Question: Hi, I was wondering if you knew where I can find information on using protein drinks / gaining weight. I'm 16, extremely high metabolism... I lift pretty hard 4 times a week and I've been experimenting with different "diets" for increasing strength and especially weight. I started the year out around 118 and now my weight is 124 from adding 3 protein shakes to my diet every day. But, before that I had tried creatine and it gave me bad acne, and the only effect it seemed to really have for me was that it would make me less if not at all sore after I lifted. Protein shakes seem to do well but I wonder whether I couldn't be mixing something with my Whey protein drink to make my body absorb more of the protein. Anyhow, please tell me what you think and any advice is greatly appreciated! BTW, is it important to drink lots of water too? I've been doing that too. Thanks again, Jason
Answer: Since you are expending a lot of energy with your workouts, and you are still growing and developing, your low weight may be cause by not taking in enough calories. What you are doing is the equivalent to a high-protein diet which promotes weight loss. To ensure proper nutrtion and peak athletic performance, you need to eat a variety of foods high in vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, protein and a moderate amount of unsaturated fat.
If you want to gain weight healthily, increase the portions of the foods you currently are consuming and eat more often. Focusing on foods rich in nutrients and calories will help you maintain and build muscle mass, and will give you the energy you need to continue your heavy workouts.
Fluid intake is essential for optimum health and athletic abilities as well. Before your heavy workouts make sure you drink anywhere between 14 to 24 ounces of water. During your workouts take frequent sips of water, about every 20 minutes or so to ensure proper hydration and maintain peek performance. After your strenuous workouts, drink about another 16 to 24 ounces of water.
To help you with your weight gain, only drink your fluids after your meals. Try not to drink a lot while you eat, this way you will fill up on your calorie and nutrient rich foods. However, don't load up on empty calories and junk foods. You want to give your body high-power foods rich in essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and unsaturated fats). Additionally, taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement would be wise. Another good habit to get into is having between meal snacks like nuts, dried fruits, shakes, smoothies, etc.
For more information, read:
(1) "Food Power for Athletes: How will a vegetarian diet affect my athletic performance?" at http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vegetarian_athletes.html
(2) "Vegetarian Nutrition for Teenagers" at www.vrg.org/nutrition/teennutrition.htm
(3) Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Braizier
(4) The Vegetarian Sports Nutrition Guide: Peak Performance for Everyone from Beginners to Gold Medalists by Lisa Dorfman
(5) Vegan + Sports . Vegan Nutrition and Endurance Sports by Arnold Wiegand
(6) My book Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook by Monique N. Gilbert
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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.