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HELP! I need to gain weight and I am stuck.

Answered on October 17, 2013
Created October 16, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Yes, I know, most people have the opposite issue, but I am desperately hoping for some ideas!

I am a 31 year old female, 5'4, and 93 pounds. I've had my body fat calculated by various nutritionists/doctors, and it hangs around 14%...which is super not healthy for a woman. I've always been a little underweight - 108 pounds or so, (115 would be my ideal weight) but had to battle an illness for two years that dropped me down to 86 pounds. In March I went on a junk-food binge and managed to get back up to 93, but the junk food was of course irritating the hell out of my condition (a very rare hormone disorder).

So I went Paleo in July, and haven't looked back. I feel a BILLION times better, disorder is in remission, skin looks good, etc. But I am still underweight to the point that I can't even have a period. I have been stuck at 93 pounds since July.

So here is where I am really stuck, guys. I eat 2300 -2400 calories a day! For a woman my size, everyone tells me that I need 1300 to maintain, and just an extra 500 on top of that to start gaining weight. I am eating 1000+calories on top of that and am getting no where. I pour ghee and olive oil into everything, I drink cans of coconut milk, I eat 2-3 sweet potatoes a day. I can't eat beef or milk, as I am allergic to them both, and nuts tear my stomach apart. But my breakfast alone is usually 3 eggs fried in ghee over a whole roasted sweet potato, 2 turkey patties, and a huge glass of smoothie with at least a half can of coconut milk and a banana and strawberries and blueberries. I am really full after that, but am hungry within a few hours and ready for another round of epic eating.

I walk for a half hour a day as my exercise.

What am I doing wrong? Any tips for weight gain? Please help! I have had plenty of tests and nothing is wring with my stomach, so I know it's not that.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 17, 2013
at 06:37 PM

you need to challenge your body, girl!!! i was very tiny when i started weight lifting again. i used soup cans and then got into actual hand weights.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on October 17, 2013
at 04:44 PM

I second the second point. I gave my macros just to show that adjusting your macros can be beneficial. But everyone is different. Find the macro that works for you.

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 17, 2013
at 04:24 PM

I drench a potato in butter almost every day - with something acidic too like balsamic vinegar or sour cream. It's delish, healthy, and I think it helps...

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 17, 2013
at 04:22 PM

Be careful with that though. A month of force feeding myself lead to some stomach issues - my stomach seemed to stop emptying properly but that's getting better. Also, I want to emphasize the un-importance of concentrating on a specific macro ratio. Eat what you're comfortable eating. As long as you're getting good healthy food, enough of each macro, and plenty of micronutrients, you'll be on your way to healthy weight gain. This is so much better than a junk food binge and in many ways easier to maintain.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on October 17, 2013
at 01:28 PM

weight lifting will not help you gain weight. but it has a number of other beneficial aspects to it. So I would not worry about lifting at all. And it will take you several months to actually gain any significant amount of muscle (most of the gains early are just muscle adaptations, not strength gains).

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on October 17, 2013
at 08:14 AM

At your size & weight adding muscle would not be a bad thing. That's a bummer about the milk & beef allergy. Even cultured dairy?

I'm thinking you might have absorption issues.

You allude to "very rare hormone disorder".. what does your doctor say? Perhaps an alternative medicine MD would be useful.

Medium avatar

(0)

on October 16, 2013
at 11:59 PM

This is so great to hear! It sounds like a number of number of people experience a long period of no change at the beginning, and the. The body finally kicks in and starts gaining weight...it definitely helps inspire me to keep going, eating so much is so hard!

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on October 16, 2013
at 07:57 PM

yea, people actually eat olive oil to boost their metabolism and lose weight. that being said maybe you should eat large breakfast (when your bodies insulin sensitive) and eat your carbs with your fats, so you release insulin then store the fats with that insulin (since fats easier to store than carb/protiens)

trying to gain fat in a healthy way is confusing, as you would imagine your body would automatically do this given proper calories no matter what the diet.

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8 Answers

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0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on October 16, 2013
at 06:42 PM

When I wanted to gain weight, it took a bit of time and effort. First you need to let your body slowly adjust it's set weight. For some strange reason, our bodies like to maintain the status quo. So you have to over feed for a few months to start to gain weight. Second, increase your carb intake. For me the sweet spot was around 40/30/30 F/P/C. Third, decrease your activity. Walking 30 minutes a day is pretty low level, so you are probably good there.

A quick hack, drinking beer and sitting on teh couch helps with #2 and #3.

0
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on October 17, 2013
at 08:05 PM

OK first of all IDK who told you 1300 calories to maintain but that's nonsense. I'm 5'3" and 120-125# (depending on the time of the month, etc.) and I need AT LEAST 1800 to maintain if I'm doing nothing but sitting on my ass. Which I never do. I eat 2100-2300 per day currently and I'm weight-stable within that 5-pound range.

Have you tried a probiotic? The bacteria in your gut are responsible for absorbing a lot of the calories and nutrients from your food, so if your gut is messed up, you might be eating all that and it's just coming out the other end uselessly to feed the gremlins that live in your toilet.

Also, are you sure your calorie-counting is accurate? It sounds like a stupid question but for example when I first started tracking macros/calories, I would count "1 tbsp. of butter" but it was really a teaspoon if that. Or I would count "1 cup of spinach" and it was actually like 5 cups (a whole huge bowl full).

0
Medium avatar

on October 17, 2013
at 10:38 AM

@BobK @BobK I am allergic, even to cultured dairy. That rare hormone disorder? I am very allergic to progesterone and estrogen. That also means any animal meat with those things in them makes me violently ill. Obviously no cafo meat, but even hormone free meat still has natural hormones in it. chicken/turkey hormones are so different from ours it isn't a problem. I am one of maybe 50 people in the country with this obnoxious disorder.

Until we figured this out, I had nonstop inflammation, vomiting, etc, for YEARS. I really damaged my stomach. I feel so much better now...like, almost a hundred percent...but it's only been since May that the docs figured things out and I have been on the right meds and everything. You're right...it may be a much longer process before I am able to properly absorb food.

0
Medium avatar

on October 17, 2013
at 12:04 AM

@joanna 4 Iam totally nervous about weight lifting. People say it can help you gain weight, but I am scared I am just too far underweight for it to help, I am nervous that any bit of muscle I add will just burn the tiny bit of fat I do have. I am also afraid that I will have to eat more if I lift weights! which I just don't think is humanely possible at this point!

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on October 17, 2013
at 08:14 AM

At your size & weight adding muscle would not be a bad thing. That's a bummer about the milk & beef allergy. Even cultured dairy?

I'm thinking you might have absorption issues.

You allude to "very rare hormone disorder".. what does your doctor say? Perhaps an alternative medicine MD would be useful.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on October 17, 2013
at 01:28 PM

weight lifting will not help you gain weight. but it has a number of other beneficial aspects to it. So I would not worry about lifting at all. And it will take you several months to actually gain any significant amount of muscle (most of the gains early are just muscle adaptations, not strength gains).

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 17, 2013
at 06:37 PM

you need to challenge your body, girl!!! i was very tiny when i started weight lifting again. i used soup cans and then got into actual hand weights.

0
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2013
at 11:23 PM

i had the same problem. i was 84 lbs when i started paleo and i'm 5'5". i've gotten up to 103 lbs but it's taken a lot of food and working out. i ONLY do strength training. i took out cardio workouts. as soon as i added real weights, i put on muscle and i'm sure fat, too, which i needed. as soon as i stop working out because of my illness or being in the hospital again, i lose weight like crazy.

do you have a digestive disorder? i have ulcerative colitis so my aborption sucks. i had to start drinking Absorb Plus shakes again to keep my weight up. i know they aren't paleo at all, but they are whey protein elemental shakes for people who need extra calories. they are really delicious and easy to drink because they have the consistency of water.

i just got my period for the first time in three years. happened last week and i was totally shocked!!! i learned that your body will not give it up if it is too sick.

0
Medium avatar

on October 16, 2013
at 10:45 PM

I was in the same boat - started Paleo to fix my health when I was already a little under weight. I was about 135 lbs. at 6'2" age 28. Years ago I was 155 pounds and I have no idea what happened.

I felt better but for some reason stayed at 135 lbs. for a couple months. Now all of a sudden I put on 5 pounds and it's still going up. Soon I'll be able to relax and just eat until I'm full and move on.

I'm eating more like 65/15/20 F/P/C - and now aiming for more like 66/16/18 since it's easier to get the calories in. I don't think the ratios are all that important as long as you get "enough" of each thing and plenty of good healthy food.

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 17, 2013
at 04:22 PM

Be careful with that though. A month of force feeding myself lead to some stomach issues - my stomach seemed to stop emptying properly but that's getting better. Also, I want to emphasize the un-importance of concentrating on a specific macro ratio. Eat what you're comfortable eating. As long as you're getting good healthy food, enough of each macro, and plenty of micronutrients, you'll be on your way to healthy weight gain. This is so much better than a junk food binge and in many ways easier to maintain.

Medium avatar

(0)

on October 16, 2013
at 11:59 PM

This is so great to hear! It sounds like a number of number of people experience a long period of no change at the beginning, and the. The body finally kicks in and starts gaining weight...it definitely helps inspire me to keep going, eating so much is so hard!

0
031b5196a7b0221dfeef78d497d4a098

on October 16, 2013
at 08:09 PM

3500 calories equals 1 pound of body fat. Increase your calorie intake by 500 a day and within 7 days you'll have put 1 pound of fat on. This is normally done in reverse for people looking to cut weight, but the maths is the same

0
Medium avatar

on October 16, 2013
at 07:42 PM

@CDone ....that is definitely helpful! For whatever reason, 93 has been my "set point" since July - hopefully at some point I will nudge my body over that bump and it will start to gain weight. It can be so discouraging to eat like a crazy cow and not see a damn thing happen!

The 40/30/30 thing is helpful, too...I eat a lot of carbs, but I eat a LOT more fat...I might need to take the fat down a bit and up the carbs a bit more.

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on October 16, 2013
at 07:57 PM

yea, people actually eat olive oil to boost their metabolism and lose weight. that being said maybe you should eat large breakfast (when your bodies insulin sensitive) and eat your carbs with your fats, so you release insulin then store the fats with that insulin (since fats easier to store than carb/protiens)

trying to gain fat in a healthy way is confusing, as you would imagine your body would automatically do this given proper calories no matter what the diet.

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 17, 2013
at 04:24 PM

I drench a potato in butter almost every day - with something acidic too like balsamic vinegar or sour cream. It's delish, healthy, and I think it helps...

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