Shaun Clayton, Director of Membership Support at the PHA UK, looks at what to do if you need to gain weight.

For the past 12 months I’ve been learning the art of nutrition from the Mac Nutrition Collective – the foremost authority when it comes to evidence-based nutrition. Nothing you will read in this or future columns is ‘pseudoscience’; it’s all information which is backed by research.

In the last issue of Emphasis, we asked if there were any questions people had in when it comes to nutrition. Of the number of responses, one really caught my eye; from a young lady being told she needs to gain weight to be accepted onto the transplant list.

She’s consulted Dr Google and he’s offered her plenty of advice on how to lose weight or how to build muscle, but not actually how to gain weight healthily.

Energy Balance

The best place to start is by explaining how we gain, lose and maintain our weight.

By consuming more calories than our body requires, we begin to store that additional energy as adipose tissue (fat). For anyone looking to gain weight, that is your goal – consume more energy than your body burns.

The healthiest and potentially quickest way to do that is to up your fat intake. People shouldn’t be put off by the word ‘fat’ as we’re talking about ‘healthy’ fats here and not adipose tissue (body fat). The reason I’ve identified fat as a the main one to push is that is the highest calorie macronutrient – one gram of fat equates to nine calories so it’s very easy to over-eat and force yourself into a calorie surplus.

Your goal is to consume more energy than your body burns

Try to make a point of cooking foods in olive oil, and feel free to consume cheese, milk and nuts. There are also things like avocado and eggs. Eggs are fantastic as they’re a predominately a fat source but also come with a decent amount of protein. Protein is what antibodies in the blood are made up of, so consuming that will only be beneficial, particularly considering what may await with a potential transplant.

The dogma surrounding ‘fat’ mainly comes from the subgroup, trans saturated fat, or as we know it, things like doughnuts, burgers and pastries. They taste amazing but are not great for us!

But, as a doughnut lover myself, there is always a place for them in a healthy diet- it’s just a case of not over- indulging.

Ultimately it’s a case of taking ownership of your diet and making it work for you. There is no need to look for any fads. You already have a diet… it just isn’t quite working, so adjust and adapt it to make it fit. Try implementing these few tricks and see if it helps.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions on this topic. 

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