Tips For Gaining Weight While Taking Insulin

To gain weight, we must take in more calories than we burn. By eating an additional 500 calories each day, most people will gain about one pound per week.

Some individuals may require up to 1,000 added calories a day to add a weekly pound.

People who have diabetes and want to gain weight must consume the extra calories while managing their blood sugar level, so working with a dietician on a calorie-rich but carb-conscious meal plan is recommended.

Top Priority

If your glucose is generally steady and your overall health is good, there are plenty of ways to safely add calories to your diet, but good glucose management must remain the priority.

While attempting to gain weight, continue taking insulin as prescribed and check your glucose levels regularly. If adding calories to your diet results in glucose readings outside your target range, consult with your doctor or dietician.

If after increasing your calorie intake for 30 days you have not gained weight, you will need to increase your daily calorie intake more. Those who eat an additional 1,000 calories a day and continue to lose weight should consult with their physician.

Wise Choices for Adding Weight

To put on some pounds, focus on eating nutrient-rich foods with low glycemic index ratings. Low glycemic foods are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels. For instance, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats are better choices than white, starchy foods.

  • Eat hearty, dense breads such as sprouted wheat, pumpernickel, rye or honey bran.
  • Select foods made with dried beans – split pea soup, lentils, hummus, three-bean chili – which are high in calories and protein.
  • Choose hearty soups over those that are mostly broth. Minestrone, barley, split pea and lentil soups are good ones.
  • Add calories to your salad with items such as garbanzo beans, cottage cheese, chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, whole-wheat croutons, lean meats, sunflower seeds and dressings made with healthful olive oil.
  • Add powdered milk to soups and stews to add calories.
  • Keep healthy snacks around such as a variety of nuts, old-fashioned peanut butter or other nut spreads, cheese and whole-grain crackers, seeds (e.g., sunflower, chia, pumpkin), popcorn and dried fruits.

It may also help to start eating several small but calorie-rich meals each day or to increase snacking. This is wisely done in consult with your diabetes care team and may require extra glucose monitoring for a while.

Although you are trying to gain weight, you need to remain active. Continue with daily aerobic exercise, such as stationary biking or walking, and consider adding weight training to your routine. A couple sessions of light to moderate lifting each week will promote an increase in muscle mass.

Determining Calories for Weight Gain

To determine exactly how many calories you need each day to gain weight, you must first calculate your resting metabolic rate (RMR). (Divide weight in pounds by 2.2 to get weight in kilograms. Multiply height in inches by 2.54 to find height in centimeters.)

  • RMR for men = (10 x your wt. in kilograms) + (6.25 x your ht. in centimeters) - (5 x your age) + 5.
  • RMR for women = (10 x your wt. in kilograms) + (6.25 x your ht. in centimeters) - (5 x your age) - 161.

Tip: You can Google “RMR calculator” and plug in your height, weight and age.

Next, multiply your RMR by 1.15 to get your maintenance number. This is the number of daily calories necessary to maintain your current weight.

Finally, you must add about 500 calories per day to your maintenance number to gain weight. If you exercise more than 30 minutes each day or exercise strenuously, you will need to add more than 500 calories.

Sources: CALS; CaloriesPerHour
Photo credit: evil erin (@flickr)

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