Kentucky Strong: Six Simple Ways to Increase Your Daily Calories

TAGS: eat big, gaining weight, genetics, Chase Karnes, weight gain

After I finished training yesterday, I was sitting around talking shop with the guys I had trained with. One guy had some questions about gaining weight. Without a second thought, I threw out about ten different things that I’ve done in the past when I’ve been trying to put on weight. After I finished rambling on, Clint Darden asked me why I haven’t written a column on this yet. While it was on my list of future columns to write, that was what I needed to bump it to the top.

When I began training, I weighed 135 pounds at five-f00t-nine. I’m still the same height and am currently weighing around 212 pounds (although I’ve been as heavy as 220 pounds). As far as genetics for size, mine are average at best. With a mom who’s five-foot-three and maybe 105 pounds and a dad who’s five-foot-nine inches and typically weighs around 160 pounds, you can see why. I’m guessing that if I didn’t train and eat, my normal body weight would be somewhere around 155–165 pounds.

These tips, tricks, and ideas are things that I've personally used over the years to put on weight and maintain that weight. I’ve also used them with numerous clients who have all had great success.

1. Gallon of milk a day:

This isn't anything new or revolutionary, but add one gallon of milk a day to what you're already eating. The funny thing is I did this when I first started training without ever reading or hearing about it. One day I looked at the milk jug nutrition facts and saw how much protein was in one serving. I multiplied this by how much was in the whole jug and thought to myself, “If I drink one of these a day, this will surely make me bigger.” And I was right.

Don’t just try to sit down and chug a gallon of milk though. (But if you do, please film it and put it on YouTube because it won’t be pretty.) Just add it in throughout the day with and between each meal. Also, use it for any protein shakes you drink. By adding one gallon of 2- percent milk, you're looking at an extra 1,920 calories: 128 grams of protein, 176 grams of carbohydrates, 80 grams of fat.

2. Oils:

Coconut oil and olive oil are great ways to increase your daily caloric intake. With 120 calories and 14 grams of fat in each tablespoon, a little really does go a long way. Simple ways to incorporate this into your diet throughout the day are by adding some coconut oil to your morning coffee, adding some olive oil to each protein shake, cooking all your meat and veggies in a skillet with some coconut or olive oil, pouring olive oil all over the top of a large pizza (I stole this from Dave Tate), and eating it. If you just want to get the calories in quick and simple, pour some olive oil in a shot glass and shoot it like you would some cheap tequila. It’ll definitely taste better and go down smoother.

3. Butter:

Butter still gets a bad rap these days. Because a lot of strength sport nutrition is influenced and borrowed from bodybuilding, I’ve also seen it get a bad rap among aspiring lifters. I’ve literally been out to dinner with people and watched a guy who’s trying to put on some serious size and weight order a baked potato without any butter. What the hell, man? Butter is another great way to bump up your calories. Similar to the oils above, butter gives you a hefty 102 calories and 12 grams of fat per tablespoon. Put it in your oatmeal, put it on your potato or sweet potato, put it on bread, mix it with white rice, cook your veggies in it, or try any of the other many ways that butter can be eaten.

4. Walnuts and prunes:

When I was in college, I went long hours without having much time to stop and eat, so I started chugging a protein shake and eating a Ziploc bag full of walnuts and prunes between classes. By throwing 15 prunes and 1 ounce of walnuts in a bag, I was having 475 calories, 10 grams of protein, 75 grams of carbs, and 17 grams of fat with my protein shake. Simple and effective.

5. Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper:

Toward my later years of high school, I was burned out on doing a gallon of milk a day. I’d do the gallon of milk a day for a few months and then cut it out for a while. One day when I was at the grocery store, I decided to start looking for something simple and easy for dinner that would help me get in a lot of calories. (Yes, I went shopping for groceries in high school. Eating for my goals was expensive, so I worked and used my money to buy all the things I needed.) Then I found it—Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper. A box of Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni with 90- percent lean beef has 1,534 calories:  133 grams of protein,  120 grams of carbohydrates, 56 grams of fat.

Even the worst cooks in the world can read the box and figure out how to make this stuff.

6. Double potatoes:

Here's one I can’t take credit for. Lil’ Stevie Gabrielsen introduced this brilliant trick to me when we were dominating some food at an Outback in Columbus, Ohio, one night a few years back. I had already placed my order—a 14-ounce New York strip, loaded baked potato, and side salad with tangy tomato dressing. Then it happened—lil’ Stevie throws out his order. I don’t remember the meat, but I still remember hearing, “…with a loaded baked potato and garlic mashed potatoes.”

I didn’t know you could even do that. I immediately changed my order and have used this little trick every since when I’m in need of putting on some weight or bumping up my carbs for the day. But you don’t just have to do it at a restaurant. Sometimes you get tired of eating a large amount of sweet potatoes in one sitting, but if you have a sweet potato and a baked potato, it mixes the flavors up a bit and allows you to eat even more. Or try red potatoes and mashed potatoes. Rice also makes a good second carb source pairing if you can’t handle “double potatoes.”

So there you have it—six different quick and easy ways to jack up your calories (and the scale) without a ton of complex cooking and effort. Give these a try, and I promise that gaining weight will no longer be an issue.

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...