Weight gain can be done in an effective way
How to Gain Weight in a Healthy Way
It can be as difficult as losing weight for some people
Just like losing weight is a goal for some people, gaining weight is a goal for many others. And figuring out how to gain weight can be equally as difficult, for many different reasons. Factors like genetics, medications, stress, chronic health problems, and mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder, can all make putting on weight a physical and mental challenge.
“We constantly hear about the obesity epidemic, and our society places such an emphasis on weight loss and dieting, but there are so many individuals out there who are struggling with the opposite problem,” Marla Scanzello, M.S., R.D., director of dietary service at Eating Recovery Center, tells SELF. “It is essential for [those individuals] to recognize that their needs are different and to tune out the unhelpful dieting and weight loss messages surrounding them,” Scanzello adds.
The truth is that for some people, being their healthiest self means gaining some weight. “Being underweight puts you at risk for a variety of health issues, including fragile bones, fertility issues, hair loss, a weakened immune system, fatigue, and malnutrition,” Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF.
Of course, healthy weight ranges will be different for every person. If you’re not sure what that means for you, definitely talk with your general physician or a registered dietitian. This is tricky, and what works for your friends won’t necessarily work for you, so it’s essential to do what’s right for your body and keeps you nourished, happy, and healthy.
(If you have an eating disorder, seeking help from a treatment center, or just a trusted doctor, is essential. You should not change your diet, count calories, or try to put on weight on your own before speaking with a professional who can help you come up with the right plan for you.)
If you are looking for ways to make weight gain easier, here are some tips for doing so in a healthy way.
Go get a physical.
If you don’t already know why weight gain is tough for you, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Some chronic health conditions like hyperthyroidism and some digestive issues like Crohn’s disease can cause weight loss. You may also just have a very high metabolism, Rumsey says. Figuring out the underlying cause (if there is one) and treating that will help you reach your goals.
Do a mental health check.
“Some people may lose weight during times of stress or depression and need to regain weight for optimal health,” Scanzello says. “In these cases, it may also be helpful for them to see a therapist to address the underlying emotional issues contributing to lack of appetite and/or weight loss.”
Weight problems can be a physical symptom of stress, so check in on yourself and assess your stress levels. If you realize you need to get them in check, or that you’re struggling with other things like depression or anxiety, seeing a therapist can help you sort things out.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
“Often it can feel overwhelming to sit down to a large plate of food, so start out by eating more frequent meals,” Rumsey suggests. “Eating every two to three hours can help you get a lot of calories in without feeling stuffed.” It can also help mitigate some of the GI discomfort you may feel. “When individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight start increasing their food intake, they often experience uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as constipation, gas, bloating, and stomach pain,” Scanzello says. It may just be more comfortable physically to spread out the extra food needed to gain weight throughout the day.
Drink smoothies and shakes.
Energy-dense liquids are an easy way to take in more calories without feeling too uncomfortably full. “It is often easier to drink a lot of calories than to eat those calories via real food,” Rumsey notes. You can also pack them with vitamins and nutrients, and drink them on the go. Other calorically dense drinks can help, too. “Caloric fluids like milk and juice can also be added or used to replace fluids, such as water and diet drinks, to help meet energy needs for weight gain,” Scanzello says. Just be cautious of how much sugar you’re drinking—excess sugar can have negative health consequences, and you don’t want to fill up on sugar instead of nutrient-rich foods.
Focus on calorically dense but healthy foods.
It’s really important that you’re getting a healthy mix of nutrients, not just calories. “Weight gain due to more calories from unhealthy food sources like large amounts of salty, greasy, sugary, highly processed foods can cause other health problems down the road, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease,” Rumsey says.
Also, if you’re not loading up on healthful foods, you run the risk of remaining malnourished even after putting on weight. “It is best to increase food intake with a variety of foods and balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to help replenish nutritional status,” Scanzello says. She suggests focusing on energy-dense foods, such as nuts, oils, dried fruit, granola, peanut butter, and other spreads and fats.
Cut back on cardio.
Scanzello emphasizes that for some people, exercise can be dangerous until you’ve reached a certain weight. “It is best to be medically cleared for exercise if underweight,” she says. If you’ve talked to your doctor and are given the go-ahead, Rumsey says stick to strength training over cardio. “For people looking to gain weight, I recommend an exercise regimen of mostly strength training, with very little cardio,” she says. Yes, you’ll still burn some calories lifting weights, but you will also put on muscle mass. Exercising a bit may also help stimulate your appetite, giving you an extra nudge toward reaching your goals.
Reference for the above article is SELF
Most people are only familiar with loosing weight, this leave the other population unaware of how they can gain weight. This overlooking of gaining weight leads to the belief that only being over weight is a problem. However it is vital to know that being underweight is just as dangerous as being over weight. Having a small body from a young age I can attest to the fact that it is extremely difficult to gain weight in a healthy way as the popular belief is that one needs to indulge in fatty foods to accomplish such feat. This is what leads to young people having conditions such as high cholesterol.