Being a healthy weight can help you maintain good overall health by supporting your immune system and bones and keeping you feeling energized all day long. While most people talk about having excess weight on their body and how it impacts health, some individuals are underweight or want to gain weight to support their own health goals.
Unfortunately, there’s tons of information on how to lose weight healthily, but not a lot about how you can start gaining weight by making healthy choices. If you’re trying to gain weight, you can’t eat everything you want and expect to feel healthy. There’s a smarter, healthier way to gain weight no matter what your goals are. So here are a few tips on how to gain weight healthily.
Many people count calories to lose weight, but you can count calories to gain a few extra pounds, too, especially if you’re underweight. It takes about 3500 additional calories for you to gain one pound, which equates to about 500 extra calories per day to gain one pound a week. Of course, the foods you eat matter, too. While you could eat McDonald’s all day long to gain weight, you don’t want to eat food that will make you feel sick or lethargic. Instead, you should still eat healthy foods and more of them.
When cooking for yourself at home, pay close attention to the nutritional labels. You can even make your own labels to help you count calories easier. Of course, depending on your goals, you may also have to eat more frequently. If you’re underweight, you may feel full faster, so you may have to eat up to six small meals a day to get that additional 500 calories you need each day to gain weight gradually.
Consider What You Eat
Eating nutrient-rich foods is good for your overall health and wellness, while eating too many processed foods can make you feel sick. Instead of opting for unhealthy, calorie-loaded snacks, consider fruits, cereals, pasta, and whole grain bread. Many of these options still contain calories, but they won’t make you feel tired in the afternoon.
Smoothies are a great way to increase your calorieand vitamin intake because you’re drinking calories instead of eating them. Fruit smoothies are packed with healthy calories that can help you increase your intake while ensuring you’re getting optimal levels of vitamins and minerals.
Eat More Protein
While eating protein can help you feel fuller faster and is typically used for weight loss, it can also help you gain weight because you need protein in your diet to build muscle. Eating protein with every meal can help increase lean muscle mass even when you’re not vigorously working out. That means that climbing the stairs to get to the office and other basic activities can help you build muscle easier.
Unfortunately, eating protein can reduce your hunger and appetite, making it harder for those trying to gain weight to eat enough calories throughout the day.
Eat More Carbs and Fat
Carbs and fat are what make food truly delicious, so it should be fairly easy to increase your daily intake. Eating high-carb and high-fat meals and snacks can help you gain weight safely. Of course, you should also avoid any low-carb diets because you need carbs for energy. Instead, eat enough protein, fat, and carbs with every meal at least three times per day.
Exercise is great for losing weight, but it can also help you stay fit on your weight gain journey. Not only can building muscle help you add a few pounds to the scale, but regular activities are good for your heart, which can help you stay healthy if you’re underweight. If you don’t have enough energy for a vigorous workout, consider light exercise that doesn’t put a strain on your body. Activities like playing golf, walking your dog, and even climbing stairs can be a great way for you to get your daily cardio in.
Of course, if you want to build muscle, you’ll need to engage in weight training. Weight training is great for those who want to gain weight because it doesn’t burn as many calories as intense exercises like pilates. Instead, you can lift weights or do yoga without using up too much energy or burning the calories you need to help you gain weight.
Use Bigger Plates
Using bigger plates is a great way to trick yourself into eating larger meals with more calories. Smaller plates can help individuals lose weight because they look like they’re fuller. Meanwhile, using larger plates can help you fill up your plate with all the calories you need from the different food groups to ensure you’re getting enough food with every meal.
Get Good Sleep
Sleep is important for letting your body rest and heal, especially when you’re trying to build muscle. If you plan to work out to build muscle, you’ll need sleep to let your muscles heal after an intense workout to allow you to be able to do it all again the next day.
How Long Until I Gain Weight?
How long it takes you to gain weight will depend on your unique circumstances, including any medical illnesses you have that may impact your appetite, health, and weight. Of course, eating an additional 500 calories a day can help you gain about one pound per week on average, as long as you’re not accidentally burning those additional calories by increasing your energy expenditure through exercise.
Depending on your needs, you may be able to take a more aggressive approach and eat more than 500 calories per day as advised by your doctor. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for some to gain weight, and how long it takes you will depend on your personal situation.
Talking to your doctor can help you learn more about different ways you can healthily gain weight, depending on your unique circumstances. They can create a treatment plan for you to help you gain weight healthily without the need to consume junk food by giving you a meal plan that allows you to take advantage of the nutrients in healthy foods like meat, vegetables, grains, and fruits.