Knowing how to gain weight without putting your health at risk is essential when you need to gain a few kilos, either for health or aesthetics. First of all, if you are underweight, it is important to determine what it is due to, since its origin can be metabolic, poor diet and even be caused by an underlying disease.
Once possible health problems have been ruled out, you can put into practice a series of dietary recommendations such as the ones we explain in this article , which can help you gain weight safely. Take note!
The weight problem
In today’s society the main battle related to weight is fought against obesity. For this reason, being too thin, a priori, may not seem like a problem. However, there are many people who are underweight within the normal range and unsuccessfully try to gain a few kilos. In these cases the cause is usually related to metabolism.
On other occasions , a low weight or a sudden drop in weight can indicate some underlying pathology, which is why it is important to make sure of our state of health before starting any strategy to increase weight.
How can you know if your weight is within what is considered normal for your age, sex and height? You can calculate it by measuring your body mass index (BMI) . If the value obtained is less than 18.5, your weight is below normal.
What is the Body Mass Index (BMI) and how is it calculated?
The body mass index (BMI) is a method of measuring body fat, which relates the person’s weight and height. It is used to determine if said weight is within the parameters considered normal or if, on the contrary, there is overweight or thinness. In adults, the BMI is considered normal when it is between 18.5 and 24.9.
The BMI formula using the metric system is BMI = Weight (kg) / height (m)2 , that is, the weight in kilos divided by the height in meters squared.
In the case of children and adolescents, percentiles are used, which relate the child’s weight to the values of their peers to determine whether they are underweight or overweight.
The problem with the BMI method is that it does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass, which can generate erroneous results in specific cases . For example, a bodybuilder would possibly have overweight values because his muscle will be counted as fat in this method. However, this is an athlete who is not obese.
Main causes of low weight
Do you have a low weight? Here are some of the possible causes:
- Genetic factors: if your relatives are also thin, it is possible that your metabolism is faster than normal, which makes it difficult to gain weight.
- Intensive physical activity: this affects body weight. It can occur both in high-level athletes and in workers who require a lot of physical energy.
- Medications – Some can cause vomiting, nausea, or reduce appetite, resulting in weight loss.
- Illness: Many illnesses have an impact on decreased appetite, as well as the body’s ability to store food. Unintentional weight loss can reveal that there is an undetected disease, which can be digestive, thyroid, diabetes or even cancer.
- Psychological problems: they can affect eating habits, causing either weight gain or loss.
Consequences of a weight below normal
Body fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body, since it generates the energy necessary to carry out our daily activities and also protects vital organs. A weight below the appropriate can imply a calorie deficit or even a lack of vitamins and minerals.
This situation can cause health problems such as the following:
- Delayed development in children and adolescents , who need a large amount of nutrients for healthy growth.
- Weakening of the immune system and inability to fight diseases due to lack of nutrients.
- Brittle bones and osteoporosis: Being underweight along with a calcium and vitamin D deficiency can weaken bones and cause osteoporosis.
- Anemia, caused by insufficient iron, folic acid and vitamin B12.
- Absence of menstruation and fertility problems , because in situations where there is a lack of energy, the body prioritizes its resources.
- Weakness and hair loss.
- Fragile and dry skin .
- Problems in teeth and gums.
It is important to make sure that there is no health problem before starting any strategy to gain weight, for them it is recommended that you go to your doctor for a review to determine what the reason is and, where appropriate, start a specific and adapted treatment to you to gain weight in a healthy way. As we explained to you in our article How to improve your quality of life with a personalized diet, it is important to adapt the diet to our metabolic characteristics and lifestyles, because depending on them, each one of us has different nutritional needs.
How to gain weight taking care of health?
As we say, if you are going to undertake a process of weight gain it is essential that you have a dietitian-nutritionist. You must be clear that eating junk food is not an option to gain weight, since it only provides empty calories and not the nutrients that the body needs.
Do you want to know how to gain weight without putting your health at risk? Then take note of the general recommendations that we give you below:
Change your eating habits: eat more small meals (5 or 6) instead of two or three large ones . Never skip main meals.
- Food must be easy to digest, this is one of the reasons why carbohydrates are used. Fats and proteins delay gastric emptying and prolong digestion.
- If you take fats, it is better that they go raw, since they generate less satiety. For example, olive oil is better taken raw than fried. An idea: add an extra tablespoon of raw EVOO to your salads or other dishes.
- Prioritize white meats over red ones , and small legumes over large ones, since they are easier to digest.
- Add bread to every meal.
- When sweetening food or drinks , choose honey, natural jams or date paste.
- Add healthy calories to your dishes by enriching them with raw oil, sunflower seeds, nuts, grated egg or whole milk powder.
- Have healthy snacks that contain protein and carbohydrates , such as nuts or hummus.
- Do not drink liquids just before eating: this can reduce your appetite. It is better that you ingest them, for example, 30 minutes after eating, not before or during the meal.
- Choose non-carbonated drinks to avoid filling yourself up. Better opt for water or infusions.
- Replace non-calorie drinks with healthy shakes: soft drinks or coffee will suppress your appetite without providing nutrients. Try replacing them with shakes based on milk, seeds or fresh fruit, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients.
- Take daily, and if you wish with each meal, pasta, rice or cereal or potato.
- Say goodbye to “light” products and incorporate whole foods, which in addition to being healthier will provide you with more calories, such as milk or yogurt, which you can enrich with nuts, pure cocoa or honey.
- Do not overheat your dishes , since hot foods are more filling.
- Do exercise focused on strengthening your muscles . In addition, physical activity also stimulates the appetite.
Healthy foods that can help you gain weight
In addition to the guidelines seen in the previous section, you can incorporate into your diet some foods that will help you gain weight in a healthy way. Among them are:
- Dairy products and their derivatives , such as cheese or yogurt, since they contain proteins of high biological value and are optimal sources of calcium. Better that they be whole than skimmed.
- Eggs, as they provide protein and healthy fats . you can add them
- Blue Fish. Oily fish, such as salmon, is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats.
- Nuts: they are caloric and an excellent source of healthy fats.
- Whole grains : rice, bread, oatmeal, etc.
- Dehydrated fruit: in addition to being caloric, it provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Take it as a snack!
- Avocado: It is rich in healthy fat, fiber and calories.
The importance of a balanced diet when gaining weight
As you can see, when it comes to gaining weight there is a fundamental rule: eat a balanced diet, in which natural foods predominate over processed ones.
This guideline is always valid, as it helps us improve our health and well-being, as we explained in the article The beneficial health effects of a balanced diet.
We hope our recommendations will help you, but remember, when it comes to gaining weight safely it is important that you consult your doctor and a nutritionist first.