When you start to look for food with protein to gain weight, you might notice that there are a lot of options to choose from. Don’t worry, as long as you understand the basics of your diet and how protein helps your body build muscle, finding the right food for your weight gain goals won’t be difficult.
Enjoy TheseHigh-Calorie Foods For Weight Gain
A list of the best foods for a diet to complement your muscle and weight gain journey.
Gaining weight is as difficult as losing it. While simply adding a few high-calorie foods can help you gain weight, to build muscle mass, however, one should aim for consistent strength exercise. Including these weight-gaining foods in your diet also helps boost your stamina and energy levels.
High-Calorie Foods For Weight Gain
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a great choice to gain weight. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 191 calories, 7 g of protein, 16 g of fat, and 7 g of carbohydrates.
Peanuts are rich in protein and contain all the 20 amino acids that strengthen the immune system and build stamina .
Having any type of nut butter every day as a snack or with slices of fruits does not lead to significant weight gain. But, its regular consumption can offer you better weight control
2. Full-Fat Dairy
Full-fat milk is the best, whether you are trying to lose or gain weight. When you are trying to gain weight, you benefit from the healthy fats, minerals, and protein present in whole or full-fat milk.
One cup (244 g) of whole or full-fat milk gives 149 calories of energy, 8 g of protein, and 8 g of fat.
Full-fat milk with a protein supplement or whey protein powder and fruits (like banana or berries) makes for the best high-calorie smoothie to gain weight, build muscle mass, and improve muscle recovery
A study conducted at McMaster University (Canada) found that milk-based proteins are better for the development of muscle mass than soy-based proteins.
Bananas are loaded with dietary fiber, potassium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and healthy fats
One medium-sized (118 g) banana provides 105 calories of energy and 27 g of carbohydrates. A study conducted on male cyclists suggests that the ingestion of banana helps improve energy levels .
You can have a banana with a cup of milk and a few nuts for a power-packed breakfast or make a smoothie with the same ingredients and have it before working out. Here are more breakfast ideas to gain weight.
4. Meat With Marbling And With Skin
Animal protein is among the best sources of protein. Lean meat is a better option than red meat as it is low in saturated fat. Studies show that lean meat also may lower bad cholesterol levels .
As per another study, intake of lean cuts of beef in moderation may preserve muscle mass in older adults .
Other important sources of lean meat include chicken, turkey, and fish. Consumption of fish also seems to increase muscle mass in middle-age and older adults .
5. Potatoes And Other Starches
Adding potatoes to any dish is a cost-effective way to add more calories to your diet. Potatoes and other starchy vegetables are rich in carbohydrates. Studies show that the intake of carbohydrate-rich foods along with protein supplements helps build muscle mass
Consume boiled, baked, or roasted potatoes to get the best out of its nutrients.
Rice is a cost-effective way to add more calories to your plate.
100 g of white rice provides 130 calories of energy and 28 g of carbs with a very little amount of fat .
A study conducted on Japanese factory workers found that consumption of white rice over a period of 1 year helps to gain 3 kg of weight .
When you are in a hurry, just microwave a bowl of rice with some curry. It adds bulk to your diet and is quite satiating.
7. Salmon And Oily Fish
Salmon and other oily fishes are good sources of protein, which helps increase muscle mass and aid weight gain.
100 g of salmon gives 142 kcal of energy along with 20 g of protein and 6 g of fat .
A study conducted in Korea found that consuming fish with vegetables can help improve muscle mass .
Consume 1-2 pieces of fish per day with leafy greens and nuts to gain weight or lean muscle fast. Include a salmon or oily fish steak in your lunch or dinner along with hot rice to make it more palatable.
8. Homemade Protein Smoothies
Protein smoothies are loaded with nutrition and do not contain artificial sweeteners and taste enhancers. You can have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a pre– or post-workout meal.
Studies have found that taking protein supplements with resistance training helps build muscle mass and, thus, gain weight .
Here are a few quick homemade protein shake ideas:
- Peanut Butter Protein Shake – 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup full-fat milk, and 1 banana.
- Chocolate And Apple Protein Shake – 2 scoops chocolate protein powder, 1 cup soy milk/almond milk, and 1 apple.
- Banana And Almond Protein Shake – 1 large banana, ½ cup yogurt, ½ cup milk, and 2 tablespoons almond powder.
9. Full-Fat Cheese
Cheese is a calorie-rich milk product that is a staple all over the world in different forms. Cheddar cheese is loaded with protein and calcium . The same is true for feta, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and cottage cheese. Thus, having cheese can help you gain lean muscle and strengthen your bones.
10. Dry Fruits And Berries
Dried fruits like dried coconut and raisins are loaded with calories, carbohydrates, and healthy fats . Consume a handful of dried fruits as a pre- or post-workout snack or add them to smoothies and breakfast bowls.
Dates are a great satiating and instant energy-giving food. One pitted date (24 g) provides 67 kcal of energy and 18 g of carbs with vitamins and minerals .
Fresh dates are loaded with simple sugar, which replenishes energy and revitalizes the body .
Eat 3-4 dates when you are hungry or as a pre-workout fruit to boost your energy levels during a workout.
The Best Weight Gain Food List
Ashley is a ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. She has a B.S. Exercise Science and Pre Health Professions. She is currently pursing her Masters degree in dietetics.
Some of you may be wondering, what is a weight gain diet? A weight gain diet is not a new diet trend or an exact way of eating. Rather, a weight gain diet focuses on a way or strategy of eating. It focuses on eating to increase overall calories. This in turn increases weight safely, effectively, and sustainably.
Weight Gain Food List
Without further ado, here our weight gain food list. It includes tons of ideas for gaining weight. Keep in mind the serving size and how you prepare these foods will impact how many calories you are consuming.
Be sure to read the whole article to get some good ideas on how you can gain weight.
Weight Gain Food List:
- Salmon (fatty fish)
- Red meat
- Dairy Products
- Whole milk
- Greek yogurt
- Nut Butters
- Dried Fruit
- Trail Mix
- Brown rice
- Whole Grains
- Other Root Vegetables
- Fats and Oils
- Coconut Milk
Why Would Someone Need to Gain Weight
In today’s culture, weight loss is a more popular topic than weight gain. It seems like so many people are looking for the next best diet or food to eat in order to lose weight. However, there are many individuals who would not benefit from weight. In fact they may need to gain weight to improve their health.
This blog will dive into who may need to focus more on weight gain versus weight loss. And how to effectively and sustainably implement weight gaining foods and strategies!
As adults age, they experience “sarcopenia”. Sarcopenia is the natural, involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function. The rate of muscle loss can be increased or decreased depending on many lifestyle factors such as food and exercise choices.
Sense of hunger often decreases with age. Older adults may consume less food as they reach satiety (get full) faster. Changes in eating habits as well as decreases in activity (due to disability, difficult moving, and other health conditions) has an affect on muscle loss and muscle function.
Weight loss can also occur due to chronic diseases or illnesses including anxiety, depression, kidney disease, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and more that will be discussed later. These conditions can make it difficult to physically eat (like dysphagia and Parkinson’s disease). Or they can affect one’s appetite and what they can and cannot eat. This in turn affects how much food is consumed.
However, it is important for older adults to continue healthy dietary patterns and to maintain their body weight. Unintended weight loss can lead to muscle loss increasing the risk of falls, illness, or other health conditions.
There are many medical conditions that can cause weight loss. Below is a list of many different conditions that could cause unintentional weight loss. Individuals with these conditions may benefit from higher calorie foods to stop unintended weight loss and promote healthy weight gain, as applicable.
- Crohn’s disease
- Heart failure
- Addison’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as peptic ulcer or ulcerative colitis
- Dental problems (impact ability to chew)
- Depression or anxiety
- Side effects of prescription medications
- Celiac disease (allergy to gluten)
- Type 1 Diabetes
- A parasitic infection
- Drug abuse
- Undiagnosed eating disorders
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Dysphagia (swallowing problems)
What Foods are Good for Weight Gain?
There are a lot of different foods that provide greater calorie content that can be mixed and matched to create delicious meals and snacks. Although the foods listed below are all good recommendations for weight gain, some medical conditions may require you to limit particular foods. Always be sure to work with your healthcare team (provider, dietitian) to make sure you are eating the best foods for you.
Overall, weight gain occurs with the more calories you consume. So a simple goal for gaining weight is effectively may be increasing either the amount of food consumed or the number of calories in each meal.
Fats for Weight Gain
Fats are very energy dense (read= high in calories) and are a great way to add more calories into a meal. They have more energy per gram than both carbohydrates and protein which makes them a great option for increasing caloric content.
Here are some examples of high fat foods that you could incorporate into meals or snacks to help increase caloric content.
- Nuts and Nut Butters
- Flax Seed
- Cooking Oils
- Salmon/fatty fish
Protein for Weight Gain
Protein, especially lean protein, helps to build muscle which in turn can help you gain weight. And any excess protein consumed beyond what your body needs will be stored as fat, in turn increasing weight gain. Some example of high protein foods good for weight gain are listed below.
You will notice that protein sources that also contain some fat are good for weight gain. In general, this is why dairy products can be good for weight gain. The whey protein and fat combination are good for weight gain.
- Oily fish
- Protein Bars
- Whole Milk
Carbohydrates for Weight Gain
When looking at the best carbohydrates for weight gain it is good to focus on whole grains and starchy vegetables. Adding fats like butter or olive oil can help increase the caloric content of these foods.
- Whole Grain Bread
- Breakfast Cereals
Remember to reference the weight gain food list above. Our weight gain food list includes fats, protein, and carbohydrates to help you increase your calories.
Meals for Weight Gain
Now that we have talked about different food groups that provide proper nutrients and help increase caloric intake throughout the day you may be thinking “now what”? Let’s dive in and take a look at some simple and nutritious weight gaining meals and snacks that you can make at home!
Also be sure to check out our top weight gain breakfast ideas. This article includes three delicious recipes to help you gain weight.
**Drinking your calories can allow you to consume more calories than if you were eating them all separately. This will assist in weight gain.
Base ingredients (feel free to add more of your favorites):
- 1-2 tbs nut butter
- ½ banana (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup frozen fruit
- 2 tbs flax seed meal
- ¼ cup oats
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- Add whole milk (regular or plant based to desired consistency)
- Option: add protein powder
Add all ingredients into blender and blend until desired consistency and enjoy!
Be sure to check out our high calorie smoothies for weight gain article for recipes and more ideas! High calorie shakes are also a great way to add more calories to your diet.
- ½ cup oats
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tbs nut butter
- ½ banana, sliced or dried fruit like craisins
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- Option: add cinnamon or other toppings to add more calories and nutrients
Mix together oats and milk and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir and then heat for 30 seconds more and stir. (make sure to watch it in the microwave, sometimes it has a tendency to overflow depending on the bowl) Let oatmeal stand for 1 minute.
Add 1 tbs nut butter and stir in until thoroughly mixed. Add sliced banana on top and any other fruits or granola or toppings of choice and sprinkle with chia seeds. Enjoy!