Meal Plan For Calorie Surplus


I already did a Meal Plan For Calorie Deficit in the past so, as promised, here’s a meal plan for calorie surplus days. The difference between fat loss and muscle gain depends on how many calories your body burns. That being said, keeping your caloric surplus small is smart for both goals. When losing weight, you may want to use a 500 calorie surplus, however in order to build muscle you’re better off using a 1000 or even as much as 2000 calories surplus. This doesn’t mean that you should be eating all that food at on time!

High-Calorie Foods and Snack Ideas to Gain Weight

Although being overweight is more commonly associated with health problems, being underweight can also have a negative impact on your health. Among the methods to gain weight are eating five to six meals each day, consuming more protein and fat, including high-calorie snacks and extra toppings.

Who might need to gain weight?

Your body is likely recommending a high-calorie, high-protein diet because it is currently burning more calories than you are consuming, according to your registered dietitian (RD) or healthcare professional. You might reduce your weight as a result. The following ailments and other factors make it difficult to gain weight:

  • Cancers.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Type 1 diabetes.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Stress, depression or anxiety.
  • Infections including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, parasites and others.
  • Celiac disease.
  • Genetics (you were born with a high metabolism rate).
  • Medicines that cause nausea and vomiting, including chemotherapy.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Active calorie burner (you burn a lot of calories at your job, are very physically active, frequently workout).

Other circumstances in which weight gain is recommended include:

  • You’ve had a long stay in the hospital and have lost weight.
  • You’re an athlete and want to gain muscle weight and strength.

How is underweight defined?

If your body mass index (BMI) is under 18.5, you are regarded to be underweight. (The link to the user-friendly BMI calculator is in the reference section.) A little less than 2% of people are underweight. In comparison to men, women are four times more likely to be underweight. Young adults (18 to 24) and persons over 65 are the age groups most impacted.

What are the health risks of being underweight?

While obesity is more frequently in the news as a major health problem, being underweight can also result in health problems. Health risks can include:

  • Fertility problems (there may be difficulties in a woman’s ability to conceive if she is underweight).
  • Osteoporosis from not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
  • Anemia from not getting enough iron in your diet.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Thinning hair/hair loss, teeth and gum problems, dry skin.
  • General tiredness from lack of energy.
  • Delayed growth and development in children.
  • Poor wound healing.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Hypoglycemia.
  • Heart rhythm problems.
  • Poor sleep.

What are some general concepts about how to gain weight?

The primary idea behind gaining weight is that you must consume more calories than your body expels. If you want to put on weight gradually, try to eat 300 to 500 additional calories each day. Slow weight increase is healthier for your body than rapid weight gain. A new pound of body mass is added each week when you consume 500 calories more than you expend. Eat more frequently (five to six times a day), consume more fat, and eat more protein are general guidelines.

What should I NOT do to gain weight?

Never consume junk food. Consuming snacks like chips, sugary drinks, donuts, and candies will make you gain weight, but not in a healthy way. You are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease if you carry much of this weight around your abdomen. Eat wholesome meals that help you gain muscle instead, such foods high in protein.

Examples of calorie-rich foods include:

  • Proteins: Red meats, pork, chicken with skin on (roast or broil don’t deep fry for your health), salmon or other oily fish, beans, whole milk, eggs, cheese, full-fat yogurt.
  • Carbohydrates: potatoes, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grains, whole grain breads.
  • Fats: Nuts and nut butters, olives, avocado, butter, salad dressings, mayonnaise, high-fat cheeses.

What are some helpful tips for gaining weight?

  • Eat small meals every three to five hours and snacks throughout the day to help you to consume more without feeling overly full.
  • Avoid drinking water or other fluids 30 minutes before meals to prevent you from feeling full. Also, drink a reduced amount of liquids with your meals.
  • Drink beverages that add calories, such as whole milk or cream, juice, shakes and smoothies, rather than water, tea, black coffee, and diet beverages that contain no calories.
  • Add condiments or ‘extras’ whenever you can. Top your food with dried fruit, chopped nuts or seeds, honey, bacon bits, cheeses, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. Prepare your food with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil or butter to add calories. Try adding hummus or avocado to sandwiches or crackers/veggies.
  • When eating cereal use whole milk, half and half and add powdered milk. You can also use alternative milks if you find you are sensitive to lactose (lactose intolerance). Do the same when making scrambled eggs, soups, gravies, casseroles, and desserts.
  • Choose breaded meat, chicken, and fish. Choose higher fat meats such as chicken or turkey thighs and legs, pot roast, short ribs, salami, and sausage.
  • Choose fruit canned in syrup rather than juice and tuna canned in oil rather than water.
  • If you are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose-intolerant, use soy/almond/coconut or rice milks, nut or seed butters, tofu, olives, avocado, and vegetable oil to add calories.
  • If you prefer not to cook, or want portable snacks, stock up on individual pudding, yogurt, or cottage cheese cups, string cheese, granola bars, vending packs of trail mix, beef sticks, nuts, sunflower seeds, juice boxes, and chocolate milk cartons.
  • Commercial supplements such as meal replacement bars are also options.

Snack Ideas

The following charts present snack ideas and calorie counts.

Snacks with 100 to 250 calories include:

SnackNumber of calories
Apple slices and 2 tbsp. caramel dip200
1/4 block tofu and 1 tbsp. butter or olive oil for sautéing200
Edamame (1 cup) and 1 tbsp. olive oil200
Hummus (2 oz.) and serving of crackers200
Tortilla chips and salsa and 2 tbsp. sour cream or 2 oz. silken tofu200
1/2 cup Jello® and 2 tbsp. whipped cream100-150
Roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup) and salt and pepper150
1/2 avocado on 1 slice toast250
McDonald’s 4-piece chicken nuggets150
McDonald’s small low-fat ice cream cone150
Medium Chai latte made with soy milk240
1 frozen waffle with 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. syrup250
English muffin and 1 tbsp. nut butter250
Zucchini or pumpkin bread slice and 2 oz. cream cheese or honey250
1 egg baked in 1/2 avocado250

Snack ideas with 300 to 400 calories include:

SnackNumber of
6 oz. container sweetened yogurt and 1/2 cup granola300
1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp. honey and 1 tbsp. chopped nuts/seeds/dried fruit/chia or flax300
1/2 cup rice/noodles with 1 tbsp. butter/olive oil and 1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese300
1 sliced apple or banana with
2 tbsp. peanut butter and chocolate chips
3 chocolate chip cookies and
1 cup chocolate milk
Plain bagel and 2 tbsp. cream cheese300-400
1 chicken drumstick and 1/2 cup mashed potato400
1 envelope instant oatmeal cooked with 1/2 cup 2% milk, topped with 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tbsp. butter, and 1 tbsp. raisins350
1 one-half ounce chocolate bar (milk or dark) and 1/4 cup of almonds400

Snack ideas with 500 to 700 calories include:

SnackNumber of calories
1/2 cup tuna or egg salad sandwich and 1 cup 2% milk600-700
1/2 cup trail mix and 8 oz. juice520
2 tbsp. peanut or almond butter, 1 banana, 1 cup chocolate milk, and 1 scoop protein powder (blended shake)650
Grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla: 2 slices bread or tortilla, 2 slices cheese, and 2 tbsp. butter650
Snack wrap: 1 flour tortilla, 2 slices ham, 2 slices cheese, 1 tbsp. mayonnaise, and 1 cup chocolate milk700
Pita bread spread with 1/4 cup hummus, stuffed with sliced avocado, olives, tomatoes, and 1 cup chocolate soy milk500-600
Large bakery blueberry muffin and 1 medium vanilla latte500-700

Condiments and ‘extras’ to increase calories:

1 tbsp. jam, jelly, marmalade, apple butter, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, honey, agave nectar, sugar, cream cheese50-60
2 tbsp. hummus, guacamole50-60
1 slice of bacon50-60
8-10 olives50-60
1 tbsp. butter, margarine, vegetable oils (canola, olive, etc.) peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, mayonnaise, and sour cream100
¼ cup shredded cheese, raisins or other dried fruit, croutons100
¼ cup nuts or trail mix, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds200
1 dark or milk chocolate bar200
1/2 cup granola200

A 3,000-Calorie Diet: Benefits, Weight Gain, and Meal Plan

Most people’s nutritional demands are satisfied by a normal diet of 2,000 calories.

You might require more, though, depending on your goals, body size, and degree of activity.

The 3,000-calorie diet is covered in detail in this article, along with the benefits of doing so, the things you should consume and avoid, and an example meal plan.

young man preparing meal in kitchen

Who should follow a 3,000-calorie diet?

Your daily calorie needs are based on several factors, including:

  • Gender. Women generally burn 5–10% fewer calories at rest than men of the same height
  • Age. The number of calories you burn at rest declines with age
  • Height. The taller you are, the more calories you need to maintain your weight.
  • Activity. Exercise and activities like yard work and fidgeting increase calorie needs

Adult women need 1,600-2,400 calories per day, and adult men need 2,000-3,000 calories per day. The low and high ends of these ranges correspond to inactive persons and, respectively, active people.

These calculations are based on algorithms that take into account the typical height and weight of adult women and men. The reference man is 5’10” (178 cm) and weighs 154 pounds, while the reference woman is 5’4″ (163 cm) tall and weighs 126 pounds (57.3 kg) (70 kg).

You may need 3,000 calories or more per day to maintain your weight, depending on your size and degree of activity.

People in physically demanding employment, such agricultural laborers and construction workers, may also require a high number of calories to maintain their weight, even though athletes often have higher calorie needs than the general population.

Conversely, if you engage in moderate exercise a few times a week with little else going on in between, you definitely don’t require as many calories as you might think since exercise actually burns a lot fewer calories than most people think.


Factors like gender, age, height, and activity level influence whether you should follow a 3,000-calorie diet.

Can help you gain weight

Others want to gain weight, while many people are trying to shed it.

When you continuously consume more calories than you burn each day, you acquire weight. You may put on weight if 3,000 calories are consumed because they are more than your body needs at this time, depending on your activity level and size.

Why you may want to gain weight

There are a variety of reasons to wish to put on weight.

Your doctor or registered dietitian may advise you to put on weight if your body mass index (BMI) indicates that you are underweight.

Alternatively, if you’re an athlete, you might desire to put on weight in order to improve your performance—ideally, muscular mass.

Similar to this, if you’re a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, you might want to put on weight to improve the size and strength of your muscles.

In other cases, you can be recovering from major surgery or dealing with a health condition like cancer or an illness that boosts your calorie requirements.

Safe rate of weight gain

Although there are few research on the subject, 0.5-2 pounds (0.2-0.9 kg) of weight increase per week is considered acceptable.

However, weight increase of roughly 4.4 pounds (2 kg) per week has been successfully achieved in individuals with severe undernutrition.

Uncomfortable side effects include bloating, gastrointestinal discomfort, and fluid retention can result from rapid weight gain. These side effects, if you’re an athlete, can impair your performance by adversely influencing your exercises or practices.

Additionally, rapid weight gain might elevate triglyceride levels, which could increase your chance of developing heart disease.

The number of calories you require to maintain your weight determines how quickly you acquire weight.

In comparison to someone who maintains their weight on 2,500 calories per day, if you keep your weight on 2,000 calories per day, you will acquire weight considerably more quickly on a 3,000-calorie diet.

For instance, an 8-week study found that when 25 healthy individuals consumed 950 extra calories beyond their calorie needs for weight maintenance, they on average gained 11.7 pounds (5.3 kg), of which 7.7 pounds (3.5 kg) were fat.

These same people would probably gain significantly less weight if they consumed merely 500 extra calories per day over the same period of time.


For some people, a 3,000-calorie may help you gain weight. An acceptable, safe rate of weight gain is 0.5–2 pounds (0.2–0.9 kg) per week.

How to follow a healthy 3,000-calorie diet

Your diet contains calories from three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Compared to fat, which has nine calories per gram, protein and carbohydrates have four.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies’ Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDRs) propose that persons consume

  • 45–65% of their calories from carbs
  • 20–35% of their calories from fat
  • 10–35% of their calories from protein

The chart below applies these percentages to a 3,000-calorie diet:

Carbs338–488 grams
Fat67–117 grams
Protein75–263 grams

Higher AMDR protein intakes have been demonstrated to decrease body fat growth brought on by excessive calorie intake and improve muscle mass when paired with resistance training.

On a high-calorie diet, resistance training can encourage muscle gain rather than fat gain.

Consume protein before, after, and evenly spaced throughout the day to promote muscle growth and recovery.


Higher protein intakes combined with resistance training can help optimize your body composition.

Foods to eat, foods to avoid

It can be difficult to get all 3,000 calories per day from whole, minimally processed meals such fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

That’s because you have to consume a lot more of these meals because they are high in nutrients but low in calories.

On the other hand, because they are very delicious and loaded with calories, it would be relatively simple to consume 3,000 calories from highly processed refined foods like bacon, potato chips, candies, cookies, sweetened cereals, and sugary drinks.

However, as these processed foods lack essential nutrients for health, it’s crucial to obtain the majority of your calories from nutrient-dense whole foods, such as:

  • Animal-based proteins: salmon, chicken, turkey, bison, whole eggs, and lean cuts of beef, such as flank or sirloin steak
  • Plant-based proteins: tofu, edamame, tempeh, peas, and chickpeas
  • Grains: oats, rice, breads, pastas, and quinoa
  • Dairy: milk, cottage cheese, kefir, and Greek yogurt.
  • Fats and oils: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil, and nut butters like natural peanut or almond butter
  • Fruits: avocados, berries, apples, bananas, pears, oranges, grapes, etc.
  • Vegetables: squash, sweet potatoes, peas, kale, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc.

Additionally, smoothies can be made with protein powders, such as whey, casein, and plant-based powders made from rice, soy, or pea, for a calorie- and nutrient-dense snack.

Last but not least, while mass gainer supplements, which frequently offer 1,000 calories per serving, are a practical choice, it’s preferable to first satisfy your calorie and nutrient needs through diet.

A 3,000 calorie diet should minimize or avoid items that are highly processed and low in nutrients, such as:

  • Fried foods: French fries, onion rings, doughnuts, chicken strips, cheese sticks, etc.
  • Fast food: tacos, burgers, pizza, hot dogs, etc.
  • Sugary foods and drinks: soda, candy, sports drinks, sugary baked goods, sweetened tea, ice cream, sweet coffee drinks, etc.
  • Refined carbs: cookies, chips, sugary cereals, pastries, etc.

If most of your diet consists of whole, nutrient-dense foods, you can enjoy your favorite treats in moderation.


Make sure most of your calories come from minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods and reserve sweets and junk foods for the occasional treat.

Sample menu

Here’s what 5 days on a 3,000-calorie diet may look like.


  • Breakfast: 1 cup (80 grams) of oats with 1 cup (240 ml) of dairy or plant-based milk, 1 sliced banana, and 2 tablespoons (33 grams) of peanut butter
  • Snack: trail mix made with 1 cup (80 grams) of dry cereal, 1/4 cup (30 grams) of granola, 1/4 cup (34 grams) of dried fruit, and 20 nuts
  • Lunch: 1 cup (100 grams) of spaghetti with 3/4 cups (183 grams) of tomato sauce and 4 ounces (112 grams) of cooked ground beef, as well as 1 medium breadstick with 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of butter
  • Snack: 1 cup (226 grams) of cottage cheese and 1/2 cup (70 grams) of blueberries
  • Dinner: 4 ounces (110 grams) of salmon, 1 cup (100 grams) of brown rice, and 5 asparagus spears


  • Breakfast: smoothie made with 2 cups (480 ml) of dairy or plant-based milk, 1 cup (227 grams) of yogurt, 1 cup (140 grams) of blueberries, and 2 tablespoons (33 grams) of almond butter
  • Snack: 1 granola bar, 1 piece of fruit, and 2 pieces of string cheese
  • Lunch: 12-inch sub sandwich with meat, cheese, and veggies with 3 ounces (85 grams) of baby carrots, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of hummus, and apple slices on the side
  • Snack: 1 scoop of whey protein powder mixed in 1 cup (240 ml) of dairy or plant-based milk
  • Dinner: 4-ounce (113-gram) sirloin steak, 1 medium-sized (173-gram) baked potato with 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of butter, and 1 cup (85 grams) of broccoli


  • Breakfast: 3 whole-wheat waffles with 2 tablespoons (33 grams) of peanut butter, 1 orange, and 2 cups (480 ml) of dairy or plant-based milk
  • Snack: 1 nut-based granola bar and 1 ounce (28 grams) of almonds
  • Lunch: 6-ounce (170-gram) 90%-lean burger on a whole-wheat bun with 1 tomato slice and lettuce leaf, as well as 1 1/2 cup (86 grams) of homemade sweet potato fries cooked in olive oil
  • Snack: 1 cup (227 grams) of Greek yogurt and 1 cup (140 grams) of strawberries
  • Dinner: 4-ounce (112-gram) chicken breast, 1/2 cup (84 grams) of quinoa, and 1 1/3 cups (85 grams) of sugar snap peas


  • Breakfast: 3-egg omelet with sliced onions, red and green bell peppers, and 1/4 cup (28 grams) of shredded cheese with 2 cups (480 ml) of dairy or plant-based milk to drink
  • Snack: 2 tablespoons (33 grams) of peanut butter and 1 banana on 1 slice of whole-wheat bread
  • Lunch: 8 ounces (226 grams) of tilapia fillets, 1/4 cup (32 grams) of lentils, and a salad topped with 1/4 cup (30 grams) of walnuts
  • Snack: 2 sliced, hard-boiled eggs atop a mixed green salad
  • Dinner: turkey chili made with a 4-ounce (114-gram) turkey breast, chopped onions, garlic, celery, and sweet peppers, 1/2 cup (123 grams) of canned, diced tomatoes, and 1/2 cup (120 grams) of cannellini beans, topped with 1/4 cup (28 grams) of shredded cheese. Add oregano, bay leaves, chili powder, and cumin as desired for taste.


  • Breakfast: 3 whole eggs, 1 apple, and 1 cup (80 grams) of oatmeal made with 1 cup (240 ml) of dairy or plant-based milk
  • Snack: 1 cup (226 grams) of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup (30 grams) of granola and 1/2 cup (70 grams) of raspberries
  • Lunch: 6-ounce (168-gram) chicken breast, 1 medium-sized (151-gram) sweet potato, 3/4 cup (85 grams) of green beans, and 1 ounce (28 grams) of nuts
  • Snack: 1/2 cup (130 grams) of chickpeas atop greens
  • Dinner: burrito bowl with 6 ounces (170 grams) of chopped sirloin steak, 1/2 cup (130 grams) of black beans, 1/2 cup (90 grams) of brown rice, 1 cup (35 grams) of shredded lettuce and spinach, and 2 tablespoons (16 grams) of salsa


This 3,000-calorie, 5-day sample menu includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.

The bottom line

A 3,000-calorie diet may assist you in maintaining or gaining weight, depending on a number of variables, including your level of exercise and body size.

The bulk, if not all, of your diet should consist of whole, minimally processed foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

On the other side, consumption of highly refined, processed foods like bacon, potato chips, sweetened cereals, candies, cookies, and sugary beverages should be restricted.

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