How to Gain Weight? The Right Way

This is a concern, as being underweight can be just as bad for your health as being obese. Additionally, many people who are not clinically underweight still want to gain some muscle. Whether you’re clinically underweight or simply struggling to gain muscle weight, the main principles are the same. This article explains about How to Gain Weight? The Right Way

What Does Underweight Really Mean?

Being underweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5. This is estimated to be less than the body mass needed to sustain optimal health. Conversely, over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is considered obese.

Use this calculator to see where you fit on the BMI scale (opens in a new tab).

However, keep in mind that there are many problems with the BMI scale, which only looks at weight and height. It does not take muscle mass into account.

Some people are naturally very skinny but still healthy. Being underweight according to this scale does not necessarily mean that you have a health problem.

Being underweight is about 2–3 times more common among girls and women, compared to men. In the US, 1% of men and 2.4% of women 20 years and older are underweight (Trusted Source).

What Are the Health Consequences of Being Underweight?

Obesity is currently one of the world’s biggest health problems. However, being underweight may be just as bad for your health. According to one study, being underweight was associated with a 140% greater risk of early death in men, and 100% in women (Trusted Source).

In comparison, obesity was associated with a 50% greater risk of early death, indicating that being underweight may be even worse for your health (Trusted Source).

Another study found an increased risk of early death in underweight men, but not women, suggesting that being underweight may be worse for men (Trusted Source).

Being underweight can also impair your immune function, raise your risk of infections, lead to osteoporosis and fractures and cause fertility problems (Trusted SourceTrusted SourceTrusted Source).

What’s more, people who are underweight are much more likely to get sarcopenia (age-related muscle wasting) and may be at greater risk of dementia (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

Several Things Can Cause Someone to Become Underweight

There are several medical conditions that can cause unhealthy weight loss, including:

  • Eating disorders: This includes anorexia nervosa, a serious mental disorder.
  • Thyroid problems: Having an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can boost metabolism and cause unhealthy weight loss.
  • Celiac disease: The most severe form of gluten intolerance. Most people with celiac disease don’t know that they have it (Trusted Source).
  • Diabetes: Having uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type 1) can lead to severe weight loss.
  • Cancer: Cancerous tumors often burn large amounts of calories and can cause someone to lose a lot of weight.
  • Infections: Certain infections can cause someone to become severely underweight. This includes parasites, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

If you’re underweight, you may want to see a doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.

This is particularly important if you have recently started losing large amounts of weight without even trying.

How to Gain Weight the Healthy Way

If you want to gain weight, it’s very important to do it right.

Binging on soda and donuts may help you gain weight, but it can destroy your health at the same time.

If you’re underweight, you want to gain a balanced amount of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat rather than a lot of unhealthy belly fat.

There are plenty of normal-weight people who get type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems often associated with obesity (Trusted Source).

Therefore, it’s absolutely essential to eat healthy foods and live an overall healthy lifestyle.

Eat More Calories Than Your Body Burns

The most important thing you can do to gain weight is to create a calorie surplus, meaning you eat more calories than your body needs.

If you want to gain weight slowly and steadily, aim for 300–500 calories more than you burn each day according to the calculator.

If you want to gain weight fast, aim for around 700–1,000 calories above your maintenance level.

Keep in mind that calorie calculators only provide estimates. Your needs may vary by several hundred calories per day, give or take.

You don’t need to count calories for the rest of your life, but it helps to do it for the first few days or weeks to get a feel for how many calories you’re eating. There are many great tools out there to help you.

Eat Plenty of Protein

The single most important nutrient for gaining healthy weight is protein.

Muscle is made of protein and without it most of those extra calories may end up as body fat.

Studies show that during periods of overfeeding, a high-protein diet causes many of the extra calories to be turned into muscle (Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that protein is a double-edged sword. It’s also highly filling, which may reduce your hunger and appetite significantly, making it harder to get in enough calories (Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

If you’re trying to gain weight, aim for 0.7–1 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.5–2.2 grams of protein per kilogram). You can even go above that if your calorie intake is very high.

High-protein foods include meats, fish, eggs, many dairy products, legumes, nuts and others. Protein supplements like whey protein can also be useful if you struggle to get enough protein in your diet.

Fill up on Plenty of Carbs and Fat and Eat at Least 3 Times per Day

Many people try restricting either carbs or fat when trying to lose weight.

This is a bad idea if your goal is to gain weight, as it will make it harder to get in enough calories.

Eat plenty of high-carb and high-fat foods if weight gain is a priority for you. It is best to eat plenty of protein, fat and carbs at each meal.

It is also a bad idea to do intermittent fasting. This is useful for weight loss and health improvement but can make it much harder to eat enough calories to gain weight.

Make sure to eat at least three meals per day and try to add in energy-dense snacks whenever possible.

Eat Energy-Dense Foods and Use Sauces, Spices and Condiments

Again, it’s very important to eat mostly whole, single-ingredient foods.

The problem is that these foods tend to be more filling than processed junk foods, making it harder to get in enough calories.

Using plenty of spices, sauces and condiments can help with this. The tastier your food is, the easier it is to eat a lot of it.

Also, try to emphasize energy-dense foods as much as possible. These are foods that contain many calories relative to their weight.

Here are some energy-dense foods that are perfect for gaining weight:

  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Dried fruit: Raisins, dates, prunes and others.
  • High-fat dairy: Whole milk, full-fat yogurt, cheese, cream.
  • Fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil.
  • Grains: Whole grains like oats and brown rice.
  • Meat: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc. Choose fattier cuts.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
  • Dark chocolate, avocados, peanut butter, coconut milk, granola, trail mixes.

Many of these foods are very filling, and sometimes you may need to force yourself to keep eating even if you feel full.

It may be a good idea to avoid eating a ton of vegetables if gaining weight is a priority for you. It simply leaves less room for energy-dense foods.

Eating whole fruit is fine, but try to emphasize fruit that doesn’t require too much chewing, such as bananas.

If you need more suggestions, consider reading this article on 18 healthy foods to gain weight fast.

Lift Heavy Weights and Improve Your Strength

To make sure that the excess calories go to your muscles instead of just your fat cells, it’s absolutely crucial to lift weights.

Go to a gym and lift 2–4 times per week. Lift heavy and try to increase the weights and volume over time.

If you’re completely out of shape or new to training, consider hiring a qualified personal trainer to help you get started.

You may also want to consult with a doctor if you have skeletal problems or any medical issue.

It’s probably best to take it easy on the cardio for now — focus mostly on the weights.

Doing some cardio is fine to improve fitness and well-being, but don’t do so much that you end up burning all the additional calories you’re eating.

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Does Metabolism Matter in Weight Loss?

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism or metabolic rate is defined as the series of chemical reactions in a living organism that create and break down energy necessary for life. More simply, it’s the rate at which your body expends energy or burns calories. In this article I will discuss about Does Metabolism Matter in Weight Loss?

Our bodies burn calories in several ways:

  • Through the energy required to keep the body functioning at rest; this is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is partly determined by the genes you inherit.
  • Through everyday activities
  • Through exercise

Does Metabolism Matter in Weight Loss?

Metabolism is partly genetic and largely outside of one’s control. Changing it is a matter of considerable debate. Some people are just lucky. They inherited genes that promote a faster metabolism and can eat more than others without gaining weight. Others are not so lucky and end up with a slow metabolism.

One way to think about metabolism is to view your body as a car engine that is always running. When you’re sitting still or sleeping, you’re engine is idling like a car at a stop light. A certain amount of energy is being burned just to keep the engine running. Of course, for humans, the fuel source is not gasoline. It’s the calories found in foods we eat and beverages we drink — energy that may be used right away or stored (especially in the form of fat) for use later.

How fast your body’s “engine” runs on average, over time, determines how many calories you burn. If your metabolism is “high” (or fast), you will burn more calories at rest and during activity. A high metabolism means you’ll need to take in more calories to maintain your weight. That’s one reason why some people can eat more than others without gaining weight. A person with a “low” (or slow) metabolism will burn fewer calories at rest and during activity and therefore has to eat less to avoid becoming overweight.

It’s part truth and part myth that metabolism is the key to weight. The rising tide of obesity in this country cannot be blamed entirely on an inherited tendency to have a slow metabolism. Genes do not change that quickly. Something environmental — particularly, changes in diet and exercising too little — are much more likely culprits.

The reality is that for most people, excess weight is not all due to bad luck, thyroid trouble or some other unexplained, uncontrollable external factor. It’s simple accounting involving calories in and calories out that determines changes in weight over a lifetime.

Regardless of whether your metabolism is fast or slow, our bodies are designed to store excess energy in fat cells. So if you eat and drink more calories (energy “intake”) than your body expends (energy “output”) you will gain weight. On the other hand, if you eat and drink fewer calories than are burned through everyday activities (including exercise, rest and sleep), you’ll lose weight. Our bodies are also programmed to sense a lack of food as starvation. In response, our BMR slows down, which means fewer calories burned over time. That’s one reason why losing weight is often difficult.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about all of this is how little our weight tends to change from day to day. In fact, only a few excess calories each day could lead to significant weight gain at the end of a year. For example, eating an extra apple each day would lead to a weight gain of nearly 9 pounds by the end of one year! Similarly, even a small reduction in calories each day could lead to remarkable weight loss. Eliminating dessert one day a week would lead to weight loss of nearly 6 pounds in a year.

Many theories exist to explain what controls the amount of food a person eats, when they feel full and why they eat past the point of feeling full. These factors also play a role in determining one’s ultimate weight. One theory is that each of us has a set point — a weight at which the body is “happy.” If you lose weight, you’ll feel hungry until you get back to your set point weight. That may be another reason it is so hard to lose excess weight. But how that set point is determined and whether there truly is such a mechanism remain uncertain.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to weight, metabolism is important and does have a genetic component. Whether you can change your metabolic rate, however, is a matter of considerable debate. Clearly, you can change how you balance the calories you take in against the calories you burn up through activity, which can change your weight.

What can I do to boost up my metabolism?

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What can I do to speed up my metabolism?

It’s not unusual to hear people blame their weight gain on a slow metabolism. They’ve cut down on calories and they’re more active, but they’re not losing weight. Could the culprit be a slow metabolism? What can I do to speed up my metabolism?

What is metabolism?

Metabolism describes all the chemical processes that go on continuously inside your body to keep you alive and your organs functioning normally, such as breathing, repairing cells and digesting food.

These chemical processes require energy. The minimum amount of energy your body requires to carry out these chemical processes is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Your BMR accounts for anything between 40% and 70% of your body’s daily energy requirements, depending on your age and lifestyle. A “slow metabolism” is more accurately described as a low BMR.

There are lots of online calculators that can work out your daily energy needs. Look out for those that use the Harris-Benedict equation.

Do some people have a faster metabolism than others?

Body size, age, gender and genes all play a role in the speed of your metabolism.

Muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells, so people with more muscle than fat tend to have a faster metabolism.

As we get older, we tend to gain fat and lose muscle. This explains why your metabolism may slow down as you get older.

In general, men tend to have a faster metabolism because they have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat than women.

Your metabolism may be partly determined by your genes, although this isn’t yet fully understood.

Genes definitely play a role in muscle size and your ability to grow muscles, both of which affect your metabolism.

Am I fat because of a slow metabolism?

People who struggle to lose weight often blame a slow metabolism. But there’s little evidence to support this claim.

Research actually shows that overweight people have faster metabolisms than thinner people. Larger bodies require more energy to carry out basic bodily functions.

Putting a “slow metabolism” to one side, something else may be at play here.

Research suggests people tend to eat more than they think they do. When asked to write down everything they’ve consumed in a day, many people tend to report eating far less than they actually do.

More often than not, the reason you’re putting on weight isn’t because of a slow metabolism, it’s because you’re eating and drinking more calories than you’re burning.

It may be hard to accept, but staying on top of the number of calories you eat is key to losing weight and keeping it off.

Can losing weight too fast slow my metabolism?

Crash diets and other calorie-restricted diets can slow your metabolism.

With some diets, your body is forced to break down muscle to use for energy. The lower your muscle mass, the slower your metabolism.

With less muscle and a slower metabolism, it then becomes a lot easier to put body fat back on after coming off the diet.

What can I do to speed up my metabolism?

It’s claimed that certain foods and drinks can boost your metabolism, including green tea, black coffee, spices and energy drinks. The evidence behind these claims is weak.

While you don’t have much control over the speed of your metabolism, you can control how many calories you burn through your level of physical activity.

The more active you are, the more calories you burn.

Some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active – and maybe more fidgety – than others.

Here are the 3 most effective ways of burning calories:

Aerobic activity

Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn calories. You should aim to do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling and swimming, a week.

You can achieve this target by doing 30 minutes, 5 days a week and breaking down your activity sessions in chunks of 10 minutes.

To lose weight, you’re likely to need to do more than 150 minutes a week and make changes to your diet.

Strength training

Muscle burns more calories than fat, so increasing your muscle mass will help you lose weight.

Aim to do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on 2 or more days a week.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights and high-intensity bouts of exercise. Heavy gardening may also do the job.

Be active

Try to make activity part of your daily routine. That could include walking or cycling all or part of your journey to work. You could also take the stairs instead of the lift. 

Can certain medical conditions cause a slow metabolism?

Some diseases and conditions can slow a person’s metabolism, such as Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).

But more often than not, people’s weight is a matter of consuming more calories than they burn.

If you feel you may have a problem that’s not responding to lifestyle changes, speak to a doctor.

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8 Factors That Slow Your Metabolism

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I can’t lose weight because of my slow metabolism?” Over the past two decades as nutritionists, we’ve heard that time and again from our clients. How do you know if your metabolism is actually slow? Can it be fixed? And is the problem really your metabolism? Simply put, metabolism is the way your body converts the food and drink you consume for energy, and is usually measured in calories. We can determine how many calories your body burns each day by plugging information into a variety of formulas that have been designed to measure this. Click here to access the formulas and see what you get. As there is no single calculation that is considered the best, we recommend that you do all of the formulas, which will give you a range in which your metabolism may fall. A more accurate way is to have your metabolism measured through indirect calorimetry, which uses a machine to measure oxygen consumption. In less than 10 minutes you can know your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Metabolism is a complex process that’s affected by more than just what you eat and how much you exercise. There are 8 factors that slow your metabolism, and you might not even know it.

1. INCONSISTENT MEAL TIMES

When your meals times come at regularly spaced intervals, your body uses up the calories for fuel and burns more calories in between meals. If your eating pattern is erratic, your body gets confused and isn’t quite sure when the next meal is coming, so it goes into conservation mode. Calorie burn is reduced and more food is put into storage (fat cells and glycogen stores).

2. GETTING TOO LITTLE SLEEP  

Numerous studies have shown that sleep is a key factor in gaining and losing weight. When you do not get enough sleep, hormones that control hunger and fullness go haywire. Too much ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and too little leptin (the fullness hormone) get produced, which leaves you feeling hungry all day and you lose the ability to know when you are full. Plus, more cortisol gets produced, which increases cravings for starchy, sugary and fatty foods. Recent studies on chronic sleep deprivation suggest that the calories you eat are burned less efficiently. Aim for 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

3. NOT EATING ENOUGH

If you are “dieting” to lose weight, eating too few calories can actually backfire and keep you from achieving your goal. Yes, creating a calorie deficit will help you lose weight, but there is a point in each individual that cutting calories too low will put the body into starvation mode and slow down metabolism to keep you alive. Make sure you get enough calories and a balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) to keep your metabolism from crashing. Read more about how to determine your macronutrient needs

4. SKIPPING OUT ON STRENGTH TRAINING 

Most people make the mistake of only doing cardio (aerobic) exercise because it burns a good amount of calories while it’s being done. But after the exercise is over, calorie burn returns to resting levels. Strength training is a key component of metabolism because it is directly linked to muscle mass. The more active muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Whether you lift weights, use resistance bands or use your own body weight for resistance, resistance creates microtears in the muscle tissue. As your body repairs these tears, muscle tissue grows and requires more calories to stay alive. One of the best ways to strength train to get the best response from your muscle is to focus on the eccentric (or lowering) portion of any move. Eccentric moves are more muscularly damaging and require more effort to repair than concentric movements (the lifting portion of a move), and thus increase metabolism more. So, slow down when you strength train to increase your metabolism.

5. SITTING TOO MUCH

If you exercise an hour a day, but spend the other 23 hours sitting or lying down, your metabolism will slow down. Sitting for longer than 20 minutes can put your body into a more relaxed, non-energy-burning state. If your job keeps you chained to a desk or behind the wheel, get up once an hour to move around for a few minutes. Periodically moving is shown to help decrease triglycerides, blood sugar, waistlines and cholesterol as well as cause a small spike in metabolism.

6. WHAT YOU DRINK

Consider this tip a two-for-one: Drinking too little water leads to dehydration, which can cause you to burn up to 2% fewer calories. All your body’s cellular functions require water, so sip it often. Drinking ice cold water can increase your metabolism by a few calories as your body heats the water to body temperature. Aim for at least 2 liters of water a day; drink more during hot and humid weather and when you sweat. At the other extreme, too much alcohol can impact your metabolism because excessive alcohol causes your liver to focus on breaking down alcohol molecules instead of burning fat. Plus, the calories from alcohol can add up quickly and impact weight.

7. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH CALCIUM

The mineral best known for building strong bones plays a key role in fat metabolism, which determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Some of the best dietary sources of calcium come from dairy—organic milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese—which also benefit muscles because they contain whey and casein, proteins that help to build muscle and prevent muscle breakdown. Research from McMaster University showed that women who consumed more dairy lost more fat and gained more muscle mass than those who consumed less.

8. STRESS

We’ve saved the best for last. Stress is probably the number-one factor impacting metabolism. It increases the production of cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite and makes us reach for comfort foods. It can decrease our desire for exercise, even though exercise is a powerful stress-buster. Stress slows digestion, causing a lower need to metabolize calories. Plus, stress can impact both the quality of sleep and number hours we sleep, which, as described earlier, can decrease metabolism and promote weight gain

To find 10 mistakes that slow your metabolism click here.

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