Though many see being skinny as healthy and enviable, this is not always the case. Being underweight (classified as having a BMI*, or Body Mass Index, lower than 18.5) can be just as unhealthy as being overweight, leaving many people wondering how to gain weight healthy.
That’s because your BMI does not take into consideration muscle mass, only weight; meaning you can be healthy even if the scale disagrees .
If you are a member of the population that is underweight, there are ways to gain weight in a healthy manner.
Eat More Calories than Your Body Burns
In the simplest terms, your body uses calories to keep you going. What it doesn’t use, is either stored as fat or converted to muscle.
Your goal is to intake more calories than your body needs to operate at your base level, which varies depending on personal lifestyle and activity level. You can find a variety of calorie calculators that give estimated calorie intake based on your information.
Protein, Protein, Protein
Protein helps convert excess calories into muscle, therefore without protein, you will struggle to gain healthy muscle weight .
The National Institutes of Health recommend a minimum of 0.36 grams of protein per pound (of body weight) per day for the average person. If you are trying to gain lean muscle mass, aim for 0.7-1.0 grams per pound.
If you need more protein in your diet, you can get a boost with a protein shake like WheyXX. The recommendation for protein consumption is 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight and each scoop of WheyXX contains 24 grams of protein. You’ll be able to reach your daily protein requirements with ease.
Fat and Carbs
Odds are you run into articles claiming all foods high in fat and/or carbs are unhealthy–this is far from the truth. There are plenty of healthy foods that are both high in fat and carbs, including, potatoes, nuts and seeds, and certain fruits, that will help you gain healthy weight.
Not all foods have a high content of both fat and carbs, when in doubt, incorporate what is missing by topping with oils or a garnish, such as olive oil and nuts, respectively.
Eating more to gain weight may be obvious but should still be mentioned. At a minimum, eat three full meals that include fat, protein and carbs, each day, while eating energy-packed snacks in-between meals.
If you want to take it an extra step, keep a meal diary. You will be able to input meals and nutrition information to help keep you motivated and on track.
Bonus Tips to Gain Weight Healthy:
- Use a larger plate – Small plates trick our minds into eating less, large plates have the opposite effect.
- Don’t drink with your meals – Drinking fills your stomach much quicker, causing you to eat less.
- Quality over quantity – Don’t fill your diet with unhealthy calories, instead choose nutrient-rich foods.
- Join a community – There are people who share your problem and would be more than happy to share their experiences!
- Remember that maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong goal.
- Body Mass Index
Frank Q. Nuttall, MD, PhD Nutr Today. 2015 May; 50(3): 117–128. Published online 2015 Apr 7. doi: [10.1097/NT.0000000000000092]
- The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition – A Narrative Review
ALEX LEAF1,† and JOSE ANTONIO2,‡ Int J Exerc Sci. 2017; 10(8): 1275–1296.
Published online 2017 Dec 1.