When it comes foods to gain weight, what you eat depend on your specific goals and health needs. For some people, gaining weight or building muscle can be as challenging as losing them for others.
To gain weight effectively, you’ll want to consume more calories than you burn throughout the day. Small meals spread out throughout the day can help you achieve this.
Adding certain foods to your diet can provide you with the extra calories and essential nutrients, like protein, that you need for safe and successful weight gain. Here, we have listed 12 foods that can help you achieve your weight gain or muscle building goals in the way that best suits you.
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Best Foods to Gain Weight
1. Homemade protein smoothies
If your goal is to gain weight then making your own protein smoothie at home can be a really healthy and effective way to do it. The great thing about homemade smoothies is that you can choose what goes into them, and you can make them as high in calories as you want.
Here are some delicious options you can try. If you can’t handle lactose you can use regular dairy milk or soy milk as they are more nutritious and calorie-rich than some other milk alternatives.
- Chocolate Banana Nut Shake: This one is amazing. Simply blend together 1 banana, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein (this is a type of protein powder), and 1 tablespoon peanut or any nut butter of your choice.
- Vanilla Berry Shake: If you love berries, this is for you. Combine 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries, some ice, 1 cup high-protein, whole-milk Greek yogurt (for extra creaminess), and 1 scoop vanilla whey protein.
- Super Green Shake: This is a health powerhouse. Blend together 1 cup spinach, 1 avocado, 1 banana, 1 cup pineapple and 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla whey protein.
Each of these smoothies gives you about 400 to 600 calories, plus lots of protein and other good stuff like vitamins and minerals.
So, in simple terms, making your own protein smoothie is a delicious and convenient way to add more calories to your diet and at the same time, make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs. Additionally, you can make them exactly how you like!
2. Dairy milk
Dairy milk has been a popular choice for people looking to gain weight or build muscle for many years. Its importance is because it contains a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats as well as essential nutrients like calcium and vitamins (1Trusted source) (2Trusted Source).
If you’re aiming to increase your muscle mass, milk is an excellent source of protein, providing both casein and whey protein. A 2018 study found that drinking cow’s milk along with weight lifting can help you build muscle.
Additionally, research has shown that milk, especially when you take both whey and casein proteins together, may lead to greater muscle growth than other protein sources (4).
To incorporate milk into your diet, you can try drinking a cup of milk (about 237 mL) as a snack, with a meal, or before and after your workout. It provides you with a quick 149 calories and 8 grams of protein per serving (2 reliable sources).
In short, adding milk to your diet is an effective way to increase your protein intake, as it contains both casein and whey protein, which are known to support muscle growth.
3. Dark chocolate
Did you know that good quality dark chocolate can actually be good for you? This is true!
Here’s the deal: Dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa (this is the stuff chocolate comes from) has some great health benefits. A study in 2023 found that people with kidney problems who ate 40 grams of 70% dark chocolate three times a week for two months had less inflammation in their bodies.
Now, dark chocolate is a bit of a calorie bomb because it has a high fat content. This means you can get a lot of calories from a small amount of it. For example, every 100 grams (about the size of a chocolate bar) of dark chocolate with 60–75% cocoa contains about 600 calories. But here’s the good news: It’s not just empty calories. Dark chocolate also contains some good things like fiber, magnesium, and antioxidants, which are good for your health.
And you don’t have to eat dark chocolate just as a plain old bar. No, you can get creative with it! Here are some fun ways to enjoy it:
- Sprinkle it on your cereal.
- Add it to your trail mix or granola.
- Mix it with your favorite fruits.
- Melt it in hot milk for a delicious drink.
- Dip it in nut butter for a delicious snack.
And if you’re feeling indulgent, you can also use dark chocolate to make some sweet desserts like Energy Bites, Chocolate Truffles, or Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding. Yum!
Now, when you go shopping for dark chocolate, you will find all kinds of options in the store. But here’s the key: move on to the good stuff. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the best health benefits.
So, there you have it – dark chocolate can be a delicious and surprisingly healthy treat if you choose the right kind. enjoy!
Rice is a great, budget-friendly source of carbohydrates that can be helpful in diets aimed at weight gain. Just one cup of cooked white rice, which is about 158 grams, provides you with 204 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates and very little fat.
One good thing about rice is that it is high in calories, which means you can get a lot of carbs and calories in one go. This can be really helpful if you’re trying to eat more but are finding it difficult to do because you don’t feel very hungry or feel full quickly.
When you’re in a hurry or on the go, you can grab those convenient 2-minute microwavable rice packs and combine them with other protein sources.
Another smart idea is to cook a big batch of rice, store it in the fridge or freeze it in individual portions, and then season it with different proteins and healthy fats to create different meals throughout the week. Mix. Rice can be the basis of several small meals during the day.
Now, if you want to increase the flavor, add calories and protein to your rice, you can try these simple tricks:
- Mix some butter and Parmesan cheese.
- Add broccoli and cheese.
- Break some eggs and add them in.
- Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds, peanuts or cashews for crunch and flavour.
You can also take your rice to the next level by adding sauces on top like this:
- Curry for some delicious spice.
- Pesto for a fresh and herbaceous flavor.
- Alfredo for creamy and pleasant touch.
With a little creativity, a dish centered on rice can easily become a satisfying meal in its own right. For example, you could try a balanced lunch like wild rice with chicken and kale, which provides about 400 calories per serving.
5. Protein supplements
Protein supplements are commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders who want to gain weight and build muscle. There are a variety of types available, including whey, soy, egg, and pea protein.
Whey protein and mass gainers (which help with muscle mass) can be quite effective, especially when combined with strength training. In 2022, a review of 74 research studies found that protein supplements, when taken at 1.6 grams of protein or more per kilogram of body weight per day, improved lean body mass when combined with resistance exercise. And body strength decreases.
Whey protein is often derived from dairy milk and may improve athletic performance and recovery. If you are interested in weightlifting, your protein needs may be even higher.
Plant-based options like whey protein and soy both provide all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth. You can take protein supplements before or after your workout or at any time during the day.
An easy way to incorporate protein powder and extra calories into your diet is to make a protein smoothie, especially for breakfast. This leaves the rest of your day to enjoy balanced meals and snacks for overall nutrition.
Here’s a simple whey protein shake recipe to start your day with a high-energy breakfast. For more protein and calories, consider adding ingredients like peanut butter, almond butter, flax or chia seeds.
You can also add unflavored whey protein to foods like soup, mashed potatoes, or oatmeal to increase your protein intake. Additionally, ready-to-drink protein beverages are also available for a quick protein boost.
In short, protein supplements are an easy and cost-effective way to increase your daily protein intake, especially if you’re aiming to gain weight. Mix them with fat in smoothies or shakes to increase both protein and calorie intake.
6. Nuts and nut butter
If you’re trying to gain weight, nuts and nut butters might be a terrific addition to your diet.
Just think about it: A handful of raw almonds (about a quarter cup, which is about 32 grams) gives you 170 calories, 6 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fat.
Nuts are quite calorie-rich, so eating a couple of handfuls of nuts a day, whether as part of a meal or as a snack, can help you add a few extra calories to your daily intake.
You can get creative with nut butters too! Add it to smoothies, spread it on your yogurt, or use it as a dip for crackers. It’s like a magic ingredient that can turn any breakfast into a calorie-laden delight.
For a quick energy boost, try making a peanut butter and banana smoothie with just three ingredients (using whole milk, it’s about 270 calories). And if you are allergic to peanuts or any other nut, don’t worry, you can replace it with nut or seed butter that is safe for you.
One important tip though: When you’re shopping for nut butter, make sure it’s 100% pure nut goodness without any added sugar or added oils. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make your own almond butter at home. It is not only simple to produce, but also inexpensive.
7. Potatoes and complex carbohydrates
Potatoes and other foods containing complex carbohydrates are a budget-friendly way to increase your calorie intake. These carbs provide a steady and lasting supply of energy and come with additional nutrients like potassium, fiber, and essential food groups like vegetables and whole grains.
You can choose from a variety of complex carb sources, such as quinoa, oats, corn, buckwheat, potatoes (including sweet potatoes), squash, winter root vegetables, and beans or legumes. These foods not only give you more calories but also help store a type of complex sugar called glycogen in your muscles. Glycogen is your body’s primary source of fuel for most sports and activities.
Many of these carb sources also contain something called resistant starch, which may be good for your gut bacteria.
Here’s a delicious lunch idea: Try making quinoa and roasted sweet potato bowls. They are not only delicious but also provide around 336 calories per serving.
If you want to add even more calories to your complex carbs, you can do this:
-Put sour cream on your potatoes.
- Sprinkle grated cheese over quinoa or mashed potatoes.
- Drizzle some healthy fat like olive or avocado oil on your roasted veggies.
- Enjoy whole grain bread, crackers or a baked potato with hummus.
- Use dairy or soy milk instead of water when making oatmeal or other hot cereals.
These simple changes can make your meals both nutritious and calorie-dense.
Cheese has been a favorite food for centuries. It’s not just delicious; It also gives us energy and healthy fats. To give you an idea, a small amount of cheddar cheese the size of a couple of dice (1 ounce or 28 grams) contains about 110 calories and 7 grams of protein.
Cheese comes in countless types and flavors, so you’re sure to find something you love. However, it’s worth noting that many cheeses contain cholesterol and saturated fat, so like other high-calorie foods, it’s a good idea to enjoy these in moderation.
A delicious way to enjoy cheese is to make macaroni and cheese. It is a dish that combines calories, carbohydrates and proteins. Plus, you can get creative with it too. You can add nutritious ingredients like broccoli or peas for extra vitamins and minerals. If you want to increase the calorie and protein content, you can also add a little bacon or other meat like pulled pork.
Here’s a simple mac and cheese recipe using 1 cup (125 grams) of shredded cheddar cheese, and it provides about 314 calories per serving. enjoy!
9. Salmon and oily fish
If you’re a fan of red meat, salmon and oily fish are also great choices for protein and certain fats called omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great because they can help keep you healthy by reducing the risk of things like heart problems.
Just picture this: A piece of wild Atlantic salmon, about the size of a deck of cards, has about 155 calories, 7 grams of fat and a solid 22 grams of protein that can help you strengthen your muscles or gain some weight. Is. If this is your goal.
Now, when it comes to cooking salmon, you have a lot of options: steaming it, pan-frying it, smoking it, grilling it, baking it, or boiling it. You can also try it smoked or raw in sushi and sashimi. Fresh or frozen salmon may cost a little more, but you can always opt for canned salmon, which is quick and budget-friendly.
Here are some delicious ways to include salmon in your diet:
- Tuna Salad Twist: Instead of your regular tuna salad, switch things up by using canned salmon. Add some olive oil or mayo to increase the calories.
- Cobb Salad Remix: Transform a classic Cobb salad by replacing the usual chicken with canned salmon. Add some bacon, hard boiled egg, avocado, lettuce and tomato for extra flavor.
- Dive into smoked salmon: Spread cream cheese on whole-grain bread or crackers, layer on some smoked salmon, and top with cucumber, tomato slices, or capers for a delicious snack.
- Salmon Salad Special: Make a salmon salad with green leafy vegetables, asparagus and add a dollop of whole milk plain Greek yogurt, mayo, or sour cream for a creamy flavor.
So, don’t be shy – put that salmon on your plate in a way that suits your tastes!
10. Dried fruit
Dried fruits are a delicious and convenient snack option that can provide you with some important benefits. They are rich in calories, antioxidants and essential nutrients.
You can find a variety of dried fruits, and they naturally contain a good amount of sugar. This makes them a great pairing with protein sources like meat, cheese, or whey protein shakes. Dried fruits also go well with nuts and plain Greek yogurt, giving you a mix of healthy fats, protein, and other important nutrients.
Dried fruits are a good source of dietary fiber, and most of their vitamins and minerals remain intact during the drying process.
Dates, in particular, are a nutritious choice. They are high in fiber and antioxidants and provide a good amount of calories. For a satisfying breakfast, you can stuff dates with nut butter, cream cheese, or cooked grains like rice or quinoa. You can also add some dates to your smoothies, sauces or dressings to add a touch of natural sweetness.
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