Healthy Food For Weight Gain
I’ve been researching and experimenting with healthy food for weight gain for some time now. This page is the result of my research, which I hope might be helpful for you. It maps out how to eat healthy for weight gain, including a complete meal plan for weight gain and several recipes.
Weight loss seems simple. Eat fewer calories than you burn and you should lose weight. While this is true, there are many unhealthy ways to cut calories that actually do you more harm than good in the long run. If you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off, consider finding a healthy balanced diet that offers plenty of vitamins and minerals. Weight gain can be easily achieved by adding more high-quality proteins, such as beans, nuts, spinach, red meat, soy or fish. It’s important not to add sugars or fatty foods to your diet if you are trying to gain weight.
How Many Calories Do You Need to Gain Weight?
This meal plan is set at 2,500 calories, with modifications for 2,000 and 3,000 calories. You’re probably familiar with 2,000 calories as a standard target for your daily eating. The FDA uses this round number for giving general advice about diet. For this reason, it’s also the number you’ll see on Nutrition Facts panels.
But 2,000 calories isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially when you’re trying to gain weight. Your current weight, height, age, gender and activity level all factor into the calories you need to put on pounds.
To find out your own caloric needs for weight gain, you’ll first need to get an idea of your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the amount of calories your body needs to support a sedentary lifestyle, not including exercise. Once you’ve established your RMR, you can factor in your activity level for a more accurate calculation of your needs.
Step 1: Calculate your resting metabolic rate
One simple way to calculate your resting metabolic rate is to multiply your current weight by 12.
If you weigh 150 pounds: 150 x 12 = 1,800 calories/day
Theoretically, this is how many calories you burn throughout the day, not including if you exercise. You would maintain your current weight if you stuck with this many calories per day.
Step 2: Factor in your activity level
Depending on how much you exercise, you’ll want to take your resting metabolic rate and multiply it by the following numbers to get a more accurate estimate of how many calories you burn on a daily basis.
- Lightly active (light exercise 1 to 3 days/week): x 1.2
- Moderately active (moderate exercise 3 to 5 days/week): x 1.4
- Very active (hard exercise 6 to 7 days/week): x 1.6
- Extra active (extra-hard exercise 6 to 7 days/week): x 1.8
- Super active (extra-hard exercise 6 to 7 days/week and a physical job): x 1.9
1,800 calories/day x 1.2 (moderately active) = 2,160 calories/day
This is how many calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight if your activity level stays the same.
Step 3: Add more calories for weight gain
If you’re in the bulking phase of bodybuilding (which is when you’re trying to gain muscle) or if your doctor has advised you follow a weight-gain diet, you can aim to take in 5 to 10% more calories.
For 5% more calories: 2,160 calories/day x 1.05 = 2,268 calories/day
For 10% more calories: 2,160 calories/day x 1.1 = 2,376 calories/day
Healthy Foods to Eat More of to Gain Weight
When it comes to gaining weight and building muscle, macronutrients matter. But it’s a myth that you have to go all-in on high-protein foods in order to gain muscle. While protein is vital for repairing the micro-tears that weight lifting and other exercises create in your muscles, carbohydrates and fats continue to serve important functions in your body as you bulk up—so don’t neglect them! Here are some foods to focus on for a balance of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and plenty of protein.
- Oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring and anchovies
- Meats like turkey, chicken and lean beef, pork and lamb
- Beans and legumes, including chickpeas, black beans, lentils, cannellini beans and hummus
- Nut butters and nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts and pecans
- Whole grains like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and quinoa
- High-calorie fruits and vegetables like avocados, coconut, bananas, mangoes and dried fruit
- Full-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese
Struggling to gain weight? Eat these 5 foods at night
Being underweight and skinny could indicate an underlying problem. So, try these 5 foods for weight gain to eat at night.
For healthy weight gain, you must find a way to curb your sweet tooth, avoid unnecessary fat, and limit your overeating habits. However, the nuances of healthy weight gain can be even more difficult to navigate. The majority of healthy eating advice suggests you focus on including healthy foods in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While there is a lot of information on breakfast and lunch meals for weight gain, there is very little information on foods for weight gain to eat at night. That’s why we’re here to help!
Many people find it difficult to gain weight. However, in order to do so, it’s not wise to eat whatever you want. You’ve probably seen your favourite celebrities gain weight for specific roles. But they concentrate on a nutritionist-recommended diet and healthy weight gain foods. It’s now your turn to incorporate some healthy foods into your diet, just like they do.
Health Shots spoke to Hari Lakshmi, Consultant-Dietitian/Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Chennai, about the best foods that can be eaten in dinner in order to gain weight.
She says, “When you are underweight, it means your body is burning more calories than it is taking in. Therefore, you need a nutritious, high-calorie and high-protein diet to fix this. While what you consume is important, the timing is also crucial. A pre-sleep meal can help you gain the necessary weight to stay healthy.”
Here are 5 foods to consume at night to gain weight:
1. Meat and fish
It’s a common notion that eating meat, such as chicken or fish, will cause you to gain weight. Guess what? That is true! According to Lakshmi, foods high in protein and fat, such as red meat, have been shown to help build muscle mass and promote weight gain. Seafood, on the other hand, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calories, protein, and other essential nutrients, making them a good choice for those looking to gain weight.
We Indians can’t get enough of rice. Those looking to lose weight, on the other hand, avoid eating them. However, rice can be a friend someone looking to gain weight. According to Lakshmi, “A calorie-dense option, rice, is a convenient and easy option to put on those extra kilos. You can choose brown rice as the healthier option.” A single serving of rice contains a lot of carbohydrates and calories. This is especially beneficial for people who have a poor appetite or get full quickly.
3. Nuts and nut butters
Nothing beats nuts when it comes to healthy fats for weight gain! A handful of nuts such as almonds or peanuts, can be an excellent choice for a snack before bed to help you gain weight. Not only are nuts high in healthy fats, but they are also high in calories, making them ideal for healthy weight gain. “Nut butters can be added to smoothies to prepare a tasty high-calorie drink,” says Lakshmi.
4. Potatoes and starches
Potatoes and other starch-rich foods can help you get the right calorie count. Starch digests quickly and easily and leave you hungry shortly afterwards. You’ll eat more as a result, and weight gain is possible. Apart fom potatoes, you can also opt for quinoa, corn, and oats.
5. Whole grain bread
These are good sources of carbohydrates and can help you maintain a well-balanced, high-calorie meal. You can combine whole grain bread with good protein sources like eggs, meat, and cheese, suggests Lakshmi.
Apart from the ones above, you can opt for ragi (finger millet), which not only helps in weight gain but also is a rich source of iron and calcium. You can also have protein bars as a nutritious snack, and they are simple and ready to eat.
10 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 (17).
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 (18). 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 (19). 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 (20).