If you want to gain weight healthily, skip the sweets. Opt for nutrient-dense foods and beverages, like nuts, dried fruit, high fat dairy products, meat, and shakes.
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Which food is best for weight gain?
If you’re underweight and want to gain weight, it’s critical that you do it correctly.
Soda, donuts, and other junk foods may help you gain weight at first, but they can also increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (Trusted).
Rather of gaining a lot of undesirable belly fat, a better approach to weight gain entails gaining a balanced quantity of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat .
A recent animal study reveals that abdominal obesity in particular may be associated with an increased risk of cancer .
Even if you are not overweight, a large proportion of body fat raises your chances of getting type 2 diabetes and other health concerns .
To gain weight in a healthy way, focus on eating more nutrient-dense meals and leading an overall healthy lifestyle that includes exercising, getting adequate sleep, and, if possible, lowering stress.
This article explains how to swiftly gain weight without increasing your risk of sickness.
Why is gaining weight important?
About 74 percent of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, but there are also a lot of people who are too thin.
Some people may be naturally underweight because of their genes or because their bodies burn calories quickly. Being underweight could also be a sign of bad nutrition or a health problem.
Also, many people who are not clinically underweight may still want to gain some muscle and weight for other reasons.
The main rules are the same whether you are clinically underweight or just trying to gain muscle weight.
What does it mean to be ‘underweight’?
Underweight is characterized as having a body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5. This is thought to be less than the body mass required to maintain maximum health.
You can use this calculator to determine your BMI level.
However, keep in mind that the BMI scale, which solely considers weight and height, has a number of flaws. It makes no allowance for muscular mass.
Some people are naturally thin but remain healthy. Being underweight on this scale does not always imply that you have a health problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are roughly twice as likely as males to be underweight. According to a U.S. poll of men and women aged 20 and up, 1.3% of men and 2% of women are underweight.
Health risks linked to being underweight
It can be bad for your health to be too skinny.
One study found that people who are clinically underweight are almost twice as likely to die as people who are obese. This suggests that being underweight may be worse for your health than being overweight.
Also, another study found that the self-reported health outcomes of underweight people dropped significantly after the age of 38. This suggests that having a low BMI later in life may be linked to more health risks.
Being underweight can hurt your immune system, make you more likely to get sick, cause osteoporosis and broken bones, and make it hard to get pregnant.
Also, underweight people are much more likely to get sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle that comes with age, and may be at a higher risk of dementia.
For children, it can also make it hard for them to grow and learn.
Causes of being underweight
There are several medical conditions that can cause unhealthy weight loss, including:
- Eating disorders: This includes anorexia nervosa, a serious mental health disorder.
- Thyroid problems: Having an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can boost metabolism and cause unhealthy weight loss.
- Celiac disease: The most severe form of gluten intolerance. Overall, the incidence of celiac disease has risen throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
- Diabetes: Having uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type 1) can lead to severe weight loss .
- Cancer: Cancer can cause the body to be in a hypercatabolic state, which leads to increased energy being used. It can cause someone to lose a lot of weight but the severity and weight loss can depend on the type of cancer and the age of the person.
- Infections: Certain infections can cause someone to become severely underweight. This can include parasites, tuberculosis, and HIV infection.
If you are thin, you might want to see a doctor to make sure you don’t have any serious health problems.
This is especially important if you just started losing a lot of weight without trying to.
Different strategies for gaining weight
No matter why you want to gain weight, there are many ways to do it.
Here are a few different ways that can help you gain weight.
Increase your caloric intake
The most important thing you can do to gain weight is to eat more calories than your body needs, which is called a “calorie surplus.”
This calorie calculator can help you figure out how many calories you need.
If you want to gain weight slowly and steadily, the calculator says you should eat 300–500 calories more each day than you burn. If you want to gain weight quickly, try to eat 700–1,000 more calories than you need to stay healthy.
Remember that calorie calculators can only give you estimates. Your needs might be different by a few hundred calories a day, give or take.
You don’t have to count calories for the rest of your life, but doing it for the first few days or weeks can help you figure out how many calories you’re eating. There are a lot of helpful tools out there.
Increase your protein intake
For optimal growth, development, and health, people must eat enough high-quality proteins from animal products.
A 2020 study of 23 people showed that getting more protein will lead to more lean muscle mass.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein is between 1.0 and 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for healthy adults who do little to a lot of physical activity. This helps bones and muscles grow and makes the body stronger.
Protein can be safe for healthy adults to eat up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, with a maximum of 3.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.
Meat, fish, eggs, many dairy products, legumes, nuts, and other foods are all high in protein. If it’s hard for you to get enough protein from what you eat, protein supplements like whey protein can be helpful.
But protein may also make you less hungry and less hungry, which makes it harder to eat enough calories.
Eating too much protein may also make you more likely to get heart disease.
Talk to your doctor to find out if increasing the amount of protein you eat would help you gain weight in a safe way.
Increase your intake of carbs and fat
When trying to lose weight, many people try to restrict either carbs or fat.
This may make it difficult to gain weight since it makes it more difficult to consume enough calories.
If you want to gain weight, eat a lot of high carb and high fat foods. At each meal, consume a sufficient amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
You should avoid eating plans like intermittent fasting. This eating plan can be beneficial for weight loss and other benefits, but it can make it difficult to consume enough calories to gain weight.
Eat at least three meals per day and aim to incorporate energy-dense snacks wherever possible.
Increase your intake of energy-dense foods
It is critical to consume largely whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
However, these meals are more filling than processed junk foods, making it more difficult to consume adequate calories.
Using a variety of spices, sauces, and condiments can assist. The more delicious your meal is, the easier it will be to consume a lot of it. Toppings may also provide calories.
Also, try to eat as many energy-dense foods as possible. These are foods that have a high calorie content in relation to their weight.
Here are some energy-dense foods that may aid in weight gain:
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and peanuts
- Dried fruit, including raisins, dates, prunes, and others
- High fat dairy, such as whole milk, full-fat yogurt, cheese, and cream
- Fats and oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil
- Grains, including whole grains like oats and brown rice
- Meat, such as chicken, beef, pork, and lamb; you can also choose fattier cuts
- Tubers, including potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams
- Other energy-dense foods like dark chocolate, avocados, peanut butter, coconut milk, granola, and trail mix
If you want to gain weight, you might want to avoid gaining too many vegetables and fruits. Fruits and vegetables have fiber, which can help you feel full faster. This can leave less room for foods that are high in energy.
These healthy foods may help you gain weight faster if you need more ideas.
10 quick tips
Combining a high calorie intake with heavy resistance training may help you gain weight.
That being said, there are several other strategies to gain weight even faster.
Here are 10 additional tips for gaining weight:
- Avoid drinking water before meals. This can fill your stomach and make it harder to get in enough calories.
- Eat more often. Squeeze in an additional meal or snack whenever you can, such as before bed.
- Drink milk. Drinking whole milk to quench thirst can be a simple way to get in more high quality protein and calories.
- Try weight gainer shakes. If you are having trouble gaining weight, consider weight gainer shakes. These are very high in protein, carbs, and calories.
- Use bigger plates. Consider using large plates if you’re trying to get in more calories, as smaller plates can cause people to eat less.
- Add cream to your coffee. This is a simple way to add in more calories.
- Take creatine. The muscle-building supplement creatine monohydrate can help you gain a few pounds in muscle weight.
- Get quality sleep. Sleeping properly is very important for muscle growth.
- Eat your protein and fat source first. If you have a mix of foods on your plate, eat the calorie-dense and protein-rich foods first. Eat higher fiber foods like raw vegetables last.
- Avoid smoking, and if you smoke, consider quitting. Smokers tend to weigh less than non-smokers, and quitting smoking often leads to weight gain.
How can I gain weight without eating too much?
If you want to gain weight, you’ll probably need to eat more calories.
By starting a resistance training program, you can stop eating too much and make sure that the extra calories go to your muscles instead of just your fat cells.
Resistance training, also called strength training, uses both your own body weight and free weights. Muscles grow bigger when you do resistance training, which is called hypertrophy.
When you combine protein supplements with resistance training, you can get even more gains in lean body mass than you would get from resistance training alone.
One study found that healthy adults who took protein supplements while doing resistance training for six weeks gained 27% more lean mass.
If you are very out of shape or have never worked out before, you might want to hire a qualified personal trainer or take a class to help you get started.
You might also want to talk to a doctor if you have problems with your bones or any other health problems.
To gain the most muscle, you should focus on resistance training instead of cardio.
Cardio can help you get in shape and feel better, but you might not want to do so much that you burn off all the extra calories you’re eating.
How long will it take to gain weight?
A person could gain around 15 pounds (6.8 kg) over 6 months by consuming 500 extra calories every day.
A more extreme technique of eating an extra 1,000 calories per day may allow for a weight gain of roughly 25 pounds (11.4 kg) in 6 months. However, a major amount of this weight gain could be fat.
Gaining weight can be difficult for some people, and the time it takes will vary depending on the individual.
That could be because your body has a weight where it feels comfortable, known as a setpoint. It’s thought that whether you try to go below your setpoint (reduce weight) or above it (gain weight), your body opposes change by controlling your hunger and metabolic rate.
When you consume more calories and gain weight, your body may react by suppressing your appetite and increasing your metabolism. This could be handled mostly by your brain, as well as weight-regulating chemicals like leptin.
However, researchers have yet to establish or disprove their notion, and additional research is required.
As a result, you may encounter some trouble.
The bottom line
There are numerous reasons why people want to gain weight.
It is critical to accomplish so by eating nutritious foods and building lean muscular mass.
Changing your weight is ultimately a marathon, not a sprint. It may take some time, and you must be consistent if you want to be successful in the long run.
If you’re still failing to gain weight despite attempting the measures outlined above, it’s time to consult a doctor or a dietician. A dietician can assist you in developing dietary practices that will help you attain your goal.