Many people generally look out for weight loss but there are people who also look for weight gain or to put on weight. Unfortunately, most such people fall prey to unnecessary supplements and unhealthy junk food to put on weight, before checking out healthy natural foods for weight gain. Weight loss is easier at times as it requires portion control, but weight gain is a slower process, you can lose up to 1 kg/week but adding 1 kg/week may be tedious.
Being underweight can be as unhealthy as being obese. People who are underweight are at risk of osteoporosis, infections, fertility problems and early death.
Reasons for underweight are:
- High basal metabolic rate- BMR Those with high BMR burn more calories at rest as compared to those who have slow BMR and as a result, these individuals don’t put on weight despite eating large amounts of foods. When we are resting and not doing any strenuous physical activity, our body spends some energy for basic activities like breathing, pumping of the heart, functioning of brain and the rate at which the body does this in important.
- Medical conditions- Tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes, gastro intestinal and liver problems etc. cause weight loss.
- Active lifestyle- Doing exercises to such an extent that your diet cannot keep up with the increased demands.
- Stress, malnutrition, genetics, few medications etc. are also reasons for underweight.
If you have any medical conditions that might affect your diet, consult your doctor or a dietitian to discuss the best foods to eat to help you gain weight.
Ways to gain weight
Food is the obvious solution, but what should we be eating? There are 2 ways of gaining weight. One is healthy way and the other unhealthy way. Unhealthy way includes weight gain by eating on unhealthy foods like fries, chips and other junk, which will definitely create future health problems like hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
Healthy way is gradual weight gain, which is always advisable and an increase in 500 Kcal per day can result in a 0.5 kg per week increase in one’s body weight.
- Calorie dense or energy dense foods: Eating 300-500 calories more than your normal intake. High-calorie food include figs, pears, dates, pineapple, nuts, dairy products, vegetable oil, ghee, cream cheese, coconut, peanuts are good options for adding calories.
- Carbohydrates and fats: Carbohydrates are needed to gain weight but include healthier options like banana, potato, mango, whole grains, rice, etc. instead of sugar-rich foods, chocolates, and other junk foods. Add healthy fats like saturated fats to your diet. Coconut oil, avocados, eggs, fatty fish, nuts etc. are sources of healthy fats.
- Proteins: Muscle is made of protein, and without it most of those extra calories may end up as body fat. If you’re trying to gain weight, aim for 1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. You can even go above that if your calorie intake is very high. High-protein foods include meats, fish, eggs, many dairy products, legumes, nuts and others.
- Work out: Though food helps in weight gain there is also need of physical activity. Building muscle through weight training will not only convert your extra weight into lean body mass, but it will also stimulate your appetite.
In short, eat 5-6 times per day, eat more calories than you expend, eat foods rich in carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins and calories, regular work out (min 3times a week). Don’t drink water before eating.
Easily available food which helps in weight gain in a healthy way are milk, eggs, oats, banana, butter, potato, soya beans, chicken etc.