Heading for my second resection surgery in 3 weeks and my goal is to purposely gain body fat.
Studies suggest higher levels of body fat can reduce the effect of muscle catabolism (Ocobock, 2017). In theory, muscle tissue is very difficult to obtain and the body wants to retain it at all cost. Fat is preferentially metabolized and only when fat stores are depleted, does the body resort to breaking down muscle for fuel. Of course, there will be some catabolism without muscle stimulation, but there should be significantly less breakdown than coming into surgery at a lower body fat.
Post-surgery, I will keep up with nutrition, eating as soon as I can tolerate food. I will keep protein intake high, 0.6-0.8g/lb of bodyweight, a high protein intake has a muscle sparing effect. So for me, around 120-160g/day. Fats will be higher and carbohydrates will be on the lower side due to the decreased levels of activity. Calories will be lower than normal to account for being more sedentary and not causing excessive stress on digestive system, allowing my body to heal. I will be supplementing with collagen and bone broth to aid in healing.
Weight Gaining Tips
I’ve always had an easy time manipulating body fat and weight. Dieting down for a competition or increasing mass in the offseason, I can usually fluctuate 5-10 lbs in a few weeks. I am planning on gaining 10 lbs in the next 3 weeks leading up to surgery. I do my best to stay within 10 lbs of stage weight when I’m in the offseason but in this circumstance, I will be pushing my weight higher.
Scientifically speaking, your body burns a certain number of calories per day at a rest. This is called your BMR, Base Metabolic Rate. To put on muscle and weight, you need to consume more calories than you are burning at rest including additional exercise and activity each day. This is called a caloric surplus. It is very specific to each person, so one persons daily caloric intake will be very different than yours.
I often get asked the best way to gain weight with IBD, and if you’re one of my clients that I coach, you know I am a big fan of increasing dietary fats as an easy way to increase calories. I know a lot of you have a hard time gaining weight, especially with IBD so here’s a few tips.
6 ways to get more calories in
- Snack on nuts and seeds between meals (Cation: may be problematic for those with IBD) – Macadamia nuts (highest calorie nuts), cashews, flax seeds, trail mix, almonds, basically any type of nuts that are high in calories.
- Cook all veggies and meats with coconut, olive or avocado oils. This is an easy way to increase calories without even knowing it.
- Make more smoothies – Drinking your calories can make it easier to get more calories in. Make a high calorie smoothie with banana, figs, berries, chia seeds, keifer, high fat yogurts (assuming no dairy intolerance), oats, almond, peanut or coconut butter. My personal favourite is adding coconut oil to smoothies.
- Increase healthy fats – Avocado, eggs and nut butters are all healthy options. Try finding ways to incorporate more of these foods into your meals. Mix avocado in with tuna to make a sandwich. Hard-boil or mix a couple eggs into your rice, making fried rice. Cook your rice with high fat coconut milk, or add a scoop or two of coconut oil into your rice. Add peanut or almond butter to a smoothie.
- Eat dried fruits – Although this isn’t a fat, this is a great way to get more carbs in. Try banana chips, dried mango and figs (calorically dense). Find these at your local health food store in the bulk section
- Eat ground/fattier meat – Ground meat may be easier to stomach because it may not fill you up as much as other types of meat. Try ground pork or beef for almost twice the calories per serving as ground chicken or turkey (Cation: beef and pork may be harder to digest for those with IBD than chicken or turkey)
Ocobock CJ. 2017. Body fat attenuates muscle mass catabolism among physically active humans in temperate and cold high altitude environments. American Journal of Human Biology 29.