There are many articles about weight loss and diets, but what do you do if you are underweight?? How to gain weight in a healthy way? If you search for these terms, you will find little help. Doctors are usually overwhelmed and sufferers often feel left alone.
Shoveling in kilos of sugar can hardly be the right solution. Therefore, in this article I will discuss the most common causes of underweight and what you can do about it – in a healthy way.
The causes of underweight
A root for underweight is indeed the genes, but not alone. Your genes determine whether you tend to have a stocky, a medium or a thin body shape. If you are already built rather slim since birth? Then your genes certainly have a hand in it.
But many people have already proven that genes are only a hindrance, but not an insurmountable obstacle to gaining weight. Many athletes were spaghetti-shaped in their younger years and still have a muscular figure today.
By the way: Is being thin harmful to your health?? No. If you are merely slim, you don’t have to worry about your health – only when you are significantly underweight should the alarm bells ring.
Not only your genes can shape the behavior of your body, but also your upbringing and psyche. While some, for example, were always fed chocolate in their childhood when they were feeling bad, others learned exactly the opposite: when they had problems and were stressed, they were told to slim down or to deprive themselves of food as a punishment. Your body remembers these and similar situations for a long time and often reacts later in the same way as in childhood. So, while one person gains weight due to stress, the opposite happens with others: the body subconsciously refuses food or digests it only minimally.
Either way, we have already found one main reason for being underweight: Stress! Cortisol – our stress hormone – ensures, among other things, that muscles are broken down and processed into sugar. It also inhibits digestion and you absorb less nutrients. If you want to gain weight in a healthy way, you should avoid stress at all costs, at least until you have reached your desired weight.
Genes are not an insurmountable hurdle. Cortisol is a handbrake for your weight gain. Therefore, avoid stress as much as possible.
Health causes of underweight
What else can cause you to simply not gain weight?? The intestine is usually the linchpin of health causes. This is how SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) lead to your intestine being colonized by the wrong bacteria. Then bad intestinal bacteria eat away amino acids or B vitamins from your body before it can digest and absorb them.
SIBO is often accompanied by other symptoms, including vitamin D deficiency and mineral deficiency. Your body is also unable to break down proteins properly, resulting in an amino acid deficiency. Amino acids, however, are essential for muscle maintenance and muscle building.
In addition, gluten or malnutrition can lead to increased inflammation originating from the intestines. This can be followed by problems with the thyroid gland or other autoimmune diseases. As with almost every disease, there is also a subclinical form of hyperthyroidism, which your doctor usually does not recognize. If the TSH value is only slightly elevated and the T3 and T4 values are in the green range, then your doctor may send you home again instead of getting to the bottom of hyperthyroidism.
Other causes may be viruses or bacteria, such as a H. pylori Infection . Also a special form of diabetes type 1 or neurological problems like MS can cause that you do not gain weight or lose weight dramatically. As you can see, there are numerous health causes for being underweight.
Underweight can be a consequence of various diseases, infections or a damaged intestine.
How can I gain weight healthily in spite of illness?
If you do not notice any health abnormalities besides being underweight, then a disease is unlikely to be the cause.
If, on the other hand, you have taken a lot of antibiotics, have digestive problems, a bloated belly or similar symptoms, I would take a closer look at your intestines.
If you are restless, have night sweats or an elevated body temperature, then hyperthyroidism could be responsible.
If you have a weak immune system, allergies, intolerances, suffer from fatigue, exhaustion or neurological problems, then chronic inflammation may be the cause.
If you have any health problems, I recommend that you see a specialist. In addition, you can do many things yourself to support your body. A healthy diet is the key to strengthening your gut and reducing inflammation. You can achieve a natural intestinal cleansing and colon reconstruction with an adapted diet.
You shouldn’t ignore health issues – even if you’re gaining weight again.
How can I gain weight?
A calorie surplus is crucial. There are those who say caloric intake is irrelevant – I don’t share this opinion. Calories play a decisive role in whether you lose or gain weight.
In fact, I observe in most of my readers – who are struggling with weight gain – that they are simply eating too few calories. Often they don’t feel this way themselves, but documentation or a food log usually shows that they are either unconsciously eating less or eating irregularly. Both lead to simply not taking in enough calories. Creating this awareness and routine is a first step, but is rarely enough on its own.
Calorie surplus means that you take in more calories than you burn during the day (and night). As a guideline for women
2.000 calories and for men
2.500 calories you should exceed. Although the exact number depends on your weight. If you do sports or physical exertion, your calorie requirement increases additionally. I wouldn’t get stuck on a number here, but simply try to steadily increase your calorie intake and watch at what point you start gaining weight.
The wrong and unhealthy way is to stuff yourself with sugar or bad fats now. Because sugar or excess carbohydrates quickly causes SIBO – that thing where the wrong bacteria flood your gut. We don’t want that because it robs you of valuable nutrients in the long run. Unhealthy fats, on the other hand, cause additional inflammation, which is not nice either.
And gluten… I won’t even get into that at this point. Fact: Gluten makes your gut weak and permeable, which in turn can lead to inflammation or autoimmune disease in the long run. Therefore I would avoid gluten, especially if you have difficulties with gaining weight or health problems.
It’s better to focus on healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates – though we shouldn’t overdo it on simple carbs and sugars.
Gain weight healthily, rule 1) Calorie surplus: Eat more than you burn.
So how can I gain weight healthily?
Besides the number of calories, it is also important what you eat. For healthy weight gain, I always recommend taking in the full spectrum of macronutrients, leaving none out. The three macronutrients are:
- Fats and
If you neglect one of these three macronutrients, your weight will often stagnate or you will lose weight. This does not apply without exception, but is the rule.
So I don’t recommend low carb if you want to gain weight, and I definitely don’t recommend low fat. Fat has the highest number of calories per gram. Plenty of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids support you best and are easy on your intestines. So keep the olive oil flowing and enjoy high quality animal fats.
In terms of healthy carbohydrates, starchy fruits and vegetables are perfect. Pumpkin, potatoes or sweet potatoes are an ideal side dish, bananas the perfect snack or dessert. You can of course also occasionally reach for cereal products, such as muesli. Sugar is also okay in moderation to increase your calorie intake.
Proteins should be part of every healthy meal either way – there’s no question about that. Because proteins not only provide energy, but also amino acids, the essential building blocks for your muscles and immune system. Of course, the quality is also important here.
Gain weight healthily, rule 2) Consume all three macronutrient groups: Integrate fat, carbohydrates and proteins into your diet plan.
More tips for weight gain: Weight gainer
If you have problems to get the necessary calories, simply do not manage to eat regularly or for some other reason do not gain weight, then I recommend to integrate a weight gainer.
The easiest way to fill up on calories is in liquid form. Olive oil is one way, but you rarely drink it out of the bottle. Rice milk or oat milk also provide quick calories and are therefore a simple option for weight gain. Just don’t overdo it, because oat milk is not really healthy and both contain pure sugar.
The ideal is a weight gainer from different sources, which is nothing more than a high-calorie smoothie or a healthy milkshake. With a weight gainer you will quickly reach several hundred calories, which you can easily consume several times a day.
A healthy weight gainer is built from the following components:
- Plenty of protein: For example, by drinking a protein shake, vegetable or animal milk
- Plenty of carbohydrates: For example by bananas, vegetable or animal milk
- Abundant fat: For example, coconut cream, avocado or pure fat (butter/coconut oil)
For an extra shot of calories, you can also add some honey or a bit of sprouted granola for the crunch factor. To get additional nutrients, feel free to add more fruits or vegetables to your diet. Ready is your calorie bomb to go.
Gain weight healthily, tip 1) A smoothie is not only healthy and quick to drink, but can also be packed with calories.
Increase calorie density
The second tip ties in with the first. Normally, we care about high nutrient density – that is, that a food provides as many micronutrients as possible, such as vitamins, for as few macronutrients as possible. When gaining weight, it’s the other way around: you want to increase the calorie density of your food, at least in the short term.
How to do it? A simple rule is: liquid calories are worth their weight in gold. Because in the liquid form almost always increases the calorie density:
An apple: Low calorie density => Apple juice: High calorie density
Orange: Low calorie density => Orange juice: High calorie density
Olive: Low calorie density => Olive oil: High calorie density
Almonds: Low calorie density => Almond milk: High calorie density
Coconut: low calorie density => Coconut oil: High calorie density
So fruit juices, milk or healthy oils are an ideal choice to increase your calorie density. Another idea is dried fruit. Here, water has been removed from the fruit, which is why the calorie density increases dramatically. So you take with dried apricots quickly three times as many calories and feel on top of it less satiety than if you would reach for a fresh apricot.
Healthy Weight Gainer Tip 2) Liquid foods usually contain a higher calorie density.
How can I improve my muscle building?
Muscles burn calories. Therefore, it may seem counterproductive at first glance, but muscle building is essential in gaining healthy weight. Because most of the time underweight people lack not only fat mass, but also muscle mass.
The simplest guideline to build muscle is to reduce endurance training to a minimum and increase strength training. This also applies to women who want to define their body – don’t worry, you won’t look like Hulk if you don’t completely overdo it.
Put your focus on small intense sessions, strength training and sprints. Counterproductive are marathons and the like, which consume many calories and can reduce muscle building.
Besides that, of course, proper nutrition is key – plenty of protein to fuel your body for muscle building – and anything that improves your recovery: so good sleep, low stress, a healthy gut and plenty of antioxidants in your diet.
Healthy weight gain, tip 3) Strength training and protein are important to build muscle and define your body.
Which supplements can help you gain weight?
As always, I recommend a basic supply of supplements to give your body a leg up in everyday life and fill in the gaps in your modern diet. Here are the supplements that are most important in my eyes to support healthy weight gain:
1) Gut-nourishing vital nutrients: These include prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes.
2) Omega-3 fatty acids: Very important to support your intestines and reduce inflammation in the body.
These are the two most important. We want a healthy intestinal flora, so that your body can also absorb all the necessary nutrients that you serve it through food. Other good supplements are
3) Protein shake: Ideal to support your muscle building and provide additional amino acids – which your body may be worse at absorbing. Many people with underweight have a worse supply of amino acids than some vegans, simply because the utilization is worse.
4) Minerals and Vitamins: Minerals are important building blocks in your body that are most likely being shortchanged. Vitamins are crucial as natural players, otherwise minerals become worthless.
You get a good overall package of gut-supporting fiber, vitamins and minerals with a basic product. However, supplements can only support and not replace a healthy diet.
Gain weight healthy, tip 4) Food supplements can support your body additionally. The focus is on intestinal care.
Bottom Line: Gain Weight Healthy
Health should always come first and infections and illnesses should be checked by a doctor. A healthy gut and a healthy diet are the essential basis for your body to gain healthy weight. If something is severely out of whack here, I recommend a colon cleanse and a switch to a colon-friendly diet.
If you are constantly having trouble gaining weight, I would consider cutting gluten out of your diet completely – just to spare your gut and give it time to regenerate. This decision is up to you.
If your health and gut are doing well, then all you need to do is increase your caloric intake and keep building muscle. The easiest way to achieve this is to increase the calorie density of your food and resort to liquid calories.
I also don’t recommend neglecting any of the three macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats, proteins. Instead, reach for high-quality protein sources, healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates.
Did this article help you or do you have any other tips for healthy weight gain?? Then I look forward to your comment.
Do you yourself have no problems with gaining weight? Then I would be happy if you share this article with people who are looking for it.