How to Gain Weight on a Budget

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Losing weight isn’t the only way to stay healthy. Nowadays we understand that when it comes to weight, less isn’t always better. Whether you simply need to gain weight, or you’re trying to gain muscle mass, these tips can help you reach your weight gain goals.

While most people in the country are looking for ways to lose weight, some people are looking to do the exact opposite. For every person that has trouble losing weight, there is somebody struggling to gain weight. This could be because they want to bulk up and gain more muscle, or because they have a higher than average metabolism that makes it difficult for them to gain and maintain a healthy BMI.

To Maintain a Better BMI

For those that do not know, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. This is a weight-to-height ratio that helps indicate where you are on the spectrum between being over or underweight. The US Department of Health and Human Services has an easy to use BMI calculator that tells you whether you are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. All you have to do is input your height in feet and inches, and your weight in pounds.

Why Is Being Underweight Bad for Your Health?

Knowing your BMI is important because it isn’t healthy to be overweight OR underweight. We hear a lot these days about how unhealthy it is to be overweight, but many studies have shown that it can be just as unhealthy to be underweight.

  • Worldwide, underweight children are at greater risk for childhood mortality and disease, particularly pneumonia.
  • Underweight pregnant women have a greatly likelihood to suffer complications during pregnancy, like Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR), which affects the healthy development of the fetus.
  • Underweight men are at greater risk for early all-cause mortality than men in the normal weight range.
  • Being underweight can cause osteoporosis and protein deficiency in the elderly.

To Gain Muscle Mass

Maybe you’re not underweight and you just want to gain muscle weight. Either case will find the following tips helpful. Some people want to build up muscle for sports, weightlifting, an acting role, or a job that requires physical work.
Whether you’re looking to bulk up with muscle or just add some curves to your physique, gaining weight can be expensive. Luckily there are some simple ways to gain weight on a budget. It doesn’t have to entail crazy dieting measures like binging unhealthy fast foods or eating out of cans everyday either. You can gain weight the healthy way while on a budget with these simple principles.

How to Gain Weight

Carb Load

The main way you gain weight is by increasing your daily calorie intake. A calorie is a unit of energy used in reference to the body. One of the main ways our bodies get energy (calories) is through carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a type of nutrient that provides your body with a source of energy. Your body changes carbohydrates into glucose which then helps power your body, tissues, and organs on a molecular level.
Carbohydrates come in two forms—complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are generally better for you, are less processed, contain less sugar, and take longer to digest so you’re left feeling more satisfied. Simple carbohydrates are more processed, have more sugars, and take less time to digest so you’re left feeling hungry again sooner.
Most foods have carbohydrates in them, but some of the best carbohydrate candidates are bread, rice, oatmeal, pasta, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. Other fruits, vegetables, and dairy products can also be a great way to intake healthy carbohydrates, but grains really are the star when it comes to carbohydrates.
Bread is really not that expensive and you should be able to find oatmeal and other whole grain pastas for very cheap at the store. By choosing the right grains you can dramatically increase your caloric intake.
 
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Protein

Proteins are made up of amino acids and do a lot of the work in the body’s many cells. If you think about anything having to do you’re your body’s cells, you can bet proteins are there doing all the hard work. Proteins also help our bodies have strong bones, muscles, and skin. Increasing your protein intake is a great way to build up healthy muscle mass and weight.
Great sources of protein include meat, nuts, beans, and animal products like dairy, eggs, and cheese. Protein from meat and animal products are complete proteins with all the amino acids that our bodies need. Plants are incomplete proteins meaning they don’t have all the amino acids your body needs. If you only eat plant based proteins you just have to make sure you eat lots of different plants in order to get all the different amino acids you need.
 
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Healthy Fats & Oils

Fats and oils are an important part of any diet. While you may hear a lot of people telling you to not eat fats or oils, there are some healthy ones you should be eating. Some healthy examples of fats and oils that are good for you are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, fish, avocado, nuts, yogurt, and peanut butter. Peanut butter is a great way to get healthy fats and oils on a budget because it’s fairly cheap and is loaded with calories and protein as well.
There are three kinds of fats—saturated, unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and trans fats. You want to consume unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Healthy unsaturated fats are good for you because they protect your heart from disease and lower bad blood cholesterol.
 
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Exercise

If you’re trying to gain muscle weight then obviously you need to exercise. But if you’re just trying to gain weight you can benefit from exercise as well! Cardio workouts are great for building your heart and lung health, but cardio exercises are primarily helpful in losing weight. Strength training is the kind of exercises that will help you gain healthy weight and build muscle mass.

How to Plan Your Weight Gain Budget!

After gaining a better understanding of the nutrients your body needs and the costs of basic healthy groceries, you can budget and make a plan.
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Make Your Goals

Not only do you need to create goals for how much you need to budget out for food, but you also need to know your specific weight gain goal. This will help you create an effective meal plan that works for your body and your budget.

  1. Decide how much you want to spend on groceries each week.
  2. Then choose your healthy groceries full of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats and oils and stay within that weekly grocery budget goal.

This is why it helps to make a grocery list before you go shopping because at home you can pick your groceries and calculate the cost of everything to make sure you stay within budget before you even get to the store!

Organize Yourself

You should be keeping track of your caloric intake in three separate amounts—how much of your calories are proteins, carbs, and fats. If you keep a log of these three key numbers and use the food pyramid to balance things out, you will be surprised at how much you are able to gain.

Maintain a Balance

While your major goal may be to gain weight don’t forget to still eat vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits have essential vitamins and minerals so keep them in your diet as well. It’s important that you not only eat to gain weight, but that you eat to be healthy as well.
 
We all need to eat and we all have physical goals about our health and our weight. But while you go about planning, remember that you aren’t just reaching short term goals, you are creating a lifestyle for yourself. Remember that it’s not just about gaining weight, it’s about practicing a healthier way to live. It’s also important to still eat things you like even if you are on a weight gain diet. Enjoying your diet will make it feel more like a meal plan, and ensure you keep these healthier habits in the long run.


READ MORE
Read more about effective ways to gain weight in the Mayo Clinic’s article, “ What’s a Good Way to Gain Weight if You’re Underweight?

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