Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
The struggle to lose weight and get thin has occupied our collective consciousness in a massive manner. From books to magazines, to talk shows and social media platforms everyone is looking for a miracle that’ll help in losing weight. But, what about those who suffer at the other end of this spectrum, people who are too thin and undernourished.
People who are skinny are considered extremely lucky because people wrongly assume that being thin is being healthy. However, the truth is, being underweight brings its own set of troubles. Being underweight means that your body is not absorbing nutrients from the food you are eating. This means that your body won’t develop at the optimal rate and may be at an increased risk of various deficiencies. Immune function is decreased in underweight people, which makes them prone to infections. Infertility is also common in them and if pregnancy happens, the baby’s health could be at risk due to lack of nutrients.
If you happen to be underweight or are skinny then it’s time that you end your weight gain struggle with these 5 tips.
EAT MORE! – We know you’ve heard this one already
It’s kind of the most obvious suggestion. But, it is also the most honest one. You can only gain weight when you are eating more. The reason behind this is – your body works non-stop and for that it needs energy. It takes anywhere between 1200-2500 calories for your body to keep your heart beating, your kidneys running, your lungs breathing and all the other functions that keep you alive. So, if you want to gain weight you have to consume more calories than your body is already burning.
Now your first job is to identify how many calories your body is burning considering your physical activity. You can do this by using a Total Daily Energy Expenditure calculator. Your aim should be to eat 300-500 more calories than your TDEE consistently to gain weight. While eating more is essential, what you need to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t mindlessly eat unhealthy or junk food which has no nutritional value. Also, your extra calories don’t have to come only from food. You can have them in the form of drinks as well. Calorie rich shakes and smoothies can be equally beneficial.
Not all foods are your friends
Continuing from the point above, while you do need to eat more, junk food, unfortunately, isn’t the answer. The extra calories gained from junk food may add bulk to your frame, but not the kind you want and definitely not the kind that will help you in the long term. A smart way to bulk up is to do it healthily. Indulge in high-quality whole foods. This way you’ll gain your calories and you’ll also build your health. Your diet should include protein, carbs, fats and vegetables. This is how you can add them into your diet:
Proteins – If you are of a healthy weight and have a healthy liver, your protein intake should be 2.2g per kg of your body weight. Without the right kind of protein, you might not see satisfactory results. Protein-rich foods are:
- Chickpeas/Kidney Beans
- Fruits like bananas, apples, oranges
- Nuts and seeds
Carbs and fats – Carbs and fats are rich in calories and they don’t fill your stomach as much as proteins can do. Once you know the number of extra calories you need and how many grams of protein you need to consume every day, then you can get the remainder of your daily calories from carbs and fats. Food rich in carbs are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Regular potatoes
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole grain bread
And foods rich in fats are:
- Olive oil
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- Whole milk
- Coconut oil
- Fatty cuts of meat
Vegetables – Vegetables are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and lack of them can cause various deficiencies. Include one serving of vegetables rich in fiber in your meal. Some of such veggies are:
- Spaghetti squash
Set achievable goals and track your progress
Considering your current weight, your diet and your training you need to set goals for yourself. Make sure that these goals are achievable. Don’t set goals that are practically impossible. A systematic and planned approach is what you need here. Rather than gaining a lot quickly, the idea is to gain gradually. That way, you will be less likely to get off track. You can track your progress by continuously measuring your muscles, weighing yourself or by clicking your pictures every week. If you see the desired difference in yourself, then you will know you are on the right track. Otherwise, you can always revise your plan.
Strength training is important and this is what you can do
Up until this point, we have talked about eating more and more calories. If you depend solely on eating more to gain weight, you will only gain fat with no muscles. But if you want to bulk up correctly, you need to lift heavyweights. When you train, you break your muscles. And they rebuild themselves while getting stronger and bigger. To get the best results, you need to train them harder than the last time. Some people like to indulge in cardio exercises like running as well. Although cardio is good for heart health, it can slow down your bulking-up journey a little. So you have to balance out your cardio and strength training sessions to get maximum benefits. Note that you don’t have to focus on every muscle of your body. Working your bigger muscles like your chest and thighs will also be fine. These are some of the weight lifting exercises that you can try:
- Bench press
Get adequate sleep
Those who are trying to bulk up are usually found over-exerting themselves in a gym in the hope of gaining more muscles. Well, this is the most common and the biggest mistake people commit. Understand that muscles get bigger only when you rest and not while you are working them. When you train your muscles, they break. And they recover from the stress when you rest. Thus, having enough rest is extremely important. Make sure that you are getting 8-9 hours of sleep every day. If you are having any kind of sleep troubles, try to overcome them. Take any kind of distraction out of your bedroom and make it quiet and dark to get a peaceful sleep.
Following the right technique can help you gain weight. However, the important thing to note is maintaining your weight over the long term. A fit body requires efforts every day, and staying put on that path is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
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