About Jenna Stranzl - RD, CISSN

Jenna is a registered dietitian (RD) and sports nutritionist.  She currently serves as the sports nutritionist for Major League Strength and the Taylor Hooton Foundation. Jenna has experience with athletes of all ages including recreational, elite, and professional athletes. She has worked for IMG Academies as a sports nutritionist to high-school and professional athletes in Bradenton, FL. She completed professional development at Athletes’ Performance, worked at the Penn State Sports Nutrition Clinic, and has experience in the development of dietary supplements and pediatric nutrition research for Wyeth Nutrition/Pharmaceuticals. Additional work includes contributions for MLB’s RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), professional baseball and hockey teams, such as the Philadelphia Flyers.

Website: http://jennastranzl.com/

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August 21, 2011

Weight Gain Ideas for Student Athletes Part 2

By Jenna Stranzl

Pizza.  Burgers.  Candy bars.  Cheesesteaks.  Whole milk.  Have you ever tried any of these strategies to gain weight?  Some of you may want to throw darts at this post because you would do anything to have this problem – gaining weight.  For many athletes or even those with simply a furnace metabolism, this can truly be an aggravating experience.

Thing is, gaining weight can be done two ways – by either eating every thing in sight, or by eating higher calorie *smart* foods that have been nutrient profiles than a, let’s say, pork roll sandwich.  When people just eat to gain weight, they often select fatty foods and those that lack any nutritional value.  This makes an individual more likely to have increased risk for things such as heart disease, hypertension, disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, and especially with athletics – a decrease in performance.

Just like losing weight, the same applies to weight gain – patience and a healthy way of life.  Eating lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and limiting added fats, sugar, and sodium.  Remember, to gain one pound per week, one must eat an additional 500 calories per day.  This could be as simple as 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on your AM breakfast toast, an extra drizzle of olive oil on your salad, and a large glass of low-fat or skim milk before bed. 

Here are 13 additional healthy suggestions:

  1. Toss the sodas as a means of added calories.  The sub?  Make your own!  Use 2 liters of seltzer water or club soda PLUS one tub of 100% fruit juice concentrate.  Mix and drink!
  2. Drink 2% milk versus whole milk.  Whole milk just has additional saturated fats (a thumbs down for the heart).  Get your calories elsewhere from healthy calorie boosters like peanut butter, olive oils, dried fruits, etc.  The protein content of all milks (skim, low-fat, whole) are the exact same. 
  3. Protein shakes are fine – just stick to those that are NSF approved.  Meaning, they are approved for sport.  If you take a drug test, you are knowing you are taking a protein supplement that has been tested and safe for use.  A lot of products out there may create a positive drug test, simply because there are components that fall into it during production or you do not know about.  EAS Myoplex and Muscle Milk Collegiate are GREAT options.
  4. Snack on dried fruits!  Dried fruits come in many types: peach rinds, apple slices, raisins, prunes (LOVE THEM!), cranberries, etc.  While there is sugar added during the drying process, they still contain a fiber boost and added calories.  Toss in your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, trail mix, and salads.  Prunes for example are high in antioxidants, which reduce free radical damage.  This can ultimately reduce muscle soreness after a workout.
  5. Skip creamy alfredo.  Why?  High in saturated fats and low in nutrients.  A simple substitution with a matching calorie content?  Penne pasta with grilled chicken, sautéed vegetables (in olive oil), and marinara sauce.  See, it is about the meal composition – selecting healthier options, with similar caloric content.
  6. Chocolate?  Dark chocolate!  It packs a punch in terms of antioxidants.  Make sure to select dark chocolates that offer over 65% cacao – meaning, the higher the percentage, the better the antioxidant level in the chocolate.
  7. Chomp on olives.  Heart healthy and can add calories without feeling like you ate a ton.
  8. Opt for lean meats or healthy fatty meats.  What is a healthy fatty meat?  Salmon, for example.  Salmon boosts more calories per ounce than tuna, but why?  Simply because of its oils and we know that fish oil does wonders for athletes.  Tuna is also a great choice though – because it boosts quality protein.  Select white meats versus dark to lower fat content (turkey and chicken).  Pork tenderloin is another great low-fat, hearty protein option.
  9. Making eggs?  Boost calories by wrapping those eggs into a whole-wheat tortilla!  Then add some cheese, peppers, onions, and mushrooms for an added veggie and calcium boost!
  10. Soups on!  Avoid creamy soups and select hearty bean soups like turkey chili, vegetarian chili, or lentil soups.  These soups have a high fiber, high protein profile with a similar amount of calories.
  11. Re-create your bland salad.  A salad can add healthy calories quickly.  How?  Add some of the following: sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts, feta cheese, soybeans, and lean proteins like turkey, fish, or chicken.
  12. Munch on nuts!  A small dose packs a heavy calorie punch (20 almonds or 12-13 walnuts is a serving).  Snack on these throughout the day to add up your numbers.
  13. Save room for your appetite.  Don’t always fill up on liquids – instead, focus on foods with a hearty nutrient profile.

Most importantly, learn that weight gain is not an easy process and takes time.  Keep positive and understand that in order to gain, you must acknowledge that you may need to try foods you may not have thought to.  Step outside of the box and eventually, you will see these foods can make you become better, stronger, and healthier.



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