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If You’re Underweight ; Healthy Ways to Gain Weight

Weight loss is a serious issue in the United States. Consumers constantly 
see advertisements and news reports on trendy diets, flashy products, and 
magic pills promising to help them lose weight.

Given that the ongoing “battle of the bulge” is front and center for so 
many people, being too thin may seem like a good problem to have. But 
the reality is that being underweight can cause health problems.

Path to improved wellnes

Fat has a bad reputation for causing people to be overweight and obese. 
However, not all fat is bad. In fact, breaking down and storing energy 
(calories) as fat is good. It’s just one of the many ways the body uses food 
to function, heal, and grow.

Stored energy from fat helps you get through a strenuous job or workout. 
It plays a key role in brain development, and in preventing inflammation
(swelling) and blood clots. Fat contributes to healthy hair and skin, as well.

You can determine whether you are underweight by using a Body Mass Index
(BMI) calculator. This online tool considers your weight, height, age, and 
gender to calculate a score. If your BMI is less than 18.5, you are 
underweight. Your doctor also can help determine if you’re underweight 
based on your height, weight, what you eat, and your activity level.

Your doctor may put you on a weight gain program if you are underweight. 
However, this is not permission to go crazy with junk food. Healthy weight 
gain requires a balanced approach, just like a weight loss program.

Eating junk food may result in weight gain. However, it will not satisfy the 
nutrition your body needs. Even if the fat, sugar, and salt in junk food 
doesn’t result as extra weight, it can still harm your body. 
For a healthy weight gain,the following tips can help:

Add healthy calories. You don’t need to drastically change your diet. 
You can increase calories by adding nut or seed toppings, cheese, and 
healthy side dishes. Try almonds, sunflower seeds, fruit, or whole-grain, 
wheat toast.
Go nutrient dense. Instead of eating empty calories and junk food, eat 
foods that are rich in nutrients. Consider high-protein meats, which can 
help you to build muscle. Also, choose nutritious carbohydrates, such as 
brown rice and other whole grains. This helps ensure your body is receiving 
as much nourishment as possible, even if you’re dealing with a reduced 
Snack away. Enjoy snacks that contain plenty of protein and healthy carbo-
hydrates. Consider options like trail mix, protein bars or drinks, and crackers 
with hummus or peanut butter. Also, enjoy snacks that contain “good fats,” 
which are important for a healthy heart. Examples include nuts and avocados.

Eat mini-meals. If you’re struggling with a poor appetite, due to medical 
or emotional issues, eating large amounts of food may not seem appealing. 
Consider eating smaller meals throughout the day to increase your calorie

Bulk up. While too much aerobic exercise will burn calories and work against 
your weight goal, strength training can help. This includes weightlifting or 
yoga. You gain weight by building muscle.

Before beginning a weight gain program, talk to your doctor. Being underweight 
may be due to an underlying health problem. It won’t becorrected by diet 
changes. Your doctor will be able to help you track yourprogress. He or she 
will make sure that healthy changes are takingplace.

Things to consider

People who are underweight typically are not getting enough calories tofuel 
their bodies. Often, they are also suffering from malnutrition.Malnutrition 
means you are not taking in enough vitamins and mineralsfrom your food. 
If you’re underweight, you may be at risk for the followinghealth issues:

Delayed growth and development. This is especially true in children 
and teens, whose bodies need plenty of nutrients to grow and stay 

Fragile bones. A deficiency in vitamin D and calcium, along with low 
body weight, can lead to weak bones and osteoporosis.

Weakened immune system. When you don’t get enough nutrients, 
your body cannot store energy. This makes it difficult to fight illness. 
It may also be difficult for your immune system to recover after being 

Anemia. This condition can be caused by not having enough of the 
vitamins iron, folate, and B12. This can cause dizziness, fatigue, and
Fertility issues. In women, low body weight can lead to irregular 
periods, lack of periods, and infertility.

Hair loss. Low body weight can cause hair to thin and fall out easily. 
It also can cause dry, thin skin and health issues with teeth and gums.

Many underweight people are physically healthy. Low body weight is due
to a variety of causes, including:

Genetics. If you’ve been thin since high school and it runs in your 
family, it’s likely that you were born with a higher-than-usual metabolism. 
You also may have a naturally small appetite.

High physical activity. If you’re an athlete, you probably know that 
frequent workouts can affect your body weight. However, high physical 
activity also can be a part of an active job or an energetic personality. 
If you’re on your feet a lot, you may burn more calories than people who 
are more sedentary (inactive).

Illness. Being sick can affect your appetite and your body’s ability to 
use and store food. If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight without trying, 
it may be a sign of disease, such as thyroid problems, diabetes, 
digestive diseases, or even cancer. Talk to your doctor about sudden 
weight loss.

Medicines. Certain prescription medicines can cause nausea and 
weight loss. Some treatments, such as chemotherapy, can reduce 
appetite and worsen weight loss from illness.

Psychological issues. Our mental well being affects every part of 
our lives. Things like stress and depression can disrupt healthy 
eating habits. Severe body image fears and distortions can lead to 
eating disorders. If you’re suffering from damaging emotional issues, 
talk to your doctor. He or she can help you get the care, assistance, 
or counseling you may need.

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