Weight Gain – Being clinically underweight can be as bad for health as being obese. It can be a major source of concern if it’s the result of poor nutrition or if you are pregnant or have other health concerns. 

If your doctor or dietician has advised you to gain weight or you are simply struggling to bulk up your muscles, meeting your target weight goal for either, the same guidelines are the same. Here are some weight gain pills that might help you

What Does It Mean To Be Underweight?

Being underweight may be defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5. 

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. This applies to adult men and women.

BMI Categories:

Underweight = Less than 18.5

Normal weight = 18.5–24.9

Overweight = 25–29.9

Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

A BMI calculator is used to check where you fit in the BMI range. It is important to note that we cannot totally rely on the BMI scale as it only considers weight and height alone and neglects muscle mass. 

Being underweight according to the BMI scale doesn’t mean you are unhealthy, some people are naturally skinny but are healthy. Studies have shown women and girls to be more underweight than their male counterparts. 

Health Problems related to Being Underweight

There’s a lot of focus on the health effects of being overweight, and the effects of being underweight are neglected. There are several risks associated with being underweight or having poor nutrition.

Some of these risks include:

  • Osteoporosis: A study showed that a woman’s risk of osteoporosis is increased if she is underweight. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones are weakened then become fragile, brittle, and more prone to breaking. In osteoporosis, new bone creation doesn’t keep up with old bone removal. This is caused by the lack of vitamin D and calcium in the diet.
  • Decreased immune function:  We get energy from the food we eat if a person does not get enough energy from their diet to maintain healthy body weight, they may also not be getting enough nutrients to fight off infections.
  • Skin, hair, or teeth problems: Nutrient deficiency in a person’s daily diets can lead to physical symptoms, such as thinning skin, hair loss, dry skin, or poor dental health.
  • Irregular periods: Women who are underweight may suffer fertility issues caused by irregular menstrual cycles (not have regular periods). Menstruation may stop or an adolescent’s first period may be delayed or absent.
  • Anemia: A person who is underweight is more likely to be malnourished, have vitamin deficiencies, or have anemia which is low blood counts, which causes dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Growth and development issues: Children and teenagers are more likely to have slow or impaired growth, this is because they need nutrients to grow and develop healthy bones.
  • Increased risk for complications from surgery
  • Sarcopenia: This is an age-related health condition. It ischaracterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Although it is predominantly associated with the elderly, its development may be associated with conditions that are not exclusively seen in older people.  Person’s who are underweight are much more likely to get sarcopenia and may be at greater risk of dementia

Being underweight may be even more unhealthy than being obese. 

Causes of Being Underweight

There are several medical conditions that can cause unhealthy weight loss. If you’re underweight, see a doctor to rule out the possibility of a serious health problem, especially if you have recently started losing a lot of weight without even trying.

Some health conditions that can underweight in persons include:

  • Coeliac disease which is the most severe form of gluten intolerance (An immune reaction to eating a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye). Most people with coeliac disease don’t know that they have it.
  • Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa which is a serious psychological and eating disorder.
  • Infections can cause someone to become severely underweight. This includes parasites, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Thyroid problems such as having an overactive thyroid. It is a condition where the thyroid releases high levels of thyroid hormone into the body (hyperthyroidism)/ This can boost metabolism and cause unhealthy weight loss.
  • Diabetes mainly type 1 which is an uncontrolled diabetes can lead to severe weight loss.
  • Cancer: Cancerous tumors often burn large amounts of calories and can cause someone to lose a lot of weight

Healthy Ways to Gain Weight Fast

It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods when you’re trying to gain weight and do it correctly. Indulging sugary drinks and foods may help you gain weight rapidly, but it can be grossly unhealthy at the same time. It is important you gain a balanced amount of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat rather than a lot of unhealthy belly fat.

It is, therefore, absolutely essential to eat healthy foods and live a healthy lifestyle overall.

Let’s look at several effective ways to gain weight fast, without ruining your health at the same time.

Maintain a Caloric Balance

This simply means eating as many calories as your body burns. Calories we take in when we eat and drink should equal the calories we use through physical activity and our body’s other energy needs. 

 While trying to gain weight, to create a calorie surplus, meaning you eat more calories than your body needs. An extra 300-500 calories than you burn daily is a steady way to gain weight. 

You can add extras to your dishes for more calories, such as cheese in casseroles and scrambled eggs, and fat-free dried milk in soups and stews.

Eat Plenty of Protein

Protein forms the building blocks of our muscles. Therefore eating sufficient protein is required to gain muscle weight instead of just unhealthy fat cells. Protein is a very important nutrient for gaining a healthy weight gain process.

Protein is highly filling which tends to satisfy hunger and reduce hunger quickly, making it difficult to get in the required calories that are needed for daily activities. Aim for 0.7–1 grams of protein per pound of body weight. You may go above that if your calorie intake is very high.

High-protein foods include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, seafood, legumes, nuts, and others. 

If you are finding it difficult to get enough or calculate your protein intake, protein supplements can be helpful.

Eat at Least 3 Times per Day

When you are trying to gain weight eat more frequently you may feel full faster. Eat 5-6 smaller meals during the day rather than waiting for two or three large meals.

Do not restrict your carb intake as it will make it harder to get enough calories. Eat plenty of high-carb and high-fat foods and protein at each meal.

Make sure to eat more than three meals per day and try to add energy-dense snacks whenever possible. You could have an occasional treat, an occasional sweet tooth indulgence is OK. But these treats should be healthy and provide nutrients in addition to calories examples may include bran muffins, yoghurt, and granola bars

Exercise: Lift Heavy Weights and Improve Your Strength

Exercise, especially strength training, helps in weight gain by building up your muscles. Some exercises may also stimulate your appetite.

To ensure that the excess calories go to your muscles instead of just your fat cells, you can add lifting weights to your exercise routines.

You can go to a gym and lift 2–4 times per week. If you are new to training and intense exercising consider hiring a qualified personal trainer to help you and suggest effective routines for you.

Your doctor would approve these routines if it suits your medical history especially in cases of skeletal problems.

Cardio exercises may not be advisable if you are trying to gain weight. They are fine to improve fitness and well-being but don’t do so much that you end up burning all the additional calories you’re eating.

More Tips to Gain Weight

The ultimate trick to weight gain is combining a high-calorie intake with heavy strength training.

Here are several other strategies to help you gain weight even faster.

  • Make every bite count: Healthy snacking fast tracks weight gain snack on nuts, sliced vegetables, peanut butter, lean meat or cheese, dried fruits, and a wrap sandwich with avocados. Eat more often, squeeze in a bedtime snack.
  • Don’t drink water before meals: Drinking water before meals can fill your stomach, blunt your appetite and make it harder to get enough calories.
  • Use bigger plates: Use large plates if you’re trying to get in more calories, as a smaller plate would cause you to automatically eat less.
  • Drink milk: Don’t fill up your diet with soda drinks, replace them with milk. Milk contains a whole lot of nutrients, you can drink milk periodically or to quench thirst, this is a simple way to get in more high-quality protein and calories.
  • Try weight gainer shakes /supplements: If you’re really struggling then you can try weight gainer shakes. These are very high in protein, carbs, and calories. Also try muscle-building supplements like creatine, for extra pounds in muscle weight.
  • Add sugar and cream to your coffee: This is a simple way to add in more calories.
  • Get quality sleep: Sleeping properly is very important for muscle growth.
  • Choose nutrient-rich foods: Healthy foods promote weight gain therefore choose  lean protein sources, whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals,  fruits and vegetables, dairy products,and nuts and seeds.
  • Try eating your vegetables last then calorie-dense and protein-rich foods first.
  • Don’t smoke: Smokers tend to weigh less than non-smokers, and quitting smoking often leads to weight gain. Smoking can lead to tuberculosis which is a major cause of weight loss.

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