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Gaining Weight


While most Americans are concerned about losing excess pounds, some have the opposite problem - how to add pounds onto an extra-thin body.


Genetics can be an important factor in the inability to gain weight. Other causes may be inadequate nutrition or excessive athletic activity. In some cases, persistent weight loss can be a sign of a mood or eating disorder, a digestive disorder such as malabsorption, endocrine problems such as thyroid disease, or of cancer.

It is important to see a physician if you are unable to maintain or gain weight so that you may have a complete medical work-up.


A complete medical history and physical examination will be performed and additional tests may be recommended.


It is extremely important that you discuss your inability to maintain weight with your physician. He or she can then counsel you about specific dietary recommendations and other treatments.

To gain weight, it may be necessary to change the meaning of food in your life. Instead of eating to satisfy your taste buds or your hunger, your physician may recommend that you eat foods at times when you are not hungry.

A good deal of pleasure may be missing, but eating good, nourishing food is an integral part of weight gain.

Nutritional supplements should be considered. There are commercially prepared high-protein, high-calorie food supplements available in liquid or pudding form.

These "formulas" are available in drugstores and from home health care suppliers and can be used in addition to it. Many do have an unpleasant aftertaste and can be made more palatable by the addition of ice cream, fruit, milk products, and eggs, which both mask the flavor and boost up the nutrients. These preparations, however, are low-residue and can lead to constipation.


What is causing the underweight condition?

Can underlying illness be ruled out?

What changes in the diet do you recommend?

What foods and beverages are high-calorie and high-protein?

What changes in lifestyle should be made to induce weight gain?

How can the appetite be stimulated?

Some suggestions to gain weight include the following:

  • Consume three meals and three snacks daily.
  • At meals and snacks always choose high-energy, high-protein foods
  • Avoid low-energy, filling liquids such as tea, coffee, clear soups, and water. In their place, choose higher-energy fluids such as whole milk, milk shakes, chocolate milk, or juice.
  • Eat frequently every two hours, even if you are not hungry.
  • Choose your favorite foods frequently. Have these foods readily available at all times.
  • Choose convenience foods, and ready-to-eat foods such as canned puddings.
  • Do not limit yourself to traditional meals. Be creative.
  • Add seasonings to food to improve taste and aroma.
  • Serve food in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.