Most of us can only dream of being able to eat whatever we want and not gain an ounce. Being underweight is actually far worse for your health than being overweight.
Being obese is associated with a 50% greater risk of early death. Being underweight is associated with 140% greater risk for men and 100% greater risk for women.
Inability to gain weight can be a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition including eating disorders, thyroid issues, diabetes, cancer, and chronic infections.
Talk to your doctor first, and then look at these tips for gaining healthy weight. Interestingly, many of these tips to gain weight are also ones that will help other people lose weight.
Eat More Often
Try to graze throughout the day on good quality foods. Many underweight people feel full faster and eating five to six small meals a day is easier on them than fewer big meals.
A big plate full of food can be very off-putting to some people. Plan to snack on healthy high calorie foods like nuts. You need to make every bite of food count by choosing high quality calories.
Eat Good Protein
To gain weight, eat good quality protein. Your body uses protein to run your body. As you gain weight, you want to put on muscle more than fat. Protein will help you do that.
Lean protein includes meats like beef, chicken, pork, salmon, trout, and whole eggs. Obviously, how you prepare the lean meat determines how healthy it is.
Frying your protein is not a good way to eat lean protein, regardless of how much you weigh. Smothering it in barbeque sauce or tartar sauce is not particularly beneficial, either. Condiments are generally high in sugar and low in good calories.
Vegetarians have some excellent options for protein. Quinoa, chia seeds, seitan, and of course, beans are excellent sources of quality plant-based proteins.
Plant protein is every bit as healthy as meat protein. Vegetarians seem to be leaner than omnivores, but that could be a reflection of other lifestyle choices, not a commentary on plant based protein.
Eat Whole Grains
The bane of dieters – carbs – is great for gainers. Choose whole grain bread, pasta, and cereals. White bread isn’t good for anyone, so make sure you pick the good stuff.
“Ancient grains” like quinoa, spelt, amaranth, and teff are “new” foods to many Americans. A little experimentation can widen a boring diet for both vegetarians and omnivores. They are excellent sources of high quality protein and nutrients.
Raw, steamed, or roasted veggies are good for you! Veggies are full of a variety of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and other important nutrients. Do your best to eat a rainbow of veggies with every meal to maximize the nutrient intake. You literally can not eat too many veggies!
Boiling veggies robs them of nutrients. Just don’t fry your veggies or slather them in butter or dressing. You are trying to gain healthy weight.
Like veggies, fruit is good for you. Because most fruits are higher in sugars, go easy on them. Dried fruits are as healthy as fresh fruit, so consider those as a convenient snack.
Milk is the perfect food to help you gain weight. It is designed to grow little calves into nice big cattle and the nutrients that help calves grow will do the same for you.
Full fat yogurt and milk are other foods with an excellent balance of protein and fat. Plus you’ll get a great selection of vitamins and minerals.
You get to snack! Choose healthy snacks like nuts, peanut butter, cheese, dried fruits and avocados. Try a high calorie high quality bedtime snack like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Making every calorie count as both quality and quantity should help you to gain weight healthily and slowly.
Water is always needed by your body but drinking just before eating can make you feel fuller and you won’t take in the calories. Try drinking after a meal or add liquid in the form of smoothies and shakes made of milk and fresh or frozen fruit.
You can also add liquid to your body in the form of fresh juicy fruit like nectarines. Avoid high quantity/low quality calorie drinks like soda or fruit juice.
If you are trying to gain weight and have ruled out an underlying medical condition, try eating five to six small meals or snack regularly. You need to increase not only how many calories you eat, but the quality of calories.
Yes, a calorie is a calorie, but you can choose foods that come with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other important nutrients. You still want to keep your heart and other organs healthy as you increase your weight.