While weight gain may be dirty words for most women, being underweight can have health consequences just like being overweight. You are at a higher risk of tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, digestive conditions, certain types of cancer, infertility and birth defects after pregnancy. Many factors influence your ability to gain and lose weight, and by modifying the ones you have control over, you can gradually add weight at a healthy rate.
Set realistic weight gain goals for yourself. The American Council on Exercise recommends gaining about 1 lb. each week.
Increase your caloric intake every day by 500 calories. Add a morning and afternoon snack to your regular three meals and include energy-dense foods, like cheeses, nuts, seeds and healthful oils.
Consume 15 to 20 percent of your daily calories through protein sources to fuel your body with muscle-building amino acids. Women have greater calcium requirements than men, so eating and drinking dairy products or adding powered milk to soups can supply your body with two valuable nutrients at once.
Add regular strength-training sessions to your fitness routine to ensure that the extra calories you eat turn into muscle and not fat. Strength training not only helps you gain weight, but it also improves the tone of you body to give your self-confidence a boost.
Talk to your doctor if you are unable to gain weight through diet and exercise. Sometimes being underweight is a symptom of more serious conditions like hyperthyroidism.