The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention or CDC estimates nearly 2/3rd of all Americans are either obese or overweight. For many at the opposite end of the spectrum, the problem is somewhat different. The CDC estimates that nearly 1.7% of all Americans aged 20 and above are underweight!
Being underweight can be as bad as being overweight because lack of adequate body weight correlates with lowered immunity and lack of energy. Even if you’re not skinny, gaining muscle mass is something quite desirable for one and all today. So, without further wait, let’s plunge deeper into the semantics and dynamics of healthy weight gain
What is the Ideal Weight Range?
An ideal weight range is one where the body mass needed to sustain optimal health is present. This value ranges from a BMI or body mass index of 18.6 to 24.99 percent. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, while BMIs over 25 are seen in overweight people. Those individuals with BMIs of 30 or more are obese. However, there are many issues with BMI, too. It looks at weight and height only, without considering muscle mass. Some people are naturally thin but still healthy.
Understand that being underweight is not necessarily signifying that you have a health problem. Girls and women are 2 to 3 times likelier to be thin than men. In the United States, 1 percent of men as against 2.4% of women aged 20 or above are below the ideal weight range or underweight.
Being obese or underweight are equally bad. One study found being underweight is linked to 140% greater chance of early death in men and 100% in women. In comparison, obesity is just related to a 50% greater chance of premature deaths, indicating being underweight is the worst option for your health. More research has found that lower than average weight is worse for men than women.
Being lower than the suggested weight impairs immunity. Also, it raises the chances of infections, bone damage, osteoporosis, fractures, and infertility. Underweight people are more likely to suffer from dementia and muscle wasting, too. ,
Reasons Why You Are Underweight
The hormone thyroxine is secreted by the body to regulate many functions.
For this reason, it is regarded as a conductor of the body’s orchestra. If thyroxine levels are regulated or standard, metabolic rate, weight, and height are within normal limits. If the function of the thyroid gland(1) is disrupted, this can trigger imbalances in the body, impacting the heartbeat, temperature, and metabolic rates, inducing weight loss.
[Also Read: Hormones Responsible for Weight Gain in Women]
2. Kidney Disorders
Kidney problems can impact urine outflow, and result in ammonia buildup, skin rashes, itching, vomiting, and fever. Fever affects appetite and triggers weight loss. As a result of this, those with kidney diseases or problems are frequently underweight.
3. Eating Disorders
The two most common eating disorders in the United States presently are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Studies show 1 or 2 in 100 youth have these disorders. Other common types of eating disorders like food phobias, body image issues, and binge eating can also impact weight. Those with anorexia gain excessive weight and suffer from a distorted view of the body.
They either starve or eat minute amounts of food while pushing their body to the limits during workouts. People with bulimia nervosa vomit out their food. Both these disorders are associated with lower than average body weight.
4. Hereditary Factors
Weight changes are also genetically determined. If your parents were underweight, there’s a high likelihood that you will be skinny, too. Staying below the ideal weight despite repeated attempts to gain weight indicates the impact of genetic factors.
5. Enzyme Deficiency
When the stomach wall lacks secretion of sufficient digestive enzymes(2), this impacts your body’s ability to gain nutrients from the food you eat. The result is an underweight value because your body cannot get the nutrition it needs from the diet.
This disease is also the cause of weight loss, exacerbated by night sweats, extreme fatigue, and coughing.
A psychological reason for weight loss is a major depressive disorder, or depression, as it is commonly known. Depression reduces appetite and causes massive weight loss. Mental counseling sessions are necessary to reduce depression and mental stress before it starts impacting your health or weight.
How to Gain Weight With Sample Diet Chart?
Given below is a sample diet chart, you can use to gain weight. These recommendations are based on the intake of a balanced diet for weight loss.
- Meal Type
- Food and Beverages to be Consumed
- Before breakfast
7 am – 8 am
A single cup of any beverage like tea or coffee or even a smoothie, health drink, or shake with full-fat milk and sugar to taste.
8 am – 9 am
- Two wholewheat/multigrain bread slices with butter and a single-egg omelet.
- Full fat milk with sugar and cornflakes/oats, porridge
- Cut fruits or fresh fruit juice can follow this diet.
10 am – 11 am
- A glass of full-fat milk with a healthy drink like whey protein.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
- A small bowl of pasta or two slices of wholewheat/multigrain bread.
- A cup of legumes.
- Half a cup of vegetable gravy
- 3 ounces of chicken or a single piece of fish/ one egg or tofu
- Mixed salad made comprising greens like cucumber and kale, along with tomato, lemon, broccoli, carrots, and other nutritious veggies and herbs.
- A small cup of sweet yogurt or Greek yogurt.
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
- Vegetable or chicken cheese sandwich.
- Baked potato slices with an avocado dip.
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm
- Half a cup of brown rice and a single cup of kidney beans/chicken/mushroom gravy
- Mixed salad comprising cottage cheese, cucumber, tomato, carrots, leeks, and other dark green, leafy vegetables.
10:00 pm – 10:30 pm
- A glass of full-fat milk
Tips to Gain Weight
1. Increase Your Food Intake
Eat more food daily, following regular intervals. Take around three meals per day and two snacks interspersed across these. Within a gap of 4 hours, grab a quick bite to keep your energy levels up. Rather than becoming bored with the same old diet, try and vary your nutrient intake, so repetitive meals don’t become a problem. Even eat food before going to bed, as this helps to fix the tissues while you rest.
2. Stock Full Fat Items Like Milk and Cream
Add full-fat milk, cream, and cheese to your diet. An additional glass of milk, peanut butter on the side or extra cheese could well be the solution to your problem.
3. Opt for Professional Fitness Training
Exercise can be the weight gain solution you need. The right protein shakes and consistent physical training over some time lead to steady weight gain in terms of chiseled abs rather than sagging flab.
4. Consume Protein & Weight Gain supplements
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. Protein source must be there in every meal you consume, whether it is in the form of yogurt, seeds and nuts, fish, milk, eggs, tofu, cottage cheese, legumes, pulses, lentils and beans, chicken or ground turkey. Protein-rich seafood also adds omega 3 and omega-six fatty acids to your diet. Include foods like nuts, seeds, salmon, olive oil, and avocado in your diet. Diet or exercise may not be sufficient alone to gain weight, so factor in supplements. Popular supplements like whey protein, which you can add to smoothies or milk are best.
5. Try Strength Training
Gain lean muscle mass instead of empty calories, by opting for strength training. Lift weights to gain muscles, not fat mass. Some bodyweight exercises like twisting crunches, leg press/extension/curls, arm curls, seated dumbbell press, triceps pushdown, and shoulder shrug are ideal. Try ab rollers, barbell squats, push-ups, incline dumbbell presses, side lateral raises, and lunges or weighted crunches, too.
6. Maintain a Food Journal
Understand your eating habits better by maintaining a food journal. This journal will also help you to track calories consumed and see if you are following a nutritious diet.
Getting plenty of rest, eliminating stress and medical conditions, and staying motivated is the key to gain weight.
So, remember that gaining weight is all about eating right, sleeping well, exercising regularly, and getting a proper nutritious dietary intake every day. Many people make the error of thinking following a fancy weight gain diet is enough. If not followed effectively, your weight gain regimen could lead to fat gain and trigger health problems. So, while being underweight is a concern you need to combat, do note that healthy weight gain is essential under the circumstances. Sustain your weight gain routine with the right exercise and diet, if you want to gain lean muscle mass and build your stamina and endurance!