I'm underweight (54 kg / 181cm) and therefore want to gain weight. I'm frequently going social Salsa dancing. On a usual night I'm around 4 hours at the Salsa club. Around 2/3 of the time I'm dancing. While dancing my pulse is somewhere between 120 and 150.

What food/supplements should I consume to replace the burned calories? When should I eat it?

  • Christian, eat all the german quality food you want. You can buy weight gainers, creatine and some protein powders at your local supermarket if you really don't feel like cooking HUGE meals each and every time. There is no "secret", just hard work put into eating. You have a beautiful dilemma opposed to most Americans facing obesity so go hog wild on any kind of food. Bfast, lunch and dinner should be a good amount and throw in some snacks every now and then. Jul 10 '12 at 17:18
  • I go salsa dancing like crazy and I tell you you will not gain weight dancing. You'll have to fight just to maintain your current weight. So lifting weights is the only way to gain weight.
    – Salsero69
    Aug 7 '12 at 2:12

Ok, dancing for that amount of time, you will burn somewhere in the range of 600-1000 calories. There isn't really a need to specially supplement, just eat something. Doesn't have to be anything specific. I might suggest things that are not really heavy on fats, like a double burger with cheese and bacon, but unless you have a sensitive stomach it doesn't need to be as easily absorbable as what a marathon runner would be consuming.

However, unless you are gaining weight at a rate you find acceptable, I think something you should do is evaluate your entire diet, activity level and see if it is producing the results you want. Read through a couple of the "How do I lose weight" threads (Such as this one : So am I at a calorie deficit now? ), and pretty much do it in reverse. A 500 calorie surplus per day should net you about .5 kg a week of weight gain, which is pretty healthy and sustainable.

  • I figured the myth that fat is bad for you would have been smashed by now. Not to mention, if you're arguing someone should be increasing their caloric intake, why would you steer them away from foods you believe to be high in calories per mass? Also, since he's been doing that level of dancing for a long time now, it puts no strain on his muscles, so the only possible weight gain could come from additional fat being stored. He won't suddenly start growing muscle just by eating more.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jul 8 '12 at 19:43
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    @RobinAshe You really down voted it because of that? I suggested not eating a fat heavy meal because of possible digestive issues, not because of weight gain issues.
    – JohnP
    Jul 8 '12 at 20:14
  • you could also have potential digestive issues from carbs or from proteins depending on what conditions a person might be predisposed to. There's no logical reason to single out fats. And not just that, also because you suggested he would see a weight gain just from eating more. Unless someone says they want to get more fat but not muscle, you have to suggest they engage in an activity that imposes a progressive overload on their muscles.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jul 8 '12 at 20:16
  • @RobinAshe - You need to stop reading so literally. I suggested evaluating both eating AND activity level. Next time I will spell out every detail for the pedants reading it later.
    – JohnP
    Jul 8 '12 at 20:20
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    Mmmm...I'd be leery of trusting the formulae in a HR monitor. High intensity cycling for 2 hours might not get into the 1800 calorie range. It's possible, but I'm a skeptic. :p Also, while your HR might be elevated in between dances, you aren't burning as many calories then, but the HR formulae is still kicking over.
    – JohnP
    Aug 7 '12 at 2:21

Given your body type, no amount of eating will make you gain weight. You have to lift weights to stimulate muscle growth. Also, unless you're steadily losing weight, don't concern yourself with replacing calories - your body is already dealing with the nutrients as it needs to.

Stronglifts 5x5 is a good free resource for starting weight training.


Your current plan will not work

Dancing several times a week plus overeating will not produce the kind of weight gain you want. It probably won't produce any weight gain at all.

Lift and eat (and dance)

If you want to get bigger, then lift weights, eat lots, and prioritize quality mass gain. Salsa can be part of it, but it can't be all of it.

Specifically, I'd recommend lifting heavy at least twice a week and eating enormously immediately after every dance session and workout. Breakfast and lunch should be substantial too, but be careful of eating too close to workouts or dance sessions.

Foods would ideally include grass-fed & grass-finished beef, pastured pork, farm eggs and chicken, omega-3 rich seafood, vegetables, roots, tubers, greens, as much dairy as you can handle, and good fats like avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil. If you handle it well, rice, corn, quinoa and other grains can add a lot of calories as well.

Further reading

It would be good to fully understand the depth and complexity of how nutrition affects changes in body fat and body mass. A calorie is not a calorie, and our bodies do not function as calories-in, calories-out machines. This question has some informative answers on the topic.

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