Are you suddenly experiencing high patient surge caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unable to cope? Join us for an affordable platform for telemedicine and house call.

When the body mass index (BMI) is below 18.5, it is referred to as being underweight.

Almost two third of people in the US are obese or overweight. There are also many people who have the problem of being too skinny. Being underweight is equally bad for your health just as being overweight. Some people might not be clinically underweight but they might want to gain some muscles. Whichever might be the case, the underlying principle is the same.

What is actually meant by being underweight?

When the body mass index (BMI) is below 18.5, it is referred to as being underweight. In order to sustain optimal health, the BMI should be more than 18.5. When a person has more than 25 as BMI it is considered being overweight while a BMI more than 30 is considered being obese. Some people are healthy even after being skinny. The BMI scale does not consider the muscle mass while measuring the health. Being underweight does not mean that there is a health problem and such is mostly seen in case of girls and women when compared to men.

What are the consequences of being underweight?

One of the biggest health problems is obesity but being underweight can equally be bad for the health. According to a study, there is 140 % greater risk of early death in men and 100% for women. Being underweight is worse than being overweight which can be associated with only a 50% greater risk of early death. As per another study, being underweight is worse for men than it is for women as there has been seen an increased risk of death in men than women.

Underweight can lead to sarcopenia, dementia, impairment of the immune system, can increase the risk of infections, osteoporosis and result in fertility problems.

Causes of being underweight:

  • Celiac disease: This is a form of gluten intolerance and many people are unaware of such a condition.
  • Eating disorder: This also includes a serious mental disorder that includes anorexia nervosa.
  • Thyroid disorder: Hyperthyroidism can boost metabolism and result in unhealthy weight loss.
  • Cancer: A large number of calories get burnt by the cancerous tumors thereby resulting in weight loss.
  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to excess weight loss.
  • Infections: Some infections such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and parasites can result in severe weight reduction.

In case you have started losing weight, you must consult a doctor to check if there is any serious medical condition. To consult a doctor at your convenience, you can visit https://patientmd.com/

Ways to gain weight:

Gaining weight is easy but one must know the right way to gain weight. You can gain weight easily by binging on doughnuts and soda but it can cause damage to your health. In case you are underweight, you must gain a balanced amount of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat. This is necessary since people with normal weight also gets affected by heart diseases, type 2 diabetes and other problems that are associated mainly with obesity.

Eating more calories than the body is burning:

The first and foremost thing to do in order to gain weight is to create a surplus of calorie than what is required by your body. To gain weight slowly and steadily, you should consume 300-500 calories more per day. You may consume 700-1000 calories per day if you want to gain weight fast.

Eat more proteins:

One of the most important nutrients for gaining weight is protein. In the absence of protein, the extra calories can end up as body fat. According to studies, the period of overfeeding on a high-protein diet can result in extra calories to be turned into muscles. You must also keep in mind that too much protein intake can reduce hunger while making it harder to intake more calories. High protein foods include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and a few others.

Eat three times per day:

Restricting either fat or carbs will not be beneficial in such a case when you are trying to gain weight. Therefore, you must consume plenty of high-fat and high-carb foods. Each meal should consist of plenty of protein, carbs and fat at each meal. You must also ensure that you are consuming three meals per day with energy-dense snacks whenever possible.

Ensure the use of sauce, spices and condiments:

Consumption of whole foods may make you feel full for a longer period of time. Therefore, you may not be able to consume enough calories. In such a case, you must use sauces, spices and condiments. You will consume more if the food is tasty. Put more focus on energy-dense foods. Some examples of energy-dense foods are as follows:

  • Nuts: Macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds etc.
  • High-fat dairy: full-fat yogurt, cheese, whole milk and cream.
  • Dry fruits: raisins, dates, prunes etc.
  • Whole Grains: brown rice and oats.
  • Meat: Chicken, lamb, beef, pork etc.

Avoid eating lots of vegetables as it does not help in gaining weight. You may consume whole-fruits but emphasis must be given to fruits that do not require much chewing such as bananas.

Improve strength:

To ensure that the calories are not going to your fat cells and they are going to your muscles, you must lift weights. Start going to a gym and lift 2-4 times per week. Increase the volume and weight over time. Consider hiring a qualified trainer if you are out of shape or you are totally new to training. Also try to consult a doctor in case of any skeletal problem. However, the entire focus should be on weights. Cardio can help to improve the fitness but you must not engage in too much cardio as it can burn up all the extra calories.

Some additional tips to gain weight:

The most important factor of weight gain is the combination of strength training and high-calorie intake. Check out some more tips to help you on this journey of gaining weight the right way.

  • Do not drink water before having meals. This will ensure that you are able to consume enough calories.
  • Eat often. Include snacks anytime that you feel comfortable such as before bedtime.
  • Use a bigger plate. A smaller plate can result in less eating so the use of large plates is recommended.
  • Drink milk. This not only quenches your thirst but also ensure high calorie and protein intake.
  • Like coffee? Then add cream to your cup of coffee for more calories.
  • Get enough sleep. Proper sleep is important for muscle growth.
  • Don’t smoke. It has been found that people who smoke tend to weigh less than people who don’t and when one is trying to quit, it results in weight gain.

Even after following every right way of gaining weight, it might still be difficult for some people to gain weight. This is because you have a set point beyond which it does not feel comfortable. The body resists any change when you are trying to go above the set point or below it. When you are consuming more calories then your body reduces the appetite while boosting the metabolism. There can a certain level of difficulty when you are trying to gain weight. You may also have to eat even after you are feeling stuffed. Change of weight can take a long time and so you must be consistent with the effort to achieve success in the long run.