By Emily Drilon
In a world where obesity is increasingly becoming a public health issue, not much is being discussed about gaining weight in a healthy way. Even as focus is being placed on weight loss, it’s important to remember that being underweight has its own health problems. Generally, taking in more calories compared to the amount that the body is burning results in weight gain. However, calorie intake levels vary from one person to another.
Even so, it’s worth noting that not all weight gain methods are safe. In fact, some methods of adding weight can lead to severe health effects in the short run as well as in the long-term. If you are looking to gain weight in a healthy way, here are seven ways to do so:
If you’re underweight, you’ll most likely get full faster during meal time. This makes it typically impossible to eat a large meal two or three times a day. This poses a challenge in giving your body the extra calories it needs to gain weight. To overcome this challenge, consider eating smaller portions of food throughout the day. Ideally, eating five to six small meals will make it easier for you to boost your daily calorie intake, hence increase your weight gradually. You can also snack in between meals—this is a great way to boost the number of calories in your meals.
In some underweight cases, health professionals may recommend replacing solid foods with liquid foods, particularly if you have a small appetite. If you’re in such a situation, avoid taking sugar-laden drinks like coffee and diet soda that offer very little in terms of nutritional value. Instead, you can go for the best weight gainer shake that’s high in protein and carb content to boost your calorie intake.
Shakes and smoothies that are made from milk and frozen or fresh fruit will give your body the nutrients it needs, increasing your daily calorie intake significantly without causing you to feel overly full. To make them even more nutritious, consider sprinkling them with ground flaxseed. Other nutrient-rich ingredients to include in smoothies and shakes are yogurt, seeds, nuts, greens like spinach, and nut butter.
Another way to gain weight in a healthy way is to consume foods that are rich in healthy fats and fibrous carbs. This is a great way to boost the nutrients and calories in your diet. Even so, knowing which fats are healthy and those that are not can be a challenge for many people. Essentially, healthy fats are those that occur in foods like vegetables, nuts, fish and avocado. Often, they are polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.
On the other hand, unhealthy fats are trans fats and saturated fats, which are present in baked or fried foods, as well as meats like lamb, pork, and beef. When it comes to carbs, consider making whole foods like beans and brown rice your main source as opposed to taking processed and refined foods. Beans and brown rice not only give your body the energy it needs to support the growth of muscles, but it also enables you to maintain regular exercise. [You can find a great list of the healthiest beans at Satia.]
When you want to gain weight, you’ll need to take the right quantities of protein to help your body grow muscle. If you’re regularly engaging in weight training and want to gain weight in a healthy way, you’ll need to take 0.8 to 2 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight in order to increase your muscle mass. Some healthy foods to include in your diet are legumes, meats, nuts, eggs, seeds, and fish. As you boost your protein intake, you can also enhance the overall healthiness of your diet by taking nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, cereals, and pastas.
The time you drink fluids matters when you’re working on gaining weight. If you prefer to drink fluids before meals to enhance your appetite, consider sipping a beverage that has high calorie levels with a snack or meal. For any other drink, take it at least half an hour after the meal and not with the meal. As you eat your meals, you may also boost the number of calories in the food by topping it off with extras such as scrambled eggs or cheese casseroles. You may also add fat-free dried milk to stews and soups.
Eating snacks that are high in calories and nutrients is a great way to gain weight in a healthy way. Some great foods to snack on throughout the day are peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits, cheese, and avocados. You can also snack at night before going to bed. A jelly sandwich, wrap sandwich with avocado, lean meat, cheese, sliced vegetables, and peanut butter will make great bedtime snacks.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast seeking to gain weight in a healthy way, engaging in weight training three times each week will enable you to realize your goal effectively. Combining healthy eating with weight training enables you to gain and also maintain a lean muscle mass. Engaging in weight exercise is also a great way to stimulate your appetite.
To continue building lean muscle, you’ll have to vary your workouts by increasing weights or sets. Compound movements are one of the most effective ways to develop muscles. They include lifting weights that involve different muscle groups like bench presses, squats, and deadlifts. If you work out frequently, you’ll need to pay attention to your calorie intake to ensure that your body is getting sufficient energy.
Gaining weight in a healthy way means making a deliberate effort to eat healthy and nutritious food. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a good treat occasionally. Even as you exercise caution against consuming excess sugar and fats, occasionally enjoying a slice of pie with an ice cream topping is perfectly fine. As you treat yourself, ensure that you take healthy foods that supply your body with extra calories.
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