Thank you for your question.
Keeping in mind that you are a light eater, what matters is what KIND
of foods you eat rather than HOW MUCH food you eat. Eating certain
categories of calorie- and protein-rich food should help you to gain
weight, and 20 pounds isn't too high of a goal to achieve. I do not
believe that you really want to slow down your metabolism
permanently-- in a few years, you'll be glad you have a high
metabolism when you're sidestepping the weight gain that everyone else
has at certain ages.
McKinley Health Center-- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"The addition of 250-500 extra calories per day will cause a weight
gain of approximately 0.5-1 pound per week. This number may vary
because of activity level and genetic makeup... you will be more
nutritionally sound if you get most of those calories from the
following groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy or non-dairy
substitutes, meat and/or plant proteins."
Remember, this does not entail eating more, only eating different
kinds of foods that are more likely to help you gain weight safely.
You do not want to just go around eating fatty foods because that will
affect your overall health and well-being. First, I provide a list of
healthy, protein- and good fat-laden foods and then a secondary list
of less-healthy ways to gain if you're serious about this at the
expense of your health. The top list should suffice, though, and
provides the best way for you to gain without pigging out.
With that in mind, here are some foods to concentrate on that may help
you to gain some pounds. (Recommendations in quotes are from the
above UIUC website.)
*Raw nuts: "You can also add them to your salads and cereal."
--peanuts, walnuts, almonds
*"Add powdered skim milk to beverages and soups to add calories and protein."
*"Add ground flax seed to salad, cereal, and smoothies."
*Fruit dipped in peanut butter
*whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese
*raw vegetables with hummus
*Food with carbohydrates-- rice, pasta, bread (whole wheat), oatmeal,
*Soy protein powder
potatoes, corn, peas
A few less-healthy (but still effective) options:
*Fig Newtons or other snacks
*"Drink higher calorie beverages such as milk, juice, and sports
drinks in addition to water."
*"Add grated cheese or sour cream to soups and salads."
*"Add slices of cheese to sandwiches."
*"Eat higher calorie foods, or eat smaller meals and snacks more often."
Further advice from McKinley Health Center:
"The following foods can help you boost your calorie intake:
* Grains: heavy, thick breads like whole wheat or pumpernickel,
dense cereals such as grape nuts, granola, and raisin bran, bran
muffins, bagels, wheat germ and flaxseed (add to yogurt or cereal)
* Fruit: bananas, pineapple, raisins and other dried fruit, fruit
* Vegetables: peas, corn, potatoes, winter squash
* Dairy: cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt; add instant breakfast
or powdered milk to low fat milk or yogurt
* Plant proteins: peanut butter and other nut butters, nuts and seeds, hummus
* Other foods: any kind of instant breakfast or meal replacement
drinks, honey, guacamole
* Make a smoothie by combining 1 cup fruit (such as bananas or
berries), 1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt, ½ cup milk, 1/4 cup juice, and
1 tablespoon ground flax seed. Puree in a blender until smooth.
* Make a trail mix of 1/4 cup nuts, 1/4 cup raisins, and ½ cup granola
* Make mini pizzas: toast a bagel or English muffin, spread each
half with tomato sauce, and top with mozzarella cheese. Microwave
20-30 seconds until cheese melts."
About.com-- How to Gain Weight in Healthy Ways
"Protein powders and shakes can be added as meals. Some are flavored
and only need added water and some others can blended with water or
your choice of juices to improve the taste. It would be a plus to add
a small amount of flax seed oil and some psillium powder to add some
The University of Michigan gives excellent advice on this page:
"Healthy Weight Gain"
UCLA also offers some tips for snacks in this handout:
UCLA-- Gaining Weight
"Healthy Ways to Gain Weight"
"# Stop drinking non-caloric beverages. That includes diet soda, and
plain coffee or tea. You're looking for calories, right? Choose skim
or 1 percent milk (we want healthy calories, not fat, so avoid milk
with higher fat contents), 100 percent fruit juice or sports drinks.
# Choose calorie-dense foods. That means eating potatoes, corn or peas
instead of celery and carrot sticks. Or choosing a banana or cranberry
juice instead of an apple or orange juice. Granola cereal is more
calorie-dense than puffed rice. Read food labels for the serving size
and the calories, and make it a habit to routinely choose foods that
are higher in calories.
# Expand your meals. Each meal should include some type of starchy
food (potato, rice, pasta, bread, cereal), fruits and vegetables, and
a protein source (chicken, red meat, fish, tofu, peanut butter,
legumes, eggs, cheese). Use two or three teaspoons of margarine or
salad dressing with each meal to add moderate amounts of fat without
The BBC offers some good advice on this page:
BBC Health-- The Best Ways to Gain Weight
Keep a food diary of what you eat. Ensure that you're regularly
taking in more calories than you burn (but not overdoing it).
You can also gain weight by starting a regimen of muscle training at
the gym. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week for a moderate to heavy
workout and you may soon see results. This would have the added
benefit of adding muscle rather than fat to your frame, which is
unhealthy and which you don't want anyway for health reasons. Keep in
mind that if you work out at the gym, you'll have to eat even more
calories in order to meet your body's energy needs.
"Gaining Weight and Building Muscle Mass"
If you plan on building muscle mass, protein shakes will be important
to maintain ample levels of protein for your new muscles. Whey
protein is particularly effective for this.
Wikipedia entry-- Whey protein
If you plan on eating these protein-rich foods, you'll basically be
adding numerous fats to your diet. You also need to add some
important other fats to ensure that you're at optimum health (which is
more important than weight, I'm sure you would agree). So, in
addition to these diet and exercise modifications, I recommend that
you take a multivitamin and flax seed oil on a daily basis. Flax seed
or fish oils also have the added benefit of being essential fatty
acids and adding in a healthy way to your overall caloric intake.
Many foods are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids these days, and when
given a choice at the supermarket, you may be wise to choose bread and
other items that include omega-3.
Importance of Flax Seed Oil
On a final note, if you smoke cigarettes, now is a good time to quit,
and you will most likely gain weight afterwards.
"food to slow down metabolism ?"
American Institute for Cancer Research
"Any advice for weight gaining?"
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If you need any additional clarification, let me know and I'll be glad to help.