Need to gain weight

My son is 14 years old, 103 lbs, and is 5’5. His endo says he needs to gain weight. I was wondering what type 1 diabetics eat (that is healthy) to gain weight? Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!! :slight_smile:

One thing that comes to mind, right away, is adding a lot of nuts - particularly almonds (which are low carb) to the diet, as they are calorie dense… Pistachios are good, too.

My niece eats six to eight servings of bread products a day (a serving would be one slice of bread, 1/2 cup rice, etc), two fruits, more for mild lows, three servings of dairy, and a few servings of veggies (we are trying to increase this), meat for dinner, and pistachio nuts, cheese, crackers are her new favorite snacks. I would just increase his caloric intake at each meal. If he is not hungry, I would give him a milkshake once a day. There is low sugar, low fat icecream that still has a lot of calories. Icecream has never adversely effected her blood sugar (this may be different for others). Type 1 diabetic children can eat a diet similar to non-diabetic children, or at least similar to the way non-diabetic children should eat. A good healthy diet, all food groups represented.

I would in general never recommend overeating carbs as a way of gaining weight. That will usually tend to result in fat gain over a gain of lean body mass. My recommendation is to get your son to accept a personal goal of getting “filled out.” At a BMI of about 17, he is thin. My recommendation, couple an organized exercise program with a “training diet” Focus the diet on being high protein and hypercaloric (eating more calories than he needs). A good exercise program would be something that involves a strength challenge. My local recreation center has a strength training programs for teens in his age group. But mountain biking or other things would also be good. Have him eat 6 times a day, 3 good meals and three snacks. In addition, he should eat before his exercise and then again after exercise. A good way of supplementing is to use a protein shake. Costco sells 6lb bags of whey protein, 25g protein per serving. Mix with 1-2 cups of milk. If he can drink a half gallon of milk a day, that would also help. Did I mention weights?

Seek to convince your son that proper eating and exercise will lead to develop a strong healthy body. Everybody wants to look big and strong. And then encourge him to make appropriate choices that will lead him towards that end.

Did the endo recommend a nutritionist (dietitian)? I have been overweight my entire life, except the 6 months leading up to my diagnosis when I was 12. Six months after my diagnosis, I was put on a hypercaloric diet and I gained a lot of weight, which I’ve never been able to take off! I know this is different from your son, as I come from a heavy family, and as I said was always heavy, but one of my biggest -I wonder what would have happened…- in my life is what if I wasn’t forced to gain all that weight, would I be closer to ideal weight now?
If he’s healthy, why force weight on him?
I agree with bsc - healthy weight, exercise, not just empty calories. I’d also get a nutritionist to make sure it’s done right.

Wow, I can relate. That was me in middle school and I was 5’10", 130 lbs when I graduated from high school.

Why does your endo think he “needs” to gain weight? Low or high BMI in a vacuum is not really indicative of anything. You didn’t give us much info on him so…

First, you have to find out what kind of appetite your son REALLY has, what he’s REALLY currently eating, and what his activity level is outside of the house if you don’t already know. I can tell you from personal experience as a skinny kid that to eat more than my appetite could manage, or eat anything I didn’t think tasted good was tough. It was especially tough for me to up my calories because I was already extremely active.

If his activity level is low, getting him outside and active is probably the easiest way to just get him to eat more calories and build up more lean mass. If you’re interested, more importantly if he’s interested, there are plenty of resources out there to get started on good overall lean mass gaining exercise program for young teens. Just a good ol’ fashioned intermural team sports program, or club soccer, or Little League team would do wonders if he’s not already into those kind of things

As a track and field/football coach, I’d never recomment that a 14 year old kid hit the weights just to put on muscle mass. Resistance training, light weights for strength and conditioning, sure. There are plenty of resources for a good resistance training program for young teens as well.

The bottom line is, if he’s not active, encourage him to be active. If he’s already active, encourage him to eat more if at all possible. I personally don’t have anything against carbs or anything that will put more calories into a 5’5", 103 lb, healthy and growing 14 year old boy if he needs to put on lbs, as long as you do what you can to manage his diabetes.

If he’s already active, with a healthy appetite, and otherwise healthy overall, I don’t know that there is much you can or really need to to at this point. He’s 14, if he’s active, he’s going to fill out into a scrapping young man.

I am interested in why you think that strength training is not good for kids? It used to be that people thought that heavy training could stunt growth through damage to growth plates, but that has now been proven to not be true. Exercise and in particular strength training with weights is an outstanding way to challenge young bodies to encourage gains in lean body mass, particularly muscular mass and bone density.

When I needed to gain weight my endo suggested slowly increasing protein. It worked. The easiest way for me was protein shakes. I use either unflavored whey isolate protein powder (isolate form is supposed to better & is higher protein) or hemp protein powder with unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder & stevia powder. I also added protein powder to soups & baking. Not exactly soup weather now.

Thank you for your suggestions, my son has always been thin, I explained this to his endo but she seems to think in order for him to grow and be healthy he needs to put on some weight. He does exercise, he likes to run, which of course burns a lot of calories. He eats very healthy and has breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and a bedtime snack. So I was looking for foods that other type 1’s eat that are low in carbs but high in calories. I like the adding nuts and strength training to his diet and exercise plan. Thanks again.

Protien and exercise.

Besides meat, he can get protein from nuts, beans and soy.

At 14 he’s at a good age to start weight training, if he’s interested. Besides running he should engage in some activity that works his upper body. Gymnastics, wrestling and martial arts come to mind.


Strength training with weights is great. High to medium reps, low to moderate weights, combination movements with major muscle groups, no problem, plenty of benefits for people of all ages. I see the benefits of strength training with weights every year with my athletes. Their performances are superior on a strength training program and their susceptibility to injury goes way down.

A 14 year old boy will undoubtedly see many benefits, including the increase in lean muscle mass, through the proper, supervised implementation of a strength training program using weights.

Weight training specifically to bulk up, that is, high to max weight, low reps, advanced movements, to specifically put on pounds is not recomended for youg teens. You’d have to show me the data or studies saying that it’s ok or beneficial for young teens to “bodybuild” on weights specifically to put on the lbs.

If they are doing it, I hope it’s closely supervised with proper techniques, nutrition, and recovery periods needed practiced and implemented.

cottage cheese w/ fruit
high fiber carbs (pasta and bread and cereals)