Although some people feel that they are struggling to lose weight, everyone who is desperately wanting to gain weight fast knows that the other half of the story is just as hard.
Can anyone gain weight naturally and healthily?
Weight gain is often associated with fatty and junk foods, when in fact it’s a lot more complicated to gain weight healthily. For you to obtain and maintain your weight, you need a steady increase and highly nutritious foods – not consume high-calorie junk foods.
It’s a little illogical to think that you can gain weight quickly in 3 to 7 days, a week, or even a month. To make sure you put on muscles and gain weight the right way, it takes years of the right exercises and diet changes.
Now in the meantime, dive into our list and prepare for a lifestyle change as we give you 31 foods that will help you bulk up your muscles healthily. From shakes to hearty soups, some might surprise you.
Avocados are not only tasty and flavorful, but they’re also loaded with healthy fats, which is why they have a smooth texture – due to the fat content, and are a major source of antioxidants.
This fat content also makes them a lot more calorie dense compared to other fruits. According to scientific data, a gram of fat has about nine calories; whereas protein and carbohydrate have 4 calories. This means the higher the fat content, the more calories a food product has.
One large sized avocados can provide you with about 322 calories, 29 grams of fat and 17 grams of fibers. So even though it’s loaded with fat, you shouldn’t need to worry. Aside from the fat being healthy, the fiber also balances it out.
It’s pretty easy to incorporate avocados into your diet. You can toss them into your salad, make them an ingredient for your wrap, make an omelet, make a smoothie, or even eat them alone with a sprinkle of seasoning.
People are still debating whether or not bananas are right for those who want to gain weight. While some would encourage you to consume them often to gain more weight, some nutritionist will also advise you to consume bananas when you want to lose weight.
Well, it might be right for both cases; the critical part is how you consume the bananas. To help you lose weight, you can make bananas as your daily snack – taking into consideration the portion size. But to gain weight, what you can do is to make them into smoothies or shakes.
A medium sized banana contains about 90 to 95 calories. This means it has fewer calories compared to the average candy. While eating them whole will make you full, drinking them as shakes will make it easier to consume in large amount.
You should also know that you’re not just consuming bananas for its calories. Bananas are rich in Potassium that helps maintain electrolyte balance in your body. It’s essential for nerve and muscle function and supports for the production of energy in cells. This means it will also aid you during muscle training.
3. Dried Fruits
If you’re looking to lose weight, you should avoid dried fruits entirely as they’re high-calorie snacks. But on the other hand, if you’re trying to gain more weight effortlessly, make dried fruit as a part of your daily meals.
Dried fruits are not only calorie dense, but they’re also packed with antioxidants and micronutrients. Although people may think that the drying process destructs the nutrients, they retain most of the fiber and natural vitamins and minerals.
The high calorie is thanks to the number of sugars in them – which has the same amount as a regular fruit would. That means, even though volume-wise you’re eating less amount of fruit, it has the same amount of calorie and sugars.
To maximize your consumption, you can combine dried fruits with other food products that would also assist you in your journey of weight gain. You can mix them with yogurts as a breakfast bowl or with a whey protein shake. That way you can achieve your goal even faster.
4. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a type of snack mix made of a combination of granola, dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate. They’re typically consumed by hikers during trips to provide a high amount of energy and avoid exhaustion.
Just by knowing that, you can tell that trail mix is the perfect snack if you want to gain weight fast and effectively. Nutritionist even claims that trail mix is very calorie dense that it’s hard not to gain weight when you consume them.
It was said that they were so high in calories, their portion size is only about a quarter cup. That’s because a cup of trail mix can give you about 700 calories!
That’s why trail mix is often used to help in gaining weight. You only need to consume a small amount of them to pack on the calories. Aside from that you also benefit from their nutritional content. So there’s no loss in eating your trail mix – except if you’re trying to lose weight.
Eggs are one of the best food products that you can use to aid your weight gain. They’re very versatile and packed with nutrients; perfect for those of you who get bored with plain diets.
Eggs are filled with protein, healthy fats and also micronutrients. As we’ve discussed, protein is essential as building blocks for your muscle, so that your weight gain can last, and you don’t just add on fat.
Healthy fats in eggs, such as omega-3 fatty acids help lower your cholesterol level; which means you get all the added benefits of fats and their calories without the cost of clogging up your arteries.
The micronutrients in eggs also help your body to absorb the required nutrients for your daily needs, so that the food you eat goes a long way instead of just left unabsorbed and wasted.
The versatility in eggs allow you to consume it in many different ways, and you can customize it according to your preference. You can have it scrambled, poached, boiled, or even have it raw.
If you want to consume raw eggs, always remember to opt for fresh farm eggs to avoid contamination and foodborne diseases.
6. Healthy Nuts
Nuts are a lot more than just bar snacks. All nuts, including almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are over 90% fat. And as mentioned before, fat means higher and denser calories. Just 19 pieces of almonds are about 100 calories; which means it adds up pretty fast.
They’re not just rich in healthy fats; they’re also rich in protein and vitamin E; which could give you the healthy glow you need for your skin and hair.
By being rich in fat and protein, consuming nuts allow your body to rehabilitate itself and thus to make your calories count more as they focus on building more muscles instead of fixing your body.
You can eat them on their own as a snack or mix them with your salad or fruit bowl. Avoid consuming nuts that have added salt as they might cause bloat and unwanted water retention. Always go for the ones that are as natural as possible.
7. Peanut Butter
Just like nuts are nutrient dense food, so is peanut butter. It has the same general benefits as healthy nuts as in both are rich in healthy fats and protein.
Even more dense in calorie, each tablespoon of peanut butter has about 90 calories – making it the ideal candidate as your weight gain food.
To gain weight more steadily, you can include peanut butter as often as possible in many different ways. As a spread, a dip or even a topping for your smoothie. Consume peanut butter before and after exercise, as the protein helps rebuild muscle fibers, and to increase their size and strength.
8. Healthy Oils
Healthy oils are another group of food that you can incorporate into your diet to boost your caloric intake without sacrificing your health. They also counteract the effects of unhealthy fats, so not only do you get your calories – they help you get healthier.
The most common healthy oils are olive oil and coconut oil. As energy boosters, they add up more calories without needing to increase the volume of food you consume.
Use olive oil or coconut oil as a dressing for your salad, or to lightly heat your food and bring in flavor. Overall, they’re a simple and easy way to sneak in extra healthy fats into your daily intake.
9. Whole Grain Bread
Whole grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates that you can consume to gain healthy weight. Always aim for a natural grain and seeded bread, that way not only are you getting your calories, you also incorporate more protein and fiber into your diet.
Whole grain bread is quite easy to find as they’re widely available in stores. Eat them on their own, or combine with other ingredients from this list such as healthy fats, fatty fish or dried fruits.
10. Starchy Vegetables
What we mean by starchy vegetables are vegetables that have more carbohydrates than non-starchy ones. Examples of starchy vegetables than you can get are potatoes, pumpkin, squash, butternut squash or parsnips.
One of the most effective ways for you to gain weight is by eating starchy vegetables. Due to the high carbohydrate content, starchy vegetables are high in calories, essential nutrients, and fibers. These properties make them the perfect food for you to gain more weight healthily.
For instance, a medium-sized potato has over 37 grams of carbs, substantial quantities of fiber, vitamins C and B6, folate, potassium, manganese, and – surprisingly, 4.5 grams of protein. Protein is also as essential in your journey to gain weight and muscle mass.
Speaking of muscle mass, research has proven that starchy vegetables increase your muscle glycogen stores. Glycogen is the predominant fuel source for most sports and activities. This means that you can pack in more muscle building time. Not only are you able to gain more weight, but you are also able to tone your body.
Lastly, not only are they nutritious and delicious, starchy vegetables are comparably cheaper than animal-based food. Making them a more cost-effective way for you to gain weight.
11. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is appealing produce when you look at the calorie content – it has about 445 calories, 4.5 grams of protein, 48 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbohydrate for every cup.
As we’ve mentioned, the fat contributes to the calorie as well as giving you healthy fat that fights against harmful trans fat and cholesterol. On the other hand, the protein and carbohydrates are quite low.
You can use coconut milk by drinking it plain, using it as an ingredient to make curry recipes, or make them into a smoothie. A revolutionary way to use them is by switching regular milk with coconut milk in different recipes in baking. Not only is it healthier, but it also adds a beautiful nutty flavor to your baked goods that you wouldn’t get with regular milk.
Smoothies are an easy way to pack on the pounds. People who want to lose weight sometimes mistake smoothies as a liquid snack when it truth they’re very calorie dense and is a source of hidden calories .
The best way to consume smoothies is to make your own. That way you can control what goes into your body, and avoid getting unwanted artificial ingredients.
As we’ve suggested before, you can use many different ingredients that are already mentioned in this article, such as avocado, bananas, and berries to make your smoothies for you to gain weight.
You can even incorporate dark chocolate and make it more decadent. The point is to pack in as many ingredients, but also include as many micronutrients as possible – so you won’t be just consuming empty calories.
13. Full Fat Yoghurt
Dairy has long been one of the food products people usually go to when they’re trying to gain more fat or weight. Full fat yogurt is no exception. A full-fat yogurt will provide you with the calorie content needed for you to gain weight steadily.
A flavored yogurt will also add calories, but it’s in the form of added sugar which is not highly recommended – as they mess with the insulin balance in your body and might give you mood swings.
Yogurt is also loaded with healthy microbes that would regulate your bowel movement, and strengthen your immune system. This way you can spend more time exercising and building muscles rather than worrying about your health condition.
They’re also rich in essential protein, the building blocks of muscles, thus adding more into your weight gain journey.
You can consume yogurt on its own, as a dip, as breakfast bowl mixed with trail mix or fresh fruits, and lastly as a base for your smoothy. With its high nutritional content and varied taste, the sky’s the limit when it comes to using yogurt.
14. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is another nutrient-dense fruit that’s high in calories – a serving can give you about 200 calories. This is an issue for those who want to keep their weight down, but for those who are looking to increase their caloric intake it’s good news.
Not only are they rich in calories, but they’re also an excellent source of antioxidants – you won’t just gain weight, you’ll also decrease your inflammation and increase your resistance.
When it comes to chocolate, always opt for dark chocolate, as the milk chocolate has too many sugars and not enough nutrients in them.
You can incorporate dark chocolate in numerous ways, such as grated on your yogurt, like a smoothie topping or ingredients, or just straight as a snack during your afternoon tea.
15. Protein Supplements
Most athletes and bodybuilders take protein supplements as a strategy to gain more weight and ultimately muscles. One of the most common supplements is whey protein; deemed as an easy way to gain weight when combined with strength training.
Although you may be a bit worried about it being unnatural, you shouldn’t. Whey protein is made from dairy and has been scientifically proven to improve health markers and reduces risks of diseases.
It acts just like a regular animal-based protein would, and contains all the essential amino acids to stimulate muscle growth. It could also be said that it becomes more critical if you’re increasing your training time, as it acts as a fuel for your muscle to feed on.
Remember that supplements are not necessary to build muscle. Good nutrition and training do.
16. Healthy Cereals
Cereals are easy, ready to eat meals. Nothing is more natural than grabbing a carton of cereals for your late night cravings or morning meal.
Generally, cereals are rich in carbohydrates and micronutrients, thus adding your calories and ultimately makes you gain weight.
The addition of milk in your cereal consumption also can help you maximize their effect. Throw in some fruits and nuts into your cereal bowl so that it becomes even a healthier and more balanced breakfast.
17. Cereal Bars
We’ve mentioned cereals, so it makes sense that cereal bars would also pose the same effect. These are handy when you need a snack on-the-go, or you don’t have much time to sit down and have a bowl.
In place of milk, most cereal bars use yogurt as a binding agent to form the bars – adding more to the calorie and protein count. Look for those that have added fruits and nuts, so that you can make the most of your cereal bars.
Cheese is another form of dairy that you can incorporate into your diet when you’re trying to gain weight. Aside from being a vital source of calcium, cheese has a high-calorie content. For example, an ounce of goat cheese has about 128 calories.
Go for full-fat cheeses to get the full effect, and combine them with more calorie dense foods that you can find on this list. It’s a good way to clock in your calories, and the calcium will help strengthen your bone and muscle growth.
Eating rice is another convenient and comparably low-cost source to help you gain more weight. Rice is widely available in many shapes and forms as well. Red rice and black rice are the best options.
You can have a two-minute pack microwavable rice or the fresh grains that you buy in bulk.
Aside from having them plain or as a side dish/carb source for your meal, making them a stand-alone dish by adding proteins and healthy fats. You can search for recipes online for wild rice or bean and rice.
Rice is considered healthy with just one cup having 204 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates and very little fat. It’s calorie dense, and you can get a high amount of calories by a single serving. Not to mention you’ll get protein and healthy fat too if you add more ingredients as we suggested.
Pasta is well known as being calorie dense, as they’re made of carbohydrates. The carbohydrate makes pasta the perfect meal to have when you’re working out as they provide energy that is readily available for your body in a short time.
You can combine pasta with delicious sauces, either creamy and milk based or tomato-based sauce. Top them off with a healthy amount of herbs and animal protein to make a well-balanced meal.
21. Fruit Juices
This is another way to drink your calories. And as we’ve established, drinking your calories will add up more easily than traditionally eating them.
Fruit juices are highly nutritional and packed with fruits. Some nutritionists even suggested people who want to lose weight to stay off juice cleanses. Because although they’re very nutritious and healthy, the number of calories you’re consuming is drastically higher.
That’s why it’s perfect if you want to gain weight. Fruit juices are rich in micronutrients and carbohydrates, both essential for your body to thrive and grow. Moreover, it comes in lots of variants and can be adjusted according to your taste.
22. Red Wine
Although it seems counterintuitive to drink alcohol to be healthy, red wines are found to have a beneficial effect on your body when consumed moderately; like how it was found in Mediterranean diets.
Red wine itself is an alcoholic drink and has a moderate calorie content. Aside from that, it’s also rich in antioxidants – allowing your body to heal faster and reduce inflammations.
The ideal consumption is no more than a glass a day, so don’t go overboard or you’ll risk having an adverse reaction.
Keep in mind though that alcohol is dangerous and it does more harm than good to most of its consumers. So don’t start drinking to enhance your health.
Here’s another shocker that you’d think wouldn’t belong to this list. But sushi is quite dense in calories because they are packed with protein, fats, and carbohydrate.
Rice is already mentioned in this list, and it’s an important and most prominent component of sushi. The fish also contribute protein content of sushi – aiding your muscle development.
Opt for a healthier version of sushi, and get the ones with fresh rice and fish instead of sushi with deeply fried toppings and creamy sauces.
24. Tofu and Tempe
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, incorporating tofu and tempeh into your diet is a good way for you to increase your protein intake. It’s important for your grow and keep your muscle, and protein is what will help you to do it. Moreover, it has a healthy dose of calcium and iron – something that otherwise you can only get from animal protein.
Just remember also to consume a healthy amount of vitamin C, because the iron in the plant can only be absorbed when you have vitamin C in your body. That way, the iron can help your muscle to absorb readily available energy and allows you to train longer.
Just like fruit juices and smoothies, soups are a way for you to consume more calories easily. Compared to consuming solid food, it’s a lot easier for you to add more volume in terms of consumption.
You can make your soup by incorporating the ingredients that are already mentioned in this article; such as starchy vegetables or dairy products. So not only are you getting your calories, but you will also get the nutrients they have.
Top them off with some whole grain bread to pack in more carbs, and don’t forget to add in herbs and spices for a tastier, healthier soup.
Not many people know this, but olives can be considered as one of the superfoods that helps you get healthy and obtain ideal weight.
Not only are olives high in healthy fats, but they’re also a great source of antioxidant. Those factors make olives the perfect snack that you can munch on as you train your way into gaining more muscles.
The healthy fats keep your calorie counts and energy high, whilst the antioxidant minimize the inflammation caused by training – shortening your recovery time.
You can consume olives on their own as snacks, or as a topping and ingredients to your salads or sandwiches.
27. Soy Protein Powder
Soy protein is a great way for you to include in your diet to help you gain muscle weight. Not only are they rich in protein, but they are also a good source of calories.
Soy Protein Powder is a great way to get more soy proteins, and you can use them as a non-dairy option which makes them vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
One way to do it is to make soy protein drinks. Make them on their own as a shake, or blend them with milk and yogurt to make a creamier smoothie. Incorporate bananas and peanut butter to take it a step further.
28. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are important sources of healthy oils, one of the most prominent and well known is omega-3 fatty acids.
Aside from helping you gain weight and build muscle, omega-3 fatty acids reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome. One of them is avoiding central obesity – or belly fat. This means that not only does it help you gain the weight you need, it also helps you to put it where you need them.
Another health benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is promoting bone and joint health. This way, when you exercise, you can minimize the risks of injury and have a shorter recovery time; allowing you to fit in more activities.
Just 170 grams or a medium sized fillet of salmon can provide around 350 calories, 4 grams of omega-3 fats and 34 grams of high-quality protein. These components make for a great fuel to build muscle and gain weight the healthy way.
Possibly everyone knows that chicken breast is one of the go-to meat cut when you’re trying to gain weight or muscle mass healthily.
That’s because chicken is high in animal protein, and including them into your diet aids muscle formation and weight gain. Have them grilled, topped with healthy olive oil. Then add them into your rice meal, salads or soups. It’s a versatile meat that goes with almost anything.
30. Ground Turkey
Just like chicken, ground turkey has similar benefits for your health. It’s packed of lean protein and is a versatile meat that you can incorporate easily into your diet.
Aside from making them into stuffings, you can also use ground turkey as a base for your burger patties; grill them with olive oils and stuff them in between whole grain bread. That way, you get the most out of your nutrients in one serving.
Nowadays, most bodybuilders rely on chicken breast and beef to increase to gain muscle mass.
The protein content in beef is the best explanation for muscle gain. Other nutrients such as selenium and iron in beef also aid the muscle to readily absorb energy from carbohydrates and fats – allowing bodybuilders (and you) to train harder and longer.
The key is to pick the right cut and make sure it’s properly cooked. Always go for lean meat and high protein rather than the ones laid with fat – so that you can maximize its health benefits.
Looking at the list of foods we’ve just mentioned, it’s safe to say that it’s quite easy for you to gain weight the healthy way. Because the basic math of weight gain is to watch your calorie intake and expenditure.
But it’s essential for you to look at all those food holistically – not just to gain calories but to also have the beneficial nutrients in them. Because those nutrients also aid your energy absorption and recovery time.
Moreover, we must remind you that aside from monitoring your food consumption, you should incorporate a healthy dose of exercise to gain weight steadily and build muscle. One of the ways is to do some resistance training.
You should aim at gaining no more than 1 kg or 2 pounds per month the first year as a man, and 0.5 kg or 1 pound per month as a woman. Then half that the second year – which is 0.5kg or 1 pound per month as a man or 0.25kg or 0.5 pounds as a woman. This way you know that you’re gaining muscle instead of just fat.
Always remember that moderation and patience are key.