinkle nuts and olives into salads, soups and other foods. Dried fruit and low-fat cheese are other good snack choices.
Use extra olive oil when cooking or preparing salad dressings. Olive oil, along with canola oil and peanut oil, are good sources of monounsaturated fats and can boost caloric intake without raising cholesterol.
Eat several servings of fatty fish each week. Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and can help lower cholesterol levels.
Add nonfat milk powder to macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, oatmeal and fruit smoothies to boost your weight without raising your cholesterol.
Substitute milk, fruit juice and other high-calorie drinks for water and diet drinks. Make sure you choose healthy drinks that are high in calories. Skip soda and other sugary drinks, as these provide empty calories with no nutritional content.
Build muscle to increase your weight by lifting weights or engaging in resistance training three or more times per week. Adding muscle boosts your metabolism, though, which means you may need to add even more calories to your daily diet to continue gaining weight.
Avoid processed and fast foods while trying to gain weight. While it might be tempting to increase your calories by consuming high-fat, high-calorie foods, these are usually high in cholesterol and sodium and low in nutritional value.
Is This an Emergency?
- UCSF Medical Center; Healthy Ways to Increase Calories and Protein; August 2011
- MayoClinic.com; What's a Good Way to Gain Weight if You're Underweight?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; August 2011
- University of Illinois; Gaining Weight the Healthy Way; May 2010
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension; When You Need to Gain Weight; 2008