Which Food To Gain Weight In Healthy Manner? By Dietician

Updated on  February 26, 2023
William Toro

Published By:  William Toro

Fact Checked by: Bridget MacDonald, RDN

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Are you trying to gain weight but find it challenging to do so? Have you tried every fattening food you can find and still find your weight meter stuck? Well, if that’s the case, you have come to the right place. The internet is filled with health tips and diet plans designed for weight loss, but there are not many designed for weight gain. If you struggle with a weak frame and struggle to gain weight, this article can help you out. 

The weight-gaining equation is quite simple: you need to increase your caloric intake more than what you are burning, which will allow you to meet your body requirements. So keep reading to understand what you need to consume and why overeating is not the only solution to weight gain. 

Can Overeating Help With Weight Gain?

Weight gain can easily be achieved by consuming more calories than what you are burning. However, overeating is not the solution to this issue. Many people tend to overeat during their meal times which does not assist in healthy weight gain and causes bloating and gastric health issues (1). Instead, eating six to seven times a day and opting for high fat and protein intake along with other high-calorie snacks can help you out. (2)

If you have a fast metabolism or tend to exercise more, it is better to add healthy fats and more protein to your diet (3). Another way to gain weight is by consuming weight-gaining supplements, but you should only buy them after adequate research (4). Keep reading to learn more about the best foods to gain weight and protein shakes. 

Food Products You Need To Rely On To Gain Weight

Opting for nutritious food items with healthy fats can help you gain muscle mass and increase the number of calories you consume. Below are some healthy, nutrient-rich foods that help with gaining muscle and weight. 


Milk is one of the best healthy foods for people trying to build muscles. It contains proteins, fat, and carbohydrates (5) and is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and calcium (6). With milk, you can get both whey protein and casein, leading to better mass gain than any other protein source.

You should drink at least one or two glasses of whole milk with meals, as a snack, or before a workout if you are training. Opting for chocolate milk or coconut milk is a smart idea to add extra calories to your diet. You can even add milk smoothies to your diet to get an easy morning protein boost. 


Rice is another household staple and a low-cost carb source that assists in weight gaining. A single cup of cooked rice provides 204 calories and 44 grams carbohydrates (7). So if you tend to get full quickly or have a weak appetite, rice is an excellent option to choose.

The best part about rice is that it is excellent for people in a rush. You can opt for 2-minute microwavable rice and add it to your premade meals or other protein sources. Also, you can prepare a large pot of rice, freeze it, and use it throughout the week with other healthy fats and a high protein diet.

Homemade Protein-Rich Smoothies

Homemade protein smoothies are highly nutritious and a quick way to put on weight. The easiest way to make your smoothies is mixing two cups of whole milk (you can use soy milk if you are lactose intolerant) with fresh fruit and whey protein. Unlike commercial protein-rich smoothies that are full of sugars and have no nutritional value, homemade protein shakes are very healthy. 

Some common protein smoothies you can make at home include:

Vanilla And Berry Shake

Combine one cup of frozen or fresh mixed berries with one cup of high protein, one scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, and full-fat Greek yogurt. 

Chocolate And Banana Shake

Add 2 bananas and one scoop of whey protein powder in chocolate flavor. Then add one tablespoon of peanut butter or other nut butter for more protein content. 

Vanilla And Blueberry Shake

Add one cup of fresh blueberries with one scoop of whey protein powder in vanilla flavor. You can even add one cup of vanilla Greek yogurt and blend it for a smoother consistency protein shake.

Caramel And Apple Shake

Add one sliced apple and one cup of full-fat Greek yogurt. Add a scoop of vanilla or caramel-flavored whey protein with a tablespoon of caramel sauce (sugar-free) to make the protein shake more flavorful. 

These protein shakes, and smoothies will give you an instant energy boost and promote weight gain. Consuming them will also allow you to get more calories and better muscle growth.

Red Meat

Red meat is a great way to help gain weight and build muscles (8). The nutrients in steak are creatine and leucine, which help in boosting muscle mass. (9) On the other hand, there are other red meat options you can opt for that are rich in fat and protein and also assist with weight gaining. 

However, it is advised that a person limits their intake of fattier cuts to maintain with their heart health (10) and opt for leaner cuts instead. 

Peanut Butter Or Nuts

Nuts are a great, nutrient-filled weight gaining (11) and high-calorie snack. You can add nuts to your usual diet, smoothies, protein shakes, and salads. Even dry, raw, and roasted nuts provide exceptional health benefits. 

On the other hand, nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter are also a great option for weight gain. Most of them are made without hydrogenated oils or added sugars and contain nuts as the only ingredient, making them a healthy weight gainer.  

Starchy Food 

Starchy food items such as corn and potatoes are another food item for quick weight gain and increased calorie intake. Along with higher calorie counts, starchy foods are rich in carbs and have excellent nutritional value that helps in increasing your muscle glycogen stores (12). These high-calorie foods also have fiber and resistant starch, which help improve gut health and nourish gut bacteria (13). 

Some starch-containing high-calorie snacks you can opt for include:

  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Squash
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Legumes
  • Pasta
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cereal bars
  • Whole-grain bread and cereals 

Dried Fruit

Dried fruits are calorie and nutrient-rich and contain various proteins, antioxidants, and micronutrients. Most dried fruits naturally have a high sugar content that assists with gaining weight (14). You can eat roasted or raw and add them to your smoothie shake or yogurt. It is better to opt for dried fruit as a snack option and munch on it throughout the day for ideal weight gain results.

Dark Chocolate

It is no secret that chocolate is a fattening product and can become a cause of obesity in some people. It is a high-calorie food rich in saturated fat that can help you gain weight (15). Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants. You can even add it to your shakes to make them more nutrient-rich. 


Fatty fish such as salmon is an excellent source of healthy fats and high quality protein. Hence, it helps you with gaining weight while boosting your immunity (16). The Omega-3 present in fatty fish is ideal for gaining muscle mass. The best part is that you can utilize fish like salmon in different dishes like steamed fish with vegetables, smoked salmon with white rice and sauce, fried fish in olive oil, etc. 

Protein Supplements

Another smart way to gain weight is by consuming protein shakes and protein supplements. These supplements help make up for the protein intake you cannot consume through daily food items. For protein shakes, you can opt for a weight-gaining protein powder that is medically reviewed to assist you with the perfect results. Whey protein supplements also help with building muscle mass and can be added to homemade smoothies for a yummier taste. 

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A high protein diet is essential for weight gaining, and adding protein powder to your morning or evening smoothies can help you achieve it. An added benefit of these supplements is that they provide essential vitamins and minerals, which are great for the body. There are many protein supplements you can opt for, so make sure you do proper research before in order to build muscle in no time. 


Avocados are a global breakfast staple item known for their excellent weight-gaining properties. Avocados are filled with fibers, fats, vitamins, and antioxidants (17), and you can consume them anytime. Avocado toast, avocado salad, or steamed avocados can be a flavorful addition to your palate and aid in gaining weight and building muscle mass. 

Moreover, you can make guacamole out of avocados and eat it with nachos or look up recipes for wraps, salads, and soups as a healthy snack to consume throughout the day. Avocado is a versatile fruit; you can even fry it in healthy oil to gain more calories and weight. 

Cereal Bars

Cereal bars offer high mineral and vitamin content (18) in a convenient and yummy form. It is better to choose cereal bars containing fruits, whole grains, and nuts but avoid excessive added sugar. Moreover, cereal bars are an excellent option for people who walk more throughout the day and have a rigorous routine since they can be easily carried in a purse or bag.

Whole Grain Cereal

Cereals usually come with minerals and vitamins added to them. But some cereals might contain complex carbs and extra sugar, which you should avoid. Instead, look for whole-grain cereals with nuts and a moderate amount of calories, carbs, antioxidants, and fiber (19). You can opt for such cereals for breakfast to stay energized throughout the day.

Healthy Oil And Fats

Healthy oils and lipids are highly calorie-dense and do not have any of the disadvantages that unhealthy oils have. Some oils you can rely on include olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil which can help increase your calories (20). The best way to use these oils is through cooking, as salad dressing, and even as a seasoning base.

Moreover, you can easily incorporate healthy oil into your diet by adding it to your coffee with a small amount of regular or almond butter. It can serve as a unique flavor, is extremely healthy, and can assist with your weight gain goals.

Whole Eggs

Whole eggs are a great option for weight gain since they are packed with healthy fats, calcium, and protein. These eggs help you gain weight and build muscles. It is ideal to consume at least two boiled eggs before performing a resistance exercise to maintain protein intake. However, you should eat the entire egg without skipping its yolk (21). The yolk is rich in amino acids, beneficial for building and gaining muscle mass, and is rich in amino acids.

Bodybuilders prefer high quality protein that they obtain through eggs, sometimes in raw form. While it may sound disgusting, it does not taste that way. All you need to do is break two eggs in a cup of whole milk and gulp it down. This method delivers increased protein content and helps you gain weight.


Yogurt, especially full-fat yogurt, helps you gain weight as it delivers the body nutrients and protein (22). You can consume yogurt with nuts and fruits in the morning or add it to your other meals. 

However, avoid buying artificially flavored yogurts and ones with low-fat content since they contain excessive sugar and are not healthy for you. 

Some quick snacks you can try to make with yogurt include:

  • Fruity Bowl: Mix one to two cups of yogurt with dried fruit or fresh fruit, honey, seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, and other toppings.
  • Smoothies: Using fat Greek yogurt is an excellent addition to smoothies and helps in increasing your protein intake. It also provides your shake with a creamy milkshake-like thickness.
  • Pudding: Make a delicious pudding by adding one to two cups of yogurt with cocoa powder, nut butters, and a scoop of whey protein. You can use honey or brown sugar for sweetness as well.
  • Yogurt Parfait: Add one to two cups of yogurt with mixed berries and granola in layers. It will serve as a well-balanced and healthy breakfast or snack and help you gain weight quicker.


Cheese is a highly fattening and delicious source of protein, fat, calcium, and calories (23). The ideal way to gain weight with cheese is by choosing full-fat cheeses as well as cream cheese. Since cheese is a versatile food, you can add it to different dishes and enjoy more calories. 

The easiest way to enjoy cheese is by making mac and cheese or a simple grilled cheese sandwich with whole-grain bread. 


Pasta is highly fattening since it is high in carbs and contains more calories (24), especially pasta made from whole grains. The easiest dish to gain weight is mac and cheese, which combines pasta and cheese in your diet, helping in building muscle mass. 

You can even make spicy garlic pasta for dinner with chicken to get carbs and proteins both. Lasagna and thick white sauce filled with cheese can also serve as a great weight gainer. 

Ideal Diet Plan For Weight Gaining

The best way to gain weight is by opting for high-calorie foods, processed foods, resistance training, and the perfect diet plan. If you follow a healthy and consistent diet, you will be able to gain weight in no time. So in order to help you out, we have suggested an ideal balanced diet below. 


For breakfast, opt for healthy food choices such as whole-grain breads or cereals, with full-fat yogurt or whole milk smoothies. You can even add peanut butter to the slices along with honey and eat a medium-sized seasonal fruit. Moreover, avocado toast, oats, and poached eggs are also great options. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks such as strong coffee and tea.


For lunch, go for food items such as chicken pasta along with leafy green vegetables. You can add olive oil, avocado, tomato, and feta cheese to your pasta or go for cheese, eggs, and salad wraps instead. Besides that, lentil soup, chicken stir fry, white rice with fish and vegetables, chicken curry with chapati, and Greek yogurt are all great lunches to make.


Dinner is the last meal of the day, and you need to make sure you consume more protein and fat for the night. This meal should be heavy because, at night, your body uses the consumed food. So if you have not eaten enough, you will be unable to store fat and gain weight properly. Rice or roti with vegetables, fish, or chicken is a good option for dinner meals. 


For snacks, you can go for dried fruit like almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, etc., since they are great for gaining weight. You can also munch on seeds such as sunflower seeds and whole-grain crackers with a hummus dip to gain weight. 


Can High-Calorie Foods Help Gain Weight?

High-calorie foods and snacks are great for weight gainers and can help them build muscle. With such food items, you can get the extra calories you miss in your regular diet.

Is Gaining Weight Easier To Do Than Lose Weight?

While gaining weight might sound easier, it is more complex than losing weight. To lose weight, you need only to consume fewer calories and focus on exercise. Even with the most straightforward exercises, you can lose weight easily. On the other hand, gaining weight can be quite hard as it requires a high focus on the high-calorie diet and resistance exercise. If your diet is wrong or inconsistent, it can result in slow and ineffective weight gain. 

What Is The Ideal Body Weight?

The ideal body weight can be calculated by the Body Mass Index (BMI). If your BMI is within the range of 18.5 to 25.0, it is considered a healthy weight. 

What Food Items Are Rich In Amino Acids?

Some dietary sources that are rich in amino acids and aid in muscle repair (25) include:

  • Quinoa
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Beans and legumes 

Can Strength Training Or Resistance Training Help With Muscle Growth?

Yes, strength training or resistance training can help with muscle growth. It forces your muscles against the weight, strengthening them and allowing more movement. Over time, your muscles will grow and feel stronger. 


If you have been struggling with gaining weight and tend to consume more calories but are not seeing a difference, this article is for you. With the help of the information mentioned above, you can efficiently work towards your weight gain goals. Opt for better protein intake, healthy fats, and the number of calories needed for healthy body weight and more muscle mass. 

William Toro

William Toro ‧ CPT & Nutritionist

William is a certified personal trainer from NASM, he has also been a rehab physiologist for sports persons. He has more than 15 years of experience training people. And has featured in multiple publications like FoxNews, CNBC, Bustle, and other. 

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