June 10, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Gaining Weight

I recently lost weight and ended up losing more than I should have. I need to put back on about 5 lbs. (I’m currently 5’11” and 135 lbs.)

How do I go about doing this without sabotaging all of my hard work?

I do 60 minutes of cardio everyday and am unsure how to gradually go about gaining 5 pounds and then maintaining that weight rather than continuing to gain.

-- Rita (last name withheld)

New York, NY

I'm assuming you are a small frame woman. If so, gaining 5 pounds will set you at a good target weight.

If you fall into the "medium frame" category, though, you need to be in the 155-pound vicinity.

I am also assuming you are looking to gain general weight back, as oppose to gain 5 pounds of pure muscle.

In any case, gaining back some of the weight you lost isn't really as daunting as it might seem.

I understand that, initially, there may be a fear of regaining ALL the lost weight back, but that will not happen if you stick to the same slow and steady approach that is recommended for weight loss.

You have a few options. One is to increase calories (by about 500 a day) and keep your activity level the same.

Another is to increase your calories by slightly less (say, 300 or 350 calories) while simultaneously decreasing the intensity of your aerobic workout.

It's ultimately a decision you will arrive to after determining what works best for your body and mind.

The trap some people fall into is equating weight gain with ice cream, fries, soda, and other junk food.

Stick to a mainly unprocessed, "clean" diet and get extra calories mainly from nuts, seeds, and oils.

This handy dandy calculator lets you determine approximately how many calories YOU need to gain these 5 pounds -- and stay there.

Once you reach your desired weight, take note of what your average daily caloric intake is as well as how much physical activity you engage in -- there's your new benchmark.

Let's assume you need to consume an extra 300 calories a day.

This can easily be achieved, for instance, by adding two tablespoons of olive oil (an extra tablespoon to a salad at lunch and an extra tablespoon to a baked sweet potato for dinner) and a dozen almonds to your day.

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