The biggest myth in today’s time is that gaining weight is easier than losing weight. A misconception going on for a while, gaining weight the healthy way is extremely tough and is a task for those heading towards this journey.
This is because the stomach size of a ‘thin’ person is small and increasing appetite is a challenge. Secondly, even if the thin person has a proper appetite, where they indulge in all sorts of foods possible, yet they are not able to gain weight. Many a times they end up gaining unhealthy fat, which is way more dangerous for them than gaining weight.
One primary concern for our thin friends is that gaining weight the right way can be a daunting task for them. This is because, when they do gain weight, it should be evenly spread in their body and not only concentrated in the abdominal area.
There are various reasons due to which one may be underweight: Inadequate eating habits, prolonged meal time gaps, poor selection of foods, no proper amount of calorie in and calorie out, malabsorption of foods that they are presently eating, prolonged diseases and suffering from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
It is important to understand that gaining weight the right way and not by hogging on unhealthy foods is a better choice for your body to save yourself from being prone to diseases like diabetes and thyroid, which even the thinnest person in a room can get. This is because by indulging in unhealthy foods, you are also creating a nutrition deficiency, which can lead to lifestyle issues like thyroid and diabetes.
Following are tips and tricks one should keep in mind while wanting to gain weight in a healthy manner.
1. People may be underweight due to various reasons: Like mentioned above, understanding your body before starting anything is important. The first thing is to get to the root of the problem. Knowing why your body is not able to gain weight is necessary. Consult your nutritionist and your family doctor to analyse the core problem.
2. Healthy weight gain: As Indians, if we are thin, we are often told to eat anything and everything, because ‘nothing gets used in our body’. However, this perception needs to stop. A gradual weight gain is permanent and healthy one. Increasing your daily intake by 500kcal per day can lead to your body gaining 0.5 kgs every week. However, this entirely depends on how your body responds to various foods, you gender, present body weight and height.
3. Exercise: The biggest mistake a thin person can make is to think that no food will affect their body. Even the thinnest bodies tend to get an unsightly paunch and it is important to not get to this stage. This is because a paunch simply means that the visceral and the subcutaneous fat in your body are increasing, which is not a healthy sign. Along with this, it is also a sign that you may gradually be leading towards weaker muscles. Therefore, it is important to participate in a mix of cardio, weight training and flexibility enhancing exercises every day.
4. Lift weights for lean mass: In other words, this means the amount of weight your body carries, which isn’t fat. Therefore, the ultimate aim is to increase lean body mass. For this, you will have to indulge in some heavy weight lifting. This should include exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, rows, dips, snatches, cleans and jerks. These exercises will help in engaging multiple muscles while triggering your hormonal response systems.
5. Exercises for beginners:
Overhead Press 5×5
Deadlift 1/2/3×5 (your choice; deadlifts can be incredibly taxing, and with exhaustion comes poor form, so be careful; sometimes it’s better to do a really heavy load for a single set)
Bench Press 5×5
Pull up 5×5
Overhead Press 5×5
Do this sequence every week (maybe Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and steadily increase the weight each session. Once you’re making progress, feel free to add in other exercises like dips or more Olympic lifts.
6. Healthy diet: The market is loaded with dietary supplements, which may promise you weight gain in no time. But it is important to remember that many of these dietary supplements are full of synthetic nutrients, which may gain weight temporarily but ruin your health permanently. Therefore, consult your nutritionist or family physician before consuming anything. Secondly, these supplements will only come in handy when your diet is in place. Your body requires the right amount of proteins, fats and carbs. Sticking to a healthy diet inclusive of nuts and dairy products and exclusive of alcohol will help you get faster results.
7. Healthy heart and weight gain diet: A major mistake most of us end up making, in our effort to gain weight is eating foods that may harm us. We need healthy fat in our body and consuming empty calories full of unhealthy fats will only deplete our health. Therefore, include healthy snacks in your diet. This means nuts, dry fruits, fruits, dry snacks like roasted chana will be extremely helpful in gaining weight in a healthy manner. Other than this, you can also indulge in multigrain breads, soy sticks, hummus and peanut butter (all of which are rich in protein). Choosing fiber rich foods will also be beneficial for you. The most important thing to remember is that the size of your appetite should increase gradually.
8. Eat less: Another big myth for thin people that needs to be busted right way is consuming foods in large quantities to gain weight. Consuming junk foods in huge quantities and assuming that your body will be unaffected by it is foolish. The best way to go about gaining weight is to divide your meals into smaller bits, to avoid unhealthy snacking. It is a better option to go for foods which are nutrient and calorie dense than for foods which are loaded with unhealthy calories. A thin person who indulges in unhealthy eating habits is as prone to lifestyle diseases as any obese person.
9. Indulge the right way: As mentioned earlier, indulgence should be done the correct way. When getting on any fitness journey, whether to lose or gain weight, our ears will be filled with a variety of opinions. One such opinion for thin people is to eat as many sweet foods as they can. Not only will this increase the visceral fat (fat around your organs), but will also lead to malabsorption of nutrients from other foods in our body. The biggest concern for a skinny person is to get fat in the wrong areas.
10. Include vegetables and meats: Vegetables and meats are rich sources of proteins, minerals and fiber. These are essential for a person looking to gain weight. Including vegetables and meats will also help you to stay away from unhealthy snacks as these help to curb hunger pangs. We need to provide our body with enough protein for the hormones to synthesize.
11. Eat healthy fats: The best way to include healthy fats in your diet is by eating egg yolks, meats with animal fats, coconut oil, and other healthy fats. Including fruits like bananas and sapodilla will help as well. However, the consumption of these should be in moderation.
12. Increase protein intake: The ideal consumption for any body, despite being thin or obese or healthy, is 1 gm/kg. This is the basic requirement which should be fulfilled on a daily basis. Not only will this curb your unnecessary hinger pangs which make you hog on unhealthy foods, but it also helps you maintain a healthy body weight with lean body mass. Proteins are the building blocks of our body and if your body starves of it, it will never be able to achieve its healthiest best. Including tofu, paneer, chicken, and vegetables like spinach will help you get through with your daily protein consumption.
13. Consume foods that help you gain weight: There are natural foods which make you gain weight in a healthy manner. Including foods rich in healthy fat content is a must. You can include fish like tuna and salmon, natural fruit juices, whole wheat breads and Indian flat breads.
14. Foods rich in calories: There are two different types of calories: Empty and healthy. Empty calories are the ones we get from processed foods and liquids, while healthy calories are the ones we get from natural foods like vegetables and fruits. Some examples are cheeses, oils, bananas, homemade butters like peanut and almond butters.
15. Daily tips: In order to gain weight, it is advised to stick to some basics. For example, do not load your plate with unnecessary foods like chocolate bars and canned juices, just to gain weight fast. Including healthy calorie rich foods like yoghurt will help you gaining weight gradually but permanently. Including three to four servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will not only help you curb your hunger for unhealthy foods but will also provide you with necessary nutrients.
16. Dietary supplements for gaining weight: Dietary supplements includes tablets, powders and capsules. These can be protein powders, meal replacement bars, multivitamins etc. As mentioned before, consumption of any of these should be done only after consulting your doctor or nutritionist. Excess of dietary supplements can cause various issues like vomiting and diarrhoea. Even though they are needed in today’s times, it is always better to get consultation on specific products.
17. Food habits: Eating one healthy meal and 3 unhealthy ones will only slower the process for you and may lead to health hazards. Some basics to remember are: Chewing your food properly to improve digestion, avoiding excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks and alcohol as it hinders the absorption of nutrients, keeping track of your weight and cooking your foods with choices that are beneficial for your health.
18. Unhealthy habits for gaining unhealthy weight: As mentioned above, skinny or thin people tend to have misconceptions about being ‘healthy’. Being healthy does not mean being fat for thin people and vice-versa. Some bad habits you will need to erase right away are:
-Eating meals at odd times
-Going on crash diets