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Ten ways to gain weight the healthy way

By ANN WAIRIMU
Thursday, September 9th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Balanced diet.

Given that many people are concerned about losing weight, being skinny may seem like a good problem to have. But the reality is that being underweight can cause health problems. It can impair your immune function, raise your risk of infections, lead to osteoporosis and fractures and cause fertility problems, among others. One can be underweight due to a variety of causes such as genetics, illness, high physical activity, poor nutrition or psychological issues. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of below 18.5, you need to add some kilos as Ann Wairimu outlines.

Go nutrient dense

Instead of eating empty calories and junk food, eat foods that are rich in nutrients.

The single most important nutrient for gaining healthy weight is protein. Muscle is made of protein and without it, most of those extra calories may end up as body fat.

Studies show that during periods of overfeeding, a high-protein diet causes many of the extra calories to be turned into muscle. However, keep in mind that protein is a double-edged sword.

It’s also highly filling, which may reduce your hunger and appetite significantly, making it harder to get in enough calories.

Also, choose nutritious carbohydrates, such as brown rice and other whole grains.

This helps ensure your body is receiving as much nourishment as possible, even if you’re dealing with a reduced appetite.

Eat more frequently

If you are struggling with a poor appetite, due to medical or emotional issues, eating large amounts of food may not seem appealing.

Consider eating smaller meals throughout the day to increase your calorie intake.

Consider snacking

Enjoy snacks that contain plenty of protein and healthy carbohydrates. Also, enjoy snacks that contain healthy fats, which are important for a healthy heart.

Nuts and nut butters are perfect choices if you are looking to gain weight. Just one small handful of raw almonds (a quarter cup) contains 170 calories, six grammes of protein, four grammes of fibre, and 15 grammes of healthy fats.

Cheerful young black woman laughing.

Since nuts are calorie-dense, just two handfuls per day with a meal or as a snack can quickly add hundreds of calories. You can also snack on dried fruits and avocados. 

Sneak in calories

The most important thing you can do to gain weight is to create a calorie surplus, meaning you eat more calories than your body needs. Top oatmeal, yoghurt and salads with nuts.

Sprinkle cheese into soups, stews and scrambled eggs. Add ground flaxseed to protein shakes and smoothies. You might even eat a spoonful of peanut butter at every meal.

Try liquids

Have difficulty chewing? Suffering from fatigue? Don’t want to cook? Liquid calories in the form of nutrient-rich shakes can be a great option.

A bonus: These high-calorie shakes are rich in nutrients, but less filling than, say, an apple. The stomach doesn’t sense calories, it senses volume.

Appetite stimulants

Doctors may prescribe medications to help improve appetite for those who need to gain weight, especially those who have a health condition that affects their hunger.

Lift heavy weights and improve your strength

To make sure that the excess calories go to your muscles instead of just your fat cells, it’s absolutely crucial to lift weights.

Go to a gym and lift two to four times per week. Lift heavy and try to increase the weights and volume over time.

If you’re completely out of shape or new to training, consider hiring a qualified personal trainer to help you get started.

You may also want to consult with a doctor if you have skeletal problems or any medical issue.

It’s probably best to take it easy on the cardio — doing some cardio is fine to improve fitness and well-being, but don’t do so much that you end up burning all the additional calories you are eating.

Track your intake 

It’s basically impossible to know if you are eating enough food if you aren’t measuring your progress.

You can easily do this by logging everything you eat and drink using a food tracking app. Be as precise as possible by avoiding estimating whenever possible.

Here are some easy tips you can use to get the most out of your calorie counting app: Measuring the amount you are actually consuming using measuring cups and spoons.

Consider weighing your food for even more accuracy. Include all ingredients used, including oils, seasonings, sauces, dressings and toppings. Track every food and beverage you eat or drink, even small bites and sips count.

Manage stress

Since stress can cause weight loss, try managing stress as much as possible. In some cases, stress may lead to missed meals and poor food choices.

For others, stress may cause them to completely lose the desire to eat. When you are stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode.

Also known as the “acute stress response,” this physiological mechanism tells your body it must respond to a perceived threat.

Your body readies itself by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline prepares your body for vigorous activity, but it can also minimise your desire to eat.

Meanwhile, cortisol signals for your body to temporarily suppress functions that are nonessential during a crisis.

This includes your digestive, immune, and reproductive system responses.

Be consistent 

Lastly, there is no such thing as progress, growth, or change without consistency.

Results don’t just happen overnight and gaining healthy weight isn’t something you can just put a few weeks of worth into and expect lasting results from.

Staying consistent is probably the most important and yet the hardest part of sticking to any nutrition plan.

That’s why it is key to choose a diet that you know you can stick to. Build your foundation, keep training regularly, focus on getting your diet right most of the time. Then try to be patient, your results will come!

ANN WAIRIMU