Hi- I've been to visit my doctor lately and asked her advice on how to gain a few pounds. Is it healthy to add fatty food such as mayo and ice cream, or even more red meat to your diet? I have a low body fat percentage and low blood pressure although I'm not sure on my cholesterol levels.
I know almonds and avocado are good sources of the "good fats" but I already eat a lot of both of them and have not been able to put on the weight... just looking for another alternative.
Fatty fish (that are not contaminated by mercury or other pollutants), dried fruit, and other kinds of nuts are calorie dense, but generally healthy, foods. Note that calorie dense foods may have a combination of fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
The fat in red meat and dairy products is heavily saturated, which may not be good for your blood cholesterol levels if your LDL is high or marginal.
Also, avoid trans-fats from hydrogenated oils.
Do you want to specifically gain body fat, or gain muscle as well? If the latter, be sure to exercise (including the big muscles in your chest and back) to stimulate muscle growth.
How low is your blood pressure? I have low blood pressure (sometimes as low as 100/50) and consider it to be an advantage rather than a problem. In case you're not aware of this, in the book "The Cardiovascular Cure", by John P. Cooke, the author states that the lower your blood pressure the better. That is as long as it's not so low as to make you light-headed or dizzy.
John... I think my blood pressure is somewhere in the ballpark of 90/60. It's been low for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with anemia in the past but have since managed to get my blood count up without too much trouble. But there are times when I do get lightheaded... not sure it's connected with my blood pressure though.
tjlhb... my doctor actually suggested adding a little more mayo and cheese to my sandwiches, snacking on nuts and indulging with the occasional ice cream sunday. My problem is that I have never skimped on the mayo, except now I tend to use hummus which replaces some of it. I eat a lot of low fat dairy... she also suggested I switch to a full fat yogurt for my usual breakfast of yogurt and granola (which I have done... and have been now for about 2 months)... and ice cream sundays are my guilty pleasure. I eat one every night... I am still just 110-112 lbs and 16% body fat. A healthy weight for me is around 115 lb's and 21-26% body fat (I've been told) I am 5'5" and 26 years old. I want to have kids in the near future (2-3 years) and I want to do all that I can to make sure I have a healthy pregnancy. I've been struggling with my weight ever since high school (I was overweight then... 150 lbs at age 17) and have been trying to put weight back on for the past 5 years with no real success. I work out, and I don't want to lose any of the muscle I have, but I mainly my goal is just to gain the weight... 3-5 lb's is all really, but it would be enough to make the difference. Any suggestions?
If you go for full fat dairy products, keep an eye on your blood cholesterol levels, since the saturated fat in dairy fat may raise them. But the general idea is that you have to eat more calories than you use. Unfortunately, a lot of high calorie density foods are junk foods or otherwise not that good for you in other ways. Besides more nuts, dried fruit, fatty fish, avocados, etc., you may want to try adding more olive oil to your food (e.g. more olive oil based salad dressing, or more olive oil in your hummus). Fruit juices are also highly concentrated calories, but if you are sugar sensitive or have a family history of diabetes, it may not be a great idea to drink a lot of sugar in that way. The other thing is that you may simply have to eat more food.
16% body fat is in the range where female athletes tend to be (14-20%), according to the American Council on Exercise. They list "fitness" as 21-24% and "acceptable" as 25-31%. Some other sources have slightly different numbers. It is known that too low body fat percentage causes women to stop ovulating, but there does not seem to be too much about what the minimum body fat percentage for a safe pregnancy is (probably because most health and medicine literature seems to be focused on body weight, rather than body fat percentage). But note also that during pregnancy, a woman gains additional weight (fetus, placenta, blood volume, breast tissue and fat for milk production, etc.), so if you have trouble eating enough to gain weight, that may not be good for pregnancy.
For your height, the usual "healthy body weight" range is 114 to 150 pounds, based on BMI of 19 to 25.
What type of exercise do you do (including daily activity)? If you do a lot of cardio type exercise, you may want to back off on that, doing just enough to maintain general cardio fitness (while also doing strength and weight training to maintain or gain muscle when you gain).
If you still have trouble gaining weight, you may want to be checked for hormonal irregularity. Seems that lots of women have trouble (or think they have trouble) losing body fat due to hormonal irregularities (e.g. thyroid); if you have the opposite problem, you may have trouble gaining.
I just finished a pretty intense workout program... P90X, which I began because I wanted to get into better shape and I thought that by putting on more muscle mass I might gain some weight. I didn't lose any weight through the program, but I did put on muscle... which was essentially what I wanted... but I think that it might have boosted my metabolism which may be contributing to my struggle to put on the extra pounds.
Now that I am done with that I have cut down on my workouts quite a bit. I do a lot of gardening and house work so I am moving around a lot during the day... going up and down stairs etc. I do yoga and strength training maybe 3 times a week as well, but that's it.
I will make sure to keep an eye on my cholesterol like you suggested, and the next time I go in to the doc I will ask to get my thyroid checked... my Aunt just had to get her thyroid removed, so maybe that runs in the family. But it may just be like you said, I might just simply have to eat more. I am NOT a snacker. Never have been... eating a handful of nuts and dried fruit in the afternoon or in between meals is hard for me... I've never had a huge appetite... at times it's hard just to make sure I get in three meals a day. That's why I have always fallen back on ice cream for dessert to get those extra calories in... I have a major sweet tooth and I find I even have a hard time sleeping at night if I don't have at least a piece of chocolate before bed. Lucky for me I prefer the dark over milk... and I've heard it's actually got some heath benefits. But do you think I should try and cut back on the ice cream? I never eat that much... just about a cup full a night with a few additions of fudge or a cookie to go with it. Or is that fine too as long as my cholesterol levels stay in check?
again... thanks for all the tips and advice. I appreciate it.
Ice cream may help you get calories in, but it is mainly sugar and milk fat (which is heavily saturated). The saturated fat may be a concern with blood LDL cholesterol levels, and the sugar may be a concern with blood triglyceride levels (keep an eye on them). Cookies tend to be mostly refined flour, sugar, and not so good fats also.
While eating junk food or foods of marginal nutritional value may help you get calories in, you do want to consider the context of your entire eating plan. If too much of your diet is junk food, that may not be healthy over the long term (especially if you become pregnant), even if you are at a healthy body fat percentage and weight. Is it possible to substitute healthier foods like nuts and dried fruit for part or all of your dessert? E.g. maybe a smaller amount of ice cream, topped with nuts and dried fruit rather than a cookie?
Anyone who has low blood pressure needs to be careful not to get dehydrated. Being dehydrated can lower your blood pressure more and bring on light headedness or even dizzyness.
Be careful about taking aspirin, especially before a nap or before bedtime. I did this once and woke up dizzy. Blood pressure tends to be lowest when sleeping and aspirin makes it lower yet. That's from my own personal experience.
Garlic can lower blood pressure too, so be careful about eating garlic (especially raw garlic) before bedtime. I did this once without thinking and woke up dizzy.
Sleeping too much: 8 to 9 hours is not likely to be a problem. But excessive sleeping could be a problem for people with low blood pressure.
Do you know about how many calories per day you eat? It might be a good idea to track them with a free online tracker to keep an eye on how much you eat. I was also going to suggest olive oil as another healthy way to add in some calories and healthy fats. I think it would be okay to eat SOME of the foods you mentioned, but I wouldn't go crazy for the junk food for health purposes. I have noticed that some other healthy foods, such as brown rice, are pretty high in calories. Do you eat a pretty well balanced diet, or do you tend to eat high in protein, lower in carbs (or vice versa)?
EDIT: oops I see you posted about how many calories you eat in a day on another post! You might want to try to keep track and see about how many. I find that I have to eat about 1800 calories per day to maintain my weight. I am 5'4 and a pretty active person who works out often. So, you might need to eat 2000+ calories to gain.
I eat a pretty well balanced diet. I never eat white rice if I can help it and I buy whole grain noodles and bread etc... I don't eat junk food besides the ice cream at night and maybe a few baked pita chips with hummus with lunch... and by few I mean 3-4 tops. I don't like potato chips, or the flavored tortilla chips... and I've never been a fan of french fries either. I like pretzels, but rarely eat them because I'm not a snacker like I mentioned. That's how I've justified my ice cream habit... but even then I feel guilty eating it all the time... (four times a week) I only eat about a cup... and I stay away from Ben and Jerry's or Hagendaz... the ones that are really high in fat and calories. But for me it's the easiest way to get in those extra 300 calories at the end of the day.
There is a basic problem with the premise of your question. Eating additional dietary fat does not have a direct correlation with adding body fat. If anything, you should eat more carbs to add body fat (not green veggies but starches potatoes, pasta, bread ect) Try more dessert, sweets always fatten me up.