How to gain weight while running?

I come from a family of women who might most kindly be described as 'boyish' and although I eat healthily I have a BMI of 17.5.

To be eligible for NHS funded treatment I think I might need, I've got to get it to at least 19, which would mean gaining half a stone. I'm running 3 times a week and looking to improve my running so I can race, so don't want to cut back on that. And it's a weight I have never been, even when I was at uni and living and eating with 3 strapping lads. Seems completely unnatural to me.

Any ideas on how I might manage it without compromising my weekly mileage (or loosing speed when running)?

29 Replies

  • I reckon there will be a lot of envy out there tf, but I am sure they will all handle it politely. My only suggestion is to cut out all exercise, lounge on the couch and eat crap. It seems to work for a lot of people!!

  • Move to South America - the plenty of food, wine and postre. Even better still if you move to Uruguay Ducle Leche comes with everything, so even if you can only eat a small amount you will soon pile on the pounds.

  • Perhaps approach it in the way body builders do, by building up protein and also plan high calorific menus that are healthy.... as you don't want to eat loads of crap as that defeats the object? Don't cut back on the running that feels a wrong move as with some tweaks I'm sure you could do it...also regular snacks like flapjack, nuts etc? I hope it goes well and you get there :)

  • I knew there had to be another way.......

  • I have exactly the same challenge tea fairy and I know a lot of people would love to have this problem but it's very hard to put weight on so I sympathise. Someone I worked with years ago used to tease me and say I was the only woman he knew who stood on the scales and complained when she had lost weight!

    I can eat what I want but since running and doing longer distances I just can't seem to get enough food in me. And I eat all the time!

    I've done my own research and it seems we need to eat loads of protein and carbohydrates, full fat milky drinks, etc. Put extra calories on everything like cheese sprinkled on potatoes, pasta. I've been eating custard every day and after every run have a glass of chocolate milk which I make myself. A balanced diet is still important to make sure we get the fruit and veg etc and we shouldn't gorge on sweet or fatty foods.

    I'm thinking I might check to see what diet Renee Zeigweller went on when she put on weight for Bridget Jones! I read somewhere that she ate loads of milkshakes and burgers but I don't know that I could eat burgers every day!

    I'll be interested to see the responses you get and let me know if you find a diet that works for you. Good luck.

  • I suppose grazing on high calorie stuff as JJ suggested. Is it worth trying adding glucose to any of your food? It doesn't taste as sweet as sugar so you can put more in. Trouble is it seems alien, doesn't it to eat like that? When trying to fatten up my husband when he was ill I resorted to glucose, double cream slipped into lots of things and generous oils and fats. Are you running a very long way every week? I do wish you well!

  • Thanks all. I'm trying to drink more milk and already eat lots of carbs. Was wondering whether it might be worth lifting weights to build muscle as that's pretty heavy (and I don't want to get tubby, would rather be strong)

  • Muscle is heavier than fat and a lot healthier so that sounds like a great idea! :) Guess it's frustrating no matter which way you try to shift your weight (I'm in the heavy needing to lose some camp but given how hard it is if your having the same problem but the other way I guess that's just as annoying) Hope you manage it!

  • Can we just swap a stone or something?! ;)

  • Sold! ;)

  • Perfect, that's us sorted :)

  • Mince pies and cheese :)

  • Sorry I wrote that before I scrolled down and realised people were actually giving you proper advice. Though I still stand by my suggestion!

  • My only suggestion is to make sure you eat an old fashioned diet- Full fat milk, butter rather than spreads, bread, cheese, potatoes and puddings. Definitely not crap, just the sort of old fashioned food people ate 40 years ago. Good luck :)

  • I won't have anything low fat in the house - real butter all the way :). And my husband is great at pies and cakes, so we already do that!

  • Am trying to rack my brains for the advice we were given when my dad was ill and needed to put on weight. It was definitely full fat everything and snacks between meals. I think anything milky she suggested putting extra powdered milk in, butter on baked potatoes, cream in soup.

  • Try nuts, avacado and healthy fats. More olive oil in cooking or rapeseed. Seeds and dried fruits. Good old weights sessions to build some more muscles. It not as easy to do as people think. Good luck.

  • Also can you push back against the requirement to gain weight. If you are the right weight for you then risking getting unhealthy seems counterintuitive. Ask for a referral to a dietician? Have you been checked for over active thyroid? My mum has that and drops weight when it gets out of balance.

  • Haven't had a thyroid check but might try to prove I'm healthy and bypass the requirement as I've worked hard for the body I currently inhabit, and I really love it

  • Well, having a sister wich has the same metabolism than you, I know there is no easy answer. Luckily she lives in France so she doesn't have to "qualify" for treatment!

    So, sorry no new advice to give, just loads of good luck wishes coming your way.

    Happy running.

  • My daughter has similar problems (clearly her metabolism is not inherited from her mother!). The only time she has put on weight was in Nepal - eating 5 meals a day (mainly dhal) and drinking yak's milk (think melted butter mixed with double cream...). More sustainably, she dopes use weights to build muscle, but then is back to the 5 meals a day to feed the exercise. Good luck!

  • Haha, thanks. I LOST half a stone when were in Nepal but we weren't drinking yak milk and we walked with 15-20 kg packs, so... :)

  • I have a friend like that and basically she can't put on weight no matter how much she eats and she is still very slim at nearly sixty.

    But if your treatment depends on it - look into getting the treatment started somewhere else (you might be entitled to treatment in other EU countries) and then maybe continue here. I come from an EU country but have lived here for more than twenty years, so I'm aware that a few things are possible and legal this way but require a lot of effort to find out about. It of course depends on your whole situation whether that's a possibilty at all.

    On the other hand half a stone is not that much 6-7 pounds??, maybe you can actually gain a few pounds with eating healthy high fat high protein food and build muscles and then cheat a little when weighing in ;-) - i.e drink and eat a lot beforehand (1-2 pounds), have clothes on that weigh a lot. A pair of jeans and a heavy cotton sweater/hoodie - 2-3 pounds... I know this because i of course try and take them off when weighing myself;-)

  • I also remembered what we used to do on longeish mountain trips where you had to carry every single calory you wanted to eat. We found that homemade flapjacks have one of the highest calory densities per gram (and cost a lot less than ready made high energy bars for mountaineers). The basic recipe:

    mix roughly equal weights of oats melted butter and sugar for sweet ones (add nuts/dried fruits /cinnamon/ chocolate for taste)

    or oats butter and grated cheese for savoury ones (add pine nuts/dried tomatoes/chopped up beef jerk/ italian or oriental spices)

    mix into a sticky mess (add cream or oats if it is too dry or too runny) and half bake half dry until you can cut them into snack sized bits.

    and then you "only" have to eat them... and i definitely don't.

  • Sounds great!

  • I have a friend who is always slim no matter how much he eats. He says that if he eats a huge meal then all that happens is that he heats up like a furnace and his body burns off all the calories that way.

  • tea_fairy, I've had similar problems with weight gain (hence the waif part of my username!) so I sympathise with you, especially when most people don't see it as a problem at all - I've had doctors tell me not to worry about it and consider myself lucky even though my BMI hovers between underweight and normal. However it is a very real problem - for example getting a stomach bug and losing my appetite for three days might see me lose just under a stone! Depite having a serious sweet tooth I like to eat a mostly healthy & balanced diet so If I needed to gain weight, I'd eat normally and also drink meal replacement shakes in addition to my three meals a day. These things are usually intended either for people losing weight and having them instead of a normal meal, or you can get others which are intended for people who have lost their appetite, but want to stay healthy, but by adding them alongside the food you'd be eating anyway, you can easily get the calories you need.

    Good luck!

  • Chocolate and erm more chocolate and ice-cream. I've put on about a stone since giving up smoking and starting to run (and cross train) and am now borderline overweight but have never felt better, fitter and looked more toned - so BMI's are just an indication I hope. And whilst overall my diet is healthier than it was I cannot resist puddings - chocolate puddings with ice-cream - combine these with a little weight lifting and you will soon put on a few pounds - plus the chocolate makes you feeel yummy.

  • Have you considered those high protein type/nutrient shakes they sell in the chemists?

    My sister lost a lot of weight through an op and was severely underweight. The doctor prescribed these type of shakes to build her back up to a healthy weight.

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