Time and time again, athletes tell me they just can’t seem to gain weight, or even maintain their weight during the season. And, time-and-time-again my question to them is, “Did you eat breakfast today?” Unfortunately, the typical answer is “No, Coach, I didn’t.”
Here are some of the top lame excuses I’ve heard from athletes wanting to gain weight and not eating breakfast: “No I didn’t have time.”
Everybody has time! Everybody! Either that or make time! “Yeah Coach, I ate breakfast at noon.”
Just because he had bacon and eggs at noon does not make it breakfast. Eat early! “Yeah, I had a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.”
This one is my favorite. Next time, just pour some sugar into a bowl and eat that. “Well, I had half of a bagel and some juice.”
I have some leftover bread crumbs if you want to eat those too.
Eat a Big Breakfast Everyday
Since your early childhood, you’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And, here at Michigan State we teach our athletes this same simple philosophy– that skipping breakfast is a bad idea.
It can only be detrimental to an athlete as he or she is less effective in concentration, works less efficiently (Pollitt, 1995), feels irritable and short tempered, or falls short of energy during workouts (Clark, 1997).
Set a Schedule to Eat
You need to set a consistent schedule for yourself to follow. Even on the weekends, if you want to sleep in, get up and eat by 9:00am. Noontime is lunchtime. So, look at it in this manner. If you ate a snack at 9:00pm the night before and did not eat again until noon, that¹s fourteen hours without eating!
That¹s just to long to go without food if you want to gain weight. Make sure to leave yourself some time in the morning to eat breakfast or take a breakfast with you. As sports nutritionist, Nancy Clark says, “a high-energy breakfast sets the stage for a high energy day” (1997).
Keep it Simple
It’s simple, people, eat a healthy and balanced breakfast every day. Make sure to choose foods that are going to help your athletic performance. Your diet should consist of eating approximately 60% complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, some pastas, and a few breads), 20-25% fat (naturally from seeds, nuts, and vegetables), and 15-20% protein (lean stuff like fish and chicken and some red meats). Keep in mind that sugary cereals tend to suffice your sweet tooth rather than promote your health (Clark, 1997).
The formula to gain 1 lb/week is your bodyweight x 20 = daily caloric needs. Make sure to eat a big breakfast and energize yourself for the day. Athletes burn more calories than the general population. In order to gain weight, an athlete must take in more calories than he or she burns.
For example, a 200 lb. basketball player would require (200 lbs. x 20) 4000 calories per day from the previously recommended diet (Riley, 1997).
Other Weight Gain/Maintain Tips:
- Snack often between meals.
- Eat more than you normally would at mealtime.
- Eat high calorie foods and drinks.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water and juice.
- And maybe as a last resort, drink a “calorie/nutrition shake”.
Truth about Supplements Many people look for the path of least resistance when it comes to strength training/weight gaining and as a result, purchase the new and improved weight gain supplement.
The nutritional value of most weight gain supplements is usually no different than that of a balanced diet and in many instances are much more expensive than shopping for groceries. And, the use of some supplements have actually resulted in worse performance and serious health risks.
Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge by athletes and coaches results in the purchasing these expensive products with little or no prevail. A quick fix can never be a substitute for hard work.
To gain weight one must live like a champion by eating the right foods often, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting lots of sleep. Set a schedule and stick to it. Include the following items in your schedule and follow it religiously:
- Academic and/or Employment Commitments
- Team and/or Individual Practices
- Strength Workouts
While following your schedule, you must implement the HARD WORK! Success does not come easy, so pour your heart and soul into everything you do, including eating!