About 17 million children in India will be obese by 2025 according to a rather alarming study. Clearly, obesity and being overweight is a huge concern for the country. Ironically, being underweight is also a major concern. Not many people realise that being underweight can be as bad for your health as being overweight.
Although you might not be clinically underweight, you still might want to gain some muscle. Well, the principles and techniques for both are pretty much the same. So, let’s take a look at a few things before we go in-depth in helping you with your journey towards gaining weight and getting healthier.
What does it mean to be underweight?
If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18.5, then you may be underweight. Meanwhile, a BMI of 25 is considered to be overweight and 30 is a sign of obesity. So, the ideal range for a healthy person is between 18.5 and 25 according to experts.
To calculate your BMI you need to divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters, then divide the answer by your height again to get your BMI.
You can calculate your BMI easily here.
Is BMI the only way to keep a check on your body weight and health?
While BMI might help us understand our body mass, it fails to give us the entire picture of our body weight and health. For instance, your BMI does not factor in your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. There are times when someone’s BMI may put them in the obese category but all these indicators of health are just fine. They are not experiencing the ill health effects associated with their excess weight. The opposite is also true. Your BMI may be excellent, but your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels may not be.
Although BMI is useful as a quick screening tool by a doctor, it might not be enough to look at only that number. As it does not reveal anything about the makeup of your body, such as how much muscle vs. fat you have. Which is why conclusions based only on the BMI number can be misleading. So, a full body check-up with a doctor is mandatory before you come to the conclusion that you are underweight.
There are some common signs that every underweight person will notice. If you see these, you might just be underweight and need careful evaluation and treatment.
In other words- Why aren’t you able to gain weight?
The equation for weight gain is = the food you intake + effectiveness of utilization.
Have you ever thought about improving the condition of your digestive system? Well, a recent research study shows that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. So, there’s a good chance that something is not right with your digestive system when you’re not gaining weight. But, the digestive system can be improved if a few things are kept in mind and if your diet and food is kept in check.
Here are some things you can do to improve your digestive system:
Increasing the intake of certain fermented foods like Kombucha and sauerkraut help the digestive enzymes in your stomach to function even better.
Give your digestive system a rest with a monthly fast. Pick any day that works for you.
Reduce unnecessary stress. Stress has a huge impact on your digestive system. When we are stressed, our body goes into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. That means it’s treating the situation as a crisis. Your central nervous system shuts down your blood flow, this, in turn, prevents the contraction of digestive muscles and decreases the flow of digestive juices.
Being underweight is just as unhealthy as being obese- if not more. People who are underweight are at a risk of certain diseases and infection that cause fertility problems.
It can also:
What’s more, people who are underweight are also much more likely to get sarcopenia (age-related muscle wasting) and may be at greater risk of dementia.
Overcoming your weight issue in a healthier way
Even though being lean can often be considered healthy for certain people, but being underweight can be a health concern. So, if you're underweight, it is important to see your doctor or dietitian for an evaluation.
But, here are some healthy ways you can try to gain weight that doesn’t involve any medication.
Apart from doing all the above-spoken points, point number two is the most important one because the food that you intake plays a very important part in the process of your journey. And these nutrient-rich foods have proven to be some of the best when it comes to gaining weight.
Milk has been proven to be a great source of calcium, but drinking milk is also an effective way to gain weight especially for kids. Studies have shown it can also help adults gain muscles when combined with weight lifting. So, if you’re adding exercise to your routine in gaining weight, then drinking milk especially at night before going to bed can help in adding on the kilos.
We often hear our friends say that they are cutting down on rice because they are gaining too much weight. Well, it’s true, rice does help in gaining weight as each serving is rich in carbs and high in calories. Rice also helps you eat more food, especially if you have a poor appetite or tend to get full quickly.
Nuts and Nut Butters
They’re the perfect kind of food if you're really looking to put on some weight because just a handful of almonds contain over 7 grams of protein and 18 grams of healthy fats. Since nuts and nut butters are very calorie-dense, only two handfuls per day with a meal or as a snack quickly add up to hundreds of calories.
Nut butter is also used as a variety of snacks or dishes, such as smoothies, yoghurts, etc. However, it is important to make sure you pick 100% nut butter with no added sugar or extra oils.
When it comes to muscle building, red meat is of great help. One steak contains around 3 grams of leucine per 170 grams. Leucine is the key amino acid that your body needs to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and add new muscle tissue.
A study shows 100 elderly women added 170 grams of red meat to their diets and performed resistance training six days a week for six weeks. Fatty meats provide more calories, which help in weight gain.
Potatoes and Starches
Yes, potatoes and all starches are a great source of good fats, plus they are cost-effective as well. Even though potatoes are the most effective way to put on that extra kilo but there are healthier starch options like Oats, Corn, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Sweet potatoes, winter root vegetables, beans and legumes.
Salmon and Oily Fish
Just like red meat, Salmon and oily fish are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats. Among all the nutrients that salmon and oily fish provide, omega-3 fatty acids are the most significant and well known. Salmon and other oily fish are a great source of incredibly healthy omega-3 fats. They also provide high-quality protein to help you build muscle.
Homemade Protein Smoothies
Drinking homemade smoothies are one of the healthiest options to quickly gain weight. Making smoothies have become super easy and convenient with amazing blenders and frozen fruits that are available to us. Homemade protein smoothies are packed with nutrients and also give you a full choice of flavour.
Here are a few smoothie recipes you can also try. You need to combine each with two cups of milk or use a vegan alternative like almond milk to make these smoothies.
All of these smoothies are packed with nutrients, with each carrying 400–600 calories and are rich in protein and other important vitamins and minerals.
Creatine- You might have heard about creatine if you’ve ever read any articles on fitness or maybe even ever been to a gym. Creatine is a molecule that’s produced naturally in your body and provides energy for your muscles and other tissues. Though, if you take it as a dietary supplement it can increase muscle creatine content by up to 40% beyond its normal levels. And helps immensely in gaining some muscles.
Protein Supplements- To gain muscle you need to consume more protein than your body breaks down. So, sometimes protein in your food might just not be enough while you’re on a hardcore exercise program. You might need protein supplements that help you in gaining muscles.
Weight Gainers- These supplements help you get more calories and protein and are generally used by people who struggle to gain muscle weight. Some individuals might find it hard even while they consume large amounts of calories and lift weights.
Beta-Alanine- This acid reduces fatigue and increases exercise performance. Beta-Alanine helps in muscle gain only if you are following an exercise program so, exercising is extremely important.
Brached-Chain Amino Acids- BCAA consist of three individual amino acids: leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. They are found in most protein sources like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and fish. It’s likely that this acid supplement might only work if you are not eating enough high-quality protein in your diet.
HMB- HMB stands for Beta-hydroxy beta-methyl butyrate and it is a molecule that’s produced when your body processes the amino acid leucine. HMB is responsible to benefit some of the effects of protein and leucine in your diet. Even though it is produced naturally in your body, but taking it as a supplement can help you benefit your muscles. Studies have previously shown that untrained adults who took 3–6 grams of HMB per day improved the gains in lean body mass from weight training.
Does eating your food fast help induce weight gain?
Many of us have thought for years that people who eat fast, gain weight faster than the ones who eat slow. For some of you, there might have been times you have noticed yourself or your lean friend finishing their food after everyone else. Or have heard that if you eat fast, or basically gobble your food you gain weight. Actually, eating fast is usually linked to obesity in a person. A study that was done among children found that 60% of those who ate rapidly also overate.
So, in conclusion, you might be gaining weight but not in a healthy way. Eating fast can lead to some other health problems like diabetes, poor digestion, etc, too.
Gaining weight in 30 Days. Is it really possible?
Another question that might come in your mind is ‘How can I gain weight ASAP”? Or in a month or 10 days? I mean, if people can lose weight fast then gaining would be easier right, but the answer to that question is NO, you can’t gain weight in a week or in a month. Even if you try other techniques that might induce weight gain faster, it's still impossible and super duper unhealthy for you.
Experts suggest that journey to a successful weight gain would be to do it the right way, that means getting those exercises done, eating well and properly and taking the supplements that you need.
All this will help you to slowly weight up a bit more than before and give you a little more flesh in those arms that you wanted for so long.
Building your muscle weight can be a good way to go about and how to do it, you may ask?
These are the following things that you can do-
A. Your weight in pounds: _____
B. Multiply A by 12 to get your basic calorie needs: _____
C. Multiply B by 1.6 to estimate your resting metabolic rate (calorie burn without factoring in exercise): _____
D. Strength training: Multiply the number of minutes you lift weights per week by 5: _____
E. Aerobic training: Multiply the number of minutes per week that you run, cycle, and play sports by 8: _____
F. Add D and E, and divide by 7: _____
G. Add C and F to get your daily calorie needs: _____
H. Add 500 to G: _____.
This is your estimated daily calorie required to gain 1 pound a week.
For the shake, you’ll need about 10 to 20 grams of protein- usually about one scoop of a whey protein powder. Can’t stomach protein drinks? You can get the same nutrients from a sandwich made with 4 ounces of deli turkey and a slice of American cheese on whole wheat bread. But a drink is better.
Now, moving onto the biggest lies, and myths that people have told you, in order to help you attain your goal weight. You might have heard the stupidest thing like to eat more sugary items and some of you might have even tried it out because you were desperate at that time. Let’s break down those myths one by one.
Sodas help you increase weight- Yes, it is true that sugary items that contain more calories have resulted in weight gain. But, this is an unhealthy weight gain… they cause teeth decay, indigestion, and cause unhealthy swings in blood sugar levels. This is not a good choice to go with.
Stuff in as much as you can- Hogging never helps as it leads to overeating and obesity.
Weight gain pills- They might be effective in short-term, but looking at it in long-term, they have proven to have a bad impact on various organs like the heart, kidneys and liver.
Does honey benefit in gaining weight?
There are a lot of health benefits of honey, but the million dollar question that everyone is always eager to know. Well, for starters, yes honey is and can be used to gain weight effectively. But, first, you need to understand the way energy is used up in your body. Because, when you're trying to pack on the pounds, the trick is to eat high-calorie nutrient-dense foods. And as for Honey, it is a calorie-dense food, but it's not very nutrient-dense. You can use honey sparingly to add sweetness and calories to your foods but, you want to be sure not to go overboard with it.
A single teaspoon of honey is about 64 calories. It contains more calorie than granulated sugar, which has 49 calories per tablespoon.
Therefore, many other foods that are more nutrient dense are a better alternative than honey.
You could opt for a Chunky peanut butter with no added sugar because that contains 94 calories per tablespoon. It is also packed with protein and healthy fats. While dried apricots without added sugar are a calorie-dense source of vitamins A, B-3 and E and the minerals iron and potassium.
So, the answer to your question is probably, YES. Honey does help you put on some pounds but, might not be as effective as other food items.
What is a Carb? Are they good or bad for us?
In a layman’s language carbs are things that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms in it. But, when it comes to nutrition ‘carbs’ refers to two macronutrients one being protein and the other being fat.
Good Carbs and Bad Carbs
The topic about carbs is highly controversial these days and the guidelines of dieticians say that we get half of our calories from carbohydrates. And on the other hand, some might say that carbs cause obesity and type 2 diabetes and that people should be avoiding it. But, is it really true though?
Despite, the fact that both these arguments are strong, but carbohydrates requirements really depend from one individual to the other.
However, dietary carbohydrates can be split into three different categories-
Sugar- Carbohydrates that are sweet, short-chained like glucose, fructose, etc. that are found in our food item.
Starches- Glucose molecules that which eventually get broken down into glucose in our digestive system.
Fibre- Even though humans cannot digest fibre, but the bacteria in the digestive system can make use of it.
Carbohydrates only purpose in our diet is to provide energy. Most carbs get broken down or transformed into glucose, which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat (stored energy) for later use.
Though, Fiber is an exception. Because, it does not provide energy directly into your body, but rather feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. Which can later use the fibre to produce fatty acids that some of our cells can use as energy?
These foods may be fine when eaten in moderation for some people but, it is best to avoid them as much as possible because they might not be good for your health.
Knowing what is good and not good for your body before beginning the journey to gain weight is extremely essential. Because, you just don’t want to put on weight for the sake of it, but actually gain muscle. Although sometimes it’s easy to get carried away by methods that are quick and easy to do. But, we must realise that they don’t benefit us in the long-term and might even affect our health as we start on that journey.
So, before we wish you good luck on your journey we also recommend you consult a doctor, or a dietician you can help you through these processes. The healthier way might take a little bit more time and patience to actually work but it is the best way to go about if you’re looking to be more fit and healthy in life.
“To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” – William Londen.
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