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Wanting to gain weight after serious illness

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Old 04-19-2004, 12:08 PM   #1
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MariaS. HB User
Wanting to gain weight after serious illness

My son just went through a 9 day stay in the hospital after a serious bout of appendicitis. He was underweight to begin with, but is now rather emaciated.

He is 6 feet tall and weighs 123 pounds at age 15. I'm trying to get him to eat a lot all through the day and am using a diet software program to evaluate what and how much he's eaten. The program says that for him to get back to his pre-illness weight of 145 lbs in a month, he'll have to eat 4400 calories per day. He's only able to take in about 2500 calories per day so far, but his stomach is still shrunken from the two weeks without food.

He lost a lot of muscle mass during his illness, am I right to assume that a large proportion of his diet should be protein, so he can rebuild his muscles? Right now he's getting a lot of his calories (about 65%) from carbohydrates, since he's drinking lots of fruit juice to keep hydrated.

Is my goal of getting him back to normal in a month too ambitious?

And what sort of percentages should he be eating of fat, protein and carbohydrates?

Does anyone know of any good resources for information on this topic?

Last edited by MariaS.; 04-19-2004 at 12:08 PM.

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Old 04-19-2004, 02:24 PM   #2
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mugal2003 HB User
Thumbs up Re: Wanting to gain weight after serious illness

Protein is necessary!!! I had to gain weight also from a very serious illness and I had absolutely no muscle at all in my body, so I had to incorporate protein in everything. Egg whites, nuts, chicken, turkey, yogurt, etc. I also had to deal with a shrunken stomach and it was very hard to eat anything w/o being bloated. But eat small meals, roughly 5-6 a day to expand it slowly. Have protein in every meal and get carbs!!! I ate tons of carbs to gain weight back, including cereal, pancakes, bread, etc. His stomach will expand, just takes time really. Incorporate healthy fruit such as apples, bananas, grapes, etc. Milke is also a good source of calcium and protein. As soon as he eats more often, his appetite will come back, his body needs to adjust that food is coming back into the body. I am now at a healthy weight and my muscles are back. I do strength training also to keep them lean. I wouldn't really concentrate right now on any strength training, just focus on his eating/nutrition, and when he achieves his desired weight, if he wants, he can add a weight training program to keep his muscles from deterioting. If your still a little confused, go to a dietician and they are very helpful. I went to one and they established the good foods, good fats, and good sources of proteins.
BTW, he might suffer from a little gas b/c of the shrunken stomach as so did I, Mylanta is a very good relief from that!

Best wishes,


Old 04-21-2004, 07:30 AM   #3
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MariaS. HB User
Re: Wanting to gain weight after serious illness

Thank you for your viewpoint! I did some searching on the internet and found an article that said that simply packing on the calories without paying attention to muscle growth could be a very bad thing. In effect, we'd be putting 25 lbs of fat onto his current weak muscles and causing tremendous stress to his system.

So, I'm not going to feed him lots of fattening stuff, just going to concentrate on good nutrition and encouraging him to snack lots. And once his appendectomy incision is healed, we'll start him on some light strength training.

From what I read, if you don't do strength training as you regain the weight, the muscles won't be stimulated to re-grow.

ANyway, I'm dropping the 4400 calories per day figure from my mind. It was a bad idea.

How long did it take you to get back to a healthy weight, mugal?

Old 04-21-2004, 02:12 PM   #4
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mugal2003 HB User
Re: Wanting to gain weight after serious illness

Hey there!!

Your right, strength training is def. important to re-build those muscles.. I added my training in about 3 months after I started to gain weight back. Just adding fattening food and not any good protein/carbs will def. add just fat to the body and it will be harder to firm/lose it. Soon enough, his metabolism will get the hang of his eating habits and it will re-form itself to that.
I was at a deadly weight, 77pds on 5'6,medium frame. Talk about looking like a skeleton, i had absolutely no muscle at all, I couldn't bend down or get back up. The first few months were really hard b/c my stomach was literally a peanut so I had to eat very very often.. that was in October 2003.. Now, i'm a lean, mean fighting machine. LOL I took it a fast pace b/c I was almost dead, and my body organs were not functioning at all.

Don't worry, your son will get there. Takes time, patience, and alot of love from above.

Good luck

Old 04-21-2004, 09:00 PM   #5
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Lupus HB User
Re: Wanting to gain weight after serious illness

Gaining 23 pounds in a month, a lot of it is likely to be fat. Granted, a lot of it will probably be water, too. 23 pounds of muscle in a year, let alone a month, is an unlikely feat for most people.

I'd generally say he should drop the fruit drinks in favor of water, although in this scenario, calories are certainly not his enemy. That does not mean it's necessarily healthy, though.

A good muscle building diet should be something that emphasizes carbs but does not overemphasize them. Something in the line of 40/30/30 or 50/25/25.

4400 calories per day from someone that skinny is not a bad idea at all. You might want to bump it 250-500 per day each week and see where it goes, but it's not an unreasonable figure in the least.

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