Being underweight and skinny has some serious adverse effects. Weight gain foods can help in gaining weight. In this day and age, it is impossible to resist the urge to desire the perfect body. The models in magazines and gym enthusiasts flaunting their rock-hard abs on social media all contribute towards this yearning. It is falsely accepted that being thin is a sign of being healthy.
There are people of all shapes and sizes who are living a successful, happy and empowered life. However, recent studies have shown that fat is essential to our body, playing an important role in blood clotting and brain development, amongst other benefits (1), (2). The most common way to understand the overall health of the body is by measuring the Body Mass Index (BMI). But the misconception about BMI is that a person falling in the normal range is healthy, whereas body-fat percentage is the actual deciding factor.
A term, “skinny fat” has been coined to describe individuals who are outwardly skinny but have the same medical issues as obese people. The visceral fat around the abdominal cavity can cause high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and increased heart problems. Although stuffing one’s face with junk food is not a healthy way to gain weight, there are many alternative healthy foods to gain weight that can increase one’s calorie intake all while providing benefits with its nutritious content.
There are many reasons for wanting to gain weight besides underlying health conditions. Teenagers are constantly looking to bulk up and have broader shoulders with stronger bodies. There are certain sports like football that require an athletic body. Weight gain food plays a huge role in a healthy body when incorporated with an active lifestyle.
If you are one of the “skinny-fat” people or a sports enthusiast, you must be wondering what to eat to gain weight fast? No need to fret, there are many foods to increase weight. Here is our weight gain food list of 20 nutritious, high-calorie foods.
20 Best High-Calorie Food for Weight Gain
This one being a staple in everyone’s diet, it is not hard to source and incorporate in a meal. Rice is a rich source of carbohydrates, providing around 200 calories per cup. It also has a generous amount of protein and fibre. It is a very filling food, and it can be eaten with other high-calorie food for weight gain. Brown rice is the best option for weight-gain foods as it additionally provides nutrient-packed bran and germ layer.
A tasty recipe for tomato rice can be found below:
- Saute olive oil, garlic, onions, and desired vegetables in a pan for a few minutes.
- Boil brown rice for 25 - 30 minutes until liquid is completely absorbed.
- Add tomato puree and rice to the sauteed veggies along with coriander on top.
- Dried fruit
Berries, apricots, and apples can be easily dried and eaten. They have a higher number of calories per gram and also provide antioxidants and vitamins for a healthier body. As all the water content is removed, and energy-dense fruit is left, making it the best food to gain weight. Dates, figs, and prunes are also some healthy dried fruits.
The best way to eat them is as snacks. You can make your own dried fruit at home as:
- Slice the fruits into strips and remove the seeds.
- Cover the fruit in lemon and water.
- Bake the fruits between 4 - 12 hours at 145 F.
- Olive Oil
Certain oils like olive oil are an essential food to increase weight in a moderate amount. It is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. When drizzled on pasta, bread or vegetables, it can add calories and flavour too. Olive oil has 800 calories per 100 grams.
You can make your dip as follows:
- Stir half a cup of extra virgin olive oil along with garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a bowl
- Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the dip and serve with bread.
- Canola Oil
Another healthy alternative is canola oil, a high source of omega-3 and monounsaturated fats. It is almost tasteless, making it the perfect all-purpose cooking oil.
You can use it to make the vinaigrette:
- In a bowl, whisk together garlic, cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, liquid honey, and salt and pepper.
- Whisk in canola oil in a thin steady stream until combined.
- Drizzle over salad or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- Nut Oils
Walnut and grape seed oils are lighter in flavour and perfect for dressing salads. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acid ALA and other unsaturated fatty acids, as well as ellagitannins and other polyphenol compounds that act as antioxidants. Thus, consuming walnut oil may improve blood sugar levels and boost heart health.
A delightful lentil salad can be made with walnut oil:
- Add lentils, garlic, onion, carrot, and water in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and reduce the heat to low.
- Cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes until the lentils are tender.
- Drain through a strainer set over a bowl.
- Whisk together the vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and shallot or garlic.
- Whisk in the oil and 2 to 4 tablespoons of the liquid from the lentils. Stir into the lentils.
This Mexican delight is a weight gainer’s dream and an important food to gain weight fast. Not only are they rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, but they also have vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. One avocado has more than 200 calories, so it's a good way to add extra calories without sacrificing nutrition. It is a tasty and healthy option for breakfast.
A yummy recipe can be found below:
- Cut one avocado into slices and place it on bread toast with oregano and black pepper.
- An added bonus will be boiled eggs along with the avocado as a topping.
This combination is one of the best weight gain foods to eat.
If you’re wondering what to eat to gain weight, it’s there right in front of you. Cashews, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are all good for you. They contain polyunsaturated fats that add healthy calories to your diet.
Eating them raw or roasted or adding in foods as powder and chopped pieces daily is a good way to ensure daily intake. One tablespoon of peanut butter, for example, has about 100 calories. Each 100 g of almonds contains 579 calories and has 21.15 g of protein.
A trail mix of sweet and spicy nuts can be made according to the following recipe:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Combine walnut halves, almonds, and cashews in a large bowl. Add salt, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper; toss to coat.
- Heat sugar, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Slowly pour butter mixture over the bowl of nuts.
- Bake nuts in the preheated oven for 10 minutes on a sheet. Stir nuts until the warm syrup coats every nut.
Honey mixed with fruits, nuts, whole grains, and seeds makes the perfect granola. Store your granola in an airtight container and serve it for breakfast. The various constituents of granola individually provide health benefits, hence it features on our weight gain food list.
Oats, honey and dried berries in it give a quick energy booster. Granola is considered as iron-rich foods, which helps your body to counteract symptoms of anaemia and prevent chronic headaches, irregular breathing and fatigue.
Making granola at home is pretty easy with this recipe:
- Take crushed oats, chia seeds, honey, cinnamon, melted coconut oil and coconut flakes in a pan.
- Bake the ingredients at 350 F for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle it on milk for a healthy granola breakfast.
- It also contains 20% of the daily requirement of Vitamin E, making granola very healthy food to gain weight.
- Dark Chocolate
This delight is very healthy for the body. It is packed in antioxidants that promote better functioning of the heart. A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains 11 grams of fiber, 67% of the RDI for iron, 58% of the RDI for magnesium, 89% of the RDI for copper, 98% of the RDI for manganese.
All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar. For this reason, dark chocolate comes under our list of the best food to gain weight and is best consumed in moderation as a snack.
Recipe for dark hot chocolate:
- Take one cup of crushed dark chocolate and boil it in a saucepan with half a cup of water.
- Add 1-2 cups of milk.
- Bring to a boil until all the chocolate is dissolved. Add sugar per taste.
They are a good source of vitamin K, along with carbohydrates acting as high-calorie food for weight gain. The starch in potatoes enables the release of energy in the form of glucose.
Potatoes are the king of guilty pleasures: baked french fries, wedges or simply the good old jacket potato.
Jacket potatoes can be made easily as following:
- Heat oven to 350 F. Rub 2 tsp olive oil over 4 large baking potatoes and put on the top shelf of the oven.
- Bake for 20 mins, then turn down the oven to 300 F and bake for 45 mins.
- Cut a cross on top of each potato, squeeze the sides, add your favourite topping.
- Whole Grain Cereals
The whole grains have a plethora of health benefits due to its low content of trans-fats and saturated fats.
The unsaturated fats provide healthy calories, along with the essential carbohydrates. Wheat, barley, and oats are staples in an everyday diet that can contribute as healthy food to gain weight.
There are many ways to eat cereal. Apart from bread, they can be eaten as porridge, pita or roti as a side dish.
- Place grain, fruit, coconut oil and cinnamon in a pot with boiling water and let it simmer.
- Cooking time will depend on grains. Cook until the grains are tender but there is still water in the pot. Stir in additional water or milk substitute until desired consistency is achieved.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in ground flax and fresh fruit.
Fish is an important food item on our list of food to gain weight fast. Seafood, like Salmon, is rich in omega fatty acids that contribute towards brain functioning.
Six ounces of salmon will contain about 240 calories, making it a good choice for those looking to gain weight. It also contains many nutrients, including omega-3 and protein.
A homemade butter garlic salmon is delicious. Make it with the following recipe:
- Arrange salmon fillets and broccoli florets on a lightly greased sheet pan.
- Prepare the butter sauce.
- Rub the minced garlic over the salmon fillets and pour the butter mixture over the salmon and broccoli.
- Squeeze lemon juice over everything and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake salmon in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
Cheese is a good source of fat, protein, calcium, and calories. A person should select full-fat cheese since it is a food to increase weight.
Shredding moderate amounts of cheese in sandwiches, curries provides good calories that additionally build up in our body to assist weight gain.
Full-fat yogurt can also provide protein and nutrients.
Avoid flavoured yogurts and those with lower fat contents, as they often contain added sugars. Yogurt is a staple in our weight gain food list and can be eaten as a delicious salad dip:
- Whisk full-fat yogurt until it is creamy.
- Add cucumber, carrots, beetroot and crushed pepper.
- Add ranch dressing to it and serve with sliced carrots and chips.
- Whole Grain Pasta
Pasta can provide a calorically dense and carbohydrate-rich path to healthy weight gain.
Avoid bleached pasta, and opt for those made with whole grains. Making a fresh meal with whole-grain pasta recommended as a nutritious meal.
You can find a masala pasta recipe below:
- Sauté garlic, onion, chilli and tomato puree until mixture thickens.
- Add 2 tbsp of turmeric powder and garam masala powder to the mix.
- Add 3 tbsp corn, ½ cup capsicum and ½ cup carrots to the mix.
- Add boiled pasta and mix gently until sauce coats it well.
- Red Meat
Eaten historically and universally by muscle-builders, red meat provides both protein and fat, which promote weight gain.
For example: Steak contains both leucine and creatine, nutrients that play a significant role in boosting muscle mass. While a person is advised to limit their intake, leaner cuts of red meat are healthier for the heart than fattier cuts.
You can find a recipe for Indian lamb curry below:
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan over medium heat.
- When hot, sauté the onions and drain on paper towels. Turn off heat.
- In a food processor, pulse the onions tomatoes, garlic, and ginger pastes together into a smooth paste,
- Reheat the oil leftover from frying the onions and add the reserved paste. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala, and mix well.
- Add the lamb pieces to the mixture, and stir to fully coat. Sauté until the lamb is browned well.
- Cook until the lamb is tender. Season with salt to taste.
- Protein shakes
Protein shakes can help a person to gain weight easily and efficiently. A shake is most effective at helping to build muscle if drunk shortly after a workout. Weight gain is achieved largely in part of the whey protein in shakes.
A chocolate banana peanut butter protein shake can be made by:
- Mix chocolate, peanut butter and banana in a mixer blender.
- Add yogurt to the mixture and make a smooth shake. Dilute with water according to taste.
It offers a mix of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium. The protein content of milk makes it a good choice for people trying to build muscle.
It is recommended to drink 2 glasses of milk per day.
Eggs are a good source of protein, healthy fat, and other nutrients. Most nutrients are contained in the yolk. The egg whites are a rich source of protein and help in muscle buildup.
A delicious cheese omelette can be prepared as follows:
- Whisk 2 large eggs in a bowl until it is light and fluffy.
- Add chopped onions, green chilli and coriander to the mix.
- Heat a pan on medium heat and saute butter.
- Add the omelette mixture to the hot pan and let it cook.
- Shred cheese on top of the omelette and serve.
Quinoa is high in fiber and high-quality protein. It contains more protein than any other grain while also packing in iron and potassium. Quinoa has 222 calories per serving, making it a suitable food for weight gain, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat too. It also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Quinoa is one of the few plant-based complete proteins, having the 9 essential amino acids. Not only is it non-GMO, gluten-free, but it is also usually grown organically.
There are many tasty ways to eat quinoa like preparing quinoa fried rice with this recipe:
- Heat butter in a large pan. Add an egg and cook until it is scrambled.
- Add carrot, onions, peas and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.
- Add in cooked quinoa, soy sauce and green onions to the mixture.
As you can see from our list of healthy food for weight gain, it is quite easy to be healthy, eat tasty and bulk up your body at the same time. The food and the nutrients exist; it is up to you to make the most out of it and work towards a consciously healthier body.
The next time you’re looking for a quick fix and wondering what to eat to gain weight without compromising on health, this is the list you need.