Q&A: Underweight

Q: My husband is underweight, and he’d like to gain weight in a healthy way. What steps can he take to do this? Besides larger portions for him, is there a way to help him gain (and me not to gain) without making separate meals?

A: Well, if you have to have a weight problem, needing to gain some is the one to have!

Eating more fat is the easiest way to add more calories, but too much fat isn’t great for the body. Trying to just do “more” of your balanced diet is the key, but here are some tips that may help:

-Try snacking. It can be overwhelming to eat a ton at meals. Eating normal meals and squeezing some snacks in between will boost intake.

-Look for easy additions to make: extra salad dressing, cheese on vegetables, some peanut butter with apples or bananas, adding chocolate syrup to milk, extra cheese or meat on a sandwich, etc.

-Nonfat dry milk powder is a cheap protein powder that easily dissolves into soups, sauces, and drinks. You can even mix up to ⅓ cup into a glass of regular milk to boost the protein and calories. Adding chocolate syrup can help disguise any taste change from the powder.

-Exercise. I know this seems counter-intuitive. Focus on muscle building and strengthening. Muscle is dense, so more muscle means more weight. You do have to balance for calories burnt, though.

-Focus on protein foods. Meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and nuts all provide the protein to help build that muscle we gained through exercise. These foods are also calorie rich.

Remember, excess calories from any source – including carbs and protein – are stored as fat.

Hope that helps. Thanks for the question and happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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