Eat For Health: Eating To Gain Weight

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

If you are slim or desirous of gaining weight, a larger amount of seeds, nuts and avocado is appropriate. The amount you should consume is based on your body weight, how much fat you have on your body, and how much you exercise. A pregnant or nursing woman should consume about two ounces of seeds and nuts a day, even if overweight, and may consume more than that if slim. A competitive athlete may require 4 – 6 ounces of raw seeds and nuts a day, in addition to an avocado. In other words, some of us have a higher requirement for these higher-protein, higher-fat foods, and others need less. We do not need as much fat in our diet when we have extra fat on our body that needs to be utilized for energy, but if we are thin (and especially if your physical activity level is high) we may have a substantially higher requirement for fat and calories. So even though we need to consume a significant amount of the lower calorie, very high micronutrient foods, some of these higher calorie foods are also important to fuel our caloric needs.

I provide nutritional counseling to world class and professional athletes to maximize their performance and to increase their resistance to infection. One key feature of the eating-style I recommend to them is that most of their protein and fat needs are met by consuming seeds, nuts, legumes and avocados instead of more animal products. I am not suggesting that these highly active individuals eat a low-fat diet; rather it is a diet with lots of healthy, whole-food fats from seeds, nuts and avocados. A diet with fifteen percent of calories from fat could be appropriate for an overweight person with heart disease, but a slim, healthy person may find 30 percent of calories from fat is more appropriate to their needs. A highly active teenager or athlete may function best on a diet that is 40 percent of calories from fat or more.

Most healthy, normal weight individuals who exercise moderately and are in good shape can eat 3 – 4 ounces of seeds and nuts a day. That will bring their fat intake up to about 30 percent of total calories. Believing fat is the villain is wrong. Eating a bread, potato, and pasta-based diet is not as healthful as a diet higher in fat, where the extra calories (and extra fat and protein) come from seeds and nuts. Eating more beans and whole grains can also be helpful for a person who wants to gain weight. Do not be tempted to eat more animal products to gain weight and don’t get sucked in by the myth that you need more animal products to build muscle.

Keep in mind that eating to maintain extra fat stores on your body, because you or others think you look better heavier, is never healthful. A healthy person is slim and muscular. If you think you are too thin and desire more weight on your frame, the right way to achieve that is from working out in the gym, not in the kitchen. The muscular demands on your body will then increase your appetite, hunger will occur more frequently, and your caloric intake will increase proportional to the increased muscular demand. If you want to gain weight, try to make your thighs, shoulders and chest a little bigger, with more exercise. Don’t expand your waistline by over-exercising your knife and fork
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Aaron Ashmann - August 1, 2008 5:28 PM

Is there any chance Dr. Fuhrman might be able to chime in on the arginine/lysine balance present in nuts- it's really overloaded with arginine. I don't have the herpes simplex family of viruses- but i've heard many nutritionists talk about how an imbalance of arginine could fuel low-grade infections in the body. Now, you can tell me the party line that no whole foods (like nuts,seeds) could be bad for you, but that seems like non-senense after 3-4 ounces of nuts/seeds because of the huge imbalance between those too amino acids- (and naturally, you wouldn't be eating daily or meat to fix the balance-- or take lysine supplements which is un-natural.


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