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Help Derek Gain

by Meghann on September 28, 2009

I soooo was not ready to leave my bed this morning.

Even Maddie was missing her usual early morning flair. Instead of encouraging me to get up this morning with tons of kisses once the alarm goes food, she simply got up walked to the other side of the bed and rolled her eye before promptly adjusting herself in a comfy position.

For the first time in a while I hit snooze and followed Maddieโ€™s actions. Sometimes those 9 minutes make a huge difference.

Mondays are my well deserved rest days from running and somehow have turned into my DVD mornings. This morning I did Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones.

Iโ€™m awful at strength training on my own, so having someone yell at me on a DVD with what to do always helps. Without any guidance I always get so lost with two weights in my hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

Breakfast was a grand bowl of cereal.



I was really wanting Almond Butter this morning and an extra spoonful may have made it straight from the jar to my mouth. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Help Derek Gainโ€ฆ

Since Derek started running a few days a week he has experienced an unintentional 10 lb weight loss. This is something he is not too happy about.

Derek is already a pretty trim guy and doesnโ€™t want to risk losing anymore. On our run yesterday we were discussing his eating habits and what could help reverse the effect. I gave him a few suggestions, but honestly my head is so wrapped around habits for losing weight and maintaining that  I fell short giving advice for gaining. Which is where I need your help.

Does anyone have any healthy suggestions to keep Derek from losing anymore weight as he continues to run?

Here is Derekโ€™s current weekday eating plan.

Breakfast โ€“ Granola Bar on the way out the door

Lunch โ€“ Maybe another granola bar, most of the time too busy at work to eat anything at all.

Dinner โ€“ Big bowl of Pasta on most nights or other boxed meal

Trust me Iโ€™ve already got onto him for this. I told him he needs to eat a large breakfast and not rely on granola bars. I suggested oatmeal and eggs. We also got in a big argument on how important lunch is. I cringe every time he tells me he skips lunch almost every day and then waits until almost 9:00pm to eat dinner! I suggested a peanut butter sandwich that would take not even 5 minutes to eat. I also suggested adding protein to his dinner such as steak or such.

Please let me know if you have any further suggestions to keep Derek from whittling away.

1 Ali September 28, 2009 at 8:35 am

Maybe he can try simply eating more. Adding snacks in the morning and afternoon, apples with nut butter, trail mix, fruit ect. I have no idea how he survives on granola bars as meals. I would be starving!

2 Rachel September 28, 2009 at 8:36 am

I would pass out with that little food! One of my guy friends makes his breakfast and lunch every night after dinner. He isn’t one to prepare food but he mixes up a protein shake and keeps it in the refrigerator until the morning then he makes two sandwiches with deli meat for lunch. It’s not much better but it’s definitely more calories. Since he doesn’t have much time he could take a bunch of snacks to work every Monday and have them there so when he gets a free minute he’ll be able to eat something. I hope this helps!

3 fittipexchange September 28, 2009 at 8:50 am

I would say throw in protein shakes…I make some for Spencer with a scoop of chocolate protein, 2% or whole milk, banana, and a HUGE scoop of peanut butter. They literally have almost 1000 calories, but he doesn’t mind drinking them bc they taste so good!

Or maybe instead of granola bars he could switch to something more hefty like a clif bar.

4 Aimee September 28, 2009 at 8:56 am

He really needs a lot more protein. My husband loves the Clif Builder Bars, which I think have 20 grams of protein. Those would be a better breakfast or lunch than a granola bar. I also think protein shakes would be a smart pick – easy and quick. He could just get a shaker and have milk and protein mix and forget about the blender. Jay Robb has single serving packets that he could take to work and then just pick up a single serving of milk to add to it. I shake protein shakes up with ice – if you can’t blend them making them ice cold makes the taste a lot better.

5 Brie (The Fit Bride) September 28, 2009 at 9:05 am

Two book recommendations: “The New Rules of Lifting for Men” by Lou Schuler and “Scrawny to Brawny” by John Berardi. They are both great resources, not only for lifting but on the nutrition behind bulking up.

My fiance tends to be a bit on the scrawny side so I help him bulk things up. A favorite is to add natural peanut or almond butter to just about everything–a glob on cereal, or spread on Derek’s beloved granola bars will bulk things up by 200 or so calories! (And make them taste yummy.)

If he loves pasta, add pesto or olive oil or cheese to it to bulk up the calories as well. If he’s looking to add protein, which I DEFINITELY think he should, we like to throw 3 or 4 chicken breasts on the George Foreman on Sunday. They refrigerate well and can be eaten plain, in salads, on sandwiches, or, in my fiance’s personal favorite–quesadillas!

We are also working on a lot of freeze and eat meals that require basically no work on my fiance’s part for lunch. Last week, I made a huge batch of chili (recipe in blog) and freeze it in Gladware for lunches. All he has to do is take it out of the freezer the night before, heat, and eat.

Good luck, Derek!

6 Leianna September 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

I totally understand this Derek losing and wanting to gain more. My hubby recently lost weight too from this. And already being trim, it’s not necessary.
I agree he Needs to have a real breakfast and a simple lunch. Maybe sit down with him and make plans for the whole week so he has no excuses!
If he wants to get serious about running, food is definetely a top priority. Hope he figures it out either way you help him!

7 Stephanie September 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

Well, definitely no more meal-skipping! (I know everyone else has also commented on this!)… how do boys do it?!

Also, load up on the items that provide a lot of calories for little amounts (the exact opposite of what most of us try to do!) How easy would it be to put an extra tbls of pb on that sandwhich, handfuls of nuts, granola on top of his cereal (typically higher-cal), eggs (not just egg whites)…

And, if he loves granola bars, pick higher calorie ones– Cliff Builder bars, even the ProBars (400 cal apiece!).

8 Jaimejoy September 28, 2009 at 9:12 am

Are these one(sometimes two) granola bars that he eats the same puny 100 calorie Quaker ones you took from his house yesterday???? So that’s what, at best 200 calories in his body until 9:00pm?! And then some pasta, that’s it? Where are the veggies, protiens, fruits, fiber for gods sake???? i’m sorry, but this diet is absolutley mind boggling to me. He eats less than 1000 calories a day and then starts a big running routine, of course he’s going to lose a lot of weight. wow. I mean, it’s not a big mystery what he needs to do—-eat more(healthy) foods, at least 3 times a day, add lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.

9 Deva (Voracious Vorilee) September 28, 2009 at 9:18 am

I think that he needs more calories! Two granola bars + dinner would leave me dragging throughout my day. I am going to say that he should look at eating a real breakfast as other’s have suggested, and if he would prefer to go the granola bar route, that he eat ones that are more calorie dense WITH something., like a smoothie or protein shake.

I don’t know how busy his schedule is, but if he’s grabbing and eating when he has a few minutes, maybe quick sandwiches that he fixes to pack the night before would be an option: PB and J; Turkey and cheese with veggies, egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad – all of these could be made into wraps, too. I have The New Rules of Lifting and The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and he may want to look into The New Rules of Lifting to get some ideas for food and nutrition for weight gain..

10 rhodeygirltests September 28, 2009 at 9:24 am

My guy had the same problem. He still doesn’t eat as big of a breakfast as he should, but now that I am making bfast for him he is at least eating more. Here are my suggestions:

1. Have a big snack right after work before dinner. PB likes to have wraps with hummus and lettuce and olives or feta cheese.

2. Tell him to buy Larabars! Larabars are pretty calorie dense and can add a few calories without any work.

3. Nuts! I give PB a little pack of nuts to eat each day. They can be eaten between phone calls and don’t take any time.

4. Obviously, as you already know, he NEEDS lunch! He should eat a decent lunch with protein! How about a turkey and hummus or turkey and cheese sandwich? (OR 2?) It is really easy to make- he can make it the night before, and will add some cals. I usually send PB to work with 2 sandwiches if a sandwich is on the menu. He says he doesn’t have time to eat at work, but EVERYONE can make the time if it is important, and eating lunch is important! I used to fight with PB on this too, he used to eat only pretzels all day! But now he knows that with a good healthy breakfast and lunch he is actually more efficient at work because he has more energy.

5. Lots of calorie dense foods added to everything. For PB that means cheese, olives, olive oil, etc. For Derek that could mean those same things or whatever it is he enjoys.

Good luck Derek! You can do it!

11 rhodeygirltests September 28, 2009 at 9:26 am

P.S. Maybe he just needs to move in with you so you can pack him a lunch ๐Ÿ˜‰

12 Derek September 28, 2009 at 7:50 pm

haha, that’d be a nice service

13 Jessica September 28, 2009 at 9:26 am

He definitely needs more food overall! Maybe switch the granola bar to a protein bar for more calories? Geez I wish I had this problem.

14 Jenna September 28, 2009 at 9:27 am

well no wonder derek probably couldn’t finish the run the other day…he doesn’t eat enough!!
a granola bar for breakfast AND lunch then carbs for dinner hours later..not good! but i guess that is how men are because my dad does the same thing. granola bar for breakfast, usually no lunch, then he comes home in the afternoon and eats a bunch of stuff and then eats later for whatever my mom makes. he does not really have a good eating schedule.
i suggest derek eating six small meals and eat lots of protein to build muscle!!

15 Mia September 28, 2009 at 9:27 am

You just described my husband! ๐Ÿ™‚ Kevin was the same way before we met. Only, he would not eat breakfast, drink water all day long up until dinner when he thought that he would faint so maybe he should eat something. Duh! Maybe it is FSU grad thing? Derek isn’t by chance an engineer is he?

It is important that Derek is eating the right kind of foods to gain weight and not junk. First off, if he is running everyday he needs to eat pre-run and post-run for recovery. If he has lack of time, eat a banana with some peanut butter pre-run and a protein bar or shake after.

Fruit makes great snacks and their is no prep (apples, bananas, pears, etc). Nuts are great too. Snacking for him may be the key since he does not have time for actual meals.

As far as lunch is concerned, if he has no time, maybe a protein shake, a quick pb&j, meal bar, low sodium soup bowl? If he has time to go to the bathroom, then he has 2 minutes to shove something in his mouth.

Eat an afternoon snack! Any kind of cut up, pre-washed, pre-packaged veggies or fruit from the store along with some kind of nuts or even a larabar.

It sounds like he has time for dinner. Planning ahead will really help here. He can make a couple of large casserole size dishes on Sunday that can carry him through the week or rely on a crock pot. Lasagna, baked ziti, chicken pot pie, crock pot chili. I also found that the Contessa meals in bags are actually not that bad (especially if you skip the sauce where the sodium hides!) They are complete with protein, vegetables and carbs. Happy gaining!

16 greensandjeans September 28, 2009 at 9:31 am

I’d definitely echo the protein shakes! My boyfriend is the same way and he has to go to the gym to keep weight and muscle on. For the past month or two he has been bulking up his calories with protein shakes, and while it took some trial and error to find one that he actually liked, it has made keeping the weight on MUCH easier for him!

17 Amanda September 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

OMG I hear you on this!!!! My boyfriend usually just has coffee in the morning and is often “too busy” for lunch. Then when we sit down to eat dinner around 9 he is complaining that he’s starving and hasn’t eaten all day. It drives me CRAZY!!! As someone who had an eating disorder and purposely restricted in the past, I get so mad at him for this. Maybe he could start buying protein powder and making a shake for lunch if he really doesn’t have time??

18 jentrinque September 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

You’ve already gotten tons of great suggestions, so I’m just going to add my, “oh my gosh, how can he go all day barely eating anything???” question. It also sounds like him eating so late in the day sets him to not want breakfast in the morning – my boyfriend does the same exact thing. Maybe if he could slowly pull his dinner time back he’d actually be hungry in the morning and could eat a bigger breakfast.

19 Laura September 28, 2009 at 9:35 am

Fruit juice! I know its not the most nutritious option, but he can sip on it through out the day and its an easy way to sneak in extra calories.

20 Becky September 28, 2009 at 9:47 am

Good morning! I agree with all of the above comments, and think that protein powder, increased portion sizes and variety of foods during the day are all great ideas. Meghann, you mentioned that you’re not really sure about giving Derek advice on gaining, but I think that you’re selling yourself short! Sure, your goal has been to lose and maintain, but your journey has really been about figuring out what works to keep you energized and healthy, which seems to be exactly what Derek needs help with!!! It sounds like he might need some visuals/numbers to help him understand why he’s losing weight right now, because it sounds like he may not realize how few calories he is eating each day, or how many calories he needs to be eating to maintain/gain. Showing him some websites or calculations of how many calories he burns each day (running and not running) and how many calories he needs to eat to account for the deficit, as well as helping him to think about some calorie-dense options for his meals might give him a more concrete understanding of why he needs to eat more, and how to go about doing it. I’m not recommending that he start tracking all his food or anything, because I think counting calories can be way too time consuming and exhausting (not to mention stressful!) but more that he work on developing a perspective of the amount of food he needs each day, and work towards making eating a priority. That said, when I’m busy and looking for a calorie-dense breakfast or snack that won’t be difficult to prepare or take too long to eat, muffins are usually my go-to. I know they aren’t super healthy, but the kinds with nuts pack a little extra protein and are SO good…..

21 Kelly September 28, 2009 at 9:51 am

I love all the long comments on this post! This is something that I have been trying to focus on lately too. Trying not to loose anymore weight and maybe gaining a pound or two. It’s a lot harder than you might think when you are very physically active. My suggestion would be to hit the snacks! He can’t wait until 9 to eat! He needs to do exactly what you said. Eat a substantial breakfast, eat lunch and eat snack in between. I think if he just did that then he would be fine. Good luck in gaining weight Derek! I think most girls would love to be in your position. ๐Ÿ™‚

22 ALD September 28, 2009 at 9:54 am

I agree with the comments above! – your boy needs calories!

Almond Butter on WW bread and a banana can be eaten in same time it takes to eat a granola bar and has more nutrients!

Also on your Costco trips you might try bulk trail mix or dried fruit in bulk – he can bring the bag to work and nibble when he can.

Also, Odwalla or even good old fashioned V8 (low sodium) are great ways to get in veggie juice.

23 Meg C. September 28, 2009 at 9:57 am

we may not be the best people to ask about weight gain advice. all i can think of is, “boo friggin hoo!!” haha.

though I do remember my ex-boyfriend used to drink a lot of those super protein shakes to keep his weight up, especially after workouts. he definitely has no chance of gaining weight without eating full meals during the workday.

24 Amanda September 28, 2009 at 9:59 am

Wow! I can’t believe Derek can get by on so little food during the day! Maybe having a trail mix handy will help him get extra calories while he’s working. He might also want to consider switching to protein bars, like Clif Builder bars, for more protein and more calories than a typical granola bar can provide.

25 Amy September 28, 2009 at 10:02 am

Umm, all I would say is eat. If that’s all he’s eating, that’s the problem.

26 Emily (Healthy Fit Mama) September 28, 2009 at 10:07 am

He should keep some protein bars on hand and maybe try having protein shakes for snacks. The Myoplex drinks would be great because they are ready to drink. He could just keep them in the fridge.

27 Julie @savvyeats September 28, 2009 at 10:12 am

Eat, eat, eat. That can’t possibly be enough calories for him.

Some quick foods for him to try: trail mix full of nuts and unsweetened dried fruit (Trader Joe’s has some good ones). Protein smoothie to drink on the way to work. And all the other things other people have mentioned in previous comments.

Maybe you guys could have a “cooking date” on the weekends where you make a few big batches of some meals that will heat up well (chili, lasagna, etc). Put 2/3 of it in portion-sized Tupperware containers for him to take to work (since he needs to eat more than you), and 1/3 of it for your lunches/dinners. Then he just needs to heat it up at work!

28 alyssa September 28, 2009 at 10:15 am

well my boyfriend also is blessed with the fast metabolism..ha..he wants to gain weight and its been happening with shakes. no funky protein supplements or anything becaue he’s a raw diet lover….just good old fashioned whole foods. he blends:
1. raw cows milk, hemp, or almond milk (lately the raw cows milk because its more calorie dense)
2. 1-2 bananas (more if more calories are needed)
3. raw honey (as much as wanted, usually 2 tbsp..this is another 100 calories or so)
4. coconut butter..the artisana brand (he buys at whole actually has coconut flakes in it..sooo good..its another 100-200 calories per tbsp..he usuallly adds about 2) if you cant find coconut butter you can always use coconut oil. It wont taste nearly as good but it will definently help with calorie addition.
-over all its pretty calorie dense..and i HAVE to say..its soooooooooooooooo good!!!! and he could make it at night for a snack..or even at night and refrigerate it and just take it for the road in the morning!!! honestly, its SOOOOOO good!! GOOD LUCK!

29 Stephanie (Surviving Chicago) September 28, 2009 at 10:20 am

Since he is so used to granola bars, maybe he could just eat calorie-dense, protein bars instead!

30 caitlin September 28, 2009 at 10:28 am

i agree with the protein shakes — even if derek gets muscle milk, he can shake up some milk and powder for lunch at the very least.

he needs to brign a loaf of bread and a jar of PB to work on mondays ๐Ÿ™‚

31 caitlin September 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

and i agree that derek’s bad eating habits are probably why he has trouble finishing four milers!!

DEREK – EAT!!!!!

32 ellie September 28, 2009 at 10:32 am

Trail mix/nuts/dried fruit are good. If he likes granola bars, homemade ones can be easy to pack extra stuff into- or something like a Clif bar or Pro bar packs more of a punch. Milk is awesome- almost a complete food (all it lacks is iron I think?) so if he is happy to drink milk, that’s easy to grab a glass of.

33 runninghealthy September 28, 2009 at 11:03 am

My brother has trouble keeping weight on, so he drinks “Ensure” before eat meal time. I thnk they pack about 250cals each and have lots of protein. Aside from that, I would tell Derek that he simply needs to EAT MORE! I can’t imagine trying to get through the day on that little food. I know when I’m fueling consistently my day goes so much better because I have energy to do things! Wasn’t he also concerned about his running? I think fueling properly would also help him with his endurance during those runs. Best of Luck!

34 cookinfanatic September 28, 2009 at 11:11 am

Ummmm there is no way that he is eating enough… this is way less than I even eat and I am only a 130lb woman!! He’s also got to start adding some protein to his diet I would think, this could prevent burning off all those empty carbs that make up his diet…?

35 Fallon September 28, 2009 at 11:12 am

He definitely needs to eat more!!! Granola bar here and there is not helping. Since he is training for a marathon and is running a lot, he needs extra calories to become stronger. You may have to put him on a diet routine where he needs to eat more consistently or have larger meals more frequently. I wouldn’t do anything silly to gain weight because you can do it naturally. As a guy he needs his protein, which was a good suggestion on your part. You should right down a plan for him that he can follow with being at work as well.

Guys can lose weight so easily. That is so not fair!!

36 Heather September 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

Bulk up on the extra fats. A spoonful of peanut butter here, a little extra olive oil here, nuts for snacks, protein shakes, those yogurt-smoothie-shot type things, etc. And definitely eating WAY MORE THAN THAT! No excuses, dude ๐Ÿ˜‰

37 Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) September 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

Omg the boy needs to eat lunch! Protein shakes are great for people who are on the go. Otherwise I agree with the other comments on here!

38 Luisa September 28, 2009 at 11:14 am

I have a guy friend who’s the exact same way. He started eating a couple tablespoons of peanut butter (or almond butter, cashew butter, ect…) right before dinner, and gained heathy weight fast. I always remind him, too, that it’s really easy to pick up a couple pieces of fruit when he runs out the door to go with his quick meals.

39 Barbara September 28, 2009 at 11:18 am

As some other people have suggested he could drink some of his calories. I’m assuming he is drinking something during the day, so if he really doesn’t have the time to eat he could get his calories in by drinking them. Oh and if he likes nuts and such maybe suggest taking some trail mix to work. Not sure what he does for a living but as long as it involves sitting behind the computer for at least a little while or driving around, eating those calorie dense nuts shouldn’t be too much of a problem (time wise that is).

Also maybe you should tell him that if he ate more he would have more energy for his runs? Because to be honest it’s no wonder he’s having some difficulties on his runs when he’s only eating granola bars during the day. I would pass out after mile 2 if I went on a run after eating so little the entire day.

40 Katie September 28, 2009 at 11:18 am

My mom never eats lunch either, and it drives me NUTSO.

Derek could bring leftovers for lunch (he might want to try bulking up his pasta with veggies and protein), or even bring instant oatmeal packets and nut butters or a frozen entree if he doesn’t have time to make something fresh. Better than nothing!

41 K September 28, 2009 at 11:19 am

It looks like you are getting plenty of suggestions for proper fuel for Derek, so I am going to slide away from that topic and ask you if you truly think that a “rest” day consists of an hour long DVD of Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones. Isn’t that a tough DVD? How is that rest?? I don’t mean this to sound rude, but I am just wondering if you take TRUE rest days during marathon training?

42 chandra September 28, 2009 at 11:21 am

Oh goodness – he definitely needs more calories!! I eat more than that! lol I didn’t read all the other comments so I may be repeating some of the above stuff but here are some ideas:

-protein shakes/bars (better than granola bars – more calories, more protein)
-Cook up a bunch of chicken/other easy to re-heat meat on a Sunday so it is easy to grab & go on a weekday.
-Quick sandwiches like pb&j, or toss a chicken breast between a few bread slices, or quick lunch meat/cheese sandwiches with an apple
-Grab & go fruits & veggies that can be eaten on the go

I eat all of my meals but dinner usually on the go or at work, so I know I have a million quick & filling ideas, I just can’t think of them all right now. I could email you some more later if you want!

43 Danielle C. September 28, 2009 at 11:21 am

Wow I think other people have already said it but he is not eating enough!! If he refuses to change his eating habits there isn’t much you can do (my husband is much the same, but since we live together I make his breakfast/lunch, he’ll eat whatever I make without complaints so I know he’s eating healthy most days).

If he refuses to change, maybe he should swap granola bars for more calorie/fat dense bars like bodybuilders use to bulk. Something with ~300 cals and at least 25g of protein. Or a protein shake.

I think his lack of fuel probably contributes to his lack of endurance too, maybe if you point out that if he puts more fuel into his body it will work harder for him. Maybe that will get him to change his ways. If I ate as little as him no way could I run even 2 miles.

44 Leah September 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

All your advice is pretty sound already. It is really important him for eat breakfast and lunch. Can he stock a drawer at work with food to munch on? Mixed nuts? Or instant oatmeal he can make at work? What about just grabbing fruit out the door? Packing leftovers for lunch? It’s so easy to just make some extra dinner to pack for the next day. It just takes a little extra planning and not a lot more effort!

45 Allison September 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

Yeah, my boyfriend totally does that too. He won’t eat breakfast, will eat a cliff bar for lunch and then eats an entire box of mac n cheese for dinner around 8:00. Unbalanced! I think packing things in advance would probably help as well as eating breakfast. I think the more often he eats breakfast, the more likely he will be to start eating lunch.

46 Lauren September 28, 2009 at 11:34 am

HOW can guys eat this way?! My boyfriend could very easily go until 2 pm without even thinking about food. It’s so annoying to me! haha

Derek is just definitely not getting enough calories! Even if he consumed over 1000 during dinner, he would still have a pretty significant deficit. I think your advice is already very sound. I’d also encourage him to just keep a jar of nuts at work–easy, simple fuel. Without trying too hard, he can easily add a few hundred calories to his day by snacking on nuts.

47 Ali September 28, 2009 at 11:36 am

Just echoing the folks above — strong fuel equals strong performance. He needs a major overhaul! Suggestions:

– Hard boil a dozen eggs on Sunday and use them all week as snacks (dip in hot sauce or salt & pepper), in egg salad sammies, in wraps, on top of salads – just add them in anywhere possible.

– Canned tuna.

– Keep a LOT of protein bars on hand for the week (versus granola bars).

– String cheese.

– Stock up on canned beans and make a rule that every dinner must be eaten with half a can of beans. Easy to heat (easier than many other dinners), very inexpensive.

– Can he add milk into his daily routine anywhere? Even lattes might be a good source of additional protein and calories here and there.

Good luck! Poor guy needs to start eating!

48 hogeruns September 28, 2009 at 11:38 am

My hubby has this same problem! He is 6’2″ and on a good day weighs 175…which is very slim considering what weight he does have is muscle. He works a very active construction job (think lifting 100 pound pieces of glass for 8 hours a day 5 days a week) and whenever he works out with me the pounds start dropping off (he ended up getting into the low 160s earlier in the summer, yikes). We started packing the pounds back on by setting his alarm 5 minutes earlier in the mornings so he has time to eat breakfast and focusing on dense, healthful snacks. He munches on nuts, fruit, and yogurt while at work (they take a 15 min break in the morning and a 30 min break for lunch). Then will normally have a bigger snack when he gets home – cheese and crackers, or chips and salsa and we really look at his portions at dinner. What I put on my plate is not a good guide for him, lol – he’ll usually have another snack before dinner…and after a month or so, he’s gained back his 10 pounds and is looking healthy again! I definitely suggest just starting by driving home eating something more substantial for breakfast and lunch…a couple granola bars and a bowl of pasta doesn’t sound like enough calories at all, and his endurance will definitely improve for his running if he’s fueling his body enough during the week!

49 Therese September 28, 2009 at 11:49 am

I am right there with you girl! I recently have cleaned up my husband’s diet after he had a mini heart attack (scary I know) and when he is working out he’s supposed to take in almost 4000 calories!!! I don’t know how tall Derek is (Anthony is 6’5”) but I am finding it soooo difficult getting his calories up there but still feeding him whole foods!

If you want I can email you the meal plans I made out for Anthony. Let me know!

50 whitneyinchicago September 28, 2009 at 11:57 am

Is there a fridge at his work? He should stock it up with a bunch of good snacks that he can just grab during the day. So maybe if he doesn’t have time for a good “lunch” he can just grab a snack when he is refilling his coffee or water. Also, he should have more “liquid” calories that we all avoid.

My boyfriend is sorta the same way. He forgets to eat meals and he sorta gets bored when he eats.

51 angieinatlanta September 28, 2009 at 11:59 am

Have him drink a protein shake before bed and for breakfast! Those help a lot!

52 Mellissa September 28, 2009 at 11:59 am

How about prepping meals on Sunday’s for a few days, then if he can just grab a container and do a quick reheat. He needs to eat more plain and simple!

53 Sarah September 28, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Pbj and banana for lunch. He could even preprep these for the week

replace granola bars with clif builder bars. More cals and protein

dinner should be protein. Carb. Veggie

nuts and avocado are caloric. What about trail mixes to snack on during day???

It’s hard with boys!!!!

54 Evan Thomas September 28, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I started my blog as a way to share my story about gaining. My weight dropped far too low after last year with the stress of senior year on top of a rigorous workout schedule and not paying attention to how I eat. First of all, he needs to make fueling just as much a priority as training. This may mean on some day counting calories to make sure he’s getting enough. Secondly, he obviously needs more, in the form of whole foods and less processed stuff. Even a slice of toast with peanut butter is a better option than a granola bar. I’d encourage him to go to the grocery store and pick up breakfast and lunch foods he’s genuinely excited about which will motivate him more to want to eat.

55 sarahbeara September 28, 2009 at 12:06 pm

i row crew at my college and a lot of the guys have problems keeping weight on (including my boyf who at 6’4″ weighs 140… the same as me and i’m only 5’9″! lol) my recommendation would obviously be eating more but i reallllly understand it is hard. most of the guys on my team wake up at 5 to work out for two hours go back to their dorm, shower, grab a protein bar, and leave for class. many of them cannot be bothered to slow down for a meal till dinner even though quite a few of them attend afternoon lifting sessions and need the energy. they then proceed to go to the dinning hall and eat as much as they can handle but it just doesn’t cut it. i would firstly suggest that derek trade granola bars for builders bars ( though they are EXPENSIVE, i only get them when the rents buy them for me) they are delish and quite calorie dense, i eat them all the time a snacks : ). i think the MOST important thing for derek to do is pack a lunch and eat a real breakfast, granola bars are for SNACKS! meals i can reccomend:

-sandwich (turkey, tuna, pb+j) with fruit, nuts, yogurt
-leftovers aka whatever he had for dinner the night before (this seems like a really good option for him since dinner is the only meal he seems to have time to make, just make a bit more and throw it in tupperware)
-if he is super time crunched he can just grab some prepackaged trail mix and hi-pro yogurt to mix together at work

although a good balance of carbs, pro, and fat are important i think derek should concentrate on calories first. they are the most important thing… so derek eat more ice cream (no really… its a great source of fat and calcium and deliciousness)
i’m SURE if he adds in more food (of any kind really) he’ll have more energy to run!

56 Regan September 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Calorie dense foods that are easy to transport….I would suggest replacing those granola bars with mixed nuts and dried fruit.
I know alot guys drink protein shakes, and I know there are some you can just add to water.

57 Julia September 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Monday mornings can be so rough!

My brother is also very skinny and eats similarly to Derek. He relies on a lot of carbohydrates and very little protein.

I would suggest upping the protein a lot! It sounds like he is getting very little. I know it’s hard for guys, because a lot of the time their cooking skills or motivation to cook are just not there.
My fiance keeps a stash of healthy (well by his standards) at work including some carrots and pb, crackers, fruit snacks, etc.
Also, he could go the shake route if that would work and use shakes to supplement meals (doesn’t have to be ensure, I know there are some more manly brands out there than that haha).
Maybe it would help if you had him write down what he eats one day and then figure out how many calories he is eating and compare that to how much he should be eating ( can help).
Well good luck, I hope he can find some ways to eat more : )

58 ksgoodeats September 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Boys and their eating habits – my guy friends are the same way! All of my suggestions have been listed (Clif builders bars/protein shakes/etc.) but I recommend looking into Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It’s a good read for anyone who’s into sports and/or nutrition. I read it cover to cover in a few days because I was so interested in it!

59 Sarah September 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Maybe he should add some cream and butter and cheese to that pasta dinner! That is my favorite! I agree with the Ensure though, I had to drink 2-3 of those a day when i was in ED treatment. Also, I ate a lot of Balance Bars (the protein ones) to gain weight too, and they taste pretty good!

60 Julie September 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Wow, how does he not die of starvation?! Maybe he can microwave eggs in the morning for breakfast, or have oatmeal or cereal, or yogurt “messes”. For lunch pb&j always works. He can’t rely on just bars! Maybe Sunday nights you could help him make a big meal that will ast him through the week, and even have some for lunch. Stews, lasagana. Maybe he can get a crock pot! Throw everything in the pot in the morning, turn it on, and his dinner will be ready for him when he gets home!

61 Brandi September 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm

even if he skips lunch some days, he should be getting in a big and hearty breakfast. Plus, if he starts out actually EATING a full meal in the morning, that will kick start his appetite/metabolism and he’ll probably want more for lunch and dinner.

eat more snacks like nuts, nut butter, bars (healthy ones) that have more calories – they’re an easy way to squeeze in calories without having to eat tons of food.

62 Erin September 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Wow, such great comments on this post! I agree with having him check out how much he’s eating calorie wise with his deficits to give him a visual of it.

My “little” brother – who is 6’5 and 245 pounds – is a rugby player and had to pack on some muscle/pounds at the beginning of the summer in anticipation of his upcoming season this fall. He starts out the season by losing a good 10-15 pounds, just like Derek, because of all the running and conditioning.

Because of this, he adheres to a pretty consistent schedule of 6-8 small meals a day. Obviously this would be hard to do for someone that might be at work all day, but I think eating throughout the day is super important (as everyone and you have said!). You have to keep stoking that metabolism fire ๐Ÿ™‚

63 Susan September 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

My boyfriend eats the exact same way! Granola bars for breakfast and lunch (if anything) then a HUGE dinner at 9pm. I’ve been hounding him about it too, and have at least been able to convince to eat muffins in the morning, or pick up a quick breakfast sandwich on his way to work. He’s also started buying frozen dinners for lunch that he’ll eat with the granola bars. They’re made by a local company, so not actually THAT bad. At this point, some food is better than nothing! ๐Ÿ˜›

64 RunToTheFinish September 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm

wowza the responses are huge, so I’m sure you have lots of great ideas.

i love doing DVD’s to get me working in some different ways…I too am bad with weights!

65 BethT September 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm

My husband recently gained about 8 lbs of muscle (which is what you want – no fat gain!). ๐Ÿ™‚ His nutritionist suggested a plan like this:

B: oatmeal with peanut butter and a protein shake made with lean protein powder (i.e. not a lot of added sugar) and lowfat milk

S: another protein shake made as above

L: lean protein such as grilled chicken, steamed veggies and either brown rice or a sweet potato

S: cottage cheese and fruit

D: similar meal as lunch

I know people may poopoo protein shakes, but to gain weight you have to consume a LOT of calories and the shakes are easier to drink. Also, his average protein serving was at least 30 grams per meal AND per snack.

66 Lindsay September 28, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Is there any way that he can add any extra protein as snacks throughout the day and also, can he bring along protein shakes or meal relpacement drinks??
I hope that helps.

67 Nicole September 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

My husband has the same metabolism as Derek. He says that he needs to EAT! He is not eating enough, obviously. He knows this, I’m guessing as well. Eating nothing for lunch is a big mistake. I know that it is hard, but he needs to make time to eat lunch and a bigger breakfast. My husband sets his watch to go off at certain times during the day to remind him to eat. It doesn’t need to be big meals, but he just needs to eat more! It works. Good luck!!!

68 mistifogg September 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm


My husband has been a “body builder” for 12+ years and during that time went from 125 up to 175, however he knows sticks around 155 happily! He does not really do any cardio right now but in the past and this winter he will be starting up his street riding, which burns a lot of calories after a 2-3 hour ride. In order to keep his weight loss at a min. or non at all he always has a Protein Shake everyday (suggest Vitamin Shops protein powder) and gets in lots of carbs & protein at each of his meals and snacks on PB&J on Whole Wheat and lots of Peanuts (goes through a jar a week)!

Derek really needs to eat Big Meals if at all possible with healthy protein & carbs and snack between as well in order to not lose and maintain.

Good Luck! =) Laura

69 Whit September 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm

GUYS! He sounds just like my ex. I actually got so sick of him not eating lunch I started packing his lunch for him. Then I went broke from buying the lunches that he did not pay me back for and we broke up. So I do not necessarily suggest you take my advice on that matter.

70 hopefulrunner September 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I haven’t read the other comments yet, but I’m sure that others have suggested this…..I would say to Derek (as I say to my clients that are trying to maintain their weight or gain lean mass) that he really needs to get more calories into his diet, but they need to be quality calories. I would even suggest ditching the granola bars and eating a wholesome breakfast like oatmeal and eggs, and getting in a quick protein shake as a snack later, and an actual lunch, not a bar. Protein is also the key, and now that he is running which is something that his body is not used to, he needs lean protein to help with muscle growth and repair.
Hope this helps!!

71 Melinda H. September 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Hi Meghann!

So I had this exact same issue with my boyfriend about 2 years ago when he started working out more often with me. On Sunday nights we would make him up a large frittata or crustless quiche and pre-wrap slices for M-F. This way he would just grab one in the morning and heat it up once he got to work…. so that established breakfast. He liked it so much we started making a large dish (of anything!) for lunch and dividing up for M-F.

So just take an hour on Sunday and you are set for the week! The only thing he complained of is having the same thing for the entire week, haha! But it is wayyyyy better than not eating at all (which he did also). How do they put themselves through that??

Hope you find something that works ๐Ÿ™‚

72 MackAttack September 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm

My husband is trying to gain weight, the first thing that really helped was tracking his food and finding out what calorie level he is really eating at. Once he established that he upped his calories to slowly gain. It’s a slow process for someone that is a professional athlete since he burns it off as fast as he eats it, but now he’s understanding what he’s eating and what it does to his weight.

73 Stephanie September 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I like the “meal replacement bar” for lunch idea. They generally are too filling for me, but there are oodles of good ones out there, and he can keep a stash at work. Plus, I would make dinner protein/veg/whole grain in balance, rather than just pasta…

74 Melissa September 28, 2009 at 1:13 pm

hmm, I just learned from NYC’s tops sports medicine doctor and 25 time marathoner that hitting the wall is 95% due to nutrition. Maybe if Derek looks at proper fueling as a way of making his runs stronger, easier and more enjoyable, it will make the extra time in planning seem more worthwhile.

75 Bevin September 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

snack on some nuts?? they are filling and great for you!

76 Lindsey (Mrs. LC) September 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm

It’s funny, I actually noticed yesterday that he looked thinner in pics (I wasn’t sure if it was intentional or not, or maybe just my eyes so I didn’t say anything).

The boy needs to eat more food! Good grief, that’s crazy. I’m sure others have suggested this, but if he’s only going to do a granola bar, at least make it something like a Clif or Pro Bar, and not like one of those dinky Chewy granola bars.

Are there ways he can prep some stuff during like 30 minutes on the weekend and/ or while his pasta is cooking at night?

Example: Sunday chop up and pre-bag some carrots or cucumbers, and set aside a piece of fruit he can easily grab. While he’s making dinner, either make more so he can easily throw leftovers in a container for lunch the next day or make a sandwich while the water is coming to a boil.

I imagine he also wouldn’t struggle with running as much if he fueled a little more/ better. Good luck Derek!

77 verbalriot September 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Geez, how does this kid live? Granola bars? I second your suggestions, he needs a big breakfast and a decent lunch. Definitely lots of protein: eggs, eggs, eggs!

78 Amanda September 28, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I have a feeling that running will get easier if Derek fuels better before and after runs!! It realllly helps to increase energy and repair muscles!!

79 Andrea September 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I second (or fifth) the protein shakes. I don’t like to suggest processed, fake food, but for a young dude who won’t take the time to meal plan correctly, it will do. My husband (who is 6’4″ and was already under 200 lbs) is training for a century ride and has lost some weight – I think that’s just unavoidable. Like Derek, he doesn’t eat a whole lot to begin with, but can chow down when he really wants to. He’s been doing protein shakes after every ride and he thinks it has helped him from withering away completely. He would like to be weight training as well which would help him from losing weight, but finding time is an issue. Is Derek just running or doing other exercise as well?

80 Colleen September 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Ditto to what everyone else said, but I think the biggest thing he’ll notice with getting enough fuel is that he won’t burn out so quick when he’s running!

81 Matt September 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm

First of all, he needs to start eating some real meals. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’d suggest maybe some eggs and toast, cereal, a bagel, or something for breakfast. A sandwich, fruit, chips, ect… for lunch, and a balanced dinner. Trail mix, nuts, and bars are great to eat quickly and on the go for snacks if that is an issue. I honestly have no idea how he doesn’t chew his arm off during the day only eat two granola bars.

82 Elina September 28, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Obviously he’s not eating enough, especially given his activity level. You already covered that. I think another great thing would be to strength train, but do the opposite of what we girls do – heavy weights, rest in between sets. You don’t want your heart rate to be constantly up – that’s how you burn more calories and lose weight! Man, I wish I had this problem ๐Ÿ˜‰

83 Kat September 28, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Obviously, as you said, he needs to eat 3 good meals a day. But for someone like him, he should also be carrying snacks at all times- trail mix, fruit and PB, yogurts, crackers and string cheese- so he gets 2 substantial snacks in as well.
My boyfriend is a skinny guy and in order to not lose weight, he has to eat constantly. He carries around a huuuge bag of trail mix with him wherever he goes.

84 Reenie September 28, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Oh my! That is nothing. Geez….is he dragging thruout the day? I know I sure would be. If it’s time …..then he should prepare his breakfast and lunch the nite before. He def needs more calories and more protein.

EAT MORE DEREK…….EAT EAT EAT!!! You’ll feel soooo much better.

85 Amanda @ Cakes and Ale September 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Definitely more protein and definitely get some produce in there!

Maybe you could get him turned on to smoothies? It would be a good way to sneak in protein (via yogurt, PB, milk, etc.) and veggies / fruit (spinach, berries, naners, etc.)

86 Eve September 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I didn’t have a chance to read through all of the comments. He needs to decide if he’s going to put the time into it or not. I hear a lot of clients tell me I don’t have time, it’s important to realize it doesn’t need to be very time consuming but he has to be willing to put some time into it. Nourishing himself needs to become more of a priority. You mentioned some really important things so far: 3 balanced meals (carbs/protein/fat), and 3 snacks. To gain weight it’s really important to maximize calories between meals. Here are some ideas, since I have never met him in person and do not know his medical history please use these recommendations at his own will.

Some ideas include: adding fat to all meals/snacks: nuts, nut butter, olive oil, cheese, avocado. Increasing portions of carbohydrates throughout the day.

Breakfast: whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, banana, and a glass of milk.
Morning snack: trail mix
Lunch: Sandwich on large roll with cheese, fruit & yogurt.
Afternoon snack: smoothie (could pick this up from somewhere). pretzels w/ hummus & dried fruit.
Dinner: whole wheat pasta with marinara and protein
Dessert: home-made milk shake (low fat milk, frozen yogurt).
Hope that helps!

87 Lizzy September 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

by incorporating more protein and good for you fats, i bet you he would gain a bit! A more complex breakfast would help too.

As for lunch, i agree making a sandwich would most certainly help, and wouldnt take much time at all. Making tuna or a turkey sandwich would be so fast and easy, and tasty as well!!! hopefully some of these ideas help!

88 Allison September 28, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Has he considered weight lifting/strength training? I’m sure we’ve all heard from women’s magazines that muscle weighs more than fat. Burning more energy would also force him to eat more. If he’d rather not go to the gym, rock climbing is a fantastic strength workout, which is what my boyfriend does.

My boyfriend’s the same way; it’s disgusting how much he eats. Like everyone else has said, eat breakfast, get more protein (both from shakes/supplements and poultry/lean cuts of meat). Hard-boil half a dozen eggs each week to have with breakfast or as a morning snack. Make a smoothie the night before, keep it (sealed!!) in a thermos in the fridge and grab it on the way to work. Maybe go grocery shopping with him once a week and make sure his fridge and kitchen are well-stocked!

89 Kaye September 28, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Tell that man to suck it up and do it for ‘da ladies’ that are watching our figures!

Also, protein shakes.

90 Caroline September 28, 2009 at 9:48 pm

My boyfriend is the same way with NOT eating during the day. I give him individual baggies full of homemade trail mix which is primarily cashews (since he loves them and they pack on some good calories).

91 Hangry Pants September 29, 2009 at 7:09 am

Mark is also currently trying to gain weight. He lost weight because I do not cook meat and he rarely eats it out. He is also the same way about skipping meals! Anyway, something he’s been doing that has helped is having a PB sandwich as a snack in addition to his meals and eating a lot of big burritos. Boys have enviable problems, no?

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