Most people who go to the nutritionist have weight problems and would like to lose a few kilos; however, there is also a certain percentage of people who have the opposite problem: gaining weight.
In fact, excessive thinness, despite being much more socially accepted, is still a risk factor for maintaining good health. One of the easiest ways to understand if there is this problem is to calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI): weight expressed in kg divided by height in meters squared: kg/(m2). If the obtained value is
- between 18.5 and 25, then we are normal weight,
- above 25 there is a condition of overweight or obesity,
- under 18.5 is underweight.
The main cause of thinness is insufficient nutrient intake, and this can have various origins, including, for example:
- intestinal malabsorption problems,
- psychological issues, psychological problems,
- bad habits,
Depending on the situation, the solution may be different, but the objective of the dietary intervention, however, will always be to make the person assimilate the necessary quantity of nutrients in order to gain weight.
What Happens When You Gain Weight
Another important concept to clarify is the difference between getting fat and gaining weight.
- In the first case, the weight gain is given by the increase in body fat;
- In the second case, it can generally be due to an increase in the amount of fat, muscle, water, or a combination of the three.
For excessively thin people, the aim is usually to pursue the second option: when there is a lack of fat (there is a minimum amount of fat that it is advisable to have under standard conditions, equal to approximately 7% in humans and 16% in women) it is also very easy to detect a lack of lean mass, therefore water and muscles, the increase of which must therefore be pursued hand in hand.
For this reason, the indications, in the absence of pathologies, are not simply “eat more” but also include respect for the balance in the intake of nutrients.
Obviously, everything will also depend on the physicality of the person in front of you: you cannot expect a one-and-a-half-meter woman who has always weighed less than 40 kg to weigh 50 in a few months. Another key assessment is that relating to physical exercise :
- if you play a lot of sports and eat insufficiently, you tend to lose muscle,
- if, instead, the feeding is abundant, we will have the opposite tendency.
Although vegetable products are considered dietary by the mass (apart from pasta, bread, and dried fruit) and, more importantly, despite increasing the sense of satiety, these foods must never be lacking because they are able to provide important nutrients such as minerals and essential vitamins for maintaining health.
The other key aspect relates to protein intake: foods of animal origin often have the advantage of being very dense in protein and are, therefore, an excellent way to support nutrition. I especially recommend
- White meat
- fish of any kind
- skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and dairy products
- whole yogurts
While it’s best not to overdo it
- red meat,
- processed meats (e.g., ham, bresaola, canned meat),
- mollusks and crustaceans,
- lard and lard,
- low-fat yogurts.
These foods should not be eaten frequently for health reasons: some for their fat content, others – such as low-fat yogurt – because they are typically added with sugar.
The fat must, above all, be of vegetable origin, and here comes the dried fruit but also and above all, the extra virgin olive oil. Again, for health reasons, it’s best to limit your intake of
- different oils,
- and margarine.
In all of this, of course, the goal of weight gain must be achieved by increasing food intake throughout the day, and this is the biggest obstacle. Very often, a thin person is not used to large volumes of food: it is, therefore, advisable to plan numerous meals and snacks, even in the absence of hunger, and gradually increase the amount of food for each meal.
In case of difficulty, and according to the professional’s judgment, complete carbohydrate, protein, and fat supplements can be used to increase caloric and nutrient intake without excessively increasing the volume of food.
Green light to gluttony anyway: everything I listed above as “to be limited” does not mean that it should be eliminated completely; Sweets, ice cream, and cakes are still a great way to increase the calorie content of a relatively volume-restricted diet when eaten in moderation.
In conclusion, we can say that gaining weight is not as easy as it seems, but it is possible to do it with a complete and abundant diet and a lifestyle that also includes regular sports.