How to Gain Weight After an Illness

One avocado has approximately 300 calories and 30 grams of healthy fat.
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Due a lack of appetite and decrease in exercise, it's not uncommon for people to come home from the hospital considerably lighter in weight due to an illness. Being underweight can impede your recovery and put you at risk for complications after surgery, according to the McKinley Health Center. Although you can gain weight by eating a lot of junk food, that method won't make you any healthier. Instead, increase your intake of nutrient-dense food and make exercise part of your daily routine to build muscle mass.

    Ask your physician if you have any dietary restrictions. Depending on your illness, you might be on a liquid or semi-solid diet for awhile. Check if it is safe for you to exercise. Just gaining fat won't improve your health. You need to gain weight in the form of muscle mass by eating right and challenging your body physically.

    Eat five or six small meals per day. If you are just recovering from an illness, you might not have much of an appetite, so don't force yourself to overeat. If you can't stomach a full meal, eat a bowl of cream-based soup or make a smoothie with full-fat yogurt and fresh fruit.

    Eat snacks between meals as your appetite improves. Healthy options include nuts, seeds, whole-grain bread with nut butter and full-fat cheese or yogurt. Increase your caloric intake by drinking milk or juice instead of water.

    Add high-calorie garnishes to your meals. For instance, you might sprinkle full-fat cheddar cheese on top of an omelet or dice an avocado for your salad. For breakfast, make hot cereal with whole milk instead of water and sprinkle dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips on top.

    Mix full-fat dry milk powder into soup, cereal, smoothies and casseroles. One tablespoon has 100 calories and 10 grams of protein, an essential nutrient for building muscle mass.

    Integrate exercise into your daily routine. Depending on the severity of your illness, you might only be able to walk for short distances. Work with your health care provider or physical therapist to gradually improve your muscle tone. If you are in good shape, incorporate strength training to add lean muscle mass. Aim to exercise all of your major muscle groups three days per week.

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