Posted in: Healthy weight, Weight Management

How to healthily gain weight!

Gaining weight healthily involves a combination of consuming nutritious foods in the right proportions and engaging in regular exercise to build muscle mass rather than just accumulating fat. Here are some tips to help you healthily gain weight:

  1. Eat more calories: You must consume more calories than your body burns to gain weight. Include calorie-dense but nutritious foods like nuts, seeds, nut butter, avocados, olive oil, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products in your diet.
  2. Eat frequently: Instead of three large meals, try eating smaller meals throughout the day. This can help you consume more calories without feeling too full.
  3. Include protein in your diet: Protein is essential for building muscle mass. Include sources of lean protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, and Greek yoghurt in your meals.
  4. Choose healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats into your diet from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These provide concentrated calories and essential nutrients.
  5. Strength training: Engage in regular strength training exercises to build muscle mass. Focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows, and gradually increase the intensity and weight over time.
  6. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support overall health and muscle function.
  7. Get enough rest: Adequate sleep is essential for muscle recovery and growth. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  8. Avoid empty calories: While it’s important to increase your calorie intake, try to avoid consuming too many empty calories from sugary snacks, sodas, and processed foods. Focus on nutrient-dense foods instead.

Healthily gaining weight is highly recommended when you have very low body weight and there’s a need for talks about weight gain to save a life, as being extremely underweight has its own health dangers.

What are the Causes of unintentional weight loss?

  1. Medical conditions:
    • Gastrointestinal disorders: Such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), peptic ulcer disease, or pancreatitis can lead to weight loss due to malabsorption of nutrients or decreased appetite.
    • Cancer: Certain types of cancer, particularly those affecting the digestive system, can cause weight loss due to a combination of factors including metabolic changes, decreased appetite, and side effects of treatments like chemotherapy.
    • Thyroid disorders: Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, can cause unintentional weight loss due to increased metabolism.
    • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes, particularly type 1 diabetes, can lead to weight loss due to the body’s inability to properly utilize glucose for energy.
    • Chronic infections: Conditions such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or chronic viral hepatitis can lead to weight loss due to increased energy expenditure and decreased appetite.
    • Mental health disorders: Conditions such as depression, anxiety, or eating disorders can lead to changes in appetite and eating habits, resulting in unintentional weight loss.
  2. Medications: Certain medications can cause appetite suppression, nausea, or other side effects that result in unintentional weight loss. Examples include chemotherapy drugs, certain antidepressants, stimulants, and medications used to treat conditions like hyperthyroidism or inflammatory bowel disease.
  3. Dental problems: Tooth pain, gum disease, or ill-fitting dentures can make eating difficult and lead to unintentional weight loss.
  4. Psychological factors: Stress, grief, or other emotional issues can affect appetite and eating habits, leading to weight loss.
  5. Underlying metabolic disorders: Rare metabolic disorders such as Addison’s disease or adrenal insufficiency can lead to weight loss due to hormonal imbalances affecting metabolism and appetite regulation.
  6. Chronic illness: Conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, or chronic kidney disease can lead to weight loss due to increased energy expenditure, decreased appetite, or fluid retention.
  7. Age-related changes: Older adults may experience unintentional weight loss due to factors such as decreased appetite, changes in taste and smell, or underlying medical conditions.

However, as soon as a very low body weight is noticed, interventions have to be made to bring the weight up, and back to a healthy weight.

The aims are to;

  • Seek treatment for underlying causes: Identifying and treating the underlying medical conditions contributing to weight loss is essential for restoring health. This may involve consulting with healthcare professionals such as doctors, specialists, or dietitians to develop a personalized treatment plan.
  • Increase calorie intake: Consuming more calories than your body burns is crucial for reversing unintentional weight loss. Focus on nutrient-dense foods that provide a high number of calories along with essential vitamins and minerals. This can include incorporating healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet.
  • Increase meal frequency: Eating more frequently throughout the day can help you consume more calories overall. Aim for three main meals and several snacks in between to keep your energy levels up and support weight gain.
  • Increase portion sizes: Gradually increasing the size of your meals and portions can help you consume more calories without feeling overly full. Pay attention to portion sizes and aim to include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in each meal.
  • Include regular exercise: While exercise alone may not lead to significant weight gain, it’s essential for overall health, muscle strength, and appetite stimulation. Incorporate a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercises to build muscle mass and improve appetite. Consult with a fitness professional to develop a safe and effective exercise program based on your individual needs and abilities.

The type of food you eat is one important aspect to consider, 

Here are the Top 5 healthy foods recommended for weight gain.

  1. Rice: A rich source of carbohydrates, rice provides essential energy for your body. Combined with other calorie-dense foods like eggs and legumes, it can contribute to weight gain while providing essential nutrients.
  2. Potatoes: Both sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes are high in carbohydrates and can help build up your energy stores. Opt for healthier cooking methods like baking or boiling to avoid excessive unhealthy fats.
  3. Whole eggs: Eggs are not only rich in protein but also contain healthy fats and important minerals like calcium. They can be incorporated into various meals such as rice dishes or sandwiches to boost calorie intake.
  4. Avocado: Avocado is a nutritious source of healthy fats, fibre, and antioxidants. Adding avocado to meals or sandwiches can provide extra calories and promote overall health.
  5. Smoothies: Smoothies offer a versatile way to pack in calories and nutrients. By blending ingredients like milk, dried fruits, natural fruits, and even protein powders, you can create calorie-dense beverages that support muscle building and weight gain.

What should you avoid when trying to gain weight?

  1. Avoid unhealthy snacks: Snacking on foods high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and sodium can contribute to various health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Instead, focus on nutrient-dense snacks like nuts, fruits, yoghurt, or whole-grain crackers to support your weight gain goals while maintaining good health.
  2. Moderate intake of unhealthy foods: While it’s important to increase calorie intake for weight gain, overeating unhealthy foods can lead to negative health outcomes. Balance is key, so aim to incorporate a variety of nutritious foods into your diet while limiting the consumption of processed and unhealthy foods.
  3. Exercise regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity is essential for overall health and well-being, even when trying to gain weight. Exercise helps build muscle mass, improve appetite, and boost metabolism. Incorporate a combination of strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility exercises into your routine to support muscle growth and overall fitness.
  4. Stay hydrated: Drinking water is essential for maintaining hydration, supporting digestion, and promoting overall health. Even when trying to gain weight, it’s important to continue drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Avoid sugary beverages and excessive caffeine intake, as they can contribute to dehydration and other health issues.

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