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 Nutritional Medicine: Nutritional Programs for Weight Gain 

Another dietary suggestion for weight gain is to increase the size and number of meals. Three main meals and three or four snacks will help keep calorie intake up. A decrease in the bulky low-calorie foods and a focus on the higher-calorie ones will also help. It is good to eat the main course first (the opposite of the plan for losing weight). Follow the richer foods then with vegetables and salads, with lots of good dressing if there is room. Of the vegetables, eat mainly starchier ones, such as potatoes, carrots, beets, and squashes. Also, eat the starchy grains, such as rice, oats, and pastas. Sweets and desserts are really not very helpful; they tend to fill people with short-term energy without nutritional value and may actually lead to increased energy expenditure. Fluid intake just before or during meals is not recommended, as it reduces the appetite, and you will want to eat more to gain weight. Some alcohol, maybe one drink of a good wine, before a meal occasionally is helpful as it promotes relaxation and improves the appetite. Even bedtime snacks are appropriate when it comes to gaining weight, as long as it does not interfere with sleep.

Adequate rest and deep sleep are important to help the body slow down and relax the nervous tension that can eat up calories. Warm milk before bed with a little treat such as toast or a cookie can be useful to improve sleep and add calories. Avoiding stimulants that increase nervous energy, especially in the evening, is a very good idea. And again, stopping smoking is important to this program and life itself.

A regular exercise program should be followed, but it should be oriented more to toning and conditioning exercise, such as working with weights, to build up the body muscle, tissue density, and thus, increase weight. Vigorous aerobic activity, however, burns off more calories and may keep weight down (though some is useful to maintain endurance). Walks in the fresh air and nature may help us to stay fit and relaxed enough to be more receptive to food.

Some supplements are helpful in improving the potential for weight increase. A general multiple is, of course, suggested to provide all of the essential nutrients. Additional B vitamins taken several times daily may also help; most of the B vitamins aid the metabolism and assimilation of food and proper generation of energy (ATP). Essential fatty acids, as a supplement or as additional vegetable oil in the diet, are helpful from both a caloric perspective and a metabolic one. Amino acids are also effective when taken before meals. They stimulate the appetite and provide good protein synthesis capacity, thus helping to build the body. Overall, a moderate supplement (not high amounts) program is indicated, just to cover the basic needs for nutrients; we are not trying to increase the metabolism in general. People with significant weight loss or people who generally have low weight, say 10–15 percent below their ideal, need to focus more on "living to eat" rather than their usual "eating to live" plan, at least for a while, to bring up their weight.

Weight Gain Nutrient Program

Calories 2,500–3,500 Calcium 600–850 mg.
Protein65–125 g. Chromium200 mcg.
Fat60–110 g. Copper2 mg.

Iodine150 mcg.
Vitamin A5,000–10,000 IUs Iron10–18 mg.
Beta-carotene20,000 IUs Magnesium300–500 mg.
Vitamin D400 IUs Manganese 5–10 mg.
Vitamin E400 IUs Molybdenum200 mcg.
Vitamin K300 mcg. Selenium200 mcg.
Thiamine (B1)50–75 mg. Silicon 50 mg.
Riboflavin (B2)25–75 mg. Zinc30 mg.
Niacinamide (B3)100 mg.
Pantothenic acid (B5)100 mg. L-amino acids
(500 mg. before each meal)
1,500 mg.
Pyridoxine (B6)50 mg. Essential fatty acids 6 capsules
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate25–50 mg. or Flaxseed oil2 Tablespoons
Cobalamin (B12)50 mcg.
Folic acid600 mcg. Optional:
(if needed for better digestion)
Biotin250 mcg. Hydrochloric acid (with protein meals) 5–10 grains
Vitamin C 1,500 mg. Digestive enzymes
(after meals)
1–2 tablets
Bioflavonoids250 mg.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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