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How to Gain Weight

by Ndia
(Eastern Cape)

Ndia's question:

What must I do to gain weight?

Suzy's answer:

The obvious answer to this question is that to gain weight you need to eat more food!

However, it isn't always as simple as that and may depend on your physical makeup (genetics), your access to the food supply, any medical conditions or medications that would affect appetite and metabolism and even your activity level and sleep patterns.

Being underweight can cause some health problems, including a weakened immune system, anemia, fragile bones, hair loss, dry skin, irregular menstruation, fertility problems, teeth issues, headaches, dizziness and improper growth and development (for children, teens and young adults.)

I would suggest, especially if you are dangerously underweight, that you consult a physician and perhaps, a dietitian. A physician can help you resolve any medical issues and a dietitian can help you plan a higher calorie, but still healthy diet.

In case your don't know, fats provide 9 calories per gram, so they are the most caloric of the nutrients, while protein and carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram.

If you choose higher calorie foods, such as those with healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados and more starchy vegetables like peas, corn, winter squash, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and plantains, you will add more calories, while still eating healthy foods.

Also, whole dairy products, if you have access to them and can tolerate them, will add calories
and important nutrients to your diet.

Stick to mostly whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins, while avoiding overly processed foods and "empty calories."

However, if your weight is dangerously low, then anything that looks good to you and will help you gain weight may be considered.

There are some great recipes on our site that you can find by clicking the "Healthy Recipes" button under "Topics." Some of these, like the Granola recipe may be of help to you, since granola is higher in calories, while, in this case, being chock full of healthy nuts, seeds, oatmeal and oil. (Of course, not all granolas are created equal, so check the label if you purchase it and look for whole food ingredients and limited additives.)

There are also protein powders and other supplements available that are designed to help you gain weight. Before you buy, be sure to research them thoroughly and keep in mind that they are "supplements" that should not replace real food.

I'm not sure what your lifestyle allows, but you could also try eating more often, including some high calorie snacks in-between meals. By eating more often, you may be able to increase your total food intake without getting too full at one sitting.

I hope this helps, and please feel free to contact us if you have more specific questions.

Thank you for visiting our healthy eating website!

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