Protein shakes

so I've been going to the gym for a while as well as running and I'm seriously concerned about my weight. I eat an incredibly well balanced diet but cannot keep my weight ON. I do lots of cardio work but I'm not prepared to give that up I just need a way to keep my weight on. Someone suggested to do weights to bulk me out a little bit and to take protein shakes. However, I feel like this is two minds about it all. I was just thinking what other people thought and what advise they could give me. This would be greatly appreciated


  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    What would be cheating?

    Are you actually losing weight? If you are, then doing weights will achieve little - if you're in negative energy balance then there's nothing going spare to build additional muscle and 'bulk' up. You may develop more muscle at the expense of other body tissues, but an energy deficit creates a catabolic (breaking down tissue) environment, which doesn't really support significant muscle development. And, unfortunately, the body is quite good at hanging on to fat - if you are losing weight, then some of it will be muscle.

    You need to create a positive energy balance, and the only way to do that is to consume more than you use. What is your diet like? You say it's incredibly well-balanced, but what does that actually mean? Can you give an example of a typical day's intake? Ultimately, if you are losing weight and aren't willing to cut back on the amount of activity, you have to eat more. Either larger quantities, or include foods that are energy dense into your diet to give the required additional calories.

  • I am losing weight yes, slowly but I'm now only 8 and a half stone at 5"9.

    My typical day of food would be something like...

    Breakfast - 2 weetabix and toast

    Lunch- wholemeal pasta mixed with potatos, lots of beans/pulses, tinned tomatoes, chicken and spinach sorta thing!

    Dinner-either a fish thing, meat thing or salad.

    Then I snack on fruit, yogurts, bagels.

    Drink, water and milk.

    I feel like I can't eat much more but I'm very willing to give it a go.

    Your advise is very helpful...thank you
  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    Your diet does sound healthy, so it's probably a case of finding ways to make it more energy dense without introducing too much refined sugar/unhealthy fats and without increasing portion sizes too much, especially as you say you don't think you can eat much more.

    What do you have on your toast? What sort of milk do you use?

    Nuts are a great way of adding energy to a diet, and if you opt for raw and unsalted, then they're a perfectly healthy addition. Snacking on nuts once or twice a day can easily add a few hundred calories without needing a massive portion. You could add cashews to your pasta perhaps, or just eat a handful as a mid-morning/afternoon snack.

    Peanut butter on your toast or bagel would up the energy content of your diet, as would option for a 'whole' (i.e. not low fat) yoghurt. If you like cheese, you could add some to your pasta or evening meal.

    Whilst it's not the healthiest of options, there are some very high energy desserts you can get in the chilled aisles of supermarkets - individual pots of tiramasu, cheesecakes, trifles, etc. In the context of the diet you describe, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to have them occasionally during the week. Whilst they are generally high in sugar/fat, they'll provide the energy you need to prevent weight loss in a manageable portion size, and you need to balance the health risks of a 'treat' food with the health risks of being underweight.

    I hope that helps image




  • I have butter and marmite (you either love it or hate it...I love it) then I have full fat milk and semi skimmed. I heard low fat yoghurt is good for protein but should I be having full fat for weight gain.

    Ive heard nuts are naturally high in fat...does it matter which ones I.e peanuts, pistachio?

    I'm weary of eating unhealthy foods but I suppose they so provide fat. I like my chocolate if that counts hehe.

    This is great great help. Thank you so much Sarah...sorry to be a pain.
  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    Not a pain at all image I'm a dietitian by trade, so I quite like talking this subject!

    Nuts are naturally high in fat, but not all fats are created equal and it's important to remember that you do need to have some fat in your diet! Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, especially in their raw state, and are also highly nutritious for their vitamin and mineral content. Different nuts will give different ratios of fats, so eating a variety is the best thing to do. Personally, I love Brazil nuts (very crunchy - chocolate coated is my all time favourite snack image And excellent post-exercise due to the protein and carb content) and cashews (almost meaty in texture). Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios - whatever you like really. If you are concerned about fat in your diet, it might be worth noting that a diet rich in good fats is actually cardioprotective - you're less likely to suffer from high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. That doesn't mean eat nothing but nuts - it's all about balance!

    It's common for people to be wary of fats and sugars - the healthy eating message is everywhere! However - and a lot of people have trouble with this - the healthy eating message is intended for the general public, and you have to remember that the general public tend to be rather sedentary. Athletes, and people who engage in a lot of exercise, have different needs. That's not to say you shouldn't follow a healthy diet - being active doesn't mean you're completely protected from the risks of heart disease, diabetes, etc. But it does mean that you need to adapt to your own lifestyle. And given the high workload of cardio you describe, and the weight loss, it's evident that your diet isn't currently meeting your needs. If you need to get a few extra calories from 'unhealthy' foods, then so be it. They tend to be at their most unhealthy when they  make up a large proportion of your diet, and that wouldn't be the case for yourself, then there's not too much to worry about image Quite frankly, the risks of being underweight are greater than those of being having a bit of chocolate now and again. 

    As for Marmite - image image

  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    Oh, and just to refer back to the thread title - protein shakes are very expensive and well marketed! Drinking milk is a much cheaper, tastier (assuming you like the taste of milk...) and more easily accessible option image


  • Thank you so so much. This has been a fabulous help...nuts are going to be part of my diet now.

    Just one last much grams wise should I be eating every day??
  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    A portion of nuts is usually stated as being a 'handful', which typically equates to roughly an ounce (28g). And depending on the type of nut, that would add 150-200kcal per portion to your energy intake. As to how many portions you eat - I'd say have at least two. That should up your calorie intake by 300-400 kcal per day, which depending on the extent of your energy deficit may be enough to prevent further weight loss. If not, then eating more won't harm you image


  • I'm in a similar situation to you, GG12. I do olympic lifts at the gym as well as running and swimming, and I'm getting to a weight point that I don't want to go below, but don't want to eat garbage to keep on weight.

    I recently started using a whey protein supplement. I wouldn't recommend the 'bulking' ones, as they just contain a lot of sugar and junk to add calories. I have found the whey protein one helps my recovery after exercise and helps me build muscle. However, this is simply because I'm so active that I need an intake of protein every few hours to keep my muscles recovering.

    A proper meal would be more effective than the protein shake, but I haven't got the time or inclination to prepare or eat 6 meals a day.

    Hope this helps. Up until a few months ago, I would never have considered a supplement and would have laughed at the idea. Taking advice from someone I train with, is the cheapest reasonable quality supplier to the UK. Now that I know that they work for me, I'll be switching to them next time.

    They won't help you keep weight on, though, unless you're prepared to buy the chemical junk ones.
  • I was recently diagnosed with an overactive thyroid and the main symptom was that I was eating like a demon but losing weight.  I have a big appetite anyway, so it took people at work telling me I looked thin before I noticed.  (I don't own a set of scales.)  Maybe it's worth getting a blood test?

  • Iain LoveIain Love ✭✭✭

    I have a similar problem, i cant bulk out so i asked one of the trainers at the gym what i could do and he said i would need to choose what i wanted to do, either run or bulk out but couldnt do both. He said the amount of nutrients the body requires to do any sort of distance running i would have to consume 4500+ calories a day which would be mainly carbs and protien so when i ran i used those reserves and not the reserves stored in my muscles, I am very active and burn amost over 3000 a day so it would be almost impossible to consume that much food. As long as you take in what you burn you shouldnt continue to lose weight. good luck in finding that happy medium.

  • Thanks for all the advise guys.
  • Your diet does sound incredibly healthy, but not very energy dense. If I followed it I could almost guarantee I'd lose a stone in a couple of months. I think I'd recommend a couple of takeaways a week for you. A big pizza or takeaway Italian or curry should do the trick. Not overly unhealthy per se as long as the rest of your diet is good and you're a regular exerciser. Either that or add olive oil and cream to your pasta sauces and cheese to your potatoes, sandwiches and snacks...

  • Hehe nw4 that was funny. Too active to do that tho I'm afraid.

    R-w-d, thank you but again...I cannot seem to eat rubbish food without feeling guilty. I like to feel healthy. I suppose my weight is more of an issue tho so need to start eating rubbish :-/ if I get fat I know who to blame hehe...just kidding
  • Iain LoveIain Love ✭✭✭

    try find a way to count the calories you consume and measure them up against what you burn each day. you could find that you are burning more then you are taking in and are in danger of burning yourself out..i am 5"6 and weigh just under 10 stone and at a point where i neither gain or lose weight..maybe speak to someone at the gym to help you devise a meal plan that would suite your bodies demands..

  • GG12 wrote (see)
    I cannot seem to eat rubbish food without feeling guilty.

    Well, a lot depends on what all foods and ingredients you decide to put in the 'rubbish' category. But if you're eating lots and losing weight you don't want to lose, you either need to eat more of what you're already eating (which you've already said you don't think you can do), add some calorie-dense QUALITY foods to your diet, or cut back on the exercise. If you don't do one of the three, you're not going to solve your problem.

    Depends on the individual takeaway shop as well, but I'd define my favourite ones as anything but rubbish. Rubbish in my view being deep fried, processed, sugary and/or high in animal fats. Takeaway pasta is pretty much just what you'd make at home, just with more olive oil and cream. Yum. Why would you feel guilty for eating something your body requires to stay healthy? Ditto what you said about feeling that protein shakes are a form of cheating. Who/what do you actually think you are cheating? Just wondering...

  • 'add some calorie-dense QUALITY foods to your diet'

    (can't quote on the new site HINT HINT mods)

    Maybe people could suggest some good 'clean bulk' dishes.

    I'm exactly the same as GG12 in that I won't eat junk to add calories. I don't mind lots of low-fat dairy, as it doesn't affect my complexion in reasonable amounts. The problem I have with takeaways is all the butter, oil and salt they add to make cheap ingredients taste better. I hate sodium so much - I'm really sensitive to it now, and can literally feel the water retention.

    I'm not convinced that refined sugars are harmless disregarding their calorific value, so I can't lean on those too much. I don't think the saturated fats in cheese are 'good' fats, so that's a twice-a-week treat.

    So, I end up eating all the way through the day. Mostly fruit, dried dates and prunes, whole-grain pasta and pesto, eggs, greens and unsalted nuts.
  • r-w-d, i feel like im cheating myself as its a way of getting bulky without doing anything. They are filled with chemicals that make your body bulk out in an un-naturally fast way. 

    So I'm not eating more nuts and eating natural yogurts and full fat milk and ive started doing weights rather than all the cardio. I not going to be the next heavy-weight champion as it looks horrible on a girl, but if I can tone up more then im hoping it may help. Everytime i tell myself today is the day im not going to go to the gym, I always end up going. I don't do hard work everytime but I'm sure its an actual addiction. I love being able to get away from stuff and be in my own little bubble. 

    I like what you said here...its made me think a little better about what is classed as 'rubbish' foods. I love this forum...thanks guys image

    Why would you feel uilty for eating something your body requires to stay healthy?

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