While most people are worried about being overweight, being underweight also comes with health risks. But whether you are underweight because of poor nutrition, eating disorders, infections or other health conditions, there is no fast, safe way to gain weight.
Gaining weight in a healthy way takes time, and should be done without taking shortcuts or relying on junk food binges. Depending on your metabolism and other factors, it may take several months to a year or longer to build fat, muscle mass, and bone density. It’s best to consult your doctor to ensure that any diet plans or lifestyle changes are appropriate for your condition.
Weight gain requires a combination of diet, exercise, and in some cases medical treatment. You can start by eating more calories, increasing your plate size, and eating 3 wholesome meals and at least 2 snacks a day. Here are the main types of food to include in your diet to ensure healthy weight gain:
- Protein-rich food: Protein helps build muscle mass. Rich sources of protein include soybean, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, or whey protein. Protein supplements are also available in the form of powders, which can be made into a shake with milk or protein bars. Protein supplements are not replacements for healthy meals, however.
- Carbs and high-fat foods: Healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and high in fiber, such as bananas, oats, quinoa, blueberries, sweet potatoes, cheese, and dark chocolate, can help you gain weight.
- Energy-rich foods: Energy-dense foods fuel your body and can help you put on pounds in a healthy way. These include nuts (especially almonds, walnuts, peanuts), dried fruits (raisins or prunes), dark chocolate, high-fat dairy (milk), and certain vegetables (potatoes and yams).
- Milk: Drinking at least one glass of full-fat milk can help you gain weight as well as get important nutrients in your body, although you should avoid milk if you are lactose intolerant.
What lifestyle changes can help you gain weight?
- Exercise: Weight lifting helps you build muscle mass instead of accumulating unhealthy fat. Increasing muscle mass can increase your body weight, improve your health, and tone your body. Since excessive cardio will result in more weight loss, limit your cardio exercises to 10-15 minutes, 3 times a week. You may also want to consult a health expert about what types of exercises are the most suitable for you and your needs.
- Adequate sleep: Sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. Not only can it improve digestion by aiding the overall metabolic process, but it can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Stress management: For some people, stress can lead to weight loss and loss of appetite. Try to manage your stress by practicing yoga, doing meditation or breathing exercises, and talking to a mental health professional if needed.
- Avoiding smoking: Smoking also affects appetite in addition to several other body functions, which can contribute to weight loss.
What are the causes of being underweight?
Understanding what is causing you to be underweight can help you determine how to gain weight in a healthy way. Several factors and medical conditions can result in being underweight:
What are the risks of being underweight?
Being underweight comes with an increased risk of:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Family Physicians. Healthy Ways to Gain Weight If You’re Underweight. https://familydoctor.org/healthy-ways-to-gain-weight-if-youre-underweight/
National Health Service. Underweight Adults. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/advice-for-underweight-adults/
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