Causes of Trouble in Gaining Weight

You may have trouble gaining weight due to several common medical illnesses; however, there can be a more simple explanation to this such as skipping meals or not ingesting enough calories. Having a knowledge of the symptoms and signs which will help to find out if your inability to gain weight is due to lifestyle factors or an underlying illness is important. In case you experience unexplained loss of weight, you should contact a physician. You are considered underweight if your body mass index is less than 18.5.

Why Can't I Gain Weight?

Many individuals who have trouble in gaining weight are not aware of the fact that they are not consuming enough calories that are needed for weight gain. They may be skipping their meals as a result of busy routine or they may not be ingesting the right kind of foods, including carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Another reason for not gaining weight is doing exercise but not eating sufficient calories that you are spending while exercising. You should monitor your daily intake and expenditure of calories to determine if you are not able to gain weight due to this reason. However, there are medical concerns:


Your metabolism is affected by the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. Production of excess thyroxin speeds up metabolism, resulting in rapid burning of calories and the condition is referred to as hyperthyroidism. In this condition, your appetite will increase; however, in spite of eating more you will have trouble gaining weight. Some of the other symptoms of hyperthyroidism are irregular or rapid heartbeat, anxiety, nervousness, increased bowel movements and tremors in fingers and hands. Menstrual cycle changes may occur in females. The thyroid gland may enlarge and may be felt in the neck. Fatigue, weight loss and weakness of muscles are also present. If any such symptoms are present, contact your physician immediately.


Diabetes is of two types. Type 1 occurs during childhood and is caused due to deficiency of insulin. Diabetes type 2 is caused due to resistance of body cells to insulin and usually occurs during adulthood. The quantity of glucose present in your body is regulated by the hormone insulin; hence, appetite and weight are often affected first as glucose is the main fuel source of the body. Trouble in gaining weight can occur in both types of diabetes along with increased hunger. Some other symptoms of the disease are fatigue, blurred vision and increased thirst, urination and appetite. In case you have these symptoms, contact your physician.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Intestinal problems imply that the food eaten by you is not getting properly absorbed by your body. It may happen that even though you are eating a lot, still you may develop malnutrition and have trouble gaining weight. These kinds of illness are referred to as “malabsorption syndromes.” Ulcers, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease are some common types. Symptoms are presence of blood in stool, fatigue, abdominal pain, abnormal movements of bowel-too few or too many, weight loss and gas formation. In case you are having these symptoms and trouble in gaining weight, consult your physician.

Other Causes

Apart from the common causes mentioned above, there are some less common causes of lack of gaining weight. Certain prescription medicines may raise your metabolism; thereby, burning more calories. Certain treatments, for instance chemotherapy may decrease appetite and cause loss of weight. Infection, neurological issues and cancer can also cause weight loss or trouble in gaining weight. Weight loss may also occur due to psychological issues such as depression and stress as they may disrupt your eating habits. You should talk to a physician or psychologist in case you suffer from an emotional distress.

How to Gain Weight in a Healthy Way

Your physician may place you on a program for weight gain in case you are underweight. However, you are not given permission to eat all types of junk food. Weight gain in a healthy way needs balanced approach similar to a healthy program of weight loss. You may gain weight by eating junk and processed food, but your body’s nutritional needs are not satisfied by such foods. Apart from that, the sugar, salt and fat in junk food will harm the health of your body. For weight gain in a healthy way, follow the tips:

  • Add healthy foods to increase calories. It doesn’t imply that you have to make changes in your diet drastically. You may increase your calories by adding toppings or seeds or nuts, healthy side dishes and cheese. Try sunflower seeds, almonds, whole grain or wheat toast and fruits.
  • Eat nutrient dense foods. Avoid eating junk foods and foods that contain empty calories. Instead eat foods, which are nutrient dense. Opt for meats which are high in proteins as they will help you in building muscle. Choose nutrient dense carbohydrates including whole grains and brown rice. This will ensure that your body receives the maximum nourishment possible, even if your appetite is reduced.
  • Eat snacks in between your meals or make it a point to eat every three hours. Opt for snacks which are rich in healthy carbohydrates and proteins. You can choose trail mix, crackers with peanut butter or hummus and protein drinks or bars. Also eat snacks which have good fats that are important to maintain your heart healthy. Some examples are avocados and nuts.
  • Consume mini-meals. In case you are having a reduced appetite either due to emotional or medical issues, you may find consuming large quantities of food non- appealing. Then you can consider consuming small meals all through the day so as to up your total intake of calories.
  • Make sure that the number of calories that you consume should be significantly greater than the number of calories you are spending.
  • Build Muscle by doing strength training. If you do excessive aerobic exercise you will burn more calories and lose weight and this will work against the goal of weight gain. However, in such cases you may gain help by strength training to build muscle. You can do yoga and weightlifting to build muscle and gain weight.

Now you know all about trouble gaining weight and the right thing to do.

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