Have you ever wondered about the best healthy food for weight gain? You are not alone. The foods that you have been told to eat are probably not good for gaining weight. Instead of actually helping you gain weight, many foods and ingredients are believed to help lose weight. These come in all forms including pills, powders, shakes and bars. While choosing the best food for weight loss does not guarantee immediate results or that anyone will ever stick to using it.
How to Gain Weight In A Healthy Manner?
As mentioned earlier, the main concept is to consume more calories than you use during your day. A rough estimate you can aim for is to take in 300 – 500 more calories than you need. Another general idea is to eat more meals each day, rather than increasing the size of your existing meals. Increasing the amounts of fats and protein in your diet is also almost a necessity when you’re trying to gain weight. One thing you should not do is consume unhealthy fats and junk foods in an effort to put on weight. These kinds of foods will result in weight only on your tummy and can cause serious long term issues down the road like diabetes, obesity and heart issues. It is also a good idea to incorporate regular (but not intensive) exercise into your daily routine, this can help build up your muscle mass.
Milk is a complete food because it is rich in all nutrients that are essential for our body. It is high in proteins, calcium, carbs, fats, minerals, and vitamins. It is an excellent protein source that provides both casein and whey proteins. It can help you add muscle mass to your body. Try drinking two glasses of milk per day with a meal or before or after a workout.
Rice is one of the convenient and cheap sources of carbohydrates that is essential to gain weight. Rice is also a calorie-dense food that means you can obtain carbs and calories from a single serving. One cup of rice provides about 200 calories that contribute to gain weight.
You can have rice with different curries and veggies that are high in proteins. It is the easiest way to add taste, calories, and a protein boost.
3: Dried fruits
Consuming dried fruits can be beneficial for weight gain. This super-food contains various antioxidants, proteins, calories, and micronutrients. All types of dried fruit have a naturally high sugar content that makes them great for gaining weight. You can eat them raw or roasted as well as can add them in yoghurt, smoothie. A daily handful of dried fruits such as almonds, walnuts, and cashew are best for weight gain.
4: Homemade protein smoothies
Homemade smoothies are much healthier than ready-made protein supplements. A shake is most effective at helping to build muscle if drunk shortly after a workout. They are also rich in flavour and taste. Here are some examples of homemade smoothies that can help gain weight quickly, such as chocolate banana nut shake, vanilla berry shake, chocolate hazelnut shake, and super green shake.
5: Red meat
Red meat is a rich source of protein that helps to build your muscles and increase your weight. It contains leucine and creatine, nutrients that play a significant role in boosting muscle mass. Steak and other red meats contain both protein and fat, which promote weight gain. Both fatty and lean muscles provide proteins that can help you to gain weight. One of the best sources is fat beef dishes – brisket.
6: Fatty and oily fish
Fatty fish such as salmon is rich in essential fatty acids and proteins. They help to gain weight and also boost your immunity. Omega-3 present in these fishes is the best source that is significant for weight gain. You can prepare different dishes from salmon like steamed fish, fried fish, and smoked salmon.
7: Potatoes and starch
Starch foods such as potatoes and corn are a famous, tasty option for quick weight gain. It is a cost-effective option that provides extra calories for your body. This food contains carbs and calories that increase muscle glycogen stores. Many of these starchy foods have carb sources that also provide essential nutrients and fibre, as well as resistant starch, which can help nourish your gut bacteria.
8: Whole grain bread
The simple whole grain bread is a good source of carbs that will increase your weight. They can be a well-balanced meal when prepared with protein sources like eggs, meat, and cheese. The live, good bacteria in sourdough feed bacteria in the gut that can strengthen your immune system.
Avocados are an excellent source of fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and fibres. You can eat avocado in your main meal, sandwiches, and other dishes that are essential for weight gain.
10: Whole eggs
Whole eggs are the best option for your dietician for weight gain as they are full of proteins, calcium, and healthy fats. They are muscle building food that is available easily. It is necessary to eat the whole egg, its egg yolk is very beneficial.
There are many foods and supplements available that help you to gain weight. But, instead of trying to gorge yourself with masses of sweet or fatty foods, choose high-calorie foods that provide energy and build muscle mass without all of the unhealthy fats that can cause you harm.
11: Healthy fats and oils
Healthy oils are extremely calorie dense and do not come with the downsides of other unhealthy oils. You can add these oils to salad dressing, as a seasoning base or for cooking. Avocado oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil and Coconut oil are three healthy oils that can help increase your calorie intake. Another method to incorporate healthy oil into your diet is to add one of these oils with a small amount of butter to your morning coffee. It’s trendy, yummy and healthy!
The best foods for healthy weight gain
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to stay away from high calorie “junk” food, but I’m sure you still want to help bulk up your athlete. Don’t worry- I have 8 foods that are high in calories and filled with nutrients.
One avocado has about 250 calories, but that’s not all. There are 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid, and “healthy” fats in avocados. Healthy fats boost cognition and heart health.
Avocados are a favorite in my household. I add them to toast, smoothies or chickpea salad to get my daily dose of healthy fats.
2. Nuts & Nut Butter
All nuts vary in calorie content, but 1 ounce of nuts has around 180 calories. Nuts, especially tree nuts like as almonds, cashews and walnuts have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health and a healthy weight.
Walnuts are high in omega-3, an essential fatty acid that helps fight inflammation after exercise. Peanut butter (one of my favorites) has about 200 calories in 2 tablespoons. Opt for the natural varieties that contain just peanuts and salt.
Chomping on nuts for a healthy snack is a great way to get in some extra calories.
3. Whole Milk
An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 150 calories. Dairy is one of my favorite food groups because of its many nutrients. Not only is milk, yogurt and cheese high in protein, it also contains 9 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and Vitamin D for growing bones.
Feel free to allow young athletes to indulge in chocolate or vanilla milk. Whole fat Greek yogurt is also a great source of protein and calories.
4. Fatty Fish
Three ounces of salmon (about the size of your palm) has 120 calories. Usually I’m preaching about portion control, but any child that needs to gain weight can have a big helping of fish. Not only will 5-6 ounces get them 200+ calories, but they will also get a large helping of omega-3s, which can boost academic performance.
5. Brown Rice & Quinoa
One cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories and 1-cup of cooked brown rice has 250 calories. Both are packed with fiber and protein, which help with growth and development. Protein is especially important for young athletes who hope to gain some muscle mass.
Both grains make a great side dish for any piece of protein.
6. Dark Chocolate
A 1.3 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 190 calories. Dark chocolate in its purest form (without added sugar) is high in antioxidants that protect against inflammation.
However, the dark chocolate that we buy from the store has sugar added into it, which makes it something that should be eaten in moderation.
7. Olive oil
One tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories. This staple in the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a healthy heart and an overall decreased risk for disease. That may not seem important for kids now, but think about later in life!
Add a tablespoon to pasta, veggies or a smoothie for added calories and a rich taste.
Both white and sweet potatoes add nutrients to the diet, like healthy carbs and potassium. Plus, they taste great, so it’s likely that your young athlete will be happy to eat them.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, make a potato bar for dinner– put out healthy topping, like ground turkey, cheese, sour cream, salsa and chives and let them build their own baked potato.
How can I help my child gain weight healthily?
We want to increase the amount of nutrition your child has in each and every mouthful, which means that the food you offer needs to be carefully considered for its nutritional value. I’m going to take you through each of the 5 food groups in turn and show you what to offer:
1. Starchy Carbohydrates – bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, breakfast cereals and other starchy food
- Serve one of these foods at each meal.
- Use oil when cooking them such as roast potatoes or chips,
- Choose breakfast cereals that have been fortified with vitamins and minerals and serve with whole milk or jersey milk. It’s OK to add sugar too.
- Stir melted butter or olive margarine though pasta, noodles and rice before serving and serve with grated cheese.
- Spread butter or olive margarine thickly on bread, toast, crumpets, hot cross buns or crackers.
- Top with jam, marmalade, peanut butter, lemon curd and even chocolate spread!
- Add extra cream, butter and cheese to mashed potatoes.
2. Fruits and vegetables
Although we still want your child to have 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, it’s important to remember that these are very low in nutritional value. Yes they supply some wonderful vitamins and minerals but those won’t help your child gain weight. Serve them alongside energy boosting foods:
- Toss vegetables in melted butter or margarine before serving
- Roast veggies in olive or rapeseed oil, it actually really enhances their flavour.
- Add grated cheese to veggies when you serve them.
- Consider vegetables ‘au-gratin’ in a cheese and cream sauce.
- Raw veggies should be served with an energy dense dip like hummus or mashed avocado combined with cream cheese.
- Serve fruit with a pot of cream, custard or full fat fromage frais on the side.
- Make fruit based desserts like rhubarb crumble or apple pie and serve it with ice cream or cream (or both).
- Make use of salad dressings and salad cream and avoid the reduced fat and sugar versions.
3. Milk and dairy foods and plant based alternatives
Children need 3 portions of dairy foods per day. Make sure these are full fat or whole milk versions in order to ensure they get enough energy, protein, calcium and iodine.
Plant milks unfortunately are very low in nutritional value, they are the nutritional equivalent of skimmed milk in most cases and so are best avoided if your child is struggling to gain weight.
If they have a dairy allergy, your dietitian will be able to prescribe a high energy milk alternative instead.
- Try jersey milk (gold top) as it contains more energy than whole milk (blue top) and avoid semi skimmed (green top) and skimmed milk (red top).
- Cheese is an amazing energy booster and can be added to lots of foods from scrambled eggs to pasta dishes, to vegetables, don’t be afraid to use it. The harder the cheese the higher the energy content too so cheddar for example contains more energy than brie.
- Good cheese based dishes include: pizza, macaroni cheese, burgers topped with cheese (try three different cheeses), cheese on toast or cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches, cheese quiches, jacket potato with butter and cheese.
- Choose whole milk yoghurt, fromage frais, rice puddings and chocolate desserts. You can use these as in between meal snacks too as well as deserts.
- Make milkshakes with extra cream or ice cream.
- Make smoothies with yoghurt, milk and a nut-butter and freeze into ice lolly moulds.
4. Protein foods including meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses and vegetarian proteins
Protein foods are the building blocks for muscle and help children grow but can’t be used by the body without adequate energy. They can also be quite filling if portion sizes are big.
- Each meal should contain a protein food, some protein foods also contain iron which provide an additional nutrient boost. These are red meat, dark poultry meat, egg yolk, oily fish, lentils and beans.
- Eggs are highly nutritious but cook them with oil or butter or margarine for example fried eggs, scrambled eggs with butter and cream, omelettes with cheese or a cheese and cream based quiche. Adding these energy foods to the egg dishes will help your child’s body utilise the protein.
- If meat comes with visible fat, don’t cut it off till after cooking. For example leave the rind on bacon and some of this fat will melt during the cooking process providing additional energy.
- Ensure sandwiches always contain a protein based filling such as hummus, peanut butter, tuna canned in oil or mashed sardines. Butter the bread first and add full fat mayonnaise too.
- Choose oily fish (limit to twice a week for girls and four times a week for boys), which includes salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout. And when you offer white fish look for battered versions and fry rather than oven cook them.
5. Foods high in fat and sugar
The final food group are those foods that in terms of healthy eating we are advised to avoid or eat very little of, so some of these suggestions may come as a surprise. However, when your child needs additional energy to grow these are the best energy providers.
It’s true this food group contains very little in the way of additional nutrients, so here’s how to make the most of them:
- Cook with olive oil or rapeseed oil as these contain healthy fats.
- Avocado, oily fish and nut butters also all contain healthy fats.
- It’s OK to add sugar, in fact I‘d encourage it as sugar is very easy to eat without feeling full and provides energy, sprinkle over fruits, add to desserts and top your child’s cereal.
- Foods containing pastry such as pies, sausage rolls and danish pastries are also good energy providers.
- Choose an olive or vegetable based margarine but check on the food label to make sure that this contains at least 70g fat per 100g.
- Fry food wherever possible, or roast using oil.
- Cakes, biscuits, chocolate, ice cream and full sugar jelly are all good high energy desserts or snacks.
- Add butter or margarine to as many foods as possible.
- Add cream to foods as much as possible.
- Add jam, chocolate spread, marmalade, honey, maple syrup to foods.
- Every meal and snack should contain a high fat food.