Adolescence is a time of substantial physical change and, for many teens, body dissatisfaction. Given the high rate of childhood obesity in the U.S. and the media's focus on extreme thinness, it's not surprising to hear of teens wanting to lose weight. However, some teenagers struggle to put on pounds, which can be just as hard as dropping them. If you're a teen looking to gain weight, it's important to approach weight gain in a sensible manner, following healthy guidelines for good nutrition and exercise.
Eat more frequently to increase your daily calories. To gain weight, you need to ingest more calories than you burn. By adding more snacks to your day, you can take in more calories, which increases your weight. The American Dietetic Association advises eating five to six times a day when trying to gain weight. As a busy teen, you may need to pack extra snacks to take with you during the day, especially if you won't have access to healthy food at snack time.
Go for high-nutrient, calorie-dense foods rather than junk foods or alleged weight-gain supplements. High-calorie but sugary or fatty snack foods fail to provide needed nutrition for developing teens, and supplements are often ineffective and expensive. Instead, focus on eating more high-calorie, healthy foods. Examples include nuts, peanut butter, avocados, dried fruit and granola.
Bulk up your meals by adding high-calorie toppings and extras to your regular dishes. Try adding nuts and raisins to oatmeal or other cereal, sprinkling salads with olive oil, shredded cheese or sunflower seeds, and spreading peanut butter on waffles, bagels or whole-grain crackers.
Add strength training to your exercise routine. Strength-training exercises build muscle, which weighs more than fat and will also fill out your frame. You can use weight machines, hand-held free weights or exercise resistance bands to perform strength exercises, such as biceps curls, shoulder raises, hammer curls, dead lifts and squats. Teens should participate in muscle-building activities three days per week for optimal health.