6 Ways To Gain Weight When You Have IBS

IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a disorder that affects the large intestine. The symptoms, including abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits, can be triggered when you consume certain foods such as dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and wheat.

Many people with IBS find it challenging to gain weight, but it is possible. Follow these six tips to help you eat a nutrient and energy-rich diet while avoiding IBS symptoms and gaining weight.

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Can IBS make it hard to gain weight?

IBS doesn’t cause you to lose weight directly, but it can make maintaining a healthy weight or gaining weight a challenge. This is especially true when eating particular foods causes pain, gas, constipation, or diarrhea. You might be tempted to avoid particular foods or skip meals altogether to avoid these unpleasant symptoms.

When you restrict your diet, it makes it more challenging to consume the nutrients your body needs. If IBS causes diarrhea, this also decreases your body’s intake of vital nutrients.

How to gain weight with IBS

If you have IBS, you may find it challenging to gain weight. If you have been skipping meals or eliminating certain foods from your diet, you may end up losing weight without meaning to.

You can gain weight even with IBS, and there are several steps you can take to get the results you want.

1. Eat more

One way to reach your target weight is by consuming more calories. However, when you have IBS and experience stomach cramps or other symptoms, you may decide to reduce your food intake or skip meals entirely. This makes it more challenging to increase your calorie intake.

Try eating smaller, more frequent meals that are energy and nutrient-dense. Snacking throughout the day on light foods high in calories, such as trail mix, smoothies, or cheese on rice crackers, may help you consume the energy your body needs to gain weight.

2. Eat low-FODMAP foods

Low-FODMAP foods contain small amounts of fermentable carbohydrates known as Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. High-FODMAP foods, such as apples, onions, blackberries, dairy products, and sausages contain sugars that can trigger IBS symptoms.

Consuming low-FODMAP foods will make it easier for you to gain weight and avoid IBS symptoms. Here are some low-FODMAP foods you should include in your diet:

  • Lactose-free dairy

  • Fruits (such as blueberries, bananas, strawberries, oranges, and grapes)

  • Lean proteins (such as turkey, fish, eggs, and chicken)

  • Vegetables (including greens, carrots, potatoes, green beans, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers)

  • Sweeteners (like maple syrup, cane sugar, and brown sugar)

When you have IBS and want to gain weight, it’s important not to exclude foods unnecessarily. This is why you should get personalized guidance from your doctor or nutritionist to help you streamline this process and identify high-FODMAP foods that trigger your IBS symptoms.

3. Consume drinks with high calories

Drinking high-calorie beverages¹ can help you to gain weight while reducing IBS symptoms.

You can increase the calories in tea and coffee by adding full cream or soy milk, and you can drink other high-calorie healthy beverages like smoothies. Packed with lots of fruits and vegetables, smoothies are a great way to squeeze in lots of energy and nutrition. Try adding milk, yogurt, or nut butter to add even more energy.

4. Add more healthy oils to your diet

Adding more healthy oils to your diet increases your intake of calories and nutrients. Oils such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are both rich in energy, nutrients, and antioxidants. Use these healthy oils when cooking or add them to your salad as a dressing.

5. Drink green smoothies

A green smoothie is a great way to get the vital nutrients and calories you need to gain weight. Try a green smoothie that contains oils, seeds, fruits, and vegetables — these are all low-FODMAP foods that are unlikely to trigger IBS symptoms. Remember to consume your smoothie slowly to keep your digestive system happy and avoid feeling too full.

6. Eat nuts, seeds, and nut butter

Nuts and seeds — like hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pine nuts — are packed with energy-rich nutrients and healthy fats. They are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins, making them a great choice for snacking. Try spreading nut butter on fruits, adding it to smoothies, or enjoy it straight from a spoon!

The lowdown

IBS can make it challenging to gain weight as treatment might involve excluding certain food groups from your diet. Bouts of diarrhea also make it hard for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs, and you might be tempted to eat less or skip meals altogether to avoid symptoms.

If you are wondering how to gain weight with IBS, give the six steps above a try. Following a low-FODMAP diet can help to ease your IBS symptoms, making it easier to consume enough energy and nutrients, and ultimately, gain weight.

  1. High Calorie Beverage Recipes | Stanford Health Care

Have you considered clinical trials for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

Have you considered clinical trials for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

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