Nutritious Meal Plan If You're Underweight

Nutritious Meal Plan If You're Underweight

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Guacamole can be a healthy, high-calorie dip to aid in weight gain.

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Becoming underweight can be caused by not getting enough calories, excessive athletic training, stress and illness. If you're underweight, a nutritious meal plan will focus on increasing your calorie consumption from nutrient-dense foods to help you gain weight and get extra nutrients. Eat a balanced diet, and work with your doctor if you need help gaining weight.

Increase Your Calorie Consumption

You need to consume more energy than you expend to gain weight. You can increase your daily calorie totals by taking larger portions and including extra snacks in your meal plan. If you are having trouble eating more food, the University of Nevada, Reno, suggests boosting your appetite by eating your meals at a similar time each day, eating with friends or family in a relaxing environment and keeping prepared, appetizing food on hand so that eating is easier.

Select High-Calorie Foods

Foods that contain lots of calories in each serving are calorie-dense. These foods can help you gain weight because it is easier to consume more calories from them than from low calorie-dense foods, such as thin soups. Fat contains more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, and high-fat foods tend to be calorie-dense. Choose healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats for better health. Increase the calorie content of many of your meals and snacks by adding olive oil or other high-fat fat foods, such as nuts and avocado. Roast chicken and vegetables with olive oil or add walnuts to yogurt and cereal to make them more calorie dense.

Add High-Calorie Snacks and Beverages

Snacking between three balanced meals can provide extra calories to aid in weight gain. Nuts and peanuts are high-fat, high-calorie options, providing 161 to 204 calories per ounce. Dried fruit is another convenient choice; a small box of raisins has 129 calories. The University of Nevada, Reno, notes that drinking beverages with calories can also help you meet your calorie goals if increasing portion sizes and eating more frequently is not sufficient. Juice and skim milk are nutritious options, and you can also make smoothies with fruit, yogurt, flaxseed and peanut butter.

Select Nutritious Foods

Many foods are high-calorie and can help you gain weight, but they are not healthy choices because of their low nutrient content and unhealthy components. Candies, baked desserts and regular soft drinks are high in added sugars, which does not provide essential nutrients. Pizza, hamburgers and other fast foods are often high in cholesterol-raising saturated fat. Instead, select nutrient-dense options, such as whole-grain pasta tossed with an oil-based pesto sauce. Increase the calorie content of naturally low-calorie foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, by adding healthy fats. Drizzle salads with olive oil and herb dressing, and dip apple slices into peanut butter.