The Right Calorie Increase to Gain Weight?

By February 26, 2013

To: Whomever this may concern, I am a 19 year old female weighing *** pounds at the moment, trying to gain some weight. I visited the eating disorder program at the hospital (which is an amazing program, the best in the state.) They weighed me, and evaluated me. They came to the conclusion that I belong treated in their inpatient program at the hospital. However I refused to begin in inpatient. The doctor however stated that they will be able to treat me out-patient if I reached around *** pounds. He told me to increase my calories by 200 each day until reaching 3500 calories per day to begin to gain about a 1/2 a pound a day. Is this the rate I should be taking? How will this weight gain be stored? He did not mention exercise and was not recommended because of my obsession with exercise it may stall weight gain initially. I am basically gaining the weight on my own to be able to begin the out-patient program. Am I doing this correctly? I am up to 2400 calories at the moment and have ways to go. Should I go all the way up to 3500 calories or stop somewhere lower? Any recommendations and help is very appreciated and needed! Thank you so much. Sincerely – Amanda

Dear Amanda,

The level of care that has been recommended to you is determined by your health status. Ideally, inpatient care can offer you an environment most helpful for your recovery. You are working hard in outpatient and that is great.

You are underweight, meaning you are undernourished. At your present weight you don’t have the essential muscle and essential fat needed for survival and for the body to function. Increasing your caloric intake by 200 calories each day while being monitored by your doctor is very reasonable. Since it takes an additional 3500 calories above your needs to gain just one pound, it is important to continue adding calories up to the 3500 suggested. Some people need even more than 3500 calories. If you stop short of your goal, you can’t “win” in recovery over your eating disorder.

You need to know the truth about weight gain. Your body is malnourished and needs to re-nourish with essential body tissue to begin functioning again. As you eat more, your body re-nourishes with the essential muscle that makes up organs and body tissue. Your body also needs essential fat that protects vital organs and makes up the brain. You do not need to exercise to restore the muscle that your body needs. You just need to eat enough to allow the body to restore the muscle that has been lost with the malnutrition.

Trust your doctor and healthcare team and say “NO” to your eating disorder.