Health Tips: Healthy Weight Gain

Healthy weight gain, for whatever reason, depends upon increasing your intake of healthy calories and increasing muscle mass through weight training.

The media are full of advertisements and advice on ways to lose weight.Some Americans, though, have the opposite problem- they would like to weigh more.The reasons for wanting to gain weight vary.Some people who are not particularly athletic have a naturally high metabolism; they find themselves looking too skinny, and want to gain.Certain athletes, too, would like to gain weight to be more successful in their sports, or simply to build better muscles.

Whatever your reason for wanting to gain weight, you should consult your doctor to eliminate any physical causes for your low weight, such as thyroid problems.As with losing weight, gaining weight is a process that should happen gradually, and without recourse to fad diets or products.Assuming there are no obvious physical problems, your weight gain strategy should focus on two areas: increasing your caloric intake and increasing your muscle mass.As you add weight, you want to make sure that you are adding an appropriate amount of muscle mass, not simply fat.

As you increase your caloric intake, it is important to continue choosing healthy foods so that you take in more nutrients instead of simply more fat.One strategy for increasing calories, naturally enough, is to simply eat larger portions at meals, but you will probably find that won't be enough.Look for other ways to add healthy calories- sometimes, you can do this by reversing the advice given to those who want to lose weight.People trying to lose weight are often advised to keep an eye on their beverage calories; people trying to gain can do the same thing with the opposite goal.In addition to drinking water, drink milk, fruit juice, or fruit and yogurt smoothies.Avoid caffeinated beverages, however, as these can sometimes act as appetite suppressants (that's why diet pills contain caffeine).Make higher-calorie food substitutions.When you eat vegetables, for instance, choose starchy, higher-calorie vegetables like corn, peas, lima beans and squash.At the end of your meal, have a nutritious dessert.Fruit breads (or other fruit-based treats), frozen yogurt, and oatmeal raisin cookies are good choices.

People trying to lose weight are often advised to fill up on low-calorie items like salad before a meal; as you try to gain, avoid spoiling your appetite in this way.If you eat salad, add calories to it with croutons, cheese, nuts, and olive oil-based dressings.Look for other places to sneak in extra calories, too, such as sauces for your meat entrees and fruit toppings for your cereal.When you make a sandwich, use thick slices of hearty whole-grain bread.

Be aware of metabolic influences.If a low appetite can be a problem for you, avoid frequent snacking and concentrate instead on eating larger portions and adding calories at meal times.If you have been sedentary and are trying to gain weight, moderate exercise like walking will also help you work up an appetite.If appetite is less of a problem, you can add calories by adding healthy snacks, like whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter or low-fat cheese, yogurt, and nuts.Adding calories at bedtime, however, can be a bad idea, as your body is more likely to use such calories for fat.Remember that your body can only make use of a certain amount of protein per day- an amount that most people reach easily- and that upping your protein intake beyond that will not help you to gain muscle faster, if that is your goal for trying to gain weight.

Eating extra calories sets you on the road to weight gain, but is not enough by itself to ensure healthy weight gain.Whether or not you are already physically active, building muscle through weight training should be part of your strategy.If you do not focus on building muscle, the weight you gain will be primarily fat- and that's not likely to increase your overall health!

If you are not physically active, consult your doctor before beginning an exercise plan.Then, develop one with the assistance of a qualified trainer at a gym or health club.For most people, three days a week of weight training is about right.The body needs to rest between workouts, so that more frequent workouts will do more harm than good in building muscle.Athletes who have not previously made weight training a priority should do so as they try to gain weight.For most athletes, the off-season is the best time to try to gain weight without temporarily lowering their performance level, and this can also be a good time to start a weight routine.

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