A promised, I have been doing a little research and consulting with different nutritionists on the issue of healthy weight-gain.
Navigating through this unfamiliar territory has been a wonderful experience. I have learnt that healthy living is a lifestyle and not simply a quick fix to fitness.
One of the nutritionists I consulted was Nduta Wambura. She is a Clinical Nutritionist and Public Health advocate and offers health solutions through her platform www.ask-thenutritionist.com.
I asked most of the questions you ask me on weight gain and here were some of the answers I got.
I eat a lot and I eat almost everything, why am I unable to gain weight?
Eating a lot does not necessary equate to weight gain. There are several factors that could be genetic, biological, metabolic rate, exercise rate and the quality of food you eat. Genetic factors are hereditary from the family lineage and are difficult to reverse.
Biological factors include hormonal imbalance, stress levels, medications et cetera. These can be easily modified.
An all-time high metabolic rate could be contributing to inability to gain weight. Weight gain could also be barred by the level of exercise.
An incorporation of an increase in food portions along with regular exercise has been proven to yield positive results as opposed to sedentary ‘eating almost everything’.
What type of food should I eat in order to gain weight and stay healthy?
Nutrient dense foods are the way to go! Always choose from a variety of whole grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, while increasing your portions. Ensure that you stay within the healthy choices while carefully increasing the portions depending on your body composition.
How frequently should I have my meals?
I would recommend having at least 5 to 6 smaller meals within the day as opposed to 2 or 3 large meals that compensate for all the calories at one go. This keeps your metabolic system busy and allows you to store more of the energy as fat in the body.
Are there certain foods I should avoid while trying to gain weight and be healthy?
Avoid fast foods and other over processed sources of food as they are potential culprits of ‘quick weight gain scheme’. You can occasionally treat yourself on a ‘cheat day’ to achieve a balance. However, ensure you are not packing up on foods high in processed sugars, proteins and fats.
Should I do exercise work-outs while trying to gain weight or will that undermine my weight-gain efforts?
It is vital to always include exercise whether you are on a weight gain or loss mission. The WHO recommends at least 30 minutes per day of your preferred exercise regime.
While trying to gain weight, exercise allows a person to balance the metabolism as well as the energy needs that your body requires for it to remain healthy.
I have heard of spot reduction, where overweight people do certain exercises to reduce their arms, bellies, thighs etc. Is it possible for me to increase weight in certain parts of my body such as hips and butt while maintaining a flat tummy and slim arms?
Scientifically, your body is bound to change overall in response to your input. However, it is possible to massively change in certain parts of your body as opposed to others depending on the exercise regime you are involved in. For example, you can gain muscle by ingesting a high protein diet while ingesting food rich in Protein.
Should weight gain be a gradual process or can I seek to gain as much weight as I can in the shortest time possible?
A healthy weight gain plan ought to have you increasing at least 0.5kg a week, fully dependent on the food portions and the activity level.
A gradual weight gain is more permanent, therefore avoid ‘quick weight-gain regimes’ to ensure that you achieve maximum results.
Once I have reached my target weight, what should I do to ensure I do not keep adding weight and become obese?
The best way to ensure your weight gain is not just an end goal but a lifestyle is to make healthy eating a permanent habit. Incorporate a lifestyle that allows you to maintain it through portion control, exercise, metabolism or other biological factors.
People who are trying to lose weight are always advised to l drink a lot of water, does the same apply for those trying to gain weight?
Yes. Water is an essential part of our bodies despite the journey you presume to be working on. Ensure that you can take water and fluids that strengthen and supplement your diets.
Any further advice for me as I seek to overcome my struggle with being underweight?
Just because you are underweight does not mean that you can hog on anything and remain healthy.
Do not consume food with ingredients that you cannot pronounce, or rather, your grandmother cannot validate as food. Ensure that what you eat, if processed does not have more than 5 ingredients.
Form a habit of reading food labels to ensure that you are choosing from the right categories of food to gain weight and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Fit&Fab is a blog series by Marion Maina who lost 30kg during her weight loss journey that started two years ago and is now in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]