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5 Challenges For Gaining Weight & What To Do About Them

Gain and maintain weight successfully

By Tess DiNapoliPublished 4 months ago 7 min read

With all the talk about how difficult it is to lose weight, it’s easy to forget that it can be just as hard to put weight on. Factors like genetics, stress, and medical issues can make gaining weight very challenging. The good news is there are steps you can take to help overcome these challenges and reach your ideal weight in a healthy and sustainable way.

The 5 Challenges To Gaining Weight

1. Genetics

Some people are genetically predisposed to being skinny and are known as ectomorphs. There are three main body types. Mesomorphs have strong athletic bodies with lots of muscle mass. Endomorphs store fat really well and gain weight easily, while ectomorphs are very lean with less muscle and body fat. Those who were born ectomorphs usually have family members who also struggle to gain and maintain extra weight.

2. Fast Metabolism

Some individuals burn calories at a much faster rate than others. This is most likely a result of genetics but can also be due to an active lifestyle, job, or high energy levels. If your metabolism is fast, that means your body is burning up all of the food you’re consuming before it has a chance to get stored in the body as fat. Those with a lean body type are more likely to have a high metabolism because muscle cells require more energy than fat. This means your body burns calories even while resting.

3. Lifestyle Factors

According to an article in Forbes Health, lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep deprivation, and not sitting down for proper meals greatly affect your ability to gain weight. If your body is in a constant state of fight or flight due to stress, then your central nervous system isn’t able to rest and properly digest the food you’re consuming. This means those calories are not being converted into fat or used in a healthy way. Having your hormones in a constant state of fluctuation can also decrease your appetite or cause you to eat for comfort rather than nutrition. Comfort or stress eating usually leads to poor dietary choices.

4. Low Appetite

If you can go hours without feeling hungry or sometimes forget to eat, then you have a low appetite. This could be due to genetics or lifestyle factors such as stress but could also be the result of a hormone imbalance. Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone” and is responsible for appetite stimulation. Low ghrelin levels in the body can result in a lack of appetite.

5. Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause you to lose weight rapidly or prevent your body from properly absorbing the nutrients it needs from the food you’re consuming, such as:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Depression
  • Growth hormone deficiency

If you’ve experienced rapid weight loss or are struggling to gain weight, then it’s very important to see a medical practitioner right away so that you can rule out a more serious condition.

How To Gain Weight Successfully

The challenges listed above are difficult to overcome but not impossible. The first thing to do is set a realistic plan with achievable weekly goals. Trying to gain weight quickly by eating huge portions of unhealthy food is not good for your overall health. It’s best to try and gain one to two pounds a week at the most. This will give your body the time it needs to adjust to the new weight without putting any extra strain on your cardiovascular system.

Step 1: Eat Healthy, Nutrient Dense Food

Eating foods high in saturated fats, sugar, salt, or fried in oil will only cause you to gain belly fat. If your goal is to gain weight in a healthy way, then aim for a more lean body mass. In order to do this, it’s important to eat healthy foods that are loaded with fiber, nutrients, and healthy unsaturated fats. Try to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables that can help you gain weight. You also want food that is high in either plant or animal-based protein. Here is a list of foods that are packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients:

  • Avocado
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Full-fat yogurt, dairy, and cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Ghee
  • Beans & lentils
  • Brown rice, quinoa, oats
  • Tuna, salmon, sardines
  • Chicken, pork, turkey

Step 2: Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Those who suffer from a lack of appetite won’t be able to consume and properly digest three big meals a day. While it’s necessary to eat more calories in order to gain weight, it’s not a good idea to immediately jump to larger portions. Plan your meals out and gradually increase the number of calories you eat bit by bit, day by day. This will give your stomach and appetite time to adjust to the new routine.

Instead of three meals, eat five or six smaller meals that include a combination of the foods listed above. It’s also a good idea to eat healthy snacks in between meals. When snacking, remember to stick to natural foods that will help you achieve more lean body weight. Avoid processed foods that have little nutritional value.

Step 3: Weight Bearing Exercise

While exercising might seem counterintuitive to gaining weight, it’s actually a key component. If you want to gain more lean muscle, then start going to the gym four or five days a week and focus on strength or resistance training. A little bit of light cardio to warm up is fine, but focus more on weight-bearing exercises that add muscle to the body. Too much cardio will burn up all the extra calories you’re consuming.

It’s also a good idea to eat snacks that are high in protein before and after your workout to help give your body energy and replace what was burned. Protein bars, trail mixes, nut butters, and smoothies with protein powder in them are all good pre and post-workout snacks.

Step 4: Make Some Lifestyle Changes

If stress, depression, or lack of sleep are some of the reasons you’re struggling to gain weight, then it’s time to make some important lifestyle changes. Yoga, meditation, tai chi, breathing exercises, and spending more time outdoors are all excellent ways to help your central nervous system calm down, and hormones balance out.

One way to help your body digest properly is to sit down and slow down when you eat. Turn off the tv, put your phone away, and focus on the food in front of you. Chew thoroughly and avoid drinking too much water while eating. Drinking a lot of liquid before or while you’re eating will fill up your stomach faster and stop you from consuming the desired amount of calories.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, restrict the amount of time you spend looking at screens before you go to bed. Give yourself a relaxing nighttime routine that helps you unwind and signals your body that it’s time for sleep. Warm baths, foot massages, listening to calming music, and lighting candles are all great ways to help you decompress and fall asleep.

Step 5: Stimulate Your Appetite

For those who experience a lack of appetite, there are naturally-derived appetite stimulant supplements that can help increase your desire to eat. Look for ones that are packed with vitamins and based on data and research. Appetite stimulant supplements come in capsule or liquid form and can aid in stoking your digestive fire. This will allow you to achieve your daily caloric goals. Cooking with a variety of spices and choosing food that is colorful and visually appealing can also help get you excited to eat.

Be Kind To Yourself

As with weight loss, healthy weight gain is a slow process. By setting realistic expectations and aiming for one to two pounds a week, you can reach your weight gain goals. The key is not to rush and be kind to yourself during the process. By following the steps laid out in this article, it is possible to overcome the challenges you face and attain your ideal body weight.


About the Creator

Tess DiNapoli

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.

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