Nowadays, weight loss has become one of the most serious issues because everyone wants to shed some extra pounds and become thin. The newspapers, magazines, and advertisements are flooded with ideas regarding weight loss. The biggest misconception among people is that all fats are bad. People think that they will become overweight if they consume fats. One has to keep in mind that the body is like an engine that needs fuel to run. This fuel is provided by carbohydrates and fats as the body breaks them into simpler substances to store them for future use.
Fats also play a crucial role in the development of the brain, prevent inflammation, and make hairs and skin healthy. However, people fail to understand the importance of fats and tend to remain underweight. Sometimes, the body weight does not increase when the person is malnourished. A malnourished individual is one who remains deprived of the essential dietary nutrients because of poverty and other reasons. There are several methods that help a person gain weight. Consult a dietician before adopting any of these methods.
What Is Body Mass Index (BMI)?
A body mass index is a measure of the fats present in the body obtained by correlating the height and weight of the body. The formula mainly used to calculate the body mass index (BMI) is
The importance of the body mass index (BMI) score is that it helps the doctor get an idea about body fat. It is basically a screening tool that helps to know whether a person is underweight or overweight. The body mass index (BMI) scores are interpreted as follows:
What Is Being Underweight or Low Weight?
People, who are underweight or have a low weight are equally at the risk of acquiring diseases similar to the ones who are overweight. If a person has low weight or is underweight, it implies that his body is not getting sufficient nutrients and is malnourished. Sometimes, people have a low weight because of genetic conditions, but the doctors and dieticians can surely recommend a diet that helps to gain weight slowly.
What Are the Risks of Being Underweight or Having a Low Body Weight?
Being underweight can cause health problems and serious adverse reactions that are listed below:
People having a low weight are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis because the bones become brittle and tend to break.
If a person is underweight and does not consume a healthy diet, he is more likely to have hair loss, dry skin, and poor dental health.
If a person does not maintain a healthy body weight and avoids eating, he is more likely to fall ill because the immune system loses its ability to fight infections in the absence of nutrients.
When a person eats food, he gets some calories, which are the measurement of the body’s energy. If he does not eat and remains underweight, he might get tired easily and is unable to perform his daily activities effectively.
People with low body weight are more likely to suffer from anemia because they have reduced blood counts, which can lead to dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.
Underweight females are more likely to have irregular or delayed periods which can cause problems related to fertility.
As per the study reports, women who have low weight and are pregnant are more likely to deliver premature or low-birth-weight babies.
When a person does not get enough dietary nutrients and remains underweight, he is likely to show delayed physical and mental growth and development.
What Are the Reasons for a Low-Body Weight?
There are several reasons the person fails to gain weight. The reasons which make it difficult for a person to gain weight are listed below:
Genetics - Sometimes, people are born with a high metabolic rate, and they remain thin. It is not that these people eat less, but they have a hereditary factor that runs in the family. Not only the child but the other family members are thin too.
Diseases - If the person is sick or suffering from diseases for a prolonged period, the ability of the body to store and use the food gets affected. If the person starts losing weight all of a sudden without making any effort, it is a sign of thyroid disease, digestive disease, or diabetes.
Physical Activity - Athletes or people involved in sports activities tend to lose weight because they have to work out a lot to keep their bodies fit and active. It has been commonly seen that people who do jobs that require them to be physically active tend to lose weight compared to the ones living a sedentary lifestyle.
Mental Problems - Mental health is an important aspect of life that is usually ignored by people. When the person is under psychological or emotional stress, the eating habits get disturbed to a large extent. As a result, the person loses weight and becomes vulnerable to diseases.
What Diet Must Be Followed to Gain Weight Safely?
Some people find it difficult to gain weight, just like others who find it difficult to lose weight. Weight gain should not be a rapid process, meaning one must not blindly start eating foods rich in fats and carbohydrates. It should be a slow process, and the focus should be on consuming foods that nourish the body along with gaining weight. The food items to be included in the diet to gain weight are listed below:
1. Protein Shakes or Smoothies - Homemade protein shakes or smoothies are the best ways to gain weight because they are highly nutritious. The ones available in the market contain flavors and sugars in excess. They lack essential nutrients and only provide taste to the palette. The protein smoothies and shakes made at home contain 400 to 600 calories and contain nutrients that make the body healthy. The following ingredients can be used to make protein smoothies:
a. Chocolate Banana Shake - It is a combination of chocolate, banana, whey proteins, and peanut butter.
b. Vanilla Shake - Blueberries, yogurt, and a scoop of vanilla can be combined to make this tasty and healthy shake.
c. Hazelnut Shake - Chocolates, hazelnuts, whey protein, and hazelnut butter can be combined to make this shake.
2. Milk - Milk has been used for a long time to gain weight and improve muscle strength. It is a rich source of calcium, proteins, and fats and provides immense strength to the bones. Milk contains both casein and whey proteins that help to gain muscle strength. The ones who do not like to drink milk can make milkshakes or smoothies as they are both healthy and tasty. Drink one to two glasses of milk daily as each cup contains about 150 calories.
3. Rice - Rice is one of the best sources of carbohydrates, and a cup of cooked white rice provides 200 calories. As the rice is packed with calories, so the ones who eat less or are underweight gain lots of carbohydrates from a bowl of rice. People who do not like rice can combine them with various proteins, and the mixture tastes really great and is healthy too. The other way to make boring rice tasty is by adding some butter, cheese, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, or peanuts. Curry or different types of sauce available in the market can be added to rice to make them tasty.
4. Red Meat - Red meat is the best source of proteins that help to gain muscle strength. It contains leucine and creatine, which are the most important components required for muscle growth and strength. The ones who are finding it difficult to gain weight must consume fatty cuts of meat rather than lean cuts. It is because they contain more calories and help to gain weight safely.
5. Nut Butter - Nut butter is one of the healthiest ways of gaining weight. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and peanuts contain a good amount of calories and help to gain weight. The butter that is normally available contains large amounts of sugar that are harmful to health. However, nut butter is healthy and can be used in smoothies to add taste.
6. Starches - Starch-containing foods are an economical and easiest way of gaining weight. The foods that contain starch include potatoes, quinoa, oats, corn, and buckwheat. Starch is converted to glycogen by the body and stored in the muscles. This glycogen provides energy during physical activities. Starch also provides carbohydrates and fibers that nourish the healthy bacteria of the digestive tract. Quinoa is one of the best sources of starch as well as proteins. It contains all the amino acids that the body can not make by itself.
7. Fish - Oily fish and salmon are good sources of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. They also help to strengthen the immune system and help the body fight diseases. Steamed, cooked, baked, smoked, and fried salmon are both healthy, tasty, and full of proteins. It must be included in the diet to gain weight and body strength.
8. Protein Supplements - Protein supplements are commonly used by athletes undergoing weight training to gain muscle strength. There are a variety of protein supplements available on the market, and they mainly contain whey, soy, and egg proteins. Some people think that they are unhealthy and must not be consumed, which is wrong. Studies have shown that whey protein present in these supplements helps to keep the body away from diseases.
9. Dry Fruits - Dry fruits are also packed with a good amount of calories. Cranberries, dried pineapple, kiwi, apples, and cherries help to gain weight and increase the sugar levels of the body.
10. Whole Grain Bread - Whole grain bread contains carbohydrates and helps to gain weight. Instead of picking up a normal loaf of bread, choose the bread that contains seeds as they are healthy and tasty. Make tasty sandwiches out of bread and add avocado butter, meat, and cheese to gain some calories and proteins.
11. Cereals - Cereals are a good source of carbohydrates and other nutrients, but the person needs to choose the correct cereals. Healthy cereals like oats, granola, and cornflakes must be chosen over processed ones. One cup of granola contains 200 to 300 calories and is rich in fibers and proteins. Nowadays, a variety of cereal bars are available in the market. They are a healthy choice when it comes to having something for snacks. Choose only those cereal bars that contain healthy cereals and nuts and not the ones that contain too many sugars or oils.
12. Dark Chocolates - Chocolates are loved by all, and the ones labeled as dark chocolates contain a large number of antioxidants. Also, chocolates are packed with calories, so one needs to consume only a small amount to get more calories. Dark chocolates help to reduce the risk of cardiac diseases, diabetes, and stress.
13. Eggs - Eggs contain proteins in good amounts and help to gain muscle strength. Omelets, scrambled eggs, egg muffins, and egg sandwiches are some of the foods by which eggs can be added to the diet. People involved in sports activities usually consume six or more eggs daily.
14. Cheese - Cheese is among the favorite food items of children and adults. It is tasty, healthy, rich in calories, and can be easily added to any food item. A cheese burst pizza, cheese sandwich, and cheesecake can be consumed to put on some extra calories.
What Problems Occur When the Person Remains Underweight?
People who do not gain weight or remain underweight are vulnerable to diseases. It is because their body does not receive the calories and the energy required to do the daily activities. Sometimes the people are so thin that even their ribs can be seen through the skin. Malnutrition is one of the causes of low body weight. If the person remains underweight for a prolonged period, the following problems occur;
- Delayed Growth - If the child does not get the required amounts of carbohydrates and fats, he remains underweight. The growth and development of the body are delayed to a large extent. It is because children and teenagers require plenty of nutrients for their growth and development.
- Osteoporosis - This is one of the most common problems in women. When the bones do not receive the required amount of calcium, they tend to become fragile and break easily. Underweight people are at the highest risk of osteoporosis because of the deficiency of calcium and vitamin D.
- Infertility - Underweight men and women are more likely to suffer from infertility issues compared to those who have a healthy weight. Low body weight can result in an irregular menstrual cycle, absence of menstruation, and low sperm count in males.
- Anemia - Anemia is characterized by a reduced concentration of hemoglobin and red blood cells. Underweight people are more likely to suffer from anemia because their body remains deprived of vitamins, iron, and folate. Headache, pale skin, dizziness, and fatigue are the common signs and symptoms of anemia.
- Reduced Immune Response - People who do not have a sufficient body weight are more likely to suffer from diseases. It is because the immune system fails to function when it does not get enough nutrients. As a result, the ability of the body to fight infections reduces.
It is important to maintain healthy body weight, but that does not mean remaining underweight. Nowadays, people are so obsessed with the weight loss ideas and recipes available in the newspapers and magazines that they forget to look after their health. There are several reasons people remain underweight. Some have problems with their genes, some are not financially capable of eating healthy foods, and some skip their meals to remain fit. It is the biggest misconception that the ones who are thin or underweight are the fittest. The risk of anemia, osteoporosis, and mineral and vitamin deficiency diseases are more likely to affect the ones who are underweight. However, the problem can be solved if the person introduces some healthy changes in the diet. There are many food items available like milk, cheese, chocolates, avocado, yogurt, and whole-grain bread that can be included in the diet to gain weight safely. Consult a dietician before opting for a weight gain diet to know about the food items to be included.