How to Gain
Dr. Ben Kim
you are underweight for your body structure, it's possible that you could experience
significant improvement in your health by gaining and maintaining healthy weight.
body weight often indicates that your major organ systems - including your muscles
and bones - are well developed. Of course, being at a healthy weight for your
structure doesn't guarantee that your major organ systems are functioning well,
but a healthy body weight does decrease the likelihood that you might have or
develop osteoporosis or problems with regulating your blood sugar and insulin
significantly underweight is often indicative of a weak digestive system. If your
digestive system isn't working efficiently, you may not be optimally absorbing
and making use of the nutrients in the foods that you eat.
follows are some suggestions on how to gain healthy weight, or how to transform
your current weight to create healthy proportions of skeletal muscle, fat, and
other body tissues.
Optimal Digestive Tract and Liver Health
build and maintain healthy cells, you have to supply your cells with a steady
stream of healthy nutrients. And you can't do this if your digestive tract or
liver are not functioning at a high level. Actually, building and maintaining
healthy cells requires all of your organ systems to be healthy, as you can't deliver
nutrients to your cells without the help of your heart, lungs, kidneys, skin,
immune system, endocrine system, and nervous system.
nourishing your cells for growth and maintenance begins with absorption of nutrients
into your bloodstream, which occurs in your digestive tract, and processing of
nutrients so that they can be delivered to your cells - this processing takes
place in your liver.
are a few simple tips on how to ensure optimal digestion of the foods that you
your foods well - until liquid is best.
chewing your foods until liquid, you take burden off of your digestive organs
and increase the likelihood that most of the nutrients in the foods that you eat
make their way into your bloodstream.
physical and emotional rest while you eat.
stomach, small intestine, pancreas, gall bladder, and liver require extra blood
flow to digest a significant meal. Being physically active or emotionally distressed
while you eat diverts blood away from your digestive organs and to
your skeletal muscles and nervous system. Lack of optimal blood supply to your
digestive organs during a meal decreases digestive efficiency.
regular exposure to friendly
healthy colonies of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract is critical to your
ability to optimally break down the foods that you eat, extract nutrients from
these foods, and ensure safe delivery of these nutrients through the wall of the
top third of your small intestine to your bloodstream.
most effective stand-alone source of friendly bacteria that I can recommend is
Ohhira's Professional Grade 12 Plus Probiotic.
keep your liver healthy, it's important to avoid regular consumption
of alcohol, acetaminophen, and foods that are deep-fried and/or full of sugar
- over time, repeated exposure to these substances is
likely to cause injury to your liver cells.
Hydrated and Get Enough Calories from Nutrient-Dense Foods
of your cells - including your muscle cells - are composed mainly of water. Protein,
fatty acids, and cholesterol provide much of the structure of your cell membranes
and the organelles that live inside of your cells (like mitochondria, ribosomes,
golgi apparati, genetic material,
and endoplasmic reticuli).
staying optimally hydrated is essential to building and maintaining a healthy
body weight. And the best way to stay hydrated is to eat plenty of foods that
are naturally rich in water, and beyond this, to allow your sense of thirst to
dictate the amount of liquids you drink.
people who look to build skeletal muscle mass are under the impression that they
have to eat large amounts of protein. It's true that protein is needed to build
and maintain some of the framework of muscle cells and organelles contained within
muscle cells, but my experiences have led me to believe that it's best not to
eat more than half of your body weight in grams of protein per day. For example,
if you weigh 150 pounds, as long as you eat foods that are rich in healthy fats,
healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and water, you don't need any more
than about 75 grams of protein per day to optimally fuel your skeletal muscles;
any more than this, and over time, some of your digestive organs and kidneys may
experience premature disease.
you want to gain healthy weight, once you ensure optimal digestive tract and liver
health, it's important that you get enough calories to fuel growth. But in order
to preserve good health as you gain healthy weight, you must get these extra calories
from healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
olives, sweet potatoes, organic eggs, and smoothies made with nut milk are all
good choices for fueling growth while providing your cells with health-promoting
nutrients. Raw, organic nuts are also a good choice, but I've found that for most
people, it's best not to eat more than about a handful
of nuts per day - regularly eating more than a handful of nuts per day often leads
to a decrease in digestive efficiency.
my opinion, there are too many potential disadvantages to using isolated protein
powders and supplements like creatine to include them
in your diet. The best fuel for healthy weight gain are
natural, minimally processed foods.
Engage in Exercises and Activities that Build and Maintain Your Largest Muscle
are many health benefits to building and maintaining your largest muscle groups
- some of these benefits include good blood circulation, good posture and skeletal
health, good joint health, and increased confidence in your ability to perform
various physical tasks.
the greatest benefit to building and maintaining your largest muscle groups is
optimal blood sugar and insulin regulation. Your skeletal muscles act as sponges
that soak up and store sugar, so the more skeletal muscle mass you have, the greater
capacity you have to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels at healthy levels.
is not to say that it's to your benefit to get involved with intense weight training
to develop your skeletal muscles. Heavy weight training can be performed with
minimal risks, but for the average person, the potential to experience injuries
with intense strength training is probably greater than the potential to improve
can develop and maintain your largest muscle groups by adopting a routine of simple
exercises that can be done without compromising your health.
most important muscle groups to develop and maintain are in your
you exercise these major muscle groups, your smaller skeletal muscles are simultaneously
developed and maintained. For example, when you work your back muscles, you also
work your biceps, forearms, most of your shoulder rotator cuff muscles, and the
rear heads of your shoulder muscles (deltoids). When you work the muscles in your
chest region, you also condition your shoulders and your triceps. And when you
exercise your bum and hip muscles, you also work your thigh muscles.
can easily work all of these muscle groups with exercise equipment at a local
fitness center. But it's just as easy to work these muscle groups at home or at
a local playground. Here's how:
to Develop and Maintain the Muscles in your Back Region:
a bar that is strong enough to hold your body weight - monkey bars at a local
playground are perfect. Hang onto the bar or bars with both hands and bend your
elbows slightly. Lift as much of your body weight as possible off the ground -
if you can lift your entire weight off the ground, feel free to do full or partial
chin-ups; if you can't lift your body weight off the ground, keep your feet on
the ground and lift as much as you can, hold for a second or two, return to your
starting position, and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. After 10-15 repetitions,
rest for a minute or two, then do two more sets of 10-15 repetitions.
goal is to force your arms to lift at least some of your body weight upward, even
if it's just a little bit at first and your feet are still supporting the bulk
of your weight on the ground.
to Develop and Maintain the Muscles in your Chest Region:
beats push-ups to develop and maintain the muscles in your chest region. If you
can't do full body weight push-ups, try doing them while resting on your knees,
rather than on the balls of your feet. If you find knee push-ups to be difficult
as well, start with push-ups against a wall. Just the act of pushing your body
away from a surface - whether the surface is horizontal or vertical - will force
you to exercise the muscles in your chest region.
with the pull-up exercise, aim to do about 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions each, with
about a minute or two of rest in between sets.
to Develop and Maintain the Muscles in your Lower Extremities:
walking is more than adequate for this purpose. If you want to push yourself a
little more, try walking/hiking in a hilly area. Another way to further develop
the muscles in your lower extremities is to climb several flights of stairs every
day - these activities will also provide a good workout for your cardiovascular
and respiratory systems.
doing any resistance exercises like the ones described in this section, it's important
to follow a specific pattern of breathing; you want to exhale when you are contracting
the target muscles, and inhale when you are allowing the target muscles to return
to regular length. For example, when you do push-ups, you should exhale when you
push away from the surface that you're doing push-ups on, and inhale when you
are going back toward the surface that you're pushing off of. When you do pull-ups
or partial pull-ups, you should exhale when you pull-up, and inhale when you go
in this manner - exhalation during concentric contraction and inhalation during
eccentric contraction - helps to ensure that you do not run out of breath while
you exercise. It also helps to ensure that you do not increase the pressure in
your abdominal, thoracic, and neural cavities to dangerous levels.
you're new to doing resistance exercises, it's fine to do some every day at first.
But as you become more comfortable with exercising your large muscle groups, it's
best to give your body a day of rest in between exercise sessions. After forcing
your muscles to work, they need rest to heal and become stronger. The more intense
your workouts are, the more rest time you need in between
workouts. How can you tell how much rest is appropriate in between workouts? A
good general rule of thumb is that you should not have muscle soreness and you
should feel well rested before you exercise again.
you try exercises like the ones described in this section, and find that they're
just not for you, I encourage you to take up any type of yoga that emphasizes
holding various stretches and poses for many seconds at a time. Regular practice
of yoga may not develop the same degree of muscle mass, but it will certainly
promote strong and flexible muscles throughout your body.
Regular and Restful Sleep
alluded to in the previous section, regular and restful sleep is critical to your
ability to gain healthy weight. Your muscle cells need time to recover from exercise.
But just as importantly, your muscle cells require optimal production of growth
hormone and testosterone to grow bigger and stronger. And your body produces the
bulk of your growth hormone and testosterone supply during restful sleep.
detailed information on this topic, please feel free to view:
Much Sleep Do You Really Need To Be Healthy?
people are free of vanity. But it doesn't take much thought to realize that it's
foolish to try to gain significant muscle mass while deteriorating health with
unhealthy foods, questionable supplements, and over-the-top weight lifting regimens.
as you remember that staying healthy as you age is the priority, building and
maintaining skeletal mass is a good thing.
note: You should always consult with your personal physician before beginning
an exercise program. You may also want to consult with a certified personal trainer
who can help you choose the best exercises for your specific needs.
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