There are many reasons why people are looking to gain weight. For some, gaining weight is a necessary step toward an ultimate goal of increasing muscle. To gain muscle mass, you need to have enough protein, carbs, and fat. Without enough calories, your body lacks the energy for growth and repair. People who are chronically underweight often have the most difficult time gaining weight. Normally, people who are underweight have an extremely high calorie expenditure (from either their metabolism or from being very active), or simply don’t have a big appetite.
There are countless articles and plenty of advice out there on how to lose weight. But what about gain weight? While roughly ? of the US population is overweight or obese, there are many people who have a different problem: they are underweight. Additionally, many people (particularly those in the fitness community) are motivated to gain weight as a necessary step towards gaining muscle.
Being underweight means having a BMI (body mass index) below 18.5. Two to three times more females are underweight than men. In fact, 1% of men and 2.4% of women 20 years and older are underweight. Those who are underweight face health challenges including decreased immunity and fertility, increased risk of infection, and a heightened risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Put simply, you need more calories than your body burns to gain weight. Safely gaining weight requires an increase in both muscle and fat. Gaining excessive fat, on the other hand, can be very unhealthy. This is why turning to the unhealthy foods that people often associate with weight gain (such as sweets or junk food) is not an effective nor healthy way to gain weight. For weight gain, it is recommended to gain 1-2 pounds per month by consuming no more than 500 extra calories per day.
Protein is an essential part of any weight gain strategy, as protein is the building block of muscle. Without protein, your body is not able to efficiently build muscle, so the excess calories you are consuming will go towards fat. One potential drawback of increased protein consumption is reduced hunger, which can make it difficult for some people to reach their increased calorie goals. For weight gain, it is recommended that you consume between 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, although you can go much higher depending on your overall daily calorie plan. However, those who are underweight should consult with a dietitian to create a meal plan that is right for them.
Protein powder is a fantastic way to gain weight! In combination with a well-balanced diet plan that includes increased calories, protein powder can be a convenient and efficient way to meet your recommended protein levels. This is because protein powder contributes both protein and nutrient-dense calories – two essential elements for gaining healthy weight. When you consume protein, your body uses it first for its essential functions, and then for growing your muscles. Therefore, to increase your muscle mass (which is important both for those looking to gain weight because they are underweight and for those looking to gain weight as a way of increasing muscle), it is essential that you are hitting your daily protein goals (which is easy with protein powder!).