Being underweight is a problem. There can be several consequences of being underweight and it isn’t healthy at all.
Having your BMI (Body Mass Index) less than 18.5 is clearly a sign of being underweight. Calculate yours to find out now (Click here, opens in a new tab).
However, the BMI calculator only looks at the height and the weight and isn’t a 100% accurate method of determining whether you’re underweight or not, although a rough estimate can be done.
This article outlines some of the simple strategies on how to gain weight the right way so that you do not end up gaining body fat.
How to gain weight effectively
Eat more calories than your body burns
This is the basic principle of either losing or gaining weight. You have to consume more calories than your body actually burns.
Your body burns calories when you perform physical activities; be it running, walking, or cycling.
First of all, you need to calculate your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Secondly, you need to add 500 to 700 calories to it. Now that would be your calorie intake per day.
There are many free Android and iOS apps that track calories and macros for you so that you do not have to track down the calories and macros manually.
Add in healthy meals instead of junk foods
Consuming junk food will help you gain weight quickly but you’ll start storing body fat as well, and we don’t want body fat.
Instead, add in healthy fats in your diet. Healthy fat contains 9 calories per 1g as compared to 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates.
Healthy fats allow you to quickly up your calorie intake, but make sure not to abuse them.
Some of the foods that are rich in fats are:
- Fatty fish
- Extra virgin olive oils
- Chia seeds
Dressing your foods
The problem when you’re consuming a healthy diet is that it becomes very hard to up your calories and reach your target calorie requirement. This is where dressing your foods come in handy.
This is a common hack if you are trying to reach your daily calorie requirement. It not only helps you achieve your goal, but it also does it in the right way.
If you’re eating an apple as a breakfast snack, spread it with some peanut butter. The same goes for wheat bread. Try to mix it up with sauce, olive oils, spices, and condiments.
Consume enough protein
Protein is the building blocks of muscle.
When your muscle grows so does your weight. The right way to gain weight would be to gain around 90% of your weight as muscle and the rest as body fat (should be as minimum as possible).
You should probably aim for 1g of protein per pound of body weight. That means if you’re 120 pounds, you need to consume 120g of proteins.
However, you should also keep in mind that proteins are fillers as well. That means it keeps you full, therefore making it hard for you to consume your targeted calorie goal.
High protein foods include eggs, chicken breast, turkey, fish, dairy products and others. You can also add in whey protein supplements if you find hard to reach your daily protein goal.
Increase your meal frequency
Prior to reading this article, ask yourself- “How many meals have I been eating on a daily basis?”. If your answer is 2-4, then you should increase your meal frequency.
Research has shown that increasing your meal frequency to 5 or 7 meals helps an individual build more muscle mass as compared to someone who eats 3 times a day.
Firstly, divide your total calories into the number of meals that you would be eating.
Secondly, fill up those calories with proteins, carbs, and fats.
Thirdly, just eat!
Supplements do help
If you are someone who is struggling to reach your daily caloric goal then don’t shy away from using supplements.
Weight gainer shakes can be a lifesaver. They contain good amounts of proteins, carbs, and fats and is also calorie dense.
Make use of those shakes when you wake up early in the morning, before you go to the gym, and after you return from the gym.
Carbs are your friends
You should ideally consume around 2.5g of carbs per pound of bodyweight if you want to gain weight.
Carbs are easy to get unlike the protein and the fats.
Carbs are broken down into two groups:
- Fast-digesting carbohydrates (High-glycemic index carbs)
- Slow-digesting carbohydrates (Slow-digesting index carbs)
Fast-digesting carbs are effective after a workout. They help you replenish your lost energy quickly. They also spike your insulin level and your blood sugar level and that is how the energy comes from.
Slow-digesting carbs take longer times to digest and hence provide a constant flow of energy, unlike the fast-digesting carbs.
High carbohydrate foods include oats, pasta, potato, rice, bread, and others.
If you go to the gym, then you are on the right track.
The primary goal here would be to train one body part per day. You should choose moderate weights that you can perform the exercise for about 6 to 10 reps.
Avoid going too heavy as it may cause an injury.
Keep track of cardio
You do not want to burn excess calories by means of cardio.
Doing some cardio is fine if you want to be fit, but do not do it more than 2 times per week. At this point, you should focus on the weights.
Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend cardio at all. You would be unnecessarily burning calories that are hard to consume.
Add in snacks between your meals
Snacks are the best way to boost your calorie intake. It also helps you to eat more and hence get more of the protein, carbs, and fats.
Avoid eating junk foods during your snack time. Instead, you should focus on whole foods such as oats, banana shake, sandwich, etc.
Time your snack period at least 2.5 hours before and after every meal, so that you do not feel full when you need to munch on a bigger meal.
5 additional ways on how to gain weight fast and effectively
- Do not drink water before your meal.
- Get quality sleep.
- Replace water with milk as it helps in getting more calories.
- Add in creatine supplements.
- Mix in whey proteins with a banana shake (can be another shake as well).