How to gain weight healthily
The safest ways to gain weight
While many people long to lose weight, for those who are underweight due to genetics or illness, getting to a healthy weight can be just as important and problematic. While there is nothing wrong with being naturally slim, for those who are seriously underweight this can cause problems for the immune system and also affect women’s fertility. To boost your health and get to a healthy weight, check out these tips for gaining weight safely.
Visit your doctor if you have weight loss concerns
If you have suddenly lost a lot of weight, the first thing you should do is visit your doctor to try to identify the cause of this weight loss. Not only can your doctor help assess if and how much weight you need to gain, they can also check out if there are any medical reasons behind your weight loss. Alternatively, if you feel you may be suffering from an eating disorder, your doctor can help prescribe treatment for this.
Increase your calorie intake gradually
Just as with weight loss diets, many people expect instant results when trying to gain weight. However, it is better for your digestive system and body to gain weight gradually and in a healthy way. Set small, achievable weight gain goals such as adding an extra hundred calories on to each meal or one snack a day between meals, and gradually increase this as your body gets used to the change.
Keep exercising while gaining weight
Continuing with an exercise regime while trying to gain weight may seem counterproductive. However, it is important for your heart health to continue to stay active, and this will also help your body to gain weight evenly and build up muscle rather than fat. For the best results, opt primarily for exercises that build muscle such as weight lifting, alongside light cardio activities such as walking. Also remember to up your calorie intake to compensate for those burned off.
Opt for more calories rather than more fat
When trying to gain weight it can be tempting to binge on fatty foods such as ice cream and chocolate. However, even slim people are susceptible to conditions such as heart disease which can be brought on by an unhealthy diet. Rather than stocking up on fatty foods and empty calories, try to increase your intake of nutrient-dense foods and get your calories through a balanced diet of carbs, protein and a small amount of fat.
Choose good fats over 'bad' saturated fats
While it is advisable to restrict your intake of 'bad' saturated fats even when gaining weight, good fats are a vital part of a healthy, balanced diet. Try to increase your intake of foods rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which will help to keep your heart healthy as well as helping you to gain weight. Good sources of these include avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
Sneak in extra calories to meals
If you struggle to eat larger portion sizes at mealtimes, you can easily sneak a few extra calories into your meal without noticeably increasing its size. Try adding high-calorie nuts and seeds to cereals and salads to increase their calorie content, or grate some cheese on to your evening meal. Also, make sure you are buying the most calorific version of your regular products, as different varieties of cereals, rice and bread, for example, contain different amounts of calories.
Snack between meals to increase calorie intake
When trying to gain weight it can be difficult to eat the required amount of calories in just three meals a day. Therefore, it is important to keep some healthy, high calorie snacks to hand for snacking on throughout the day. Some good snacks to try include nuts, dried fruit, bananas or oatcakes with peanut butter. Alternatively, opt for some liquid calories between meals in the form of juices, smoothies or milk.
Keep a food diary and monitor food intake
While it may seem as though you are eating a vast amount of calories at first, you may not actually be eating as much as you think. To help get a clearer idea of your eating habits, try keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks where you write down everything you have eaten each day as well as the number or calories consumed. By getting it all down on paper, you may find that you are actually eating fewer calories than you think, and it may also help you to identify where you can add in more.