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Dear Dr. Sugar,
I'd like some advice on how to gain weight the healthy way. I'm naturally petite and thin, yet I think adding a few extra pounds to my frame would be beneficial to my health, and I would probably look better too. The problem is I like to do cardio and other more vigorous sports (not to mention I work in a gym!), so it's difficult for me to keep my weight within a healthier BMI. Any suggestions as far as diet and exercise go? It's not as common to want to gain weight, but we skinny women are out there! Thanks.
— Looking to Add Lbs.
Thanks for writing in with your question. Although the majority of questions I receive are from women seeking weight loss advice, you are not alone. To see my advice on this topic, just read more.
Problems with low body weight are very important to address in order to maintain good overall health. Being underweight is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5. While the BM scale is not a perfect gauge of health, a BMI lower than 18.5 is almost always worrisome. Low body weight can be related to a wide range of medical issues such as eating disorders, serious bowel problems, and other chronic illnesses. It sounds like you are healthy, but are naturally very small. Even petite people should attempt to stay above a BMI of 18.5 for optimal health.
Weight gain can be difficult for very active people like you with a fast metabolism. Weight gain really boils down to a very basic formula: weight gain = calorie intake – calories burnt. This means that you need to eat more calories than you burn over the course of a day to gain weight. Here is an example of a calories per day calculator. You can go to the site and enter your height, weight, age, and activity level and it will estimate your daily caloric needs to maintain an even weight. To gain weight, you will need to eat more calories than that amount. A healthy amount of weight gain per week is about one pound. To gain one pound per week, you need to eat 3,500 more calories than you burned (3,500 calories = one pound).
The healthiest way to gain weight is to eat a well-rounded, protein-rich diet. You should opt for lean protein like fish and poultry. Another way to gain weight is to add strength training to your workout regimen in order to increase muscle mass. Foods to avoid include junks foods, processed foods, and foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It might also help to increase the number of meals you eat per day to four or five instead of three. For some more helpful tips, check out these tips on healthy weight gain.
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DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.