Naturally skinny people may be like this because of their genetics, or low food intake, which means they feel full more quickly, causing them to eat less, or a hormonal imbalance, or a high metabolism that can’t handle the food they eat eat, metabolized immediately, and so the total need for calories and other nutrients. According to the BMI (Body Mass Index) range, a BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight. Although the underweight people are a growing minority, they can be at risk for health problems such as nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, especially in women, a weakened immune system, and female fertility problems, to name a few.
“Eat as much as you can” is a common advice given when trying to gain weight, especially for someone who has always been lean and lanky. You may gain weight, but that may not be the best indicator of how healthy you are. Body composition is a better tool to measure your health and fitness along with weight. It’s a measure of how much of your weight comes from lean mass, which includes muscle, bone, connective tissue and water, and how much comes from fat. It is commonly found that although the weight and BMI are well within the normal range, the fat composition is very high, indicating that the fitness level is not appropriate, and this makes the person susceptible to various metabolic diseases.
It might sound strange, but it’s possible to get thinner without actually noticing a change in your weight. This happens when you lose body fat while building muscle. Your weight may stay the same or even increase even as you lose inches, a sign that you’re moving in the right direction. Similarly, during weight gain, it is again possible that the person is gaining weight with an increase in fat mass rather than muscle mass, indicating that weight gain is not occurring in the right way.
Here are some healthy ways to gain weight if you’re underweight:
1. Eat more often: If you feel that you cannot eat more at once, it is advisable to eat five to six smaller meals instead of three main meals.
2. Increase Calorie Intake: Use your BMR to determine your daily calorie needs and gradually increase the number of calories (be careful where you get them from).
3. Smart snacks: High-calorie snacks like nuts, cheese, dried fruit, hummus, or guacamole with whole wheat bread, peanut or almond butter with bread, smoothies, and milkshakes will help you get calories with other nutrients.
4. Watch out for the fat: Avoid the saturated fats found in butter, margarine, ghee, salad dressings like mayonnaise and thousand island dressing, and full-fat dairy and milk products. They’re not good for your heart. Instead, use vegetable oils that contain the good fats. You can drizzle extra olive oil on salads, soups, and bread (don’t overdo it).
5. Don’t Overdo It With The Protein: Medical research shows that eating more protein can actually harm your body. Eating more protein and increasing calorie intake will increase fat mass in the body and put a strain on other body systems. So eat protein in moderation (15% of your total daily caloric intake). Lean chicken and fish are the best choices when it comes to animal protein.
6. Throw out the trash: Avoid the sweet and processed foods. Your weight gain will be primarily fat gain, increasing your risk of diseases resulting from their consumption.
7. Remember to exercise: Exercise, especially strength training, helps build muscle and thus gain weight. Exercise also helps stimulate appetite.
No matter what your reason for gaining weight, it’s important to focus on the nutritional profile of the high-calorie foods and not just the amount of calories they contain. Eating more calories shouldn’t give you permission to eat junk food that contains only empty calories and no other nutrients. Getting more calories from the right foods along with a supervised exercise program will ensure that the weight you gain is muscle weight and not fat.
A qualified nutritionist plays an important role in formulating a good weight gain diet. She would be able to provide the right bodybuilding nutrition with an adequate percentage of the macronutrients carbohydrates, proteins and fats to maintain the desired body composition. If one does not have the opportunity to consult a qualified fitness and sports nutritionist in and around their place, there are various nutrition companies that offer online nutrition services for the same.
Thanks to Arati Shah