Recent studies have highlighted an increasing trend of attempts to gain weight, especially among young men and boys, and adolescents. These attempts among adults and the particular diet change people who are wanting to gain weight make have not been the subject of much investigation. Adopting certain diets or altering food intake are two of the most frequently reported ways that adolescents and young adults attempt to gain weight. Foods for weight gain include; balanced meals, protein-rich foods, calorie-dense foods, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates, and many more.
Importance of weight gain
Weight gain can be important for several reasons, including:
- Health and well-being: Achieving a healthy weight is crucial for overall health and well-being. Being underweight can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies, weakened immune systems, hormonal imbalances, decreased muscle mass, and impaired bone health. Gaining weight can help address these concerns and promote optimal health.
- Energy balance: Maintaining a healthy weight ensures that your body is in a state of energy balance, where the calories consumed are sufficient to meet the body’s energy needs. When there is a calorie deficit due to being underweight, it can lead to fatigue, lack of energy, and difficulty performing daily activities.
- Muscle development: Gaining weight, particularly through muscle mass, can enhance strength, endurance, and physical performance. It can also contribute to better body composition, as muscle weighs more than fat. Building muscle through strength training exercises can improve overall body strength, mobility, and metabolic health.
- Hormonal balance: Adequate weight is important for hormonal regulation. Being underweight can disrupt hormonal balance, affecting menstrual cycles in women and leading to fertility issues. Gaining weight can help restore hormonal balance and improve reproductive health.
- Improved immune function: Maintaining a healthy weight supports a robust immune system. Weight gain can enhance immune function, reducing the risk of infections and improving the body’s ability to fight off illness.
- Psychological well-being: For individuals who are underweight due to body image concerns or eating disorders, gaining weight can be an important step towards improving self-esteem, body confidence, and overall psychological well-being.
It’s worth noting that weight gain should be properly approached healthily and gradually, focusing on balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and overall lifestyle improvements. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance and support for achieving a healthy weight.
What is underweight
Underweight refers to having a body weight that is lower than what is considered healthy for an individual’s height, age, and gender. It is typically determined by calculating the body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight to height.
To determine a person’s BMI, multiply their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters (BMI = weight / (height)2). The following categories for BMI in adults are mainly provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO):
- Underweight: BMI of 18.5 or less
- BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 for a normal weight
- BMI between 25 to 29.9 for higher weight
A BMI of 30 or higher is obesity.
It’s important to note that BMI is a general indicator and does not take into account individual variations such as muscle mass, bone density, or distribution of body fat. Therefore, it should be cautiously interpreted and used as a starting point for assessing weight status
What are the causes of underweight?
There are several reasons for being underweight, including:
- Inadequate calorie intake: Consuming fewer calories than your body needs for daily activities and metabolism can result in weight loss and being underweight. This can occur due to a lack of appetite, disordered eating patterns, restrictive diets, or underlying medical conditions.
- High metabolic rate: Some individuals naturally have a faster metabolism, meaning their bodies burn calories at a higher rate. This can make it challenging for them to maintain or gain weight.
- Genetics: Genetic factors can influence body composition and weight. Some individuals may have a naturally lean body type or a predisposition to being underweight.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can contribute to being underweight. These may include gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or malabsorption issues. Other conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, cancer, or chronic infections, can also cause weight loss and underweight.
- Psychological factors: Mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, can lead to unhealthy weight loss and being underweight.
- Medications: Certain medications can suppress appetite, increase metabolism, or have other effects that contribute to weight loss and being underweight.
- Lifestyle factors: Factors like a busy lifestyle, stress, or engaging in excessive physical activity without adequate caloric intake can result in unintentional weight loss and being underweight.
Complications associated with underweight
Being underweight can have potential health implications, including:
- Nutritional deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals, can be a concern for underweight individuals.
- Weakened immune system: Underweight individuals may be more susceptible to infections and have a compromised immune system.
- Nutrient absorption issues: Certain underlying health conditions or gastrointestinal disorders can interfere with nutrient absorption, contributing to being underweight.
- Decreased muscle mass: Insufficient calorie and protein intake can lead to muscle wasting and decreased strength.
- Hormonal imbalances: Being underweight may disrupt hormonal balance, affecting menstruation in women and leading to fertility issues.
- Impaired bone health: Inadequate nutrient intake can weaken bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Foods for weight gain
If you’re looking to increase your weight healthily, it’s important to focus on consuming more calories than your body burns. Here are some strategies to help you gain weight.
Part 1- Diet foods for weight gain
- Caloric surplus: Calculate your daily calorie needs and aim to consume more calories than your body requires. This surplus will help promote weight gain. You can track your intake using a food diary or a calorie-tracking app.
- Balanced meals: Ensure that your meals include a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) to support overall health. Include nutrient-dense foods in your diet to provide essential vitamins and minerals.
- Frequent meals and snacks: Eat frequent meals and snacks throughout the day to increase your calorie intake. Include healthy snacks between meals to add extra calories. Focus on energy-dense foods that are nutrient-rich.
- Protein-rich foods: Include protein sources in your meals such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and tofu. Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue, which is important for healthy weight gain.
- Healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats into your diet from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish. These foods provide additional calories and important nutrients.
Part 2- Diet foods for weight gain
- Complex carbohydrates: Choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. These foods provide energy and fiber.
- Calorie-dense foods: Include calorie-dense foods like nuts, nut butter, dried fruits, cheese, full-fat dairy products, and granola. These foods can help increase your calorie intake without requiring large portion sizes.
- Strength training: Engage in regular resistance training exercises to build muscle mass. This can help increase your overall weight and promote a healthy body composition.
- Stay hydrated: Drink fluids throughout the day to support digestion and overall health. Consider calorie-containing beverages like smoothies, milkshakes, or fruit juices to increase your calorie intake.
- Seek professional guidance: If you’re struggling to gain weight or have specific dietary concerns, consider consulting a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can provide personalized advice and support. Remember that healthy weight gain is a gradual process, and it’s important to be patient with your body’s response. It’s also essential to prioritize overall health and focus on gaining weight in a balanced and sustainable manner.