Somehow the obesity epidemic is grabbing all the headlines. It seems that everywhere you look, the rate of obese men, women, and children has shot up overnight. In keeping with the number of people that are overweight or obese, everything you read seems to be directed at ways to lose weight, fight fat, get in shape, workout, etc. But there’s a flip side to the coin that rarely gets talked about. The other side of the coin is the skinny side. What happens when you need to try female weight gain because you’re too skinny to be healthy?

Being underweight can actually be just as unhealthy as being overweight. Even if you’re not medically or dangerously underweight, you may just want to gain some muscle in order to look better, feel better or improve your overall health. But when you’re start with a stick frame, gaining weight can be difficult. Sure, ignorant people may tell you to “just eat something,” but this is probably easier said than done if you are interested in female weight gain.

Many skinny people have a very fast metabolism, so just eating may equate to just burning off the calories that you consume as you embark on your female weight gain journey. Eating the wrong things may lead to other issues, such as eventually becoming overweight, or “skinny fat,” which occurs when you look to be a healthy weight but actually suffer from health ailments, including being malnourished or having a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

What Is “Underweight?”

If you’re “the girl that eats everything and is lucky enough to never gain a pound,” then you might not be technically underweight. That isn’t to say that you can’t, or shouldn’t try female weight gain if it will make you feel better about yourself, or make you healthier.

But being considered medically underweight means that you have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of less than 18.5. You can use an online BMI calculator to determine your BMI. Although BMI is considered a standard in determining a healthy weight, is not an absolute. The tool doesn’t take into account factors other than weight, such as fat versus muscle. You can be tall and skinny and still be healthy, although your BMI might state otherwise. Don’t let your BMI be the only factor for female weight gain.

What Are the Health Risks of Being Underweight?

Being underweight is more common with females than with males. Like being extremely overweight, being underweight can increase the risk of death.

If you are underweight, and are interested in female weight gain, you may not only be at an increased risk of death, but at risk for other health conditions as well. These conditions include:

Other health risks include:

  • Greater likelihood of developing sarcopenia, which is a muscle-wasting condition known to be related to aging
  • Increased risk of dementia

Just as being overweight has health risks, so does being underweight.

Why Might Someone Be Underweight?

Obesity is sometimes associated with various medical conditions and being underweight has similar causes. Being underweight is not always as simple as people. Common causes of having a low BMI or being underweight include:

  • Eating disorders, which are linked to mental health
  • Thyroid issues, having an overactive thyroid can lead to weight loss
  • Celiac disease, in which the body doesn’t tolerate gluten, causing digestive problems and weight loss
  • Diabetes, uncontrolled type 1 diabetes can lead to unhealthy weight loss
  • Cancer, growing tumors burns calories
  • Infection, from parasites to autoimmune disorders can wreak havoc on the body’s ability to process nutrients

If you experience sudden, unexplained weight loss, or are actively trying to gain weight, then seek medical attention to make sure that you don’t have a serious medical issue that is interfering with your female weight gain ability.

The Diet for Female Weight Gain

plate-of-cooked-fishGaining female weight through diet is the opposite premise of losing weight through diet. If you want to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you expend. If you want to gain weight, then you must consume more calories than you expend.

The easiest way for female weight gain is to eat foods that are high in calories. These foods, such as donuts, sodas, processed foods will definitely help you to pack on the pounds. However, it will not be health, and even if you reach your higher weight goal, you risk contracting the disorders often associated with obesity: type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Even at a “normal” weight, eating poorly can lead to health problems. This is why you must eat healthy foods to gain weight, rather than consume empty calories.

To find out how many calories you need to consume, use an online calorie calculator. You’ll be able to see how many calories you need to stay the same and then can determine how many additional calories that you need to add to your diet for female weight gain. If you want to gain weight slowly, then you can add an additional 300-500 calories to your current diet. For faster weight gain, add more daily calories, closer to the 700-1,000 calorie range.

Protein is a good and healthy item to add to your diet if you want to gain weight in the form of muscle, rather than fat. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy and cheese all contain protein. Nuts also contain protein. When consuming dairy, go for full-fat versions to help you pack on the pounds and get more nutrients. The one drawback of protein is that it can make you full faster, so it can be difficult to eat in large amounts. Other things to eat to gain weight are yams, potatoes, whole grains as well as vegetable fats like avocado or olive oil.

It can be hard to cram all those extra calories and protein into 3 meals a day. So spread them out and constantly have snacks on hand for any time that you feel hungry. Adding more calories to your daily intake can be spread out throughout the day and can also come in the form of convenient protein shakes and snack bars. In addition to more snacks, feel free to increase the portion size of whatever you normally eating. Eating more at each meal can help to put on weight.

How to do Female Gain Weight By Working Out

It may seem counter-intuitive, but working out can help with female weight gain, as long as you do the right exercise. Cardio activity is important for overall health, but while you are trying to pack on the pounds, keep it to a minimum or low-impact to avoid burning excess calories.

Instead of cardio, try weight training. You may need to hire a trainer or consult a doctor to make sure that you maintain your form and don’t injure yourself. Gradually add weight over time to increase your muscle mass and up your weight. Heavier weights lead to increased muscle mass, but they are also more likely to cause injury. Be sure to practice caution when you begin weight training and each time that you increase the weights.

More Tips for Female Weight Gain if You Are Underweight

In addition to eating more and eating healthy, as well as working out differently, there are a few other lifestyle changes that you can make to increase your weight. Check out the 22 different things to keep in mind to help you reach your healthy goal weight:

22 Proven Tips for Healthy Weight Gain
  1. Drink water after the meal, rather than before or during. This will help you to increase your appetite without filling up on no-calorie water.
  2. In addition to drinking water, feel free to drink other beverages as well, including milk, juice and smoothies. Full-fat milk makes a great snack and is a healthy way to boost your weight. Avoid low-calorie beverages like diet sodas, coffee, and tea.
  3. Keep a food journal. By tracking what you eat, you can find ways to ensure that you are eating more than your usual caloric intake. You may also discover ways to add more calories to your meal if you track everything that you consume, from appetizers to drinks. For instance, add a creamy dressing or crumbled cheese to your salad. Don’t skip the breadbasket, but make sure that you don’t fill up on bread before your steak arrives. Eat all the sides and avoid taking home leftovers.
  4. Get plenty of sleep. Sleeping encourages muscle growth.
  5. Quit smoking. Some smokers use smoking to keep their weight down. By quitting smoking, you can increase your appetite and your weight.
  6. Add a touch of cream to your coffee, feel free to use condiments like mayonnaise on sandwiches and grill your food in butter or oil.
  7. Eat off a bigger plate. Fill your plate and use a dinner-sized plate at every meal that is filled to ensure that you are adding extra calories. Using a smaller plate encourages you to eat smaller portions, which is not what you want to do if you are actively trying to gain weight.
  8. Eat a lot and eat often: in addition to 3 square meals a day, be sure to add snacks in between so that you eat at least 5 times during the day.
  9. Consume plenty of protein at both meals and snacks.
  10. Give in to carbs and eat complex carbohydrates like whole wheat and brown rice
  11. Eat starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas, pumpkins, etc to load up on nutrients and higher calorie counts than vegetables like celery.
  12. Enjoy health fats. Trans fats from processed food sources are never healthy, even if you’re trying to gain weight. Load up on healthy, natural fats from sources like avocado, nuts, olive oil, etc.
  13. Avoid alcohol, especially in excess. Although alcoholic beverages can be high in calories, they are unhealthy.
  14. Skip cardio, other than casual walking.
  15. Add resistance training to your workout to help you gain muscle.
  16. Take muscle-building supplements like creatine to help add muscle to your frame.
  17. Eat your food in the order that will help you gain weight most effectively: protein first followed by vegetables.
  18. If you struggle in your efforts, consider adding weight gainer shakes to your diet as part of your snacks. These shakes are packed with a balance of protein, carbs and high calories to help you gain weight nutritionally.
  19. Add snacks to your snacks. Before bed, have a midnight snack like peanut butter.
  20. Don’t skip breakfast or other meals. You won’t gain weight if you don’t eat.
  21. When weight training, lift heavy weights that fatigue your muscles, but do shorter reps.
  22. Always add protein. For snacks and meals, eat protein because your body requires 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight to build muscle.

A Few Final Thoughts on Female Weight Gain

It can actually be harder than you think to gain weight as a female. Remain consistent and add calories whenever possible. You may even need to force yourself to continue eating after being satiated. Slow and steady wins the female weight gain race, so keep adding food to your plate and never give up.

 

Carly Zinderman is a writer/blogger specializing in lifestyle including travel, food, fashion, beauty, home decor, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness and green living