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Fitness Q&A

Don't Bulk Up on Heavy Protein Drinks

January 28, 2002|STEPHANIE OAKES

Question: I want to put some weight (5 to 10 pounds) on my 5-foot-9 slender frame. I've been lifting weights for about six weeks but haven't gained any size. In fact, I'm actually losing weight. Should I add protein drinks to my diet?

MARTY LAING

Santa Monica

Answer: Although you do need extra calories to gain weight, guzzling two 300-calorie supplement drinks is roughly the caloric equivalent of wolfing down a Big Mac--so don't make a habit of these drinks.

You need to gain muscle and weight slowly. If you gain more than 1 or 2 pounds a week, you increase the likelihood that the extra weight will show up as fat, not muscle.

Increase your intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day with snacks full of protein and vitamins, such as nuts, beans, low-fat dairy products, lean turkey and fish.

However, these extra calories won't automatically turn to muscle either, so you'll need to continue to hit the weights. Also, keep in mind that weight training increases your metabolism (muscle burns more calories than fat), so be patient. It's also a good idea to work with a certified personal trainer in your gym, because he or she can assess your weight-training program and help tailor workouts to meet your specific needs.

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Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. Send questions by e-mail to: stephoakes@aol.com. She cannot respond to every query.

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