It may be hard for most of us to imagine, but some people have real, often medical, reasons to gain weight. Smoothies are versatile enough to be used to lose weight, maintain weight, and even gain weight. With the right recipe, with thoughtful planning, and with carefully-chosen healthful ingredients you can use smoothies as a route to steady weight gain.
Why Weight Gain?
There are a lot of valid reasons to gain weight. For some people it may be a sport or for the sake of appearance. Maybe you’re naturally thin and lack muscle tone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to bulk up a little so that you fill out, are stronger, and can compete in certain types of sports that interest you or perform better in athletics in which you already participate.
Some people need to gain weight for medical reasons. If you have been sick or hospitalized for a long time, you may need to put weight back on. You may also have a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, that makes you lose weight unintentionally. Other conditions can cause you to lose your appetite, which in turn causes you to lose weight because you have no interest in eating. Cancer, liver disease, heart failure, HIV, kidney failure, and certain medications all can cause reduced appetite.
The Healthy Way to Gain Weight
It can be tempting to use the need to gain weight as an excuse to eat anything and everything that tempts you, but there is a right way and a wrong way to put on extra pounds. Eating junk foods and those rich in unhealthy fats and added sugars will help you gain weight, but not in a healthful way.
You need to eat foods that are calorie-dense, but also nutrient-dense.
Avoid foods that are high in empty calories, like deep fried foods, sugary snacks, and processed snacks. Eat healthful foods in greater quantities. Supplement your normal foods with healthful, high-calorie snacks like nuts and seeds, dried fruits, avocado, full-fat yogurt, and whole grains.
If you are gaining weight for medical reasons, start with your doctor’s advice, or that of a nutritionist or dietitian. Find out how many calories you should consume every day and start counting them. The more calories you consume, the more weight you will put on.
If you are gaining weight to put on more muscle mass or to perform better at athletics, you need to be especially conscious of eating more protein. As you boost your calorie intake add dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, and other protein-rich foods.
Smoothies for Weight Gain
Smoothies are a perfect dietary addition if you need to gain weight. If you have no appetite, or if you have digestive problems due to a medical condition, a smoothie will be easier to handle than whole foods. Even if you don’t have a problem with eating more, a smoothie is still a great way to get more calories into your diet every day. Here are some ingredients to start stocking up on for your high-calorie smoothies:
- Nuts and nut butters. The healthy fats found in nuts are nutritious and high in calories. Just one tablespoon of nut butter has between 90 and 110 calories. Put whole nuts into your smoothie and blend them in, or use natural nut butters, including peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or even sunflower seed butter.
- Seeds. Seeds, like nuts, are rich in healthy fats and high in calories. You can add a number of seeds to your smoothie without adding much flavor. They can also provide extra nutrients. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are all good choices and will add protein, fat and calories. If you use flax seeds, be sure to grind them up in a food processor first.
- Avocado. Avocados are also rich in healthy unsaturated fats that include a lot of calories. They are also great in smoothies because they give any recipe a smooth and creamy texture. The flavor of fresh avocado is mild and unobtrusive. It blends well into any type of smoothie recipe.
- Coconut oil. The oil made from coconuts is almost entirely made up of fats, which are calorie-dense. Coconut oil is also a potent superfood. It helps to lower bad cholesterol levels while raising good cholesterol. It has antibiotic properties, and it may even protect against developing Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe best of all, coconut oil tastes great, especially in fruity or chocolaty smoothies. Make sure you look for virgin coconut oil.
- Dried fruits. You might normally reach for fresh fruits for nutritional reasons, but if you want more calories per ounce in your smoothie, go with dried fruits. Dried fruits are high in natural fruit sugars and in calories. Fresh and frozen fruits contain water, which contributes no calories to your smoothies. Make sure you pick dried fruits that have no added, refined sugar.
- Oats. Carbohydrates from whole grains are high in calories and fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Oats are a good choice for smoothies because they blend well. Put raw oats into the blender first to chop them up, then add the rest of your smoothie ingredients.
- Milk and Yogurt. Unless you have a lactose intolerance, full-fat dairy products are great for adding weight because they are rich in fat and protein. Raw milk has historically been used to pack on the pounds. If you don’t have access to raw milk, opt for whole milk. Yogurt, again full-fat varieties, blend well in most smoothies and are high in good calories.
- Protein Powders. Protein supplements and gelatin are an easy way to boost the amount of protein in your smoothies.
Remember that your goal, in addition to putting on pounds, should be to eat nutritious and healthful foods. Avoid processed foods and those that are high in calories simply because of added sugar.
If you’re wondering about raw eggs, a classic staple of old-school bodybuilding, I don’t feel comfortable recommending them. The risks of salmonella contamination are too great. However, if you have access to eggs from local, pastured chickens, I don’t see a problem.
Making your High-Calorie Smoothie
Smoothies are great vehicles for bulking up on calories because you can more easily drink your extra food intake than eat it. You will feel less full and bloated when you consume your calories in liquid, smoothie form than if you tried to eat all solid foods. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup raw milk
- 1/2 avocado
- 3 tablespoons organic peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)
- 1 serving Sun Warrior chocolate protein powder or your preferred protein
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon honey to sweeten
- Calories: 798
- Fat: 51g
- Protein: 44g
- Carbohydrates: 51g
- Fiber: 12g
- Sugar: 30g
- Vitamin A: 6% RDA
- Vitamin C: 17% RDA
- Calcium: 36% RDA
- Iron: 37% RDA
Natural Protein Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup kefir (or 50/50 kefir and milk, preferably raw milk)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (full-fat preferred)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds or chia seed gel
- 1/4 cup goji berries
- 1 tablespoon gelatin
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- A little honey, maple syrup, or stevia to sweeten (optional)
- Calories: 631
- Fat: 43g
- Protein: 29g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Fiber: 11g
- Sugar: 19g
- Vitamin A: 99% RDA
- Vitamin C: 42% RDA
- Calcium: 53% RDA
- Iron: 17% RDA
These are just a couple of basic recipes to help you get started in using smoothies for your healthy weight gain. Try them, but also don’t be afraid to make your own recipes. Alternatively, you can start with your old favorite recipes and add in nutritious, high-calorie ingredients to bulk them up. Experiment with different combinations to find what tastes most appetizing to you and provides the most calories per drink. With smoothies, there’s no better way to enjoy gaining weight.
Please leave a comment below if you have questions, thoughts, ideas, or tips on gaining weight with smoothies. Thank you!