When it comes to gaining weight you need to consume more calories than you burn. However, you should be aware that eating the wrong type of food can lead to fat gain.
You should eat foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to fuel your workouts so you can build muscle and still look great!
Your goals should be to put on half to one pound per week, which means you must consume on average 250 to 500 calories more than you burn every day.
Here are the best 21 foods you must eat to gain weight fast!
The 21 Best Foods To Gain Weight Fast And Stay Healthy
1. Protein Shakes
Protein is essential to gain lean muscle as it builds and repairs your muscle tissue after a workout.
You should be consuming a range of 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight a day. So if you weigh 50kg you should aim to eat 75g of protein a day.
Whey protein contains as much as 20g of protein (80 calories) in each scoop and can be turned into a delicious smoothie. Try mixing it with peanut butter, bananas or strawberries.
You can even mix it with kale for a delicious green energy drink! Instead of using water mix it with milk to get added creamy thickness and calcium and vitamin D.
If you want to get some added carbohydrates mix this with oatmeal so you have complex carbohydrates to fuel your day or workout. Each smoothie, depending on what you mix it with can range from 400-600 calories.
It is easy to make and you can drink this between meals as a snack to get extra calories. Try these 48 delicious recipes!
Since the beginning of time milk has helped babies grow since it contains the essential nutrients for muscle and bone growth, and brain development.
Milk proteins, specifically casein and whey, are the highest quality proteins and are quite different in terms of their rates of digestion and absorption, but both are essential for muscle development .
Studies show that post-exercise milk consumption after weightlifting increases muscle hypertrophy and lean mass and may be an effective post-exercise beverage .
Each 8 ounce serving of milk contains 8g of protein and 300mg of calcium and it is also rich in vitamin D, A, and B12 .
You should be consuming milk with your meals instead of sugary drinks. Try mixing milk also with your protein shakes after your workout to help with muscle recovery and growth.
You need energy to fuel your workouts and your day. Start the morning right off on the right foot with oatmeal. Oatmeal can be used both to get leaner and to gain mass.
The key is to eat larger quantities more frequently. One cup of oatmeal contains 150 calories with 27g of carbohydrates and 4g of fiber.
The carbohydrates are complex so they are long acting to give you the fuel you need without having a sugar crash hours later. It is recommended that the average woman eat 25g of fiber a day and the average man eat roughly 35g of fiber a day.
A cup of oatmeal provides 4g of fiber so eating oatmeal for breakfast and before a workout can help you reach that goal.
Try mixing oatmeal with whey protein in a blender with fruit. Or just have the oatmeal with some skim milk and mix with berries, strawberries, and banana and flax seed.
Oatmeal is also a great way to gain mass without putting on fat since it prevents obesity .
4. Whole Eggs
Each egg carries as much as 7g of protein and is full of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and healthy cholesterol. Add on healthy calories by piling up your omelet with plenty of vegetables and even cheese.
Egg is also a great source of fat and cholesterol for your body. It should be noted that the Harvard School of Public Health reported that the cholesterol in eggs does not affect heart health in a negative way as once believed .
There are plenty of recipes you can use to make your eggs in the morning. You can try the basic omelet and mix it with healthy vegetables for additional vitamins and minerals which can vary from 200-300 calories.
The glycemic index (gi) is a numeric system that ranks how quickly the body converts carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar).
Simple carbs like sugar and white potatoes have higher gi, while complex carbs like rice and oatmeal have lower gi. Lower gi carbs are better for longer lasting energy and do not affect your blood sugars as much, thus you have more energy for your workouts.
Rice is a superfood because it contains fiber, lowers cholesterol, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease .
There has been much discussion about brown rice vs white rice. The research shows that brown rice contains 43% more protein, 105% more fiber, and as much as 425% more omega-3 fatty acid than white rice . Brown rice also contains more calcium, potassium, iron, and selenium.
A 2010 Harvard School of Public Health study showed that if you eat more than two servings of white rice (about 12 ounces) per week, making the switch to brown rice could decrease type 2 diabetes risk by an estimated 16 percent.
Personally, I find brown rice more savory and nutty so I prefer it. One cup (8 ounces) of brown rice contains 215 calories and 45g of carbs to get me fueled for my workouts. If I know my workout will be tough I will have two cups of brown rice for extra calories.
I prefer to eat my brown rice with sautéed veggies, or you can use brown rice as a substitute for dinner rolls. Even try to mix rice into pudding or yogurt. Here are 17 recipes you can enjoy with your brown rice.
This is by far my favorite source of protein! A 4oz serving of raw chicken breast contains 190 calories, with only 4g of fat, 0g carbohydrates and 35g of protein . This is a lean way to put on mass without worrying about putting on fat.
If you love chicken, by all means eat chicken with every meal. However, bland chicken can be boring.
Personally, I like to grill my chicken in a George Foreman or bake it with various herbs and bbq sauce. Here are 30 recipes you can try at home tonight!
Depending on how you make your chicken the calories can vary from 200-500 per serving. It is all based on how you cook it.
7. Red Meat
Meat in moderation can get you strong and help you gain muscle. However, be warned that meat can contain saturated fat.
It is best to avoid processed meats such as deli meats which are high in saturated fats and linked to increased cardiovascular disease and cancer .
However, red meat is a great source of protein and if you crave a burger choose to purchase leaner cuts of red meat. Also aim to cook your red meat at low temperatures to avoid toxic byproducts such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (pahs) and heterocyclic amines (hcas).
A lean beef burger pattycan vary from 200-300 calories. But when you load it with cheese, bread and sauce you can put on 500-600 calories. Strive to keep the saturated fat minimal though.
One serving of potatoes contains 160 calories and 37g of carbs and 5g of fiber per serving. This is a great source of long acting natural carbohydrates .
It is also great for your skin! You can cook this by simply putting in the microwave, or you can grill it with your vegetables and serve with your meat.
Try to eat potatoes before you work out so you have enough energy for your workout. Try these 39 recipes to find a fun way to spice up these staple for your weight gain diet.
9. Peanut Butter
Creamy and delicious. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter has 16g of fat (the healthy kind), 8g of protein and puts on about 200 calories.
Studies show that peanut butter is associated with lowering the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease and contains a healthy source of fats, magnesium to fortify your bones and muscles, Vitamin E and antioxidants .
Simple put peanut butter on your bread, mix with a protein shake for creamy flavor or put on an apple slice.
Fresh fish is not only delicious, satiating, but full of protein and healthy fish oils to keep you fit and lean. A 4oz salmon has 14g of fat that is a high source of omega fatty acids, 0g of carbohydrates and a whopping 25g of protein [12/a>].
Try to eat larger portions of salmon and you’ll see the great results! Cook salmon over a grill and sauté with light low calorie sauce, and serve with a side of vegetables. You don’t need to go out to eat salmon. You can experiment at home with these fun new recipes and easy solutions.
Do not underestimate this carbohydrate. One cup of quinoa has 222 calories and is loaded with 40g of carbohydrate, 5g of fiber and 8g of protein .
Quinoa is an ideal substitute for vegetarians who want to eat a source of whole grain besides brown rice, oatmeal or bread. In addition, quinoa contains vast vitamins, minerals and omega fats.
The high fiber has been linked with relieving constipation, lowering your risk of blood pressure and diabetes . After a long workout, replete your glycogen with quinoa so you are ready for your next workout.
There are various ways to eat this. Instead of breakfast oatmeal, try quinoa porridge and mix with blue berries and other fruits for extra calories.
12. Whole Grain Bread
When it comes to choosing bread, there is only one healthy logical choice: whole grains. The benefits of whole grain breads are backed up my years of hard evidence and you would be doing yourself a disservice to not make the switch.
Whole grain bread reduces your mortality, risk of diabetes mellitus type 2, blood pressure and protects against metabolic syndrome, stroke, high cholesterol, cancer and heart attacks . Wow!
A report from the Iowa Women’s Health Study linked whole grain consumption with fewer deaths from inflammatory and infectious causes, excluding cardiac and cancer causes .
One slice of whole grain bread generally has 70 calories and 12g of carbohydrates with 2g of fiber. However, if you want to have the best whole grain bread out there, look no further than Ezekiel bread!
Ezekiel bread is made of sprouted grains, wheat, barley, beans, and lentils and you can taste that delicious flavor in each bite. Even better, each slice contains 4g of fiber, 4g of protein that contains 18 amino acids !
Make yourself a sandwich for lunch or eat a slice of bread as a side with your meals.
13. Whole grain pasta
Whole-grain pasta is a complex carbohydrate that is rich in long-lasting energy, vitamins and minerals. It contains a high source of fiber and aids with digestion.
Eat whole grain pasta with plenty of vegetables. Typically a 2oz serving of whole grain pasta contains 200 calories with about 40g of carbohydrates and 7g of fiber.
The whole grain pasta will give you much needed long lasting energy and the fiber will improve your digestive health. You can cook this into a salad, pasta, and stir-fry and this can vary from 300-500 calories depending on how you make it.
A single medium sized serving of an avocado contains 22 grams of fat and 13 grams of fiber . Avocado is packed with monosaturated fatty acids, specifically oleic acid, which is associated with reducing inflammation and having beneficial effects on cancer [21, 22].
Add avocado to your grilled turkey burger, harvest salad, soup, or mix with quinoa.
15. Meal Replacement Bars
This is a great alternative when you do not have food available, and they are dense in calories that range from 400-600 calories per bar.
And let’s not forget the variety of flavors too! Some of my favorites to eat are the Quest Bars and Detour Protein Bars .
However, be wary of protein bars that are loaded with simple sugars. You want to have quality long acting carbohydrates so you can fuel your workouts without a crash. These are all delicious options!
Greek Yogurt can contain as much as 20g of protein in one 7oz serving of yogurt! Yogurt has bacteria that improves your gastrointestinal health and is ideal as a snack when you need to eat something quick .
Yogurt can also boost your immune system and yogurt made from whole milk contains particularly high amounts of Vitamin B12, Calcium, Phosphorus and Riboflavin .
If you want to increase the calories mix the yogurt with berries, flax seed, and almonds.If you are vegan try these brands: So Delicious, Daiya, Amande, Forager Project, Hain Celestial, or Silk.
Traditionally, legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, lentil and even edamame .
Legumes pack a punch of protein and are ideal for vegetarians looking for other sources of protein! One cup of black turtle beans (40g protein), lentils (18g protein), peas (8g protein), and edamame (17g protein) show that legumes are an incredible source of protein.
You can mix peas in your salad or eat them as a side. Make yourself a chickpea soup with vegetable broth and mix with plenty of vegetables.
If you want added protein throw in some grilled chicken. Edamame recipes are also various and you can eat them with salad, noodles, or just eat them alone with friends as an appetizer.
Almonds are one of my favorite foods to eat when I am snacking. Just a quarter of a cup of almonds contains 200 calories with about 5g protein and 5g fiber .
Almonds reduce heart disease, support brain function, and even maintain healthy skin . Almonds are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin, and trace minerals such as magnesium .
Aim to eat raw almonds and avoid those with extra salt. Throw a few in a bag and eat them anywhere on the go as a snack.
19. Flax seed
Remember how you should be aiming to eat a calorie surplus of 250-500 calories a day to gain half to one pound a week? Just one tablespoon of flaxseed oil adds 120 calories to a smoothie or salad .
Flax seed is a rich source of fiber, protein and omega-3 fats (the same in salmon), and helps lower your cholesterol and is high in antioxidants .
Flax seeds can be ground up and mixed with your oatmeal, yogurt, or sprinkled over a salad and vegetables. You can also mix it with your protein shake for extra calories – however, be aware that flax oil does not contain any fiber.
20. Dried Fruit
When fruit is dried it shrinks during the dehydration process since water is removed, thus, it higher in calories by volume than fresh fruit which is water rich.
Therefore, a serving of dried fruit is more energy dense . This is a delicious way to add on extra calories and also load on the benefits of vitamins and minerals from the fruit.
If you eat quarter of a cup of a certain type of fruit your calories will vary as follows: apples (90 calories), banana (100 calories), blueberries (150 calories), prunes (100 calories). Figs (140 calories), pineapple (92 calories), raisins (108 calories) .
Eat these on the go or mix with salad, yogurt or protein shake! Dried fruit is rich in fiber and antioxidants .
As a dairy product cheese will provide you with strong teeth, increased bone health, and decrease your risk of osteoporosis due to high calcium and vitamin D content .
More specifically, half a cup of cottage cheese contains 80 calories but has 12g of protein and is loaded with health benefits that include reduction in breast cancer, a high source of B-complex vitamins, and helps prevent strokes and controls anxiety .
You can eat cheese either on a salad, mixed in your omelet or mix it with a curry or stew.
Remember, when it comes to weight gain you must consistently eat more calories than you are burning. Try to increase your meal portions and your meal intake frequency.
Consume these 21 healthy foods while adhering to a focused weight training program and you will build muscle instead of fat.
The 21 Best Healthy Foods To Gain Weight Fast
- Protein shakes
- Whole eggs
- Red meat
- Peanut butter
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain pasta
- Meal replacement bars
- Flax seed
- Dried fruit
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Rajiv M Mallipudi, md, mhs is an internal medicine resident physician, personal trainer, athlete and author. He has over a decade of personal training experience and helped hundreds of clients of all levels achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. This inspired him to work as a clinical researcher at the nationally recognized Johns Hopkins Hospital Weight Management Center. During medical school he and his classmates created the health and wellness organization, med fit, which provided personal training and nutrition counseling to the medical student body. In his spare time, Dr. Mallipudi enjoys playing ice hockey, dancing, and training for his next bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions. Dr. Mallipudi serves as a contributing writer for the Diet and Fitness sections.