How to gain weight

Any runners out there who are nutrition experts,I need your help.I am a 46kg/5ft9 female(hence the nickname)who has a constant battle to maintain weight when training hard.Any advice or tips from runners out there who are of a similar body-type to me ie very skinny!!I have always been thin,but over the years of running now resemble a refugee from a concentration camp(my husband's description)on a good day.But seriously,I feel my running would improve significantly if I was strong enough to train harder.I am only able to run 25miles a week at the moment or the weight drops off!I eat approx.2400 cals daily which consists of lunch,dinner,supper and three snacks,one of which is a serving of complan.Don't eat breakfast because I run at 9.30am.I need to somehow get in more calories a day, but find it hard as i am not a big eater and tend to graze.Any suggestions?My aim is to get to 50kg.


  • Eat breakfast! Get up earlier! Protein? Weights? Dunno! Erm... V-RAP-She'll know!!!
  • Hi there pin!

    Same height as Paula Radcliffe and about a stone lighter...yes, that's skinny!

    First, are you in good general health, able to do your 25 miles a week on top of your everyday activities without feeling unduly tired, and having a regular menstrual cycle? And is your weight stable at 46kg? If you can answer "yes" to all of these, I wouldn't worry unduly. Some people are just designed to be like stringbeans. Look at any line-up of elite distance runners!

    What those elite runners often do have, though, is fantastic musculature, upper as well as lower body, and maybe that's something you could explore as a way of gaining weight and strength. Two hours a week of total-body work with weights, either in a Bodypump/Bodymax class or under the supervision of a trainer in the gym, would help you to build muscle.

    Inevitably, you're going to need to eat more. Not easy if you're not that interested in food, and very difficult indeed if you actively restrict your diet in any way, but you're eating about the right number of calories for a slightly active woman of your height and you're very active. You should be aiming for at least 9 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, about 80g of protein (top end of recommended range for endurance athletes), and plenty of starchy foods. If adding extra food is difficult, plough into sports drinks or even just eat sweets for the extra calories provided your basic diet is nutritious.

    You don't say what age you are, but it would be worth asking your GP to check your blood pressure (it's not advisable to embark on weight-training with uncontrolled high blood pressure) and test your blood to make sure you're not anaemic or hyperthyroid.

    Jon's suggestion of getting up earlier so that you CAN eat before your morning run is a good one, even if all you do is throw down a banana and a few glugs of sports drink.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers, V-rap (who melts away to nothing at over 30 miles a week - but "nothing" for me is still about 47kg at 5'1"!)
  • Boing!

    Quiet board this morning.

    C'mon, folks, give the lass some good advice or Jon will send his resident Atkins afficionado round to breathe all over you.

    Tricks for sneaking extra calories into your meals, anyone?
  • without being rude, may one enquire as to whether everything is OK in the time-of-the month department?

    I think an accurate body- fat estimate (see elsewhere!)might also be appropriate

    ..otherwise I'd concur it might be easier to increase your weight by building muscle ..
    ... I like (yes I know some of the pictures look forged) - its mainly aimed at porkers like myself who aspire to becoming leaner, but their are some case "success stories" from skinny people

    for healthy high calorie good-fat food add-ins try avocado's peanuts fishoils etc
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    Not a medical expert or nuffin´ but had an idea ....

    When the film of 'Bridget Jones'Diary' was released in the UK, there were plenty of interviews with the lead actress (Renée Something-or-other) where she detailed very precisely the 'routine' she had to follow to gain weight for the role. From what I remember it involed lots of sugary breakfast cereals with full-fat milk, pizzas, bananas and donuts. Anyway, might be worth finding some of the old interviews on the 'net and seeing if they provide any weight-gaining ideas. Having seen pics of René Whatserface before, after, and before, the diet (or anti-diet) certainly worked!
  • Boing!

    What about trying to get a copy of Liz Applegate's "Eat Smart - Play Hard" from the library? I won't go so far as to recommend buying it like I did, as it's a bit too American to be relevant to people on a British diet. There's a chapter about eating to gain weight.

    A dietitian I knew used to advise people to stir a couple of spoonfuls of dried milk powder into every pint of ordinary silver-top milk.

    People who are "naturally" slim often "naturally" just don't like the sort of foods that make most of us inclined to gain weight if we're not careful (cheese, cream, chocolate, processed meat, that sort of stuff).

    Pin, you're proof for us cynical souls that maybe Kate Moss, Jodie Kidd & co really ARE the shape they are because that's how they're designed and not because they chuck and do drugs and eat bog-roll. Five foot nine and 7 stone is about 1980-1990's supermodel size.
  • Hi Pin,

    I'm also on the thinner side, but not as much as you. I find that stress is the one thing that always makes the weight drop off, so perhaps this could be a factor for you too? As I'm still a student (writing my doctoral thesis = stress!!), I find it impossible to have a really well balanced diet, and unfortunately, when I'm feeling a little too thin or unenergetic, I jsut reach for the chocolate. Not something I'd recommend, but perhaps eating a few more sweets wouldn't hurt?
  • Hi Pin

    you have my sympathies (I have the opposite problem - hence the picture)but I am sure it can be just as infuriating not to be able to gain weight

    out of interest - how long have you been running and how long have you felt the need to add a little weight?

    what sort of things do you eat and how is your appetite

    gaining weight is just as difficult sometimes - but look for nutrient dense foods - rather than 'junky' foods - perhaps a good milky drink before bedtime and perhaps a snack if you can manage it - i used to have weetabix for supper when i was training a lot a few years ago. can you do smoothies - made with milk and yoghurt - might be a good way to add some calories.
    As the idea that reducing by 500 calories a day adds up to about 1lb a week lost that might give you an idea of how much extra to eat.

    Finally training- are you an out and out runner or is is fitness your goal?
    My experience is that when i ran I would burn off weight quite easily - but i had a tendency to scrawniness and wasnt as strong - but when i did resistance work i did beef up and looked just as lean at a stone heavier!

    This may be sacrilege but perhaps reduce the running for awhile - do some cross training to gain some strength and muscle while you up your food intake and then build up the running again.
    Strength will help your running and cross training is a good way to avoid injury and give your body a bit of a break.

    Good Luck
  • Start drinking Guiness - honestly!
  • Ok here is your solution:

    1. Stop all aerobic activity
    2. By a book like "Super Squats" or "Brawn"
    3. Follow the logic and routines in the books- dont worry you wont get freakishly muscular, its not that easy
    4. Drink lots of full fat milk
    5. Go to a body building shop and ask for EAS/ Prolab rapid weight gainer (a drink which offers about 1 squillion calories a dose!!)

    Do that for 2 months and nobody will kick sand in your face anymore
  • pin,

    I'm very skinny for my height anyway (6ft)and lost a lot more weight in the build up to a marathon in September. I'm normally 11 stone and my weight dropped to 10 stone 2lbs which horrified me. I have started doing some weight training (mainly upper body) which does seem to be helping with putting weight back on (hovering around 11 stone again).

    I'm not a breakfast eater either, but always make an effort to have something after my morning runs (usually cereal and banana with lashing of sugar and full fat milk).I totally agree with RWBB; drinking full fat milk with meals helps with putting on the extra pounds.

    Having been a Guinness drinker for 15 years I can't agree with Jonathans suggestion. Probably just a motabilism thing with me.

    Hope you find an answer. And if you do let me know won't you :)

  • Thanks for all your advice guys,I will try to answer some of your questions.
    I am 43,have been on HRT for 5 years because i had stopped having monthlies and GP was concerned about my bone density(GP also advised only jogging 2 or 3x a week,giving up serious running,which i did for a while but became so depressed i started again!)
    My appetite is generally good but not big,I am a bit of a chocoholic,not very healthy diet,snacks consist mostly of high calorie chocolate,bikkies,cakes etc.
    I add 2 tablespoons of sugar to my cereal after a run,use only full-fat milk,spread butter lavishly on bread,but it still does not work.I will try to drink more complan with milk,that might help and am trying to increase the size of my pre-bed snack.
    I have been running for about 15 years.My weight is fairly stable around 45/46kg.I lose weight very easily also in times of stress and if i'm ill I can drop a few kgs in a day,if i don't eat.Also I have a part-time job and a six-year old,so life is quite busy.
    I will reply in more depth tomorrow.Thanks again you guys.I'm taking all your advice on board,it's nice to have some sympathy,most people just think i must be anorexic,am just making it up,but honestly it's true,I'm desperate to gain weight!!
  • V-Rap,
    Thanks for the excellent advice.Yes,it is true,I am 46kg and 5/9 without sticking my head down the toilet,starving myself or doing drugs!I am also rather fond of naughty foods like chocolate,cakes and biscuits.I have never restricted my diet in any way.I was probably not careful enough with keeping an eye on the weight when running took over my life.You know how obsessive us runners can be about the next run,rather than thinking about fuelling recovery properly.I have got more sensible with age!
    Since starting running in my early thirties(am now 43,but gave up for a few years 38- 40 on advice of GP)I have found weight hard to keep on.I resorted to 'buckets' of milk and complan daily when I was running 40 miles a week at my peak and this seemed to work,so I may return to that idea.I like your idea about the extra sweets,will have to start pinching my daughter's jelly beans!I have also recently purchsed several cases of ultra-fuel sports drink.
    Hildegard-like yourself,when feeling a bit too skinny I reach for the mars bars,rather than healthy food.Also i am prone to 'living on my nerves'a bit,not being a very relaxed sort of person and stress causes weight loss.
    Nice to hear of another skinny runner like me.I have tried the cereal with loads of sugar method,perhaps i need more sugar!Weight-training a great idea in theory,but don't seem to have the time!
    Have you tried complan with milk when you are in hard training?Maybe not as tasty as Guinness but nice chilled from the fridge,like a milkshake,
    Cheers everyone,will keep you posted on weight gain,
    The Pin
  • Are you doing too much caffeine? I just wondered, since you do mention chocolate a bit.

    I rewarded my 13k run yesterday with about 150g of assorted chocs at the cinema. Found it difficult to get to sleep and had a very restless night.

    (Dreadful movie - XXX - relieved only by the sheer lunacy of the plot.)
  • i can shave some of my fat off and tape it on you if you want - plenty to go around !!!!
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