I will be drawing from my personal experience to share with you how to gain a healthy weight or rather transform the unhealthy weight (excess body fat or fat mass) into the healthy weight (skeletal muscle mass). I have shared in a previous article how your knowledge of the body composition can help you shift your weight gain in the right direction.
I am 55 years of age, a wife, mother, and a career woman. I have quite a busy daily work schedule mostly sedentary with home chores. Nevertheless, I need a concerted effort to achieve and maintain a consistent and adequate physical activity lifestyle of between 5000 and 10000 steps of moderate-intensity every day. Typically I am 1.57 meter tall, 59kg by weight and BMI approximately 24kg/m2.
As a result of the strenuous advanced studies I undertook between 2012 and 2016, I lost a significant amount of weight. My weight came down to 52.5kg. I needed to regain my weight, but it has to be a healthy weight. In the process, I discovered that you equally need deliberate effort to gain healthy weight as you do to lose unwanted weight. What did I do?
- I increased my food intake. This time academic exercises had greatly reduced. I still do a lot but without the stress of timelines, examinations, presentations and the rest.
- I had more resting periods and more sleeping hours.
- I embarked on a daily routine of physical activity; jogging in place.
Results after 3 years
After 3 years; beginning of 2019, I have increased my weight from 52.5 to 56.6. Good news isn’t it. Yes, it is, however, let’s have a look at the statistics.
Results in February 2019
|Height||1.57m||Usual and normal|
|Fat mass||18.7Kg and 32.8%||Over|
|Visceral fat level||7||Healthy range|
|Basal metabolic rate||1196||This value is below the healthy range of 1242 – 1432 for me. It needs to improve)|
Necessary improvement to gaining a healthy weight
Since I am yet to reach my goal of 59kg weight, I needed to put more effort towards the desired weight by achieving a reduced fat mass level while increasing the skeletal muscle mass. I embarked on the following:
- I increased the intake of foods rich in proteins such as milk, beans, chicken and fish. Lean meat is also a good option in this case, but it is not my favourite.
- I added the weekly Parkrun jog and walk with my daily jogging in place.
Let me recount my first experience on my first Park run in July 2019. It was at the Botanical Garden Parkrun centre in Pretoria and it was winter. The 5km Parkrun has two hills making the exercise a heavy work through. I started with my jacket; however, about 8 minutes into the exercise, I had removed my jacket because of sweat. As I finished climbing the second hill on that first day, I felt like fainting. I thought perhaps this exercise wasn’t for me. However, the consequent visits became bearable and I climbed the hills with fewer difficulties. This was an indication of improved muscle strength in addition to increased muscle mass as I found out from my body composition results shown below.
Results in September 2019
|Height||1.57m||Usual and normal|
|Muscle mass||20.9||Normal, but there is room for improvement|
|Fat mass||17.6Kg and 30.2%||This value is over, however, there is a significant reduction from the previous result|
|Visceral fat level||6||Healthy range|
|Basal metabolic rate||1249||This value is within the healthy range of 1242 – 1432 for me, though there is room for improvement)|
Insights from the literature on how to gain a healthy weight
My experience is substantiated by the views of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. It is recommended that adults should have adequate protein intake also with daily physical activity such as resistance training or aerobic exercise for as long as possible to sustain muscle strength and physical functioning into older age.
The ageing process is connected with a gradual loss of muscle mass associated with lowered strength and physical endurance. This condition is known as sarcopenia and it is commonly observed with ageing in sedentary adults. Regular aerobic and resistance exercise greatly contribute to reducing the effect of sarcopenia. Additionally, good nutrition, particularly adequate protein and energy intake, can help in minimising age-related declines in muscle mass, muscle strength, and functional abilities. Protein nutrition of not less than 1.0–1.2 g protein/kg body weight per day in combination with exercise is considered ideal for maintaining muscle function.
As you can see from the difference in my body composition results between February and September 2019; there were desirable improvements. Muscle mass increased, the fat mass reduced, the visceral fat reduced and the basal metabolic rate improved. The improvements were as a result of the adjustment I made by adding the weekly aerobic exercise to my daily jogging on the spot as well as increased intake of foods rich in protein. As I continue with my lifelong regime, the statistic will continue to get better and better. My regime is not cumbersome to me, as a matter of fact, it is enjoyable. This is why I counselled in my previous post that for your weight management endeavour to be sustainable; you must enjoy it and be ready to practice it as a lifelong commitment.
I believe you already have some vital insights on how to gain a healthy weight from my story which could assist you in achieving and maintaining the desired weight whether you are aiming at gaining weight or otherwise. Ensure you track the changes that are occurring in your body by checking your body composition every other month. Following the results obtained from your body composition, make the necessary adjustment. Be consistent at your efforts in the right direction and see your desired body composition gradually fall in shape. I look forward to reading your story, please feel free to contact me through the email at the end of this article. I will be happy to communicate with you and assist you further not only on how to gain a healthy weight but other related issues you may have.