Knowing how to gain weight without putting your health at risk is essential when you need to gain a few kilos, either for health or for aesthetics. First of all, if you are underweight it is important to determine what it is due to, since its origin can be metabolic, poor diet and even be caused by an underlying disease.
Once you have ruled out possible health problems, you can put into practice a series of dietary recommendations like the ones we explain in this article , which can help you gain weight safely. Take note!
The weight problem
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In today’s society the main battle related to weight is fought against obesity. For this reason, being too thin, a priori, may not seem like a problem. However, many people have a low weight within normality and try unsuccessfully to gain a few pounds. In these cases, the cause is usually related to metabolism.
At other times, a low weight or a sudden drop in weight may indicate some underlying pathology, so it is important to make sure of our state of health before starting any strategy to increase weight.
How can you know if your weight is within what is considered normal for your age, sex and height? You can calculate it by measuring your body mass index (BMI) . If the value obtained is less than 18.5, your weight is below normal.
What is the body mass index (BMI) and how is it calculated?
The body mass index (BMI) is a method of measuring body fat, which relates the weight of the person and his height.It is used to determine if said weight is within the parameters considered normal or if, on the contrary, there is overweight or thinness. In adults, BMI is considered normal when it is between 18.5 and 24.9.
The BMI formula using the metric system is BMI = Weight (kg) / height (m) 2 , that is, the weight in kilos divided by the height in meters squared.
In the case of children and adolescents, the percentiles are used, which relate the weight of the child with the values of their peers to determine if there is underweight or overweight.
The problem with the BMI method is that it does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass, which can lead to erroneous results in specific cases . For example, a bodybuilder would possibly be overweight because his muscle will be counted as fat in this method. However, it is an athlete person who is not obese.
Main causes of low weight
Are you underweight? We list some of the possible causes below:
- Genetic factors: If your family members are also thin, your metabolism may be faster than normal, making it difficult to gain weight.
- Intensive physical activity: this affects body weight. It can occur both in high level athletes and in workers who require a lot of physical energy.
- Medicines : some can cause vomiting, nausea or reduce appetite, resulting in weight loss.
- Disease: Many diseases have an impact on appetite, which is diminished, as well as on the body’s ability to store food. An involuntary weight loss can reveal that there is an undetected disease, which can be digestive, thyroid, diabetes or even cancer.
- Psychological problems: they can affect eating habits, causing either weight gain or weight loss.
Consequences of underweight
Body fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body, since it generates the energy necessary to carry out our daily activities and also protects vital organs. A weight below the appropriate one can imply a deficit of calories or the even lack of vitamins and minerals.
This situation can generate health problems such as the following:
- Delay in the development of children and adolescents , who need a large amount of nutrients for healthy growth.
- Weakening of the immune system and inability to fight disease due to lack of nutrients.
- Brittle bones and osteoporosis: A low weight together with a deficiency of calcium and vitamin D can weaken the bones and cause osteoporosis.
- Anemia, caused by insufficient iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12.
- Absence of menstruation and fertility problems , because in situations where there is a lack of energy the body prioritizes its resources.
- Weakening and hair loss.
- Fragile and dry skin .
- Tooth and gum problems.
It is important to make sure that there is no health problem before starting any strategy to gain weight, for them it is recommended that you go to your doctor for a review that determines the reason and, if appropriate, start a specific and adapted treatment to you to gain weight in a healthy way. As we explained in our article How to improve your quality of life with a personalized diet , it is important to adapt the diet to our metabolic characteristics and lifestyles, since each of us has different nutritional needs based on them.
How to gain weight taking care of health?
As we say, if you are going to undertake a process of weight gain it is essential that you have a dietitian-nutritionist. You must be clear that eating junk food is not an option to gain weight, since it only provides empty calories and not the nutrients that the body needs.
Do you want to know how to gain weight without putting your health at risk? Then take note of the general recommendations that we give you below:
Change your eating habits: eat more (5 or 6) small meals instead of two or three large ones . Never skip main meals.
- Food must be easily digestible, this is one of the reasons why carbohydrates are used. Fats and proteins delay gastric emptying and prolong digestion.
- If you take fats, it is better that they go raw, since they generate less satiety. For example, olive oil is better taken raw than in a fry. One idea: add an extra tablespoon of raw EVOO to your salads or other dishes.
- Prioritize white meats over red meats , and small legumes over large ones, since they are easier to digest.
- Incorporate the bread into each meal.
- When it comes to sweetening food or drinks, choose honeys, natural jams or date paste.
- Add healthy calories to your dishes by enriching them with raw oil, sunflower seeds, nuts, grated egg or whole milk powder.
- Making healthy snacks that contain protein and carbohydrates , such as nuts or hummus.
- Don’t drink liquids just before eating – this can reduce your appetite. It is better to take them, for example, 30 minutes after eating, not before or during food.
- Choose non-carbonated beverages to avoid satiety. Better to opt for water or infusions.
- Replace calorie-free beverages with healthy smoothies – soda or coffee will take away your appetite without adding nutrients. Try replacing them with smoothies based on milk, seeds or fresh fruit, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients.
- Take daily, and if you wish, with every meal, pasta, rice or cereal or potato.
- Say goodbye to “light” products and incorporate whole foods, which in addition to being healthier will provide you with more calories, such as milk or yogurt, which you can enrich with nuts, pure cocoa or honey.
- Do not overheat your dishes , since hot foods are more satiating.
- Exercise focused on strengthening your muscles . In addition, physical activity also stimulates the appetite.
Healthy foods that can help you gain weight
In addition to the guidelines seen in the previous section, you can incorporate some foods into your diet that will help you gain weight in a healthy way. Among them are:
- Dairy products and their derivatives , such as cheese or yogurt, since they contain proteins of high biological value and are optimal sources of calcium. Better that they be whole instead of skimmed.
- Eggs, since they provide proteins and healthy fats . You can add them
- Blue Fish. Blue fish, like salmon, is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats.
- Nuts: are caloric and an excellent source of healthy fats.
- Whole grains : rice, bread, oats, etc.
- Dehydrated fruit: in addition to being caloric, it provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Take it as a snack!
- Avocado: it is rich in healthy fat, fiber and calories.
The importance of a balanced diet when gaining weight
As you can see, when it comes to gaining weight there is a fundamental rule: eat a balanced diet, in which natural foods predominate over processed ones.
We hope that our recommendations will help you, but remember, when it comes to gaining weight safely, it is important that you consult your doctor and a nutritionist first.
From Veritas we will continue giving you valuable information through our blog so that you learn to take care of your health and that of yours proactively. We also put at your disposal our genetic tests , a powerful tool that allows you to make informed decisions aimed at enjoying a healthier and longer life. Get in touch with us and we will be happy to help you solve your doubts.