Gaining weight the healthy way

BY: Anita Bannerman
 Healthy weight gain requires a balanced approach
Healthy weight gain requires a balanced approach

There’s now a lot of attention on being overweight or obese – and this is a good thing.

It’s a serious health concern which increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and stroke, among other health conditions.

Many individuals are therefore on a mission to lose weight – from using “trendy” diets to a professional diet plan or “magic” weight-loss food products to exercising in most suitable way.

With this possibly being an unending “battle” for some of such persons, being too thin may seem like a good problem to actually have. And many can’t imagine that there are people who really would like to gain weight.

However, being underweight can lead to just as many and serious health problems as weighing too much. This doesn’t allow the permission to go crazy on junk foods though.

Healthy weight gain, just like any professional weight loss programme, requires a balanced approach.

Putting on a few kilos can therefore be real challenge, especially if it is to be done in a healthy way – but this is the best way and totally possible.

This article is all about how to gain weight healthily.

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Firstly, let’s note that the storage of energy as fat in the body is, in fact, good.

It is one of the many ways the body uses ingested food to function, heal and grow.

However, too much of everything we know, isn’t good. This can be applied here, which is evidently true, as with excessive weight gain.

Primarily, to gain weight, more calories must be consumed than what is burned off by the body.

Knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate, or simply the number of calories your body burns daily while at rest, aids in determining how much you would now need to consume for weight gain.

Let’s now define what underweight really is.

Generally determined by using the Body Mass Index (BMI) formula, which considers your weight and height to calculate a score, underweight is defined as having a BMI of below 18.5.
However, other factors must also be taken into account such as lean body mass, body fat, and bone structure.

A dietician will also determine if you’re underweight based on what you eat and your activity level – maybe you’re eating lesser calories than required, exercising too much or have a very active lifestyle.

Being underweight can be as a result of genetics, as a person’s physique largely depends on genetic factors.

And so for naturally thin people, this causes them to have a naturally speedy metabolism or faster satiety cues, thereby making it difficult for them to gain weight.

Medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome and cancer could also lead to weight loss.

Feeling stressed, depressed or constantly worrying can negatively interfere with eating patterns and appetite, causing weight loss too.

Weighing too little can bring about several health consequences including developmental and growth delays, as well as learning problems in children, compromised fertility (especially in women), weakened immune system, osteoporosis, anaemia, slow wound healing and a high risk for further malnutrition.
Wishing you a prosperous and healthy new year!

To be continued

The writer is a registered dietician
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