How to Gain Weight Fast and Safely
About two thirds of people in the US are either overweight or obese (1Trusted Source).
However, there are also many people with the opposite problem of being too skinny (2Trusted Source).
This is a concern, as being underweight can be just as bad for your health as being obese.
Additionally, many people who are not clinically underweight still want to gain some muscle.
Whether you’re clinically underweight or simply struggling to gain muscle weight, the main principles are the same.
This article outlines a simple strategy to quickly gain weight — the healthy way.
Being underweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5. This is estimated to be less than the body mass needed to sustain optimal health.
Conversely, over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is considered obese.
Use this calculatorTrusted Source to see where you fit on the BMI scale (opens in a new tab).
However, keep in mind that there are many problems with the BMI scale, which only looks at weight and height. It does not take muscle mass into account.
Some people are naturally very skinny but still healthy. Being underweight according to this scale does not necessarily mean that you have a health problem.
Being underweight is about 2–3 times more common among girls and women, compared to men. In the US, 1% of men and 2.4% of women 20 years and older are underweight (2Trusted Source).
SUMMARYBeing underweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5. It’s much more common in women and girls.
Obesity is currently one of the world’s biggest health problems.
However, being underweight may be just as bad for your health. According to one study, being underweight was associated with a 140% greater risk of early death in men, and 100% in women (3Trusted Source).
In comparison, obesity was associated with a 50% greater risk of early death, indicating that being underweight may be even worse for your health (3Trusted Source).
Another study found an increased risk of early death in underweight men, but not women, suggesting that being underweight may be worse for men (4Trusted Source).
Being underweight can also impair your immune function, raise your risk of infections, lead to osteoporosis and fractures and cause fertility problems (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
There are several medical conditions that can cause unhealthy weight loss, including:
- Eating disorders: This includes anorexia nervosa, a serious mental disorder.
- Thyroid problems: Having an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can boost metabolism and cause unhealthy weight loss.
- Celiac disease: The most severe form of gluten intolerance. Most people with celiac disease don’t know that they have it (10Trusted Source).
- Diabetes: Having uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type 1) can lead to severe weight loss.
- Cancer: Cancerous tumors often burn large amounts of calories and can cause someone to lose a lot of weight.
- Infections: Certain infections can cause someone to become severely underweight. This includes parasites, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
If you’re underweight, you may want to see a doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.
This is particularly important if you have recently started losing large amounts of weight without even trying.
If you want to gain weight, it’s very important to do it right.
Binging on soda and donuts may help you gain weight, but it can destroy your health at the same time.
If you’re underweight, you want to gain a balanced amount of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat rather than a lot of unhealthy belly fat.
There are plenty of normal-weight people who get type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems often associated with obesity (11Trusted Source).
The next chapter looks at several effective ways to gain weight fast, without ruining your health at the same time.
The most important thing you can do to gain weight is to create a calorie surplus, meaning you eat more calories than your body needs.
You can determine your calorie needs using this calorie calculator.
If you want to gain weight slowly and steadily, aim for 300–500 calories more than you burn each day according to the calculator.
If you want to gain weight fast, aim for around 700–1,000 calories above your maintenance level.
Keep in mind that calorie calculators only provide estimates. Your needs may vary by several hundred calories per day, give or take.
You don’t need to count calories for the rest of your life, but it helps to do it for the first few days or weeks to get a feel for how many calories you’re eating. There are many great tools out there to help you.
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