I’ve been doing a lot of research about what to do to eat to be healthy and gain weight. My protein intake was very low and I felt drained out all day every day. My doctor told me that if I don’t start eating healthier, my health will drop further and I wouldn’t be able to lead an active life. So I decided that from now on, I would only eat healthy foods in order to gain weight. Needless to say, it has worked like a charm so far.
What To Eat To Be Healthy And Gain Weight
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For some people, gaining weight or adding muscle can be just as difficult as losing weight is for others.
However, simply adding certain foods to your diet can make your weight gain efforts both healthy and more effective.
Here are 5 of the best foods to help you gain weight or add muscle, the healthy way.
1. Homemade protein smoothies
Drinking homemade protein smoothies can be a highly nutritious and quick way to gain weight.
Making your own smoothies is the best way since commercial versions are often full of sugar and lack nutrients. It also gives you full control over the flavor and nutrient content.
Here are just a few tasty variations you can try. You can combine each with 2 cups (470 mL) of dairy milk or soy milk if you have lactose intolerance. Both have more nutrients and calories than other alternative milks.
- Chocolate banana nut shake: Combine 1 banana, 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of peanut or another nut butter.
- Vanilla berry shake: Combine 1 cup (237 mL) of fresh or frozen mixed berries, ice, 1 cup (237 mL) of high protein, full fat Greek yogurt, and 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein.
- Chocolate hazelnut shake: Combine 15 ounces (444 mL) of chocolate milk with 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of hazelnut butter, and 1 avocado.
- Caramel apple shake: Combine 1 sliced apple, 1 cup (237 mL) of full fat Greek yogurt, 1 scoop of caramel- or vanilla-flavored whey protein, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of sugar-free caramel sauce or flavoring.
- Vanilla blueberry shake: Combine 1 cup (237 mL) of fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein, 1 cup (237 mL) of vanilla Greek yogurt, and sweetener if needed.
- Super green shake: Combine 1 cup (237 mL) of spinach, 1 avocado, 1 banana, 1 cup (237 mL) of pineapple, and 1 scoop of unflavored or vanilla whey protein.
All of these smoothies provide around 400–600 calories, along with a high amount of protein and other important vitamins and minerals.
SUMMARYThere are many delicious protein smoothie recipes. Avoid most commercial versions, which may contain added sugar and aren’t as nutritious.
Milk has been used as a weight gainer or muscle builder for decades (1).
It provides a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats and is a good source of calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals (2Trusted Source).
For those trying to add more muscle, milk is an excellent protein source that provides both casein and whey proteins. Research has even shown it can help you add muscle when combined with weightlifting (3).
Additionally, studies have found that milk, or whey and casein combined, can lead to greater mass gain than other protein sources (4).
Try drinking one or two glasses of whole milk (149 calories per cup) as a snack, with a meal, or before and after a workout if you’re training
Milk smoothies are also a delicious way to add milk to your diet. For an easy morning protein boost, try blending up 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of whole milk, 2 teaspoons of honey, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla (about 275 calories).
SUMMARYDrinking milk is a great way to add protein to your diet. It contains both casein and whey proteins.
Rice is a convenient, low cost carb source to help you gain weight. Just 1 cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice provides 204 calories, 44 grams of carbs, and very little fat (6Trusted Source).
Rice is also fairly calorie-dense, meaning you can easily obtain a high amount of carbs and calories from a single serving. This helps you eat more food, especially if you have a poor appetite or get full quickly.
When you’re on the go or in a rush, 2-minute packs of microwavable rice can be easily added to other protein sources and premade meals.
Another popular method is to prepare a large pot of rice, refrigerate it or freeze individual portions, and then combine it with different proteins and healthy fats for varied meals throughout the week.
There are many ways to turn relatively bland rice into a taste extravaganza. The easiest way to add taste, calories, and a protein boost is to simply stir in some of these ingredients after you have cooked your rice:
- butter and Parmesan cheese
- broccoli and cheese
- scrambled eggs
- toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, or cashews
Another way to boost taste and calories is to top your rice with a sauce like curry, pesto, or alfredo. You can buy these sauces ready-made if you’re pressed for time.
A rice dish can easily become a whole meal. Try this wild rice and chicken kale for a healthy lunch (400 calories per serving).
You can also stir up your own healthy take on the Chinese takeout favorite, fried rice, with this vegetable-tofu “fried” rice dish — which is actually baked.
SUMMARYRice is a great source of carbs that are easy to consume and digest.
4. Nuts and nut butters
Nuts and nut butters are perfect choices if you’re looking to gain weight.
Just one small handful of raw almonds (1/4 cup) contains 170 calories, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of healthy fats (7Trusted Source).
Since nuts are very calorie-dense, just two handfuls per day with a meal or as a snack can quickly add hundreds of calories.
You can add nut butters to a variety of snacks or dishes, such as smoothies, yogurts, and crackers, to turn them into a high calorie snack in no time.
For a quick pick-me-up, try this peanut butter banana smoothie, with only three ingredients (270 calories, using whole milk). If you have a peanut allergy, substitute another nut butter.
However, make sure you pick 100 percent nut butters with no added sugar or extra oils. Or better yet, make your own from this homemade almond butter recipe. It’s easy to make and easy on your wallet, too.
SUMMARYNuts and nut butters are delicious, high calorie treats. They’re great for you and easy to add to many different snacks or recipes.
5. Red meats
Red meats are probably one of the best muscle-building foods available.
For example, 6 ounces (170 grams) of steak contains around 5 grams of leucine.
Leucine is the key amino acid your body needs to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and add new muscle tissue (8Trusted Source, 9). It also contains 456 calories and nearly 49 grams of protein.
In addition to this, red meats are one of the best natural sources of dietary creatine, which is possibly the world’s best muscle-building supplement (10).
Consider choosing fattier cuts, which provide more calories than leaner meats, helping you take in extra calories and add weight.
In one study, 100 older women added 6 ounces (170 grams) of red meat to their diets and performed resistance training 6 days a week for 6 weeks.
The women gained lean mass, had an 18 percent increase in strength, and had an increase in the important muscle-building hormone IGF-1 (11Trusted Source).
Both lean and fatty meats are a great source of protein, though fatty meat provides more calories, which can help you gain weight. One of the best-known fatty beef dishes is brisket.
Brisket is known for being time-consuming to prepare, but it can be much easier if you own a slow cooker.
Start this brisket recipe in the morning and you’ll have a nutritious dinner waiting for you in the evening — approximately 300 calories per 3-ounce (85 grams) serving.
SUMMARYRed meat is an excellent source of protein that will help you gain muscle. It contains leucine, an amino acid that helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis. The fattier the meat, the more calories you’ll take in.
How do you gain weight quickly and safely?
Doctors usually recommend gaining weight to people who consistently weigh too little, which can cause a range of health problems. Bodybuilders and other athletes may also hope to gain weight by building muscle.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source in the United States, the number of underweight adults aged 20 to 39 years in the country decreased from 3 percent to 1.9 percent between 1988 and 2008.
A person who is underweight is likely to experience health issues, including:
- developmental delays
- a weakened immune system
- an increased risk of complication during surgery
While gaining weight can be a struggle, the following foods may help. They can also increase muscle and boost overall health.Foods to gain weight quickly
The following nutrient-rich foods can help a person to gain weight safely and effectively.
Milk offers a mix of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins.
It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium.
The protein content of milk makes it a good choice for people trying to build muscle.
One studyTrusted Source found that after a resistance training workout, drinking skim milk helped to build muscle more effectively than a soy-based product.
A similar study involving women in resistance training showed improved results in those who drank milk following a workout.
For anyone looking to gain weight, milk can be added to the diet throughout the day.
2. Protein shakes
Protein shakes can help a person to gain weight easily and efficiently. A shake is most effective at helping to build muscle if drunk shortly after a workout.
However, it is important to note that premade shakes often contain extra sugar and other additives that should be avoided. Check labels carefully.
A cup of rice contains about 200 caloriesTrusted Source, and it is also a good source of carbohydrates, which contribute to weight gain. Many people find it easy to incorporate rice into meals containing proteins and vegetables.
4. Red meat
Consuming red meat has been shown to help with building muscle and gaining weight.
Steak contains both 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.
While a person is advised to limit their intake, leaner cuts of red meat are healthier for the heart than fattier cuts.
One studyTrusted Source found that adding lean red meat to the diets of 100 women aged 60–90 helped them to gain weight and increase strength by 18 percent while undergoing resistance training.
5. Nuts and nut butter
Consuming nuts regularly can help a person to gain weight safely. Nuts are a great snack and can be added to many meals, including salads. Raw or dry roasted nuts have the most health benefits.
Nut butters made without added sugar or hydrogenated oils can also help. The only ingredient in these butters should be the nuts themselves.
6. Whole-grain breads
These breads contain complex carbohydrates, which can promote weight gain. Some also contain seeds, which provide added benefits.