Safe Weight Gain?>
Ask the Experts

Safe Weight Gain

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q:I'm very thin and healthy but have trouble gaining weight. Any suggestions?

A:Putting on pounds can be just as challenging as taking them off for some people. Just as some are prone to be plump, others are slated to be skinny—and there may be limits to how much they can gain.

You need, on average, 500 extra calories a day to gain one pound a week. Certainly, you can gain weight by overeating cheeseburgers, fries, bacon, cake and ice cream, but this is likely to cause a rise in blood cholesterol and have other adverse effects.

Instead, eat higher-calorie versions of healthy foods, such as dense cereals instead of flake cereals, starchy vegetables like corn, peas, potatoes and winter squash instead of watery vegetables like lettuce and zucchini and tuna packed in oil rather than water.

Drink low-fat milk instead of water. And eat more at each setting—a bowl of soup instead of a cup, or an extra half sandwich. Include calorie-dense foods rich in healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish.

You should also eat consistently. Aim for three or four meals plus one or two snacks a day. And eat balanced meals—avoid fad diets that push for extra protein or pitch protein supplements, for example. Lastly, do some strength training so that a greater portion of the weight you gain will be muscle, not fat.

If you have lost weight for unknown reasons, see your doctor to make sure there is no underlying medical cause.