I’m trying to bulk up, but I keep losing weight. I’m down to 142 lbs. I mostly eat turkey sandwiches and chicken breast.

– Donald M.


First and foremost, Donald, please visit your healthcare provider as unexplained weight loss could be the result of an underlying medical condition. If you have any GI problems or trouble chewing, there are interventions to assist with breaking down your food.

That said, here are my tips for bulking up…  Eating more volume is an obvious plan. Adding calories to what you already eat is important. Your turkey sandwiches need to be laden with avocado, full-fat mayonnaise, pesto or cheese to maximize calories. Chicken breast can be breaded, fried, or served with sauces and creams to increase energy density.

Get the most out of every bite by making sure starches are dressed with heavier condiments – baked potato with butter and cream cheese, pasta with alfredo or pesto, risotto with cream sauce, etc. Opt for the densest version of food items like dried fruit vs fresh, granola vs cereal, and tortillas vs bread. Choose energy-rich produce (e.g. bananas, cherries, peas, sweet potato) over watery varieties. Use nut butters on crackers, rolls and in shakes.

Power-pack your beverages by adding a couple spoonsful of the concentrated version to your fluid. For example, pour some evaporated milk into your glass of milk or thawed juice concentrate into your OJ. Use leftover drinks to make ice cubes to use later instead of regular ice (water has no calories).

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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