Oftentimes you hear how detrimental being overweight can be for your health.  The same goes for being underweight.  Being underweight can lead to health concerns as well.  Health risks that are involved with being underweight include fertility problems, osteoporosis, anemia, weakened immune system, thinning hair, teeth and gum problems, dry skin, poor wound healing, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, heart rhythm problems and poor sleep.  It can also cause growth and delays in children when a child is underweight. 

You are considered to be underweight when your BMI, body mass index, is below 18.5.  Women are more likely to be underweight than men.  Young people 18-24 years of age are at a higher risk as are people over the age of 65.  


Ideal Healthy Weight Adults

Ideal Healthy Weight Children


Causes Of Being Underweight

A high calorie diet may be needed for someone who is burning more calories than they are taking in.  This can be caused by lifestyles or medical conditions. 

You may need a high calorie diet if you have a job that is very physically demanding or causes you to spend a lot of energy.  

Athletes sometimes need to gain weight and muscle quickly so they will do a high calorie diet to do so. 

Medical conditions that could cause you to lose weight in return causing you to gain weight are cancer, eating disorders, type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, stress, depression, anxiety, HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, celiac disease, undergoing chemotherapy, or having diarrhea. 

Someone who has a very high metabolism rate may also be in need of a high calorie diet. 


Eating To Gain Weight

Gaining weight can be just as difficult as losing weight for some people. 

The important thing to not do when you are starting a high calorie diet is to eat a bunch of processed junk foods.  They may be high in calories, but they are not healthy to fill your body with to try and gain weight.  Muscle weighs more than fat, so focusing on gaining muscle can help you gain weight more quickly.  

Proteins that are high in calories are red meats, pork, chicken with the skin on, salmon, beans, and eggs. Making homemade protein smoothies can be a great way to add calories to your diet.  Making them at home allows you to keep an eye on the sugar content.  Lots of store smoothies will have tons of added sugars that aren’t necessary.  Homemade smoothies also allow you to pick your flavor combination. 



Peanut butter is another great source of protein.  It can be easily added to your smoothies, eaten with some fruit, or just eaten plain. 

Full fat dairy is another good source of protein as well.  This can be whole milk or full fat yogurt.  Whole milk, some protein powder, and a tablespoon of peanut butter mixed together for a smoothie can be a great high protein healthy snack. 

Another great additive to smoothies are bananas.  They are high in fiber, potassium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and healthy fats.  

The highest calorie foods by volume is oil.  This could be olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil.  Cooking with oil can add healthy fats to any meal. 

Avocados are another great option for healthy fat.  They are very versatile.  You can have guacamole, add them to salads, soups, sandwiches, use as a mayonnaise substitute, grill, bake or pickle them.  

Potatoes are a cost effective way to add calories and carbohydrates to your meal.  You can boil, bake, or roast a potato and get the same health benefits from any way cooked.  Other starches that you can add to your diet to help increase calories are quinoa, oats, corn, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, and legumes.  

Another low cost calorie dense food is rice.  Rice is a convenient side to add to any meal, it can be prepared quickly, and is very calorie dense.  You get a lot of calories without having to eat a lot, which can be helpful for people who get full quickly.  

Dried fruit is another great and tasty high calorie snack.  Dried fruit is high in calories, fiber, and antioxidants.  Dried fruit can sometimes be high in sugars, which is why it is great to help you gain weight.  As well as give you some other health benefits from the fruit.  Dried fruit can be a great additive to homemade granola.  To get the best out of homemade granola make sure you stay low in sugar but add in nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.  You can then add this to top your yogurt or eat in a bowl of whole milk to enjoy.



An easy way to add calories to your food is to add toppings.  Bacon, sour cream, salad dressings, cheese, and mayonnaise.  Adding those extras is an easy way to boost the calories.  When trying to gain weight it can also be helpful to eat smaller meals more frequently in the day. 

Drinking beverages that have calories too can also help you gain weight.  This could be milk, juice, smoothies, or milkshakes. 



High calorie diets are not for everyone.  If you suffer from being underweight it could benefit you to go on a high calorie diet.  Being underweight comes with health concerns and risks just like being overweight does. 


If you need to gain weight try Health Surgeon’s Calories to Gain Weight health calculator!

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