There are people of all shapes and sizes with different weight-related goals. Some want to lose weight, and others want to gain weight. Weight gain can be challenging when one is skinny. It is not a fast process and requires commitment. In addition, your weight gain rate depends on multiple factors, including your body type. For instance, ectomorphs are people who tend to have a leaner body frame, and it is difficult for them to put on weight owing to their faster metabolism.
All weight gaining diets suggest eating more calories than your body naturally burns to show growth in the weight chart. Therefore, the foods present in a weight gain diet provide a calorie surplus. However, it is essential to note that increasing your refined carbohydrate intake to raise your calories will only lead to disturbances in your lipid profile and subsequent adverse health impacts. So it is essential to check the quality of your calories and mainly concentrate on protein-rich food.
Weight Gaining Diets: An Introduction
A weight gaining diet is high in protein, low in unhealthy fats, and provides ample calories and nutrients to help you reach your goal. The basic idea of weight gaining diet is to eat more calories per day than you burn. Often, it requires you to eat more calories than you are currently eating. Therefore, while the main focus is to increase energy and protein intake, do not eat too many foods with high amounts of calories but lack good nutrition. Importantly, those with any medical condition should seek advice from a nutrition expert and a doctor before changing their diet.
Problems Associated with Being Underweight
If you have a BMI range below 18.5, you are said to be underweight. And being underweight can be just as harmful as being overweight. For example, a study shows that being underweight can increase the risk of multiple health problems, including cardiovascular disease. In yet another study, the results show the prevalence of reproductive problems in underweight women. For example, while polycystic ovarian syndrome was the most frequent in overweight women, those in the underweight category are more likely to have ovarian dysfunction.
Other health risks associated with being underweight include:
- Gradual bone loss and risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Reduced immune function
- Surgical complications like post-surgery infections.
- Dry skin and excessive hair fall
- Anaemia and persistent fatigue
- Preterm labour
Best Weight Gain Foods to Eat
The foods in weight gaining diets are typically high in calories and protein. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the diet includes fatty, fried, and overly processed foods high in calories. Instead, a weight gain diet promotes healthy and nutritious food with optimal calories.
Here are a few healthy foods to eat when trying to gain weight.
Milk, as everyone knows, is a nutrient-dense food high in protein and calories, making it an ideal choice for weight gain. A study shows that those who drank the most milk gained more weight or BMI than those who consumed smaller amounts. Try adding whole milk to smoothies or drink it with meals.
Instead of drinking plain milk, you can make weight gain milkshakes containing full-fat milk, avocado, almond butter and a handful of fruits. It helps to increase your overall calorie intake. However, drinking milk too close to bedtime can disrupt digestion, raising the possibility of undesirable weight gain in the form of fat. Therefore, drink your milk at least two to three hours before bed.
Dried fruits have a higher number of calories per gram. Plus, they also provide antioxidants and vitamins for healthier weight gain. Removing all water content leaves dry fruits with energy-dense components, making them the best food to gain weight. Dates, dried apricots, figs, and prunes are some healthy dried fruits. The best way to eat them is as snacks.
According to USDA, an egg contains 12.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. Protein is essential when trying to gain weight because it initiates muscle protein synthesis, which helps achieve lean muscle mass. In addition, eggs also come with healthy fats and nutrients in the yolk. Eating one large egg supplies you with 71.5 calories and good potassium levels. Eggs also boost testosterone levels in underweight people. Because of these reasons, eggs are nature’s multivitamin.
Rice is a staple food in many places. It is rich in carbohydrates and readily available as well. Rice is on this list because it is highly calorie-dense because of its carbohydrate content. Moreover, 100 grams of brown rice has about 123 calories. Brown rice is the best weight-gain food as it provides nutrient-packed bran and germ layer. You can eat rice by mixing it with any curry as in the Indian way or by topping it with sauce. Adding scrambled eggs to rice can increase the calories and the protein content.
Nuts and Nut Oil
Nuts and their oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy unsaturated fatty acids. They are also calorie-dense and protein-rich, making them an excellent food choice for weight gaining diets. A study indicates no adverse effects of frequent nut consumption on energy balance or body weight. Cashews, almonds, pecans, peanuts, Brazil nuts, and walnuts are all good for you. They are very convenient to consume. You can have them raw, soaked and roasted or add them to your smoothies and yoghurt. Be sure to include a variety of nuts in your diet to get the most benefit.
A study shows that consuming fish twice a week improves muscle weight and function. In addition, it is a great way to add protein to the diet. There are 248 calories in six ounces of boneless Salmon, which can help you healthily gain weight. Other kinds like mackerel, tuna, and sardines are the best sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D. You can eat fish steamed, sauteed, grilled or baked.
Some people choose fish oil supplements to gain weight. But in that case, you will miss out on the protein that comes from eating fish.
Avocados offer monounsaturated fats, which are incredibly healthy. They are calorie-dense and are excellent for gaining weight. It is a weight gainer’s dream fruit. One avocado provides more than 200 calories, so it’s a healthy way to add extra calories without sacrificing any nutrition. Avocados with boiled eggs are one of the best weight gain combination foods to eat.
Red meat is an excellent protein source that will help you gain muscle. Most muscle-builders eat red meat in moderation to get protein and fat, which promote weight gain. Research reveals that leucine in red meat helps in muscle building by stimulating protein synthesis and hence helps gain weight. Also, fattier cuts of meat carry more calories. However, leaner cuts of red meat are healthier for the heart than fattier cuts. So opt for lean meat and pick healthier cooking methods to avoid unwanted extra fats.
Weight gaining diet contains cheese because it provides you with protein, fat, and calories. It is also a calcium source, which is essential for bone health. It would be best to eat full-fat cheese since it is better to increase weight. Be sure to avoid processed cheeses, like cheese slices and cheese puffs. Instead, add cheddar, Swiss, blue, and gouda cheese to salads, sandwiches, or pasta.
Coconut milk is an alternative to cow’s milk. It is high-fat, high-calorie food and low in sugar, making it a good choice for weight gain. If you’re lactose intolerant and are trying to gain weight, use coconut milk in place of cow’s milk for sweet and savoury dishes.
Your grocery list must contain whole, nutrient-dense foods while limiting processed foods as much as possible. Choose wild-caught fish and pasture-raised eggs, meat, and poultry whenever possible. Finally, shop in season. Know which vegetables and fruits are in season and opt for those first.
Here are some sample options to form the ultimate grocery list. Remember, strike off those you are allergic to or don’t suit your taste.
High Protein Foods for Weight Gain
- Full Fat Milk
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Brown Rice
- Whole eggs
- Fish(Salmon, Tuna)
- White meat like chicken
- Animal protein equivalents like tofu
Nuts and Seeds for Weight Gain
- Chia seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Fats and Oils for Weight Gain
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Ghee or grass-fed butter
- Coconut oil
Vegetables for Weight Gain
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Fresh herbs like basil and parsley
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
Fruits for Weight Gain
Condiments for weight gain
- Hot sauce
- Pure maple syrup
- Soy sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
10 More Tips to Gain weight
Combining a high-calorie diet with strength training is a practical approach to gaining weight. However, these few tips might help you in gaining weight.
- Eat mini-meals by eating smaller meals throughout the day to increase your calorie intake. For example, if three is the standard number of meals you consume per day, add in an additional snack. It will help you increase your calories.
- Use whole fat milk and drink it regularly. Using this high-quality protein can help you by providing energy.
- Use bigger plates for consuming food. Using bigger containers has been associated with consuming a higher quantity of food.
- Sleep is the most crucial factor while building muscle. It would help if you made sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep. It helps in building muscle quickly.
- Consume high protein foods first, followed by vegetables. If you have a mix of foods on your plate, eat the protein-rich and calorie-dense foods first. Eat the vegetables last.
- Sneak in calorie-dense foods like nuts and seeds. They help you gain weight quickly. You can increase calories by adding almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and cashews.
- Make mealtime pleasant. Eating is more enjoyable in a comfortable, relaxed setting.
Gaining weight is a transformational journey that needs time and dedication. When incorporated with an active lifestyle, different weight gain foods play a huge role in increasing weight. You need to enter a calorie surplus phase to gain weight. Although binge eating junk food is not a healthy way to gain weight, many alternative healthy foods can increase your calorie intake. Include protein-rich foods, complex carbs and healthy fats in your diet. The best weight gain diet is always the one that is personalised to fit your nutritional needs and lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the best diet plan to gain weight?
A. The best diet plan for weight gain is the one which ensures calorie surplus without compromising nutritional quality. It includes milk, rice, whole grain, red meat, nuts, nut butter, potatoes, and cheese. In addition, high protein diets with complex carbs and healthy fats are a great way to gain weight.
Q. How can skinny people gain weight fast?
A. Gaining weight is not a fast process, so it takes time to see results. A skinny person can gain weight gradually by following a high protein diet with ample amounts of calories. They can also pair their diet with strength training exercises. Staying in a calorie surplus and following physical training is the best combination for gaining weight.
Q. How can I gain 1 kg in a week?
A. The ideal range is to gain 0.2–0.4 kg a week. You can gain one-kilogram weight by increasing your calorie intake. However, rapid weight gain is not healthy and poses a risk to your health. So keep exercising with a healthy diet, and you will soon gain weight.
Q. How can I eat more?
A. Making your food tastier is a way to eat more by adding spices and condiments. Cook your favourite foods and consume meals frequently. Try to consume more calorie-dense foods.
Q. Do bananas increase weight?
A. Bananas, on their own, are calorie-dense. However, eating one banana a day cannot cause weight gain. Make sure you always eat fully ripe bananas for weight gain.
Q. Which fruits increase weight?
A. Avocados, bananas, mango, dates, and apricots are calorie-dense foods that increase your weight. Eating dried fruits will help you gain weight faster than fresh fruits.
Q. How can I gain 5 kg in one month?
A. To gain 5kg of weight in a month, you should eat more calories than you burn. However, your weight gain depends on many factors, including genetics and hormones. Nevertheless, you can be on a calorie surplus and exercise regularly to gain weight eventually.
Q. How do celebrities gain weight fast?
A. By eating a lot more food, taking protein shakes, and lifting weights are some of the ways by which celebrities gain weight. However, they are probably on anabolic steroids or following a personalised diet. Therefore, please do not compare your progress with them.
Q. Why can’t I gain any weight?
A. Everybody is different. For example, genetics plays a role in body types and may cause naturally lean body types. For others, underlying medical conditions and specific treatments cause weight loss or difficulty gaining weight.
Q. How long does it take to gain weight?
A.Your rate of weight gain will depend on several factors, including your body size, gender, genetics, calorie intake, physical activity level, and health status. For some, it may take over six months, while some see results within 2-3 months.
Q. Which food has more calories?
A. Milk, rice, nuts and nut butter, red meats, potatoes and starchy vegetables, salmon and oily fish are calorie-dense. Other options include avocados, mango, dates, prunes, and dried apricots. Despite being high-calorie foods, you should not eat processed foods and fried snacks.