Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this old adage is even more true when you are trying to gain weight. Breakfast is an opportunity for you to jump-start your metabolism while also consuming the additional calories needed for weight gain. By eating slightly larger portion sizes of carb-, fat- and protein-rich foods, you can expect to see your weight increase by one-half to 1 pound per week.
Adding Extra Carbs
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, so by increasing the types and portion sizes of carbohydrate-containing foods you consume at breakfast, you should be able to facilitate moderate amounts of weight gain. Dried fruit and fruit juices are both considered concentrated sources of carbohydrates and, therefore, should be included in your breakfast meal. You can add a quarter or half-cup of dried fruit to cereal or yogurt, or you can drink a large 16-ounce glass of 100 percent fruit juice. Each of these options will contribute an additional 120 to 250 calories. You can also increase carbs by adding starches like whole-grain toast, bagels, muffins or granola. Having one slice of toast with 2 tablespoons of preserves will contribute an extra 200 calories, or adding a half-cup of granola and honey to yogurt will pack in about the same amount of calories.
Adding Extra Fats
Even while trying to gain weight, continue to limit your intake of unhealthy saturated and trans fats since they are associated with heart disease. To increase your intake of calories, eat more healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Because 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, it does not take a large portion of fat-containing food to add those extra calories. Adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil-based margarine or peanut butter to a slice of toast or bowl of oats will increase your intake of healthy fats and add 100 calories to the meal. You can also have 1 ounce of almonds or walnuts in cereal or yogurt to pack in an extra 160 calories, or you can fry eggs in 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil to get the same amount of calories.
Adding Extra Protein
A lot of people eat carb-heavy meals at breakfast and forget about protein. However, protein is a critical component of weight gain, and at 4 calories per gram additional protein will assist with increasing your overall calorie intake. Excellent sources of protein at breakfast include eggs or egg whites, soy-based bacon, vegan sausage and low-fat dairy products like 1 percent milk, Greek yogurt and cheese. Cheese, soy-based bacon and vegan sausage are all easy to add to a scrambled egg or egg white omelet. You can also add almond or peanut butter to bread or sliced fruit to pack an additional protein punch.
Example High-Calorie Breakfasts
For a quick, 500-calorie breakfast, have 2 cups of cooked oats made with 1 cup of 2 percent milk, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. For a 750-calorie breakfast, make an omelet with 2 eggs and 2 egg whites, 2 ounces of reduced-fat cheese, three slices of avocado, tomatoes, peppers and salsa and serve it alongside 8 ounces of Greek yogurt and one-quarter cup of granola. You can also increase the calories in these meals by serving them with a nutrition supplement drink or with a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
Dr. Courtney Winston is a registered/licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator and public health educator. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Winston was recognized in 2012 with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Emerging Leader in Dietetics Award for the state of California.