You have heard it over and over again, "If you want to gain weight, eat everything you see." This advice will undoubtedly lead to weight gain but there are better ways to do it. The most common mistake in gaining weight is having the attitude that only people who want to lose weight should eat healthy. There is a healthy and unhealthy way of losing weight just as there are two paths to gaining it. Eat nothing but french fries and hamburgers for a month and yes you will gain weight but in all the wrong places and in all the wrongs ways.
The most important rule of gaining weight is to eat more calories than you burn. Some people who are trying to gain weight go overboard with the amount of calories they eat. Taking in 4,000 or more calories is sometimes excessive. Unless you are on steroids, there is only so much muscle mass you can gain over a small period of time. Any extra calories you eat will be stored by your body as fat which can be unhealthy.
Use the Calorie Calculator to estimate how many calories you burn each day. To gain weight you need to increase your calories by as much as 1,000 over the amount you burn. Going over this 1,000 extra calorie mark will help you gain weight faster but it will be mostly in the form of fat rather than muscle.
When increasing the amount of calories you are eating, try adding healthy foods instead of simply eating all the junk and fast food you can stomach. Healthy fats are unsaturated and found in oils, nuts, fish and some vegetables. Eating too much saturated (bad) fat can cause your cholesterol levels to increase which can lead to cardiovascular disease over time.
Your main source of carbohydrates should be complex carbs found in whole grains, oats, fruits, and vegetables. It is fine to have simple carbs (sugar) following a workout but taking in too much sugar over a long period of time can lead to excessive fat storage and type 2 diabetes.
Complex carbohydrates are digested a lot slower than simple carbs are which means your body will not need to use the energy right away. If you eat 300 calories of complex carbs which are digested over a period of hours, the energy will be released slowly. If you eat 300 calories of sugar, it will be digested in less than an hour and if you do not use that energy right away, it will be stored as fat.
When you are trying to build muscle you need a source of protein that contains all the essential amino acids - a complete protein. Complete proteins are found in products that come from animals such as meat, dairy and eggs. Since most animal products are associated with a high saturated fat content, the best complete protein comes from lean sources of meat such as poultry, low fat cuts of beef, eggs, low fat dairy and fish.
The Bottom Line
Gaining weight does not have to be unhealthy. Healthy weight gain can be achieved through a solid weight training routine combined with increased calories from healthy foods. Eating anything and everything you see will lead to weight gain but it can also lead to excess body fat, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The healthy way is not slower or less effective, it is just healthier.