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I have been underweight for many years. due to some personal reasons, I’ve gone for psychotherapy and after series of counselling, I’m quite alright and started working out hoping to gain weight. Within 6 months, I’ve gained 10kg. So when I wanted to find out my health status, I went for screening and these problems were surfaced. Not sure if it’s due to my diet and working out. I need to eat more and workout in order to gain weight. I’m currently 1.57m, 52kg. I was previously 43kg (in Sept 2016). I wish to increase and maintain my BMI to the normal range.
Thanks for your question – a problem I am sure many people face, particularly if they have specific strength and fitness goals.
Firstly it’s great news that you have managed to gain the 10kg – well done! Was that through simply exercising or diet changes too?
When you went for health screening did they check for the following:
1. Thyroid disease
2. Bowel disease
4. Metabolic conditions
You see there are many things that can cause trouble with weight gain, and if these haven’t been ruled out, your aims might be hard to achieve.
I would start with looking into these possibilities and ensuring your “systems” are all in correct working order.
Equally, it’s important to look at what you are eating, and how much.
Often, if you change your training habits, your meal schedules and quantities must also change. Gaining weight is essentially a balance between input and output – if one side outweighs the other then you will either gain too much or not enough mass.
Suffice to say that most people are in the opposite situation to yourself where they consume more than they expend, and hence gains outstrip the losses – but that’s for another day and another question!
Having spoken to a colleague who is a dietician, with a special interest in sports, her suggestions were:
1. Keep a food diary
2. Aim for 30 calories per kg for weight maintenance, about 35-40 for weight gain
3. Look at your training and eating patterns
4. Eat a light meal/snack before training and ideally you need to eat a meal/snack containing some protein and carbohydrates within 2 hours afterwards.
5. Depending on the type and duration of training you are doing, you may need to refuel during training if it lasts for more than 1.5 hours.
6. Not all calories are created equal so to prevent chronic diseases from developing, choose wholegrains, lean proteins and opt for plant oils
7. Supplementing with additional whey might help but be mindful of drug testing if you entered a sport where this is a requirement.
Finally, remember that BMI is useful as a marker of weight in the average population. It does not imply fitness or cardiovascular health. To determine this, a health screening would be beneficial and, if they have access, a BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis) can be done to check if the weight gain is from muscle or from fat.
Good luck for your weight gain and training ambitions. If you need further advice please ask or perhaps look into visiting a Sports Clinic/Dietician Service.
Dr Dinesh Sirisena
Sport Medicine Consultant KTPH