Eat more – quality first, quantity second
Underweight usually occurs when energy intake is less than the energy used. In other words, you need to eat more in order to gain weight. The secret to healthy weight gain is to make all your calories as nutrient-rich as possible. Consuming more empty-calorie foods like soft drinks and chips is not a successful way to build muscle, strengthen bones or repair tissue after surgery.
Successful weight gain requires that you increase your daily intake of carbohydrates. Avoid low carbohydrate diets.
Eating vast amounts of dietary protein won’t make your muscles grow faster and will put unnecessary pressure on your body, especially your kidneys. Avoid high protein diets.
A healthy snack may include fruit, yoghurt, muffin, rice pudding, low-fat custard, milkshake or liquid meal supplement.
Avoid high-fat junk foods. Instead, choose nutritious high-fat foods such as avocado or nuts.
Top your usual foods with some concentrated calories, like grated cheese.
Spread peanut or almond butter on a whole-grain muffin.
Prepare hot oatmeal or other cereal with milk, not water. Add powdered milk, margarine, honey, dried fruits and/or nuts after cooking.
Garnish salads with healthy oils such as olive oil, whole olives, avocados, nuts and sunflower seeds.
Use a kilojoule-counter book to calculate how many kilojoules you eat on an average day. The amount may be smaller than you think.
Eat three good meals every day. Give yourself slightly larger serves if you can.
If you have a small appetite, eat five to six times a day. Drink fluids before and after meals, but not with them. This helps leave more room for food.
Resistance training promotes muscle growth. Examples of resistance training include the use of free weights, weight machines, your own body weight or resistance bands.
Seek professional advice. You need guidance from a gym instructor, personal trainer, exercise physiologist or physiotherapist to make sure you are doing each exercise correctly.
Good advice will increase your gains and reduce your risk of injury.
Train just two or three times per week to give your muscles time to recover. If you’re tempted to train more often, remember that muscle growth occurs during recovery.
Choose compound exercises that work multiple major muscle groups: for example, the squat and bench press.
Make your workouts short and intense rather than long and leisurely.
Gaining lean body weight is a slow process that takes months and years rather than days and weeks. See your doctor before starting any weight-gain program. To gain weight, you must eat more and stimulate muscle growth.
Don’t waste your time or money on powders, pills and products that claim to increase muscle mass. These claims are not scientifically proven.