When we write articles on diets and exercise, we often write advice for those who need to lose more weight rather than gain it. But if you are underweight, how do you go about gaining weight safely? Overeat too soon, and it’s a shock for the body and could lead to a heart attack.
For those underweight and feeling a bit lost at sea when it comes to gaining weight, we’ve got some simple things to remember to make it easier on your journey. Please make sure your dietician or doctor agrees that this advice works with your diet plan.
Eat snacks throughout the day
Now your first thought to gain weight is to eat as much as you can all the time. However, if you are underweight, that’s the worst thing you can do! Eating so much so soon can be a shock on the body after eating so little. It’s much safer to eat snacks throughout the day. It enables you to have a higher intake of food overall without going too big on the portions and doesn’t shock the body.
When you have your snacks and your daily meals, you probably assume that to gain calories. You need to eat all the sugary stuff and doughnuts. However, that only increases the wrong calories and fat around the body and can lead to health complications.
Instead, you want to try nutrient-rich food like pastas, nuts and wholegrain breads as it helps you gain pounds and gives you the nutrients it needs to survive and doesn’t give you the bad fats that lead to blocked arteries. Plus, if you are on a reduced diet, it still enables the body to be sustained.
Increase your meals
Typically everyone tells you to eat three meals a day—breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. And when you begin eating more, you might think that increasing the portions of those meals might be the best way to do things. The truth is that it isn’t. Because when you are underweight, you are more likely to feel full faster. To combat the feeling, try having five to six smaller meals a day. It’ll gradually increase your weight and feel more sustaining than three big meals. If that sounds boring and clinical, imagine you are a beginner hobbit working up to seven meals a day.
Plus, let’s be honest. Suddenly upping the portion sizes for the three important meals of the day doesn’t sound or feel appetising. It can be pretty stressful, making the task of gaining weight feel more tricky than it already is!
Have the occasional treat
As much as I (and many medical journals) have said have nutrient-rich food, you can have the occasional treat. It’s not like wanting a rare treat is a bad thing! Everyone does it. Why shouldn’t you? Whether it’s having a couple of doughnuts or a chocolate bar before bed. Have that tiny treat. However, don’t go too overboard with, i.e. five portions of fries for five meals. More like a fast food item for dinner once a month or a chocolate bar twice a week. Simple stuff that’s manageable.
When you diet (whether it’s to gain weight or loss weight.) You need to exercise. It’s the type of workout that changes. Aerobic exercises/ workouts burn calories. Whereas workouts that help build up your strength will help you build up your muscles. Try yoga or weightlifting.
This is a reminder (because I cannot stress this enough!) Speak to a dietician or doctor to see whether these tips will fit in with your diet plan. Some are underweight due to underlying health problems that won’t be fixed by a different diet or a change in eating habits.
Many people go on and on about the health problems that occur when a person is overweight but never if you are underweight. We forget that both extremities weight distribution is unhealthy.
Here are some of the health problems that could occur if you are underweight
This one affects children and teenagers more. A lack of nutrients can cause growth and development to slow down.
Low amounts of vitamin D and calcium. As well as a low body weight leads to the bones being weaker than most.
Weakened immune system
We need energy to help fight illness, and when you are underweight, you are less likely to have those nutrients to help store and keep those energy levels. This leads to a weaker immune system, making it difficult to fight and recover from things such as colds.
Again, insufficient nutrients do not have enough folate, i.e. folic acid, and iron. This can lead to a condition known as Anaemia, which can lead to fatigue, among other things.
Low body weight can cause hair to fall out and thin more easily.
Being underweight can also make periods irregular for women and lead to further problems with fertility.
I’m going to note here that many underweight people are physically healthy. Due to the weight issues being caused by other things such as genetics or mental health problems.
Being underweight is forgotten when we talk about weight and often gets left behind. I hope this advice has helped make it easier to gain weight or go to a dietician to discuss your options.
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