How to Gain Weight at Home
Going by the headlines that you see on your social media feed and in magazines, you’d think that body weight management is only a serious concern when you’re overweight. While obesity may be a far more common and widespread problem, being underweight is no less threatening to your health. In fact, having significantly low body weight can have more serious health consequences as research shows that having low body weight increases the risk of early death by 140 percent in men and 100 percent in women (1). This is in fact twice the risk as compared to obesity. This increased risk of mortality is because low body weight is associated with nutritional deficiencies, chronic fatigue, weak immunity, increased risk of osteoporosis, infertility, and other health problems.
So, despite the fact that many of your friends may envy your inability to pack on the pounds, you should learn how to gain weight at home in a manner that is healthy and safe. Learning how to gain weight at home safely can also help if you aren’t underweight, but are simply looking to gain muscle mass.
Causes of Weight Loss
Before you learn how to gain weight naturally, it’s important to understand why you have low body weight or difficulty gaining weight. There are many factors at play that can result in low body weight, difficulty with weight gain, or undesirable weight loss. Sudden weight loss is of course the most worrying as this is strongly associated with more serious health conditions. Here are the main causes of low body weight and weight loss:
Genetics – Very often, people looking for information on how to put on weight are actually genetically predisposed to having low body weight. A family history of naturally low body weight is not uncommon and in such cases being underweight is natural. However, you can still use the same tips to gain weight as other people if you need to bulk up or gain muscle mass.
Metabolism – Having a high metabolic rate can make it much harder to gain weight naturally even when you consume high energy foods. This may be natural, but in many cases having such a high metabolic rate could be the result of hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland. When the condition develops, you are likely to start experiencing weight loss.
Excessive Exercise – It’s not uncommon for athletes and fitness junkies to over exercise and engage in high levels of activity without adequately compensating with increased calorie intake. This can make it harder to gain muscle mass and can even lead to undesirable weight loss.
Infections – Inexplicable weight loss without changes to diet and lifestyle are often the result of parasitic and gastrointestinal infections. Aside from such infections, diseases like tuberculosis and HIV or AIDS can also result in sudden and rapid weight loss.
Chronic Diseases – Aside from hypothyroidism, there are other chronic health conditions that can cause weight loss for a variety of reasons, including appetite loss or malabsorption of nutrients. Some examples of chronic diseases that lead to weight loss include conditions like Crohn’s disease, gluten intolerance, and cancer.
Mental Illness – Unhealthy weight loss is often the result of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
Tips to Gain Weight
Increase Caloric Intake
This is the most basic of all tips to gain weight. After all, the math is pretty simple – eating more calories than you burn leads to a calorie surplus and weight gain. You can use BMR or basal metabolic rate calculation to determine your caloric requirement and aim to increase this gradually, creating a surplus (2). To begin, try to consume around 250 to 400 calories more than you burn each day and you can slowly increase it by as much as 700 to 800 calories.
Increase Protein Intake
High protein diets are often recommended for weight loss, but they are also used to build muscle mass and gain weight. In fact, for anyone trying to learn how to gain healthy weight, this is the most important nutrient. This is because muscles primarily comprise of protein and much of the excess calories from protein can be synthesized to increase muscle mass rather than body fat (3). At the same time, be aware that protein can be extremely filling, which is why many use high protein foods for weight loss. In addition to eating high protein foods, it may help to consume protein shakes and whey protein supplements.
Eat On Schedule
Increasing caloric intake may be the most important of all tips to gain weight, but this is hard to manage if you aren’t following a disciplined daily eating schedule. Maintain fixed timings for your three main meals, but also make it a point to snack between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To gain weight, you should be eating at least every three hours, so that you’re having a total of about six meals a day. Keep in mind that the snacks between main meals shouldn’t be so filling that they make it hard to eat your main meals.
Eat Calorie-Dense Whole Foods
The emphasis here is not just on high energy, but on whole foods as most junk foods and processed foods are also high in calories. However, increasing calories by consuming junk foods is unhealthy as they offer no nutritional value and contain sugar, trans fats, and other ingredients that are harmful to health. If you want to know how to gain weight naturally, consider energy-dense whole foods like nuts, full fat dairy products, dry fruits, healthy oils such as olive or avocado oil, fatty meats, tubers, nut butters, and dark chocolate.
Juice diets are often used for weight loss, but one of the less known tips to gain weight is that you can increase calorie intake more easily with beverages. It’s often hard to increase caloric intake adequately with food alone, as they tend to increase feelings of fullness (4). Rich smoothies with cream, yogurt, coconut milk, buts, and high calorie fruits can make it much easier to increase calorie surplus for healthy weight gain. You can also add protein powders to such high calorie beverages to further boost calorie intake. Just make sure that you’re not overdoing it as excessive protein intake from supplements can also be unhealthy.
No matter how committed you might be to adopting these tips to gain weight in a healthy manner, it can be a long and arduous journey, requiring a great deal of patience. The results can take time to show as your body responds to such changes by trying to adjust hunger levels and your body’s metabolic rate, so as to maintain a consistent body weight – your setpoint. Gaining weight is therefore a battle of mind over matter so to speak, as you will have to force yourself to stick to your weight gain diet and eating schedule even though you may feel like quitting. You can also make the process a little easier by adopting other simple tips to gain weight such as limiting water intake before meals, using bigger plates, adding cream to your milk, taking up weight training, quitting smoking, and getting adequate sleep. If you still continue to lose weight or cannot gain weight over a period of months it would be best to consult your doctor.