As obesity rates are sky high, everyone is quite obsessed about losing weight. However, being underweight or having a very low BMI is also a matter of concern and is often ignored by people.
Though globally, the prevalence rate of being underweight has slightly decreased (from 9.2% to 8.4% in girls and from 14.8% to 12.4% in boys), it still is an issue that needs attention (1).
In this article, we will discuss how you can gain weight in a healthy way and a sample diet plan you can follow.
In This Article
What Is Your Healthy Weight Range?
Your BMI (body mass index) will help you determine your healthy weight range. Divide your body weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) squared to calculate your BMI (2).
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 denotes a healthy weight range. If your BMI is below 18.5, you are underweight.
Use this calculator to know your BMI scale and status.
Reasons For Being Underweight
Several medical conditions can make you underweight:
- High Metabolism: Some people are built to be lean. Their metabolic rate is so high that they fail to gain weight even after eating high-calorie foods.
- Family History: A few people are born with the kind of genes that make them naturally thin and have a low BMI.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can cause weight loss. Having an overactive thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) increases metabolic rate and may cause weight loss. Uncontrolled diabetes (Type 1), cancer, and any infectious diseases can make someone lose weight (3).
- Eating Disorders: People with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can be underweight (3).
- Depression: People who have depression may experience a severe loss of appetite and lose a substantial amount of weight very quickly. Such people need immediate medical help (3).
If your BMI is less than 16, please visit your doctor to diagnose any possible medical conditions.
Sample Diet Plan For Weight Gain
Though eating high-calorie foods like sodas, donuts, and French fries can make you gain weight, it is not a healthy approach.
Your aim should be to build muscle mass and gain weight in a healthy way. Eating processed foods for weight gain can lead to the accumulation of subcutaneous or visceral fat. This can result in the unhealthy deposition of fats around your belly area or organs, respectively.
Following is a sample diet plan that can aid healthy weight gain. This plan can vary based on the age, sex, the level of physical activity, and calorie requirements of the individual.
|Meals||Time||What to have|
|Early Morning||7 a.m. – 8 a.m.|
|Breakfast||8 a.m. – 9 a.m.|
|After Breakfast||11 a.m. – 12 p.m.|
|Lunch||1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.|
|Evening snack||5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.|
|Dinner||8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.|
|Before bed||10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.|
Healthy Tips To Gain Weight Fast (And Safely)
1. Eat Calorie-Dense Foods
Foods high in calories and balanced in nutrients will help you gain weight. Foods like avocado, banana, and full-fat milk should be your staple.
2. Consume Healthy Carbs
Carbohydrates can help in weight gain. Replace high sugar and refined carbs like chocolates, donuts, pizzas with healthier options like banana, potato, sweet potato, whole grains, rice, and fruits, etc.
3. Consume A Protein Source With Every Meal
Your muscles are made of proteins. To gain weight and build lean muscle mass, you must include a protein source in every meal you consume. Aim to take 1.5-2 gm of protein for every kg of body weight.
Chicken breast, ground turkey, tofu, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, fish, eggs, milk, and yogurt should be your go-to choices of protein.
4. Add Healthy Fats To Your Diet
Don’t consume just any fatty food. Choose healthy fats that do not cause harm in the long run. Healthy fats are also good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Include foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, avocado oil, salmon, and olive oil in your diet. Eating a fistful of pumpkin or flaxseeds is a good way to provide your body with healthy fat.
5. Take Weight Gain Supplements
In some cases, diet and exercise alone may not bring about the desired results. Another way to go about this is by including some additional supplements in your diet.
Whey protein is an increasingly popular supplement you can add to your milk or smoothies.
6. Strength Training
Gaining weight doesn’t mean you have to gain fat mass. Gain lean muscle mass. You’ll look toned and defined. To get there, you need to hit the gym at least 2-4 times a week and lift some weights.
If you have any medical conditions, talk to your doctor before you hit the gym.
7. Eliminate Stress
Losing or gaining weight could be a stressful event. Stress often becomes a major hurdle when you try to achieve a goal. Therefore, it is important to reduce stress.
Have a relaxing bath to reduce stress. Put on some good music and dance until you drop. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises also work well to reduce stress.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is an essential determinant of your health and well-being. A person needs a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night to stay fit and fine. A cross-sectional study on Chinese University students revealed that good quality sleep helped strengthen muscle mass as compared to poor quality sleep (4).
9. Track Your Goal
Tracking your goal increases your chances of hitting your target. Maintain a food journal to write your calorie goal and track the foods that you eat.
Check your weight every week or 10 days. This not only motivates you but also helps you analyze your progress better. You can even track your exercise pattern and start measuring muscle gain.
10. Keep Yourself Motivated
Weight gain is not rocket science; it requires a scientific approach and well disciplined lifestyle. Be patient and keep yourself motivated. Do not aim to gain more than four pounds a month. Looking for faster weight gain could be unhealthy and may only give you temporary results.
Weight gain could be as challenging as weight loss, but consistency is the key for long-term results. Consuming calorie-dense junk foods should not be the aim. Instead, your focus should be to gain lean muscle mass as that can lead to a healthy weight gain.
- Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight and obesity from 1975 to 2016 : a pooled analysis of 2416 population- based measurements studies in 128.9 million children, adolescents and adults, THE LANCET.
- Assessing your weight, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Unintentional weight loss, National Health Services.
- Relationship between sleep and muscle strength among Chinese university students: a cross-sectional study, Journal of musculoskeletal and neuronal interactions, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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