While the diet and nutrition industry often places emphasis on losing weight, gaining weight can be a major concern for those recovering from an illness or eating disorder and for anyone looking to build lean muscle mass. Unfortunately, many people looking to gain weight gain far too much weight too quickly, which in turn places stress on the heart and other vital organs. According to health professionals, gaining any more than 1 to 2 lbs. per week is considered unhealthy.
Adding Too Many Calories Too Quickly
One of the most common — and easily made — mistakes in gaining weight is adding too many calories too quickly, leading you to gain fat as opposed to lean muscle mass. To avoid this mistake, count the number of calories you currently eat in a day to maintain your weight, and gradually increase that number by 100 to 500 calories every week. For example, if you currently eat 1500 calories per day to maintain your 120 lb frame, gradually increase your caloric intake to 1600 per day, and maintain this caloric intake for one week, before increasing to 1700 calories per day the following week. Continue increasing until you have reached an intake of 2000 calories per day, after which you can decrease or increase your daily caloric intake according to weight gain goals.
Eating Too Much Fat
While it is tempting to simply start eating everything sight when you’re trying to gain weight, consuming too much saturated fat can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack and cardiovascular disease. For this reason, you should avoid or limit the amount of fats you consume from animal protein and stick with the non-saturated fats found in plants, nuts and olive oil. Aim for deriving no more than 20 percent of your daily caloric intake from fat. For example, if you consume 2000 calories per day, no more than 400 of those calories should come from fat.
Overloading on Protein
This is a big one. While the majority of health professionals recommend 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of your ideal body weight, some bodybuilding enthusiasts recommend as many as 2 grams per pound of body weight. While this topic continues to be controversial, there is some evidence that eating too much protein can put stress on the kidneys, leading to a build up of toxins and waste in the bloodstream. There is also some evidence that eating too protein inhibits the body’s absorption of calcium, leading to weakened bones and the potential for developing osteoporosis. For this reason, it is advisable not to exceed the 1g/kg ratio of daily protein consumption. For example, if your ideal body weight is 150 lbs., you should consume no more than 68 grams of protein per day.