What to eat to gain weight – 16 best nutritious foods

If your body mass index (BMI) is below 18.5, you are considered underweight. Around 2% of the whole population is underweight. Women have four times hight probability to be underweight than men do. Young people between the ages of 18 and 24 and those over 65 can be affected mosly.

The basic principle behind gaining weight is that you should intake more calories than the amount your body spends or burns. The idea to have 400-500 more calories a day if you want to gain weight slowly. It is prefferable for your body to gain weight slowly than to gain weight quickly. Eating more than 500 calories a day in addition to what you burn will result in a new pound of body weight per week. General guidelines suggest eating more frequently (five to six times a day), more fat and more protein.

Some don’ts to keep in mind

Avoid fast food. Eating chips, sugary sodas, donuts and candy will add pounds, but will not be the source of healthy weight gain. That weight will mostly be located around your belly, putting you at risk for a number of serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Rather, eat healthy foods that build muscle, such as protein-rich foods.

Foods to gain weight fast

This list contains quite complete number of food items that are highly nutritious and will provide you with extra calories to gain weight and lots of energy to go about your day productively.


Milk offers a mix of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Milk’s high protein content makes it a right choice for those trying to build muscle. One study showed that after resistance training, drinking skim milk helped build muscle more effectively than soy products. A similar study involving women in resistance training showed improved results in those who drank milk after a workout.
For those who want to gain weight, milk can be added to the diet throughout the day.

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Protein shakes

Protein shakes can help a person gain weight easily and effectively. A shake that helps build muscle is most effective if drunk shortly after a workout. However, it is worth noting that prepared shakes often contain excessive sugar and other additives that should be avoided. Read the labels attentively.


A bowl of rice contains about 200 calories and is also a great source of carbohydrates, which contribute to weight gain. Many people like to include rice in meals containing protein and vegetables.

Red meat

Red meat consumption has been shown to help build muscle and gain weight. Steak contains both leucine and creatine, nutrients that play an importatn role in building muscle mass. Steak and other red meat contain both protein and fat, which contribute to weight gain. While humans are advised to limit their intake, thinner cuts of red meat are healthier for the heart than fattier cuts. One study found that adding lean red meat to the diet of 100 women in their 60s helped them gain weight and increase strength by 18 percent during resistance training.

Nuts and nut butter

Eating nuts regularly can help a person gain weight safely. Nuts are a great snack and can be added to many dishes, including salads. Raw or dry roasted nuts have the greatest health benefits. Nut butters made without added sugar or hydrogenated oils are also helpful. The fewer ingredients there are in these butters, the better.


Starches help some of the foods already presented stimulate muscle growth and weight gain. They add nutritional value to most foods and increase the amount of calories consumed.

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Some foods that are rich in starches include:

  • potatoes
  • corn
  • quinoa
  • buckwheat
  • beans
  • squash
  • oats
  • legumes
  • winter root crops
  • sweet potatoes
  • pasta
  • whole grain cereals
  • wholemeal bread

In addition to adding calories, starches provide energy in the form of glucose. Glucose is stored in the body as glycogen – the storage for energy. Glycogen can improve performance and energy during training.


Six ounces of salmon will have about 240 calories. Salmon is also rich in healthy fats, making it a good choice for those looking to build up some weight. It also contains many nutrients, such as omega-3’s and a lot of protein.

Dried fruits

Dried fruits are rich in nutrients and calories; one quarter cup of dried cranberries has about 130 calories. Many people prefer dried pineapples, cherries, apples or dates. Dried fruit is available for purchasing online, or you just can dry fresh fruit at home.


Avocados are rich in calories and fat, as well as some vitamins and minerals. They are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. One avocado contains more than 200 calories, so it’s a good way to get some extra calories without sacrificing your healthy diet. Add avocado slices to sandwiches or make guacamole to serve with baked tortilla chips.

Another option is to add avocado to your favourite smoothie recipe, especially that which has some berries and chocolate as ingredients.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a high-calorie, high-fat food. It also contains antioxidants which have positive effects on your physical appearance and mood. If you want to gain weight it is recommended to choose chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa.

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Eggs are a great source of protein, healthy fat and other nutrients. Most of the nutrients are located in the yolk.


Cheese is a good source of fat, protein, calcium, and calories and is rightly considered to be effective in increasing your daily intake of calories. A person who wants to gain weight should choose cheeses that are full of fat.


Full-fat yogurt can also provide protein and nutrients. Avoid flavored yogurts and lower-fat yogurts because they often contain extra sugars which will not provide your body with any energy but only add to a fatty belly and health implications as a result. Though, you may want to flavor your yogurt with fruit or nuts.


Pasta can provide a calorie-rich, carbohydrate-rich path to healthy weight gain. Avoid bleached pasta and choose those made with whole grains.


Bread and cereals, in general, are good sources of complex carbohydrates, such as starches and fiber, which provide the body with energy. These are types of carbohydrates that are metabolized a little slower than simple carbohydrates (like sugar).

Bagels are simply very calorie dense. While one slice of white bread has about 70 calories, one small bagel has over 180 calories. Very large bagels in coffee shops can contain up to 300 calories and even more.


Make your own granola with any combination of dried whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Store granola in an airtight container and serve for breakfast. Pack some granola in small plastic containers to take with you on a busy day. Add pieces of dark chocolate or peanut butter for more flavor and calories.

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