In the era of diet culture, most of us are behind weight loss plans. But at the same time, some struggle to gain weight. Maybe you’re underweight or want to put on a few pounds of muscle mass. There are plenty of reasons why people wish to gain weight. Whether you’re young or old, an elite athlete, or work a 9 to 5 job in an office, your body weight can impact your efficiency and well-being. Various diets and artificial procedures, such as nutritional supplements and oral or injectable drugs, claim to stimulate weight gain according to your desire. These methods, however, are not always safe or successful.
There’s no quick fix for gaining weight, as with any fitness goal. Like weight loss, gaining weight is also gradual and takes time, effort, and commitment. You’ll need to consistently add healthy, calorie-rich, and nutrient-dense foods into your diet. And there are multiple things to know before you boost your caloric intake to gain weight.
Health Concerns of Being Underweight
You are underweight if your weight is lower than what is considered healthy for your height. You can also use the body mass index (BMI) to check whether you’re in a healthy weight or underweight range. For example, a BMI score less than 18.5 classifies you as underweight. Being underweight might be a sign of an underlying health problem. Furthermore, a journal published study shows that underweight women are more likely to die early than normal-weight people.
Specific health risks of being underweight include:
- An increased amount of hair loss
- Excessive dry skin
- Reproductive issues
- Decreased efficiency of the immune system
- At the risk of developing osteoporosis
- There can be an increased mortality risk in severe circumstances, similar to obesity.
Healthy Food Tips to Help You Gain Weight
It would help if you created a calorie surplus to gain weight. It means that you need to eat more calories than you burn. While a doctor can help you calculate a daily calorie goal, you can start by increasing your intake by 200 to 300 calories a day. However, the extra calories required for a calorie surplus ultimately depend on several variables, including your gender, body composition, daily activity level, and fitness goals.
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to approach calorie surplus for weight gain. These depend primarily on the foods you eat. Therefore, you have to eat nutrient-dense foods when looking to gain weight. Conversely, gaining weight by eating many sweet or fatty foods is not healthy.
Yoghurt Dips, Sauce and Chutney
According to the USDA, a cup of regular whole milk yoghurt has 143 calories, whereas a cup of Greek yoghurt has 220 calories. Yoghurt is high in nutrients, such as B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. It is a high-protein food, essential for energy and muscle, skin, and bone structure development. In addition, it contains probiotics, which can help boost immunity and fight illness in the body.
Ways you to add yoghurt to your diet:
- To serve with vegetarian, meat, fish, or rice dishes, including grilled dinners, make a yoghurt sauce by combining yoghurt and chilli sauce.
- To prepare a great salad dressing, whisk together yoghurt, olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon juice.
- To prepare chicken marinades like tandoori chicken, use yoghurt.
- Use yoghurt to make a snack dip. It goes well with toast, whole grain chips, and sliced raw vegetables.
- You can use yoghurt instead of cream or mayonnaise in salads and even pasta.
- Blend mint leaves, garlic, coriander and yoghurt for amazing green chutney with your kebabs or cutlets.
Eggs and Avocado for a Filling Breakfast
Avocados are widely regarded as a superfood since they are high in good fats, fibre, and protein. In addition, studies have proved avocado to be linked to a healthy diet, particularly lowering cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease.
Avocados are rich in dietary fibre. According to the USDA, one large avocado contains 322 calories and nearly 13.5 grams of dietary fat. Avocados are high in healthy, unsaturated fat, contributing to a healthy increase in weight. It’s worth noting that the calories in avocado usually range between 200 and 300 calories, depending on size.
Top your avocado toast with a fried or poached egg for a potent dose of protein and added calories. Eggs contain roughly 6 grams of high-quality protein. They are high in vitamins A, E, and K and various B vitamins like B12, riboflavin and folic acid. In addition, they include eight essential amino acids necessary for the recovery and building of muscles.
Replace Your Soft Drinks with Milk-Based Beverages
Most people choose fizzy, sugary drinks despite their high-calorie content. But unfortunately, they provide no nutritional value and are high in sugar, which is associated with an increased risk of chronic illnesses.
Instead, drink a glass of whole milk with your nut butter toast for extra protein, calcium, and vitamin D. If you dislike cow’s milk or prefer not to consume it, consider a plant-based milk substitute. It will be lower in calories, but it should still enrich you with calcium and vitamin D, essential minerals for weight gain.
You could also go for homemade milk-based beverages so that you can control what you put in them. Drinks could include milkshakes, thick shakes, smoothies, cold coffee, and milk tea.
Sour Cream and Cream Cheese for Toppings
Sour cream provides calcium and the additional calories required for healthy weight gain. In addition, cheese, gravy, full-fat Greek yoghurt, cream cheese, and grass-fed butter are good calorie sources.
Cream cheese is a mellow, creamy cheese made from cow’s milk and cream. Its mellow sweetness, mildly tangy flavour, and silky smooth texture are incredibly versatile. Spread it over a bagel, fill it in your ravioli, incorporate it into cookie dough or cake batter, or use it as the foundation for a creamy icing. It suits each of these purposes perfectly. According to the USDA, standard cream cheese must include 33% milkfat and have a moisture content of no more than 55%.
Nuts and Seeds as a Quick Snack
Nuts are a great source of dietary fats, fibre, plant protein and critical vitamins and minerals, making them the ideal healthy snack. You can add nuts into almost any healthy weight gaining eating plan.
There exists a variety of nuts, including walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and the favourite local peanuts. You could munch on raw or roasted nuts, add seasoning of your choice, soak in water/milk overnight to consume during the day or combine with seeds, dried berries, and chocolate chips to carry to work.
Enjoy Your Meat Portions
Lean slices of ground beef and lean steak are excellent choices that provide adequate nourishment for proper body function. In addition, you could acquire protein from chicken, pork, fish, and even plant sources like meat replacements and lentils if you choose not to eat red meat.
Research suggests that fattier cuts of meat have more calories. They also increase the risk of heart disease when eaten in excess. So if you decide to include fatty portions of red meat in your weight-gaining diet, do it in moderation.
Salads with Nut Butter Dressing
Nut butter can replace mayonnaise and other spreads that traditionally grace your favourite toast. It is because they’re high in heart-friendly monounsaturated fats. These fats help raise HDL (good) cholesterol while keeping LDL (bad) cholesterol in check.
A tablespoon of most nut butter has 80-100 calories and 7-10 grams of mainly unsaturated fat. They’re also rich in fibre and protein, which helps keep you satisfied for longer.
A nut butter sauce contains different components or flavour profiles that come together. For example, nut butter (obviously), spices (ginger + cayenne), sweet (maple), tangy/savoury (tamari + vinegar), sesame oil, and a tiny bit of acid (lime juice). You can easily replace these ingredients with another one from the same category to create an entirely different and delicious dressing/sauce.
Protein Shakes and Bars
It can be hard to consume enough calories constantly if you’re attempting to gain weight. So here, it becomes an excellent strategy to use liquid calories from smoothies and protein shakes. These drinks give a concentrated dose of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and vitamins and minerals, without causing you to feel sluggish.
You could also increase protein intake by consuming protein bars. In terms of ingredients, they are similar to trail mix. You may prepare your protein bars or buy them in any grocery store. Check the Nutrition Facts label to learn how many calories are in each serving and if it satisfies your weight-gain diet’s criteria. Also, keep an eye out for hidden added sugars.
Appetite Stimulants to Gain Weight
The concept of an appetite-stimulating supplement is pretty straightforward: it increases hunger. An appetite stimulant addresses one of the most prevalent roadblocks to healthy weight gain, feeling satiated.
For patients who need to put on weight, doctors may give drugs to help enhance appetite, especially if they have a medical condition that causes their appetites to change. Some antidepressants, steroid medications, and cannabis are examples. In addition, oxandrolone, another often prescribed appetite stimulant, is frequently given to people with cancer to stimulate hunger.
There exist other natural ingredients that claim to stimulate hunger.
- Omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements successfully improved appetite in healthy adults, according to a 2013 study.
- Additionally, zinc supplements can assist people with zinc deficiency regulate their appetite.
- Lemon is a citrus fruit that stimulates hunger. Its aroma and flavour enhance the foods and increase appetite.
- In Ayurveda, tamarind is a common ingredient to increase hunger. The medicinal qualities of this tropical fruit are numerous.
- Coriander aids in the production of stomach enzymes. So, it may increase your appetite in this way.
- Ginger isn’t just a great way to spice your juices and dishes. It contains therapeutic characteristics that may improve your sense of taste and increase your appetite.
- Another natural appetite enhancer is peppermint. Nibble on some peppermint leaves or steep in your tea to soothe an upset stomach.
- To stimulate your appetite, drink some tasty pomegranate juice. This fruit contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Exercises to Gain Weight
Some people prefer a more prominent, heavier figure than a slim and narrow build. But their bodies don’t gain weight even if they eat like an army. Sometimes it is an exercise that the body requires. Exercising, sometimes known as working out, can help you gain weight by growing muscle mass denser than body fat. Resistance training exercises like pulls ups, squats, deadlifts, bench pressers and bar dips are the best for increasing muscle mass.
Some exercises to help with weight gain are:
Squats are, without a doubt, one of the most proper exercises for weight gain. This workout is beneficial for boosting the strength and growth of the muscles in the lower body. It also aids in core strength development. In addition, this exercise helps you gain muscle in your buttocks and legs. The abdominals, quadriceps, calves and glutes are all targeted by squats.
Crunches aid in losing belly fat, but they also contribute to forming core strength and weight gain. In addition, this exercise can help you achieve a smooth midsection. Crunches train all abdominal muscles, but they focus on the abdomen and obliques.
Pull-ups are one of the most efficient weight-gain workouts. Pull-ups assist in the development of sculpted shoulders as well as ripped arms. It primarily targets your biceps. Pull-ups are a high-intensity exercise that helps you gain muscle mass. More muscular mass equals more weight.
The deadlift is a fantastic exercise for gaining body weight and increasing your body’s general muscular mass. This exercise also tones and strengthens leg muscles. In addition, the upper back, lower back, glutes and hamstrings all benefit from deadlifts.
Bench dips are one of those practical and simple exercises for gaining weight. This exercise primarily works the triceps, but it also tones the chest and front of the shoulder. However, you will need an elevated surface for this workout.
Weight Gain: The Importance of Doing it Healthily
You must eat nutritious foods if you wish to gain a healthy weight. However, even if your doctor has advised you to put on weight for overall health, doing so just by consuming packaged foods might leave you at risk for other health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, keep in mind that gaining weight gradually rather than quickly is healthier. For example, gaining between half a pound and a pound of weight each week is safer and more sustainable than adding weight more rapidly.
Maintaining a food diary and keeping track of your diet will help you determine if you’re gaining weight too quickly. You can also weigh yourself to obtain a solid understanding of how your weight changes. One of the essential principles of eating healthy is to avoid packaged or excessively processed foods as much as possible. Limit your consumption of crackers, chips, sweets, carbonated beverages, and junk foods. These foods have caused rapid weight gain and poor health outcomes.
If all you want is to gain weight as quickly as possible, you need to eat more and move less. For example, adding 1,000 extra calories to your daily diet while limiting physical activity can help you gain an average of 18 pounds in 100 days. Another study shows that adding between 200 and 330 extra calories to your daily total while maintaining your current workout routine can help you gain 15 pounds within a year. Nonetheless, experts strictly discourage rapid weight gain as they provide more harm than good. If you wish to add healthy weight, you’ll have to be more careful and informed about your foods.
Underweight is an unhealthy weight criterion that results from unintended weight loss due to various factors, including insufficient food consumption. Research suggests that the easiest way to reverse underweight is to gradually restore your diet with high-calorie, high-nutrient foods and drink beverages in small servings. Other methods for progressing to a healthy weight gain include moderate strength-building workouts, adequate rest and sleep, a healthier lifestyle and better behaviour habits. However, there is no one-size-fits-all concept for weight gain. It all depends on personal preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How do skinny people gain weight fast?
A. The key to gaining weight fast is to eat more calories than you burn or expend. You are also required to eat nutrient-dense and protein-rich foods. However, you don’t need to make drastic changes in your diet. If you’re healthy but skinny, load up on healthy fats like full-fat dairy, nuts, nut butter, and fatty fish.
Q. How can I eat more?
A. To eat more, drink liquids one hour before or after meals and not with meals. However, overeating is not the best path to quick weight gain. You can gradually gain weight by consuming more or less the exact quantity you usually consume. You have to make sure to consume calorie-rich food.
Q. Which fruits increase weight?
A. Banana, avocado, figs, grapes, mangoes, and dry fruits are some fruits that increase weight. Dried fruits are better for weight gain since they provide more calories than an equal amount of fresh fruit.
Q. How can a teenager gain weight?
A. Being underweight, irrespective of your age, requires you to consume more calories than you burn to gain weight. The time of puberty is a chaotic time for a teenager’s body. It would be best to talk to your doctor to ensure the causes of being underweight to proceed to the solutions for the same.
Q. What is the cheapest way to gain weight?
A. It would be incorrect to say that you need to spend a fortune to follow a nutrient-rich diet to gain weight. At an affordable price, local produce from local markets does the same job as mall bought exotic vegetables. You could always substitute your almond butter with peanut butter, soy tofu with homemade paneer and lean beef with local oily fish.
Q. Which food is best for weight gain?
A. Foods like eggs, meat, milk, dry fruits, seeds, fatty fish, potato, sweet potato, radish, and avocadoes are excellent for weight gain. However, you need to eat food with high calories and sufficient nutrients to gain weight.
Q. Which exercise is best for weight gain?
A. Focus more on muscle building and strength training exercises. Deadlifts, squats, crunches, lunges, and dips are among the best workout exercises to gain weight.
Q. How do I gain weight if I’m not hungry?
A. Here, most health practitioners will tell you that you might need appetite stimulants to make you feel hungry. Some drugs will make you feel less satisfied and increase your appetite. And if you prefer natural ways, there are also some natural appetite stimulants like mint, lemon, and ginger.
Q. Which juice is best for weight gain?
A. Best juices for weight gain could include homemade juices of grapes, mango, lichee and pineapple. Make sure to add milk to your juices to reach the calorie requirement. For example, bananas with milk or dates with milk are best for gaining weight.
Q. Which vegetables increase weight?
A. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, turnips, radish, and carrots increase weight. You can add starchy vegetables to salads, soups, and smoothies. The calorie content in starchy vegetables makes them suitable for gaining weight.