BY JANE DOUCET
IT’S NO SECRET that if you’re overweight
or obese, you’re more likely to develop high
blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes
and other serious health conditions. But
there are also health risks to being underweight. If you aren’t eating enough of the
right foods, you could be lacking B vitamins,
calcium and iron. You may develop a weak
immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections. Weighing too little can also
affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, which
could lead to infertility.
There are many reasons someone might
fall below a healthy weight, from medical
conditions such as celiac disease and an overactive thyroid to depression and anxiety (
consult your physician if you’re having trouble
keeping weight on). “Some people just naturally have a fast metabolism that causes them
to lose weight, especially if they’re active,” says
Costco member Mohamed Rezk, a Toronto-based registered dietitian who runs ReDirect
Nutrition Counselling Inc. (redirectnutrition.
com), and a former certified personal trainer.
Halifax law professor and Costco member Geoffrey Loomer is one of those people;
at 44, his weight ranges between 70 and 72
kilograms (155 and 160 pounds) on a 1.8-
metre (5-foot-11-inch) frame. Between the
ages of 28 and 38, Loomer competed in several triathlons. “Triathlon suited my interests
and body type,” he says, “but it’s the last thing
you want to do if you’re trying to gain weight.”
A series of soft-tissue injuries, combined with
being tired of trying to consume enough calories to fuel his training, motivated Loomer to
switch to CrossFit in his early 40s.
What and how often people eat are as vital
to weight maintenance as a proper fitness
regimen, according to Rezk. He has male and
female clients with weight-gain goals; some
are naturally thin, while others have health
conditions such as acid reflux. First, he says,
forget about noshing on ice cream, pizza and
other high-calorie foods full of saturated fat
When thin isn’t in
and sugar. “What you’ll gain is visceral or belly
fat, which is a contributing factor to developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes,” he says.
Instead, eat three well-spaced nutritious
main meals, plus three snacks. Pack in protein, advises Rezk, which helps build and
repair muscles, and combine it with complex
carbohydrates and healthy fats. A nutritious
breakfast could be steel-cut oatmeal with cinnamon, chopped walnuts, chia seeds and berries. Lunch might be two boiled eggs,
sprouted-grain toast, vegetables and a banana.
Dinner could be chicken breasts, steamed
vegetables and boiled sweet potatoes or
brown rice. For snacks, choose hummus with
carrot sticks, almond butter with an apple or
Loomer eats all of the above and has the
occasional treat, which Rezk says is fine in
moderation. Although his metabolism could
slow as he ages, for now he’s committed to
fairly strict nutrition and fitness regimens.
“It’s easy to get sucked into a fad that promises
to help you gain weight, but there’s no magical
supplement,” he says. “I try to focus on eating
large amounts of healthy foods and keeping
active doing something I enjoy. And I know
that even if I’m lean, I can still be strong.” C
Jane Doucet is a Halifax-based writer and editor.
How to gain weight sensibly
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Costco warehouses carry a variety of fresh
food. Throughout the year, members can find
exercise gear and clothing in the warehouse
and at Costco.ca.
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