Weight Gain! Is it on your mind this off-season? Is it really just eating as much as possible and hoping for the best? Not quite. While you do need to eat more than your usual fare, structuring your meals and snacks in a certain way can help you get the most out of your plate so you can see results in the gym and on the field/court/track… you get the point! The best part? Making these changes can help you easily transition your meals/snacks into the in-season in order to fuel well and- you guessed it!- continue to maximize your performance.
Let’s dive in!
Tip 1: Actually meet your needs. Most athletes I see arent meeting their baseline fueling needs. Let’s make sure you are getting this in!
What does that mean for you? Try starting with the “rule of 3’s”:
3 Meals- Using the high-intensity plate arrangement!
3 Food groups (let me see that color!)
3 Hours apart.
Bottom line; if you are missing meals and snacks, you are missing an opportunity to fuel to reach weight gain goals and fuel your performance goals. Think about it, does an engine doesn’t run without gas?
What do you do? Start small! Pick an area to work on and build up (My recommendation: make sure you are getting that breakfast in.)
Tip 2: Consider snacks to be second meals. When we think of snacks we likely think of granola bars, goldfish, pretzels, and similar. If we are looking to gain weight, your needs for snacks are likely a bit more. Let’s beef up our usual choices: instead of just pretzels, choose pretzels with hummus and a cheese stick (or two), Instead of just goldfish, pair with a mix of cashews and raisins and a milk, instead of one granola bar, choose granola bars (plural) sprinkled over some greek yogurt with some PB on top.
One caveat here is adjusting around activity. This would likely NOT be a good idea right before you practice or lift! You want to keep it simple before activity. Be sure to adjust around activity to avoid GI upset!
Tip 3: Plan Ahead. My Favorite and easily my most valuable tip as a registered dietitian. Often we let nutrition fall by the wayside far too often. We get caught up in what we are doing, we have last-minute plans, we fall behind in our schedule…in general, we are just busy people!
Tip 4: Add Value. Let’s say you are hitting all the tips I’ve provided so far but you aren’t seeing the results you are looking for.
- Swapping sandwich bread for a bagel
- Adding (or adding more) avocado or cheese to a salad or sandwich
- Replacing a granola bar with some mixed nuts or trail mix
- Switching to beverages that add more energy such as milk instead of water.
Tip 5: Work with a Sports Dietitian! Okay, okay, I am sure you knew this was coming. Of course, the best tip of all is to work with a Sports RD. Your energy needs and what you can choose for these meals and snacks will differ from person to person depending on energy needs and training schedules. This is where I come in! A Sports Dietitian can help you personalize timing to maximize your nutrition and help you get the most out of your training. Take the guesswork out of it. I KNOW you don’t have time for that!