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:
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/
Top What Foods Make You Gain Weight Fast Related Articles
6 Types of Eating Disorders and Their SymptomsEating disorders are complex mental health conditions and not just occasional binges. They usually require extensive medical and psychological treatment for proper management. Eating disorders may be caused by several factors
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Signs You're Not Getting Enough ProteinAre you getting enough protein in your diet? Learn to spot the warning signs of protein deficiency, who is the most at risk, and when you need more protein.
Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge EatingDiscover the warning signs of binge eating disorder, anorexia and bulimia. Read about the symptoms and causes of eating disorders as well as treatment options.
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, weight loss, heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, depression, fatigue, fine or brittle hair, sleep problems, thinning skin, and irregular vaginal bleeding.
Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Many other health problems or taking excess thyroid hormone medication can cause an overactive thyroid gland. Treatment for the condition is with medication, radioactive iodine, thyroid surgery (rarely), or reducing the dose of thyroid hormone. No diet has been shown to treat hyperthyroidism or its symptoms and signs.
Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Treatment, MedicationWhat are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism? What causes hyperthyroidism? What happens when you take thyroid medication? Hyperthyroidism occurs when an overactive thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormone. Learn hyperthyroidism causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Protein QuizProtein is a staple in our diets, but what happens if we get too much? Take this quiz to find out the truth about protein and what's behind the high-protein diet craze!
What Can I Use to Gain Weight Fast?Weight gain or ‘putting on’ body weight should be done healthily and safely. Bodyweight can increase when there is an increase in muscle mass, fat deposits, or accumulation of excess body fluids. There is no fast way to gain weight. Weight gain takes time, and it should be resorted to without taking shortcuts like binging on junk food.
What Foods are Good and Bad for Hyperthyroidism?What is hyperthyroidism? Learn which foods are good and bad for hyperthyroidism.
Why Is the Atkins Diet Bad for You?Atkins diet is a popular low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss but it may not be good for your heart.