In American culture, being thin is generally considered desirable, but there is such a thing as being too skinny. The health risks associated with being too skinny are not highlighted nearly as much as the health risks of being overweight, but they exist. Registered dietitian Elena Blanco-Schumacher estimates that approximately eight to nine percent of the population is underweight, with a body mass index below 20, according to a January 2008 article in "Today's Dietitian." Before starting any plan to gain weight, you should consult your doctor.
Dangers and Risks
Being too skinny can have negative consequences. You may notice a drop in energy. This may be due to not having enough red blood cells, associated with not getting enough iron in your diet. If you are low on energy, you can feel tired and drained. When you are underweight, your immune system is not at its best, which puts you at greater risk for influenza, the common cold and other infections, according to the National Health System. You may experience nutritional deficiencies. If you are not getting enough calcium, for example, you may experience fragile bones in the future. Infertility and abnormal menstrual periods are possible for women.
When it comes to eating to gain weight, it has to be done right. This means that you cannot just eat a lot of junk foods, like cakes, chips, chocolate, sodas and other foods high in sugar and saturated fat. Talking to your doctor is crucial in determining the best diet for you, but there are some general guidelines that can be followed. You should try to eat a minimum of three meals each day and then three snacks each day as well, according to the National Health System. You should make sure to get five servings of vegetables and fruits everyday and three portions of calcium-rich foods, such as cheese, milk and yogurt. Starchy carbohydrates are also important, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lentils and potatoes.
Exercise is important to a healthy weight gaining program. Those seeking to gain lean mass should put their focus on strengthening their muscles over burning fat. If you choose to life weights, make sure you lift weights heavy enough to stimulate your muscles, advises "Women's Fitness." You should not lift weights that are too heavy for you and you should not push yourself to injury, but more weight equals more muscle mass. General exercises, like lunges, bicep curls, push-ups, squats, bench press and shoulder press, using five to 15 pounds of weight, done in three sets at six to 10 repetitions is recommended by "Women's Fitness." Before exercising you must ask a doctor if it is safe for you.
There are certain supplements that can help you gain weight and get healthy. Getting plenty of essential minerals and vitamins is important. If your diet provides enough of these, you may not need a supplement. If not, talk to your doctor about using a multi-vitamin. Nutritional shakes can also be beneficial. These can provide extra calories and nutrients. Your doctor can help you determine if you have any nutritional deficiencies and which supplements to take to correct these.