Weight gain is defined as an accumulation of adipose tissues and body fluids that lead to an increase in body weight and muscle mass.
Although obesity is currently one of the world’s biggest health problems, being underweight may be just as bad for your health.
Being underweight may cause the following health problems:
- Weakened immunity
- Poor sleep
The main concept of gaining weight is that you have to eat more calories than the amount your body burns. You should strive to eat a surplus of at least 500 calories a day.
However, avoid binging on soda and donuts as they will make you gain unhealthy belly fat that can put you at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
To gain healthy weight, eat more often (five to six times a day), eat more carbs, eat more protein, and eat more fats.
This article outlines healthy foods that will help you build muscles and add extra pounds safely and effectively.
30 Foods for Weight Gain
The following foods will help you achieve your goals quickly and effectively.
1. Whole Milk
Whole milk contains 150 calories/cup and has been used as a weight gainer for decades.
It provides a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and is a good source of calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
To help you add weight quickly, try drinking one or two cups as a snack, with a meal, or before and after a workout if you are training.
Also, avoid using reduced-fat or skim milk.
2. Full-fat yogurt
Real full-fat yogurt contains 140 calories/cup and is incredibly healthy. It is a powerful probiotic that can help your digestive health.
It can be eaten as a snack, dipped with fruit, or mixed into a smoothie.
But make sure to read the labels before buying, so that you can avoid yogurts that are low in fats but extremely high in added sugar.
Just like milk, cheese is incredibly nutritious. For example, Cheddar and Goat cheeses contain about 100-110 calories/ounce making them a great weight gain snack.
You can use them as snacks, toppings for sandwiches and soups, melt them into casseroles, and sprinkle on vegetables.
4. Red meat
Red meat is a rich natural source of leucine, a key amino acid used by your body to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
They are probably one of the best muscle-building foods available.
However, to get in more calories, avoid lean meats, and opt for fattier portions.
5. Salmon and oily fish
Salmon, sardine, and mackerel fish are excellent sources of protein and important healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids.
About 1 cup of canned sardines contains 310 calories while a 6-ounce fillet of salmon provides around 350 calories and 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
They help you add healthy weight and fight off diseases.
6. Chicken thighs
Chicken thighs are rich sources of protein and are incredibly healthy. They provide about 475 calories per roasted thigh.
They are great as a snack, in salads, and with fried rice.
If you are on a search for a delicious, low-cost, calorie-dense food, then rice is your ultimate answer.
A cup (165 grams) of cooked rice provides about 190 calories, of which 43 grams are carbohydrates.
It is easy to prepare and combines perfectly with other carbs, proteins, and healthy fats.
Like rice, potatoes are a very easy and cost-effective way to add in extra calories. Sweet potatoes provide about 101 calories per 100g.
They help you gain weight by increasing your muscle glycogen stores – Glycogen is a form of stored energy that is made up of extra glucose units that the body does not require.
They are also rich in dietary fiber and resistant starch.
Yams are rich in carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Just a cup (150 grams) of yams will provide you with about 177 calories.
They are excellent weight gainers. They can be fried, baked, boiled, or used to make porridge.
Banana is an excellent food to help you increase calories quickly. It is really healthy and is also great prebiotic food.
1 medium-sized (7-8 inches) bananas will provide you with about 105 calories.
It can be eaten as a snack, mashed and used in baked goods, blended into a smoothie or milkshake, and used as a topping for cold or hot cereal.
11. Ripe plantain
Just like bananas, ripe plantains will help you put on weight quickly because they are rich in healthy carbs.
A cup (169 grams) of fried yellow plantain will give you 399 calories. They can be eaten as snacks, with rice, or with beans.
Pasta is another calorie-dense source of carbs that provides an ideal base for any number of meals.
Two cups of cooked spaghetti have almost 400 calories. A cup of spaghetti sauce adds about 130 calories.
Sprinkle two tablespoons of parmesan cheese on top for another 45 calories, and you’ll find yourself with no less than 575 calories in one meal.
13. Whole-grain bread
Whole-grain bread contains complex carbohydrates and seeds, which can promote weight gain. 1 slice contains about 110 calories.
They are healthy and can be eaten with jam, honey, butter, or mayonnaise.
14. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs are one of the nutrient-dense foods on Earth. Their yolks are high in healthy cholesterol and fat.
In fact, a single egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 71% of the recommended daily intake.
Whole eggs are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, they contain a bit of all the nutrients needed in the body and can be eaten in a variety of ways.
This incredible fruit is loaded with healthy fats. They are calorie-dense and will help you gain weight quickly.
A fruit provides about 240 calories. It can be sliced and put in sandwiches and salads, or mashed as a dip for chips and vegetables.
16. Healthy oils
Healthy fats like olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and avocado oil are great for helping you add weight quickly.
They add extra calories to your food and are extremely healthy for you. For example, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, palm oil is rich in both saturated and unsaturated fats, coconut oil is rich in saturated fats while canola oil is rich in monosaturated fats.
You can use these oils to add calories and flavor to pasta, bread, yam, potato, or salad.
17. Nuts and nuts butter
Nuts contain protein and polyunsaturated fats that add extra calories to your diet.
Almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios are good for you and they contain about 160-185 calories per ounce.
Nut and seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, and sunflower seeds) contain about 100 calories per tablespoon.
You can sprinkle the nuts on yogurts, cereal, salads, and use the nut butter as a spread for bread, or as dips for vegetables.
18. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits like dates, raisins, cherries, berries, and apricots give you a quick calorie boost. They are also rich in antioxidants and nutrients.
And because they have less volume than their fresh counterparts, you can eat more quantity at a go.
They are high in sugar and calories. Just one ounce of raisins, cherries, or blueberries will give you around 85-95 calories.
Honey is delicious and rich in antioxidants. A tablespoon provides you with about 64 calories.
It can be used to sweeten milkshakes or smoothies, mixed into cereal, or used as a dip for chicken.
Find multiple varieties of pure honey in food stores around you.
Healthy butter gives most foods a rich taste. You can use either diary, soy, or coconut-based butter. A teaspoon of butter will provide you with 33 calories.
It can be used as spread on toast and bread, melted into vegetables and pasta, or used in baking.
Mayo is rich in healthy fats and oils. 100 grams of good quality mayonnaise will provide you with 85 grams of fat and 737 calories.
You can use it as a dip for vegetables, in salads, and as a spread for bread. Always go for the good stuff.
22. Healthy cereals
Cereals like oatmeal, corn flakes, and popcorn contain high calories and carbs that help you add weight fast.
Cereals provide antioxidants and fiber that keep your muscles healthy. For example, a cup of plain oatmeal will provide you with 143 calories.
You can use cereals as a breakfast meal or as snacks during the day.
23. Fonio grain (Acha)
Grain cereals like fonio are rich in carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 100 grams of raw fonio provides about 367 calories making it an ideal food weight gain food.
It can be used for breakfast, to make porridge with cowpeas, or eaten as couscous.
It is extremely delicious and you should give it a try.
Related: 7 Amazing Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts of Fonio.
Quinoa is a healthy whole grain that contains all the essential nutrients needed in the body and can help you add weight quickly.
Plain quinoa provides a bountiful 222 calories per cup. It can be added to salads, soups, or eaten as a side dish.
Legumes like lentils, black-eyed peas, pigeon peas, bambara nuts, and chickpeas are moderate in calories but excellent sources of plant-based protein.
And this is especially beneficial if you are a vegan or vegetarian.
You can have lentil soup with bread, porridge bean with plantain, chili bean, or have a hearty black bean soup.
Related: 10 surprising reasons why you should add cowpeas to your diet.
26. Protein fruit smoothie
Drinking protein fruit smoothies can be a highly nutritious and quick way to gain weight.
You can combine different fruits with milk and whey protein in ways that suit your taste buds.
For example, you can make a super green shake by combining 1 cup (237 ml) of spinach, 1 avocado, 1 banana, 1 cup (237 ml) of pineapple, and 1 scoop of whey protein.
Smoothies provide around 400–600 calories, along with a high amount of protein and other important vitamins and minerals.
27. Protein bars
Protein bars help you increase both your calories and protein intake. They also help you build lean muscles.
However, the bars should not replace your normal meals, rather you can have them handy as midday snacks.
Granolas are packed with extra calories in a small package. Go for those made with whole-grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate.
You can nibble them as snacks or sprinkle them on your breakfast cereal.
29. Protein supplements
Protein supplements like whey protein are effective and help you to gain weight fast, especially muscle weight.
Whey protein contains all the essential amino acids found in meat and helps to reduce disease risk.
If your goal is to stimulate muscle growth and build up athletic strength then protein supplements are ideal for you.
If you’d like to try protein supplements, there’s a wide variety available to buy online.
30. Dark chocolate
High-quality dark chocolate provides a ton of antioxidants and health benefits. It is recommended that you get dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%.
Dark chocolates are high-fat foods and provide about 600 calories per 100 grams.
They are delicious and great as bedtime snacks or as toppings on yogurt and smoothies.
The bottom line
You can achieve quick weight gain by simply eating more calories than your body burns in a day. Then making sure that your meals are healthy and rich in carbs, fats, and protein.
Important tips that you should remember are:
- Eat small meals every three to five hours and snack in between meals.
- Drink liquids at the end of meals to avoid feeling full quickly.
- Avoid sugary or low-calorie drinks with little nutrition.
- Drink beverages that add calories, such as whole milk, juice, shakes, and smoothies.
- Add condiments or ‘extras’ whenever you can.
- If you are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose-intolerant, use soy/almond/coconut or rice milk, nut butter, tofu, olives, avocado, and vegetable oil to add calories.
- Be active each day, do light aerobic exercises like walking.
- Try to do strength training with light weights.
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