Struggling to get enough food in your day? We’ve got you
For some people, eating enough is just as hard as not eating too much.
Unfortunately, it’s something that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough, so in this episode I’m going to try and help.
Hard gainers / chronic under fuellers / no appetiters unite!
Welcome back to the Bite Me nutrition podcast. Today I'm going to be talking about how to eat more. If you are someone who struggles to get enough food in to meet your energy or food requirements, it's a topic that's definitely not discussed as much as how to eat less. We all love talking about that. We all love marketing that. And whilst there's a time and a place for that, often I find that people are struggling just as much with trying to increase their food intake, but unfortunately aren't necessarily getting the support or the information that they need to do this.
Now, I'm primarily talking about people who have very high energy requirements. Maybe you're in a very physical job, or you do a lot of sport or physical activity, or someone who maybe just struggles with getting in enough food due to a shift in appetite. Okay, so the strategies I'll go through will be mostly relevant to those scenarios. They might be a little bit relevant to someone whose appetite has been affected by medication or other medical conditions. One of the big ones I work a lot with with clients is like ADHD and managing their intake around their medication. That's not exactly what this is about, so I can't promise that that will be helpful for that population. But if you are someone who struggles to eat lots because you do tons of activity, or you're someone who just struggles to eat enough in your day to day life because you just don't have much of an appetite, then this is my three step oh, my goodness. I was going to say this is my three step process, which it is, but how gross? Oh, this is my three step protocol to how to eat more.
Anyway, there's just three things to look for. I start with step I've lost train of thought. Oh, this is all going downhill. The first place that I would look is, can you increase the size of your existing meals? Right? And I know that sounds very obvious, which is why it's the first step. We just kind of make sure that we've covered that one off. If you are struggling to meet your energy requirements or you're struggling to gain weight that you need to gain, then you need to make sure every meal is eaten until you are uncomfortably full. Okay?
I don't want you feeling sick. I don't want you regurgitating food or vomiting by any stretch, but we need to eat until we are uncomfortably full. If we're not eating until we're uncomfortably full, I'm very confident that you won't be getting in enough energy. So that's step one. Uncomfortably full at every meal.
Now you reach that point where you go, Jono, I can't eat more at this meal. I can't eat more any of my meals. So the next step is we need to add more meals, right? Or more snacks, or just more occasions of eating throughout the day. If you have very high energy requirements and you're eating twice per day, I don't like your chances of getting in adequate amounts of energy in those two meals. Right? They will have to be massive, massive meals. So getting that same amount of energy across six meals or three meals and two snacks or whatever combination of that is far more likely. So we want to make sure that if we are, we've tapped out how much we can eat at our existing eating occasions. We want to be adding more, add another meal, add another snack. If you are quite large or high energy individual, that's not what I mean. Someone with high energy requirements, you're almost certainly going to need more than three main meals. That's another big one.
So make friends with second breakfast or second lunch. Okay, so at least four main meals. Maybe you're adding some snacks and you're doing some grazing. You're doing these things to increase your energy, your opportunities to increase your energy intake throughout the day. Then you kind of go back to step one and make sure once again, at that new meal, you're eating until you're uncomfortably full. Now, if we are eating as frequently as we possibly can, if we're eating until we're uncomfortably full at all of those opportunities, the next big step, and I would argue that this is probably the place where most people fall down, the next big step is around food choices. And there's a little bit to unpack here. By far the number one mistake I see with people who are unable to get their energy, their adequate amounts of energy in or who are struggling to gain weight, whether that be whatever style of weight, particularly, I guess, muscle gain, that's often a focus of my clients. If you are struggling with these things, you are probably trying to do this to clean. I don't love that expression, but when I say clean eating, everyone knows what I'm talking about. If you're trying to get 345670 calories from completely unprocessed whole foods, fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein, you're going to struggle. Those foods are naturally very, very filling. They're very high in fiber. They're very high in protein and water. And they are phenomenal for you. And we don't want to remove them. But if you are struggling to eat 200 grams of brown rice, swapping to white rice lowers the fiber in that meal. It lowers the amount of chewing you need to do, and it allows you to have a larger portion of white rice. Maybe you need to add some barbecue sauce or some sweet chilli sauce on top of that rice. Once again, more carbohydrate. But I don't know of too many people who feel full after they've had too much sweet chilli sauce.
Maybe shock, you need to reduce your veggie consumption a little bit. Maybe you need to look at less than half a plate and more like a quarter to a third of a plate. So you've got more room on your plate and in your stomach for your carbohydrate rich foods. So again, looking for these more processed, lower fiber options to make up the rest of your energy requirements for that day. So, like I said, we're still hitting our protein targets, we're still getting in fiber, we're still hitting our fruits and vegetable targets, we're ticking what I often refer to as our health boxes. But then how we get from ticking our health boxes to the remainder of our energy requirements for the day, that's where we've got a lot more flexibility and that's where some of these foods, like breads, pastas, white rice, cereals, juices, sauces, these are all more easily consumed carbohydrates, which can help you increase your energy intake without necessarily negatively impacting your fullness.
Then the other thing would be looking at fats. Good sources of fats are typically quite energy dense, so you get more bang for your buck or more energy per gram. So, looking to include more avocado, putting some olive oil or other oils through your salad, through your veggies, through your carbohydrate sources. So if you're really struggling to gain weight and you're not putting olive oil and sweet chilli on your rice, boom. Do that, you comfortably add another 300 calories and not even notice. So, nuts, seeds, nut butters, all of these things that are very, very energy dense. Or another fantastic way for you to increase essentially your calories, your energy per bite. So if you've done all of that, you're eating as frequently as you can,you're chewing as frequently as frequently, sorry. You're eating as frequently as you can. You're eating until you're uncomfortably full of all of those occasions, you're opting for some lower fiber, potentially more processed options to just help get that energy in.
If you're doing all of those things and you're still not seeing the results that you want or that you need, the last bonus tip is liquid calories. So things like adding a glass of juice alongside a meal or blending up, making one of those meals a smoothie, because you can add a lot of extra energy to your smoothie without you noticing. You can add a lot of nut butter, you can put in more olive oil, you can use ice cream, you can put in oats, you can blend all of these things up, loaded up with honey, and these are going to provide lots and lots of energy. But again, because you're drinking it, it's typically not as filling as if you were chewing it. So sometimes what I get clients to do is blend up this massive 1001, 200 calorie shake. At the beginning of the day, we make sure they're hitting their normal meals and then I just say, hey, by the end of the day, the smoothie has to be gone. I don't care when you do it right. That is another really cheap and nasty, but very effective way to increase your overall calories.
So if you're eating frequently, eating too uncomfortably full, opting for less filling foods. You're driving in extra energy via liquid calories and you're still not getting the results that you want, then hard pivot to sales. I have a booking button on my website. I would say at that point, you very much need to get some external help to make sure that you're not missing big rocks or to come up with some more specific individual strategies. If you don't come and talk to me, that's perfectly fine. Please reach out. I'd be happy to connect you with other dieticians who would be wonderfully equipped to help you as well. But those are my top tips for people who are struggling to either get enough energy and to fuel their activity, or who are struggling to gain the weight that they want to gain. So hopefully that's been helpful and I will catch you next time.