One of the biggest myths that have been going on for quite a while in the area of weight management is that gaining weight is easier than losing weight.
However, in reality, it can actually be extremely tough to gain weight just like losing weight. In most cases, people who want to gain weight end up consuming an unhealthy diet that can cause dangerous effects on their overall health. Certain dietary changes, sticking to an exercise regimen, and living a healthy lifestyle can help you gain weight the healthy way.
If you are underweight, you can see a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist to rule out any serious health problems. In some cases, an unhealthy or unexplained weight loss is caused by several medical conditions, which include:
- Anorexia nervosa: A serious mental and eating disorder that is characterized by an extremely low body weight, the fear of gaining weight, and a disturbed perception of one’s body shape and weight.
- Hyperthyroidism: Unhealthy weight loss may also be due to an overactive thyroid gland, which can boost the body's metabolism and cause a sudden and significant weight loss.
- Diabetes: Losing a significant amount of weight can also be caused by uncontrolled diabetes, particularly, type 1 diabetes.
- Celiac Disease: This serious autoimmune disorder is characterized by gluten sensitivity. Having this disorder prevents the absorption of vitamins and minerals that the body needs. In most cases, people with celiac disease are unaware that they have the disorder.
- Cancer: People with cancer tend to experience both muscle loss and weight loss. Cancer can seriously affect how the body utilizes protein and calories, which can also lead to loss of appetite.
- Infections: Certain types of infections such as parasitic, bacterial, or viral infections can cause people to become extremely underweight.
How to Safely and Healthily Gain Weight
People may gain weight due to poor eating habits over a period of time. However, if you are clinically underweight and want to gain weight, it is quite important to do it the healthy way to avoid damaging your overall health. The following are some ways that can effectively help you gain weight without harming your health:
1. Dietary Changes
Below are some of the foods that can be consumed to help you gain weight:
- Milk: To get more calories and high-quality protein, you can simply try drinking whole milk. It is also rich in calcium, including other vitamins and minerals. Milk also contains whey proteins and casein, which can help add muscle, especially when you are training or weightlifting. You can drink 1-2 glasses of milk with meals or before and after a workout.
- Rice: Rice is an affordable and convenient source of carbohydrates that can help in your weight gain journey. You can get very little fat, 43 grams of carbohydrates, and 190 calories in just a cup of cooked rice, which is around 165 grams.
- Potatoes and Other Starchy Foods: Another way to get more calories is to consume potatoes and other types of starchy foods, which include corn, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, squash, buckwheat, and other root vegetables. Aside from providing extra carbohydrates and calories, these foods can also help improve the glycogen storage of muscles.
- Nuts: If you want to gain weight, another perfect choice would be nuts and nut butters. You can get around 18 grams of healthy fats and more than 7 grams of protein in a handful of almonds. You can also add nut butters into your smoothies, snacks, yogurts, and other dishes for a high-calorie delicious treat. Just make sure that you choose those without extra oils or added sugar.
- Whole-Grain Bread: Another effective way to help you gain weight is to consume whole-grain bread. You can consume them together with good protein sources, such as cheese, meat, and eggs. However, you have to make sure that you get those that are seeded and natural whole-grain types of bread.
- Healthy Cereals: Get your source of carbohydrates, nutrients, and calories from healthy cereals, such as oats and grain-based cereals. However, make sure to avoid sugary and highly processed cereals. You can purchase healthier forms of cereals, which include granola, bran, multigrain, and organic, sprouted bread like Ezekiel.
- Cheese: For centuries, cheese has become one of the staple foods in the world. Cheese is high in fats and calories like dark chocolate. It is also a great protein source if you consume it in large quantities. You can also add cheese to a variety of dishes for that extra flavor along with calories.
- Whole Eggs: If you are not allergic to eggs, you can eat three or more eggs per day to get your daily dose of healthy fats and high-quality proteins. Eggs can also help you build muscles. Make sure to eat whole eggs to get their full nutrients.
- Healthy Oils and Fats: Coconut oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil are healthy sources of oils and fats. To help you gain weight, add 15 mL or 1 tablespoon of any of these oils to salads, sauces, or while cooking to get approximately 135 calories from your meals.
2. Exercise Regimen
Aside from dietary changes, beginners can start with 2-3 sets of squats, overhead press, and pull-ups as part of their exercise routine.
You can also improve your strength by lifting weights. You can start by doing lifts 2-4 times every week before gradually increasing the weights and volume. However, if you are completely new to training, you can try hiring a personal trainer to initially help you out. If you have certain medical conditions or musculoskeletal problems, it is recommended to see your doctor first.
Lifting heavy weights can help you improve muscle mass instead of only fat.
Key to Long-Term Success in Gaining Weight
For some people, it can be quite difficult to effectively gain weight since the body has a comfortable default weight or body weight set point. When people try to gain or lose weight, their bodies resist certain changes by regulating the levels of metabolic rate and hunger levels.
When you are trying to gain weight by consuming more calories, your body tends to boost your metabolism and reduce your appetite, which is mainly regulated by your brain and hormones that help regulate weight like leptin. Thus, struggling to gain or lose weight is something that can normally be expected.
Although it may take a longer time to reach your goal weight, it is important to remain consistent with your dietary and lifestyle changes to achieve long-term success.