Gaining weight can be as difficult as losing weight.
Being underweight or too skinny comes with health risks. You are underweight if your body mass index (BMI) is less than 18.5 kg/m2. If you are in this category, you need to gain weight or add body mass to achieve wellbeing.
If you’re an athlete, you need to gain the required weight and build muscles to improve your performance. If you are getting older and you seem to lose weight without intentionally doing it, you need to regain it. If you are recuperating from illness or have been hospitalized for a period of time, you might need to gain a bit of weight as well.
These are the most common reasons why you need to gain weight. And gaining weight is not all about eating. It’s also about following a healthy, active lifestyle.
Here are some essential things to remember:
Make a goal of putting weight gradually. A reasonable target is 0.5 kg per week. Start a health journal so you can monitor your intake, physical activities, and other things that affect weight gain.
Remember that your genes play a major role for your musculature and physical build. If your family is naturally thin, do not be surprised if you are having difficulty gaining a lot of weight. Still, you can build up muscle through weight training and increased food consumption. However, be ready to accept that you cannot just change some things in your body and attempting to make drastic changes is unhealthy.
Food and Healthy Weight Gain
Consider Your Macronutrient Intake
These nutrients for weight gain are vital to attain your goal.
Protein is among the most important nutrients given that it serves as the building block of muscles. If you want muscle gain, you need to have sufficient amount of protein in your diet. A high protein diet converts extra calories into muscles.
Examples of high-protein foods are meats, eggs, fish, dairy products, nuts, and legumes. Whey protein and other protein supplements also help.
- Carb and Fats
If you want to gain weight fast, eating plenty of carbs and fats every meal is arguably the best strategy. Three regular meals plus energy-dense snacks in between will help you reach your goal in the soonest possible time.
Avoid intermittent fasting to help your body.
Create a Caloric Surplus with Healthy Food
You need to eat more than your body needs. The caloric surplus will promote weight gain. If you want a gradual and steady gain weight, be sure to consume more than you burn (aim for a difference of about 300-500 calories). Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just eat everything you can put your hands on. Make it a point to pick whole, unprocessed food, such as:
- Grains – rice, oats, ragi, bajra, jowar, dals, rajma, soya, chick pea, cow pea, whole green gram
- Nuts – peanuts, walnuts, almonds
- High-fat dairy – cheese, full-fat yogurt, whole milk, cream
- Meat– beef, lamb, chicken, pork
- Dried fruits – prunes, dates, raisins
- Tubers – sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams
- Fats & Oils – rice bran oil, groundnut oil, extra-virgin olive oil
Nutrition Tips to Gain Weight Naturally
Aside from making smart choices whenever you’re shopping for food, it’s also important keep these tips in mind:
- Eat 5-6 times daily. Be sure to drink fluids before and after your meals for improved digestion. Avoid skipping meals.
- Go for full-fat options instead of “low calorie” or “lite” versions.
- Top your foods with grated cheese, chili, and peanut or almond butter.
- Add powdered milk, nuts, honey, or dried fruits to your breakfast cereals.
- Garnish your salad with olive oil, avocados, sunflower seeds, whole olives, or nuts.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of dry milk powder to liquid milk, soups, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
- Enjoy more snacks throughout the day. Squeeze in snacks even before bedtime.
- Drink whole milk to gain both calories and high-quality protein.
- Use bigger plates to consume more food.
- Eat protein first then have vegetables later.
- Consume fresh fruits like banana, mango, and pomegranate. Try adding milk to fruit slices for a good caloric boost.
- Consume lots of dry fruits such as walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds. They are rich with polyunsaturated fats which contain a great amount of calories.
- Increase your caloric consumption by eating more starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes. Potato has complex carbohydrates which help the body gain weight naturally.
Good Exercises for Bulking Up
In addition to planning your intake, engaging in daily exercise should make it easier for you to gain weight – although this time, you’ll be getting those pounds from muscle mass. Also, exercise helps you gain weight because it keeps metabolism at an optimal level.
Resistance training (like lifting weights, jogging, and walking) promotes muscle gain and strengthens your body.
- Weights – Lifting weights ensures that excess calories go to the muscles instead of becoming fat cells. As you would expect, lifting also improves your strength.
Lift weights 2-4 times a week. Consult first with your doctor for clearance, especially if you suffer from skeletal problems or other health issues. It is also best to hire a personal trainer to help you.
Free weight exercises target the large muscle groups and stress them out. Squats, bench presses, bar dips, dead lifts, pull ups, and barbell rows stimulate the muscle fibers to a great extent.
- Jogging – A jogging program helps increase your appetite. It’s to be expected since the body needs more calories after jogging for quite a while. Although jogging is a form of cardio workout, you can modify it by adding sprint and strength interval exercises.
Jogging targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, calf muscles, hip flexors, and core area. It tones muscles due to repetitive motion.
- Walking – Doing morning walks for at least half an hour daily is an excellent way to eliminate unhealthy fats from the body.
Other Things to Consider
You may need a bit more help in your quest to gain weight, these tips should prove to be useful:
- Get quality sleep to promote muscle growth and increase body mass.
- Just stop smoking. Quitting the habit usually leads to weight gain.
- Liver disorder and other abdominal problems weaken muscles. It is important to treat them to gain weight.
- Reduce emotional and mental stress by learning to manage it effectively. Find effective ways to relax.
- Be consistent with your efforts. Your body responds well to consistency, and that’s true whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight.
- Stay away from products that promise immediate weight gain. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
The most important thing to remember is to have patience. Gaining weight can be frustrating, especially if you don’t immediately see changes. Be positive that you will gain your desired weight in due time. Do not waver in your efforts – and don’t forget to aim for healthy weight gain.