5 Food Swaps that Help Athletes Bulk Up

If you want to gain weight, here are some changes you can make to your food choices to bulk up in a healthy way.

If you're reading this, you can count yourself as part of an exclusive group. Unlike most Americans, you're looking to put on weight, which means more delicious food can be piled onto your plate. But you're not looking to add flab. You're trying to add pounds of tackle-breaking, home-run-hitting, rebound-snatching muscle. As such, you need to chow down on foods that fuel performance and power muscular growth. Here are five healthy food swaps that will help you sneak in more quality calories at every meal.

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You're Eating: Oatmeal with Fruit

The Swap: Oatmeal with Nuts

Oatmeal is a prime carb source for athletes, but topping it with fruit isn't a calorically dense option (even if it's delicious.) Top your oats with almonds or walnuts—a quarter-cup tacks on around 130 calories and delivers heart healthy fats and protein.

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You're Eating: Sandwich with mustard

The Swap: Sandwich with avocado

This fruit is great for athletes, because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation after a bump or bruise. Rather than adding a layer of mustard to your lunchtime sandwich, try sliced avocado as a condiment. You can also substitute avocado for mayonnaise if you're making tuna salad or chicken salad. One cup of avocado has approximately 230 calories.

You're Eating: Salad

The Swap: Salad with 1/2 greens, 1/2 beans

Salads provide a great way to eat vegetables, but they're generally quite low in calories. Dump half of your greens and replace them with a cup of beans. One cup has around 200 calories and 12 grams of protein. You can also add avocado and nuts to kick the calorie count even higher. Just don't overload on creamy sauces—those aren't the calories you want!

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You're Eating: Fruit smoothie with fruit juice

The Swap: Fruit smoothie with Greek Yogurt

Drop the juice and sub in a container of Greek yogurt. It packs 190 calories and almost 20 more grams of protein, and it'll give your smoothie a rich, creamy flavor.


You're Eating: Any food with a dash of salt

The Swap: Any food with a handful of sunflower seeds

If you're serious about adding weight, you need to add calories at every opportunity. Keep it simple at first and sprinkle sunflower seeds over foods like brown rice and vegetables. Once you get used to the new texture, cook them with your meats or veggies. They give you a satisfying salty flavor while packing 175 calories per ounce.

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