Are you underweight and in dire need to pick up the weight for your health? Eating nutrient-dense food can help you gain weight as long as you dealt with the things that led to weight-loss in the first place.
This topic will look at some measurements used to determine weight as well as give you understanding on why people lose weight to become underweight. And we complete by giving you 18 best healthy foods to gain weight fast.
The Nutritionist tips before reading our foods list
The majority of people go to great length to lose weight, there is still a few people who struggle to keep the normal weight. Some people seem to remain underweight regardless of the nutrient-dense food they consume.
However, simply adding certain foods to your diet can make your weight gain efforts both healthy and more effective. It is important to stick to these healthier foods so as to build muscle and not fat as adding fat could lead to many health problems;
Adding protein food to your diet is one of the quickest way to gain weight, especially the animal proteins. The trick is to eat more than the recommended per day required proteins.
=> Also check our high protein foods list
Moreover, eating the plant-protein could be beneficial when you are trying to gain weight. Therefore, focus on eating both animal and plant proteins as these will give your body more essential amino acids and other nutrients.
1 – Red Meats
One of the best muscle-building foods is red meat as it is leucine-rich, the amino acid which is key for muscle protein synthesis stimulation and thus enhance muscle growth. It I said that 3 grams is found in a 170 gram of steak..
Even more, red meat is a great and natural source of creatine, the muscle-building supplement widely used worldwide. For better and quick results, choose fattier cuts, they have more calories than leaner meats which will catapult you to your goal of gaining weight fast.
One study showed that 100 women who ate about 170 grams (6 ounces) and coupled it with vigorous resistance exercise for a week were found to have increased IGF-1 Hormone known to build muscle as well as increased their strength by over 18 % respectively.
2 – Poultry
Contrary to what weight-busters do, you should eat your poultry with skin as the skin has more calories as they have natural fat. However, it will still need to be cooked in a healthy way, without deep frying it in a pool of trans-fat oil. Rather boil or roast it as these methods do not change the poultry value.
Moreover, chicken and other poultry foods contain other essential vitamins and minerals like; phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and B-complex vitamins. Chicken can be combined with many starchy foods to make a calorie-dense meal like; rice, potatoes, and bread.
3 – Salmon and Oily Fish
These are protein- rich foods with a lot of healthy fats good for your health. These are also containing significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which are good fats with protective effects from diseases among other health benefits.
Moreover, a 6-ounce (170-gram) fillet of salmon can provide over 4 grams of omega-3 fats, about 34 grams of high-quality protein, and 350 calories which could assist you in gaining weight and building your muscles.
4 – Cheese
These are very good, tasty, and calorie-high foods that have been eaten by most people worldwide for centuries. Cheese is full of protein, especially if consumed in large amounts which assist in building muscle. The types of cheese that could be added are;
- Cream cheese
Moreover, cheese could essentially add flavor and taste to many snacks, and as such it is eaten with many to food items to bring the mouth-watering taste to food like;
- nuts and seeds
- dried fruits
- raw vegetable snacks
5 – Whole Eggs
If you want to see great results when eating eggs, you might want to consider eating whole eggs, as the egg yolk are rich with essential nutrients. This is because eggs provide you with both high-quality proteins and healthy fats that is guaranteed to help you gain weight.
Most body-builders eat more eggs as they understand their role in assisting with muscle building. As such, eating eggs on a daily basis is both healthy and good for building your muscle which is a great way of pilling on weight in a healthier way.
6 – Milk
This is also a very good source of protein, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals for muscle building. And for over decades, milk has been used to assist with weight gain.
Moreover, milk provides both casein and whey protein known as the high quality of cow’s protein containing all essential amino acids. Studies have shown that the combination of both casein and why protein lead to greater mass gain than any other protein.
7 – Full-Fat Yogurt
Yoghurt is a healthy snack with high amounts of protein, carbs and fat, especially the full-fat yoghurt. These are greatly used in most nutrient-dense healthy snacks;
Yogurt and fruit
- yogurt (1-2 cups)
- fresh or dried fruit.
- nuts, seeds,
- granola or
- coconut flakes.
- These could be mixed together and enjoy.
Chocolate peanut butter pudding
- yogurt (1-2 cups)
- 100% cocoa powder
- peanut or any nut butter
- sweetener such as stevia
- an option of whey protein
- all these can be combined to bring unique and healthy taste.
- yogurt (1-2 cups)
- mixed berries
- these could be layered together to make nutritious breakfast.
8 – Nuts and Nut Butters
These are calorie-dense and make great snack. Nuts and nut butters can be added to food and snack like smoothies, yoghurts, etc. to increase the calories and add taste to food. You need to be careful and choose those that are not sugar-coated to avoid eating too much sugar.
9 – Soy
This also has all nine essential amino acids for muscle and bone health. the good thing with this protein is that they are rich in poly unsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids which help lower your cholesterol levels.
Soy is a good source of fiber, iron, calcium potassium and many other minerals which boost your immune system and keep you healthy.
10 – Tofu
One of the good protein foods as it contains all nine essential amino acids. This soy bean by product is also rich in iron, calcium and other minerals.
11 – Legumes and grains
Eating legumes with grains as a meal, the two combination form protein. Therefore, mixing your rice with beans is another way of enriching the diet with calories and nutrients. Other items to include;
- Bulgur with beans
- Peanut butter on whole wheat bread
- Nuts and seeds.
12 – Protein Supplements
For many years athletes and bodybuilders have used protein supplements as their major strategy to build muscle and gain weight. These supplements come as whey protein, made from dairy and they are easily accessible and cost-effective. Whey protein work better with strength training.
Regardless of some conflicting conclusion about the safety of whey proteins, several scientific studies backed these supplements and regarded them as good ways to improve health markers and effective in reducing risks of non-communicable diseases.
Again, these supplements contain all the essential amino acids required to stimulate muscle growth just like the red meat proteins. Protein can be used before and after a workout and any time in-between.
13 – Protein Smoothies
Yogurt is added to smoothies of any kind to increase the protein-content while bringing the creamy, milkshake-like thickness.
Protein is a macronutrient essential for building bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood as well as making enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Moreover, the repairing and building of tissues is done by proteins.
Moreover, smoothies that are rich in protein can help speed up your weight gain process. However, it is always best to make your own smoothie where you have control of what goes into it and how much gets in there.
Commercial smoothies are somewhat bad for you due to the high amounts of sugars and other preservatives added which could harm your harm in the long run. Moreover, you get to add more flavors to your smoothie as there is so much food to use for your smoothie.
Here are some few ideas you can swing around to make healthier smoothie. Each of these can be mixed with at least 2 cups of milk or almond milk;
Chocolate banana nut shake;
- Mix 1 banana,
- chocolate whey protein (1 scoop)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of peanut or another nut butter.
- With 2 cups of milk (cows or almond).
Vanilla berry shake
- Fresh or frozen mixed berries (1 cup)
- high-protein natural yogurt (1 cup)
- vanilla whey protein (1 scoop)
- mix all these with 2 cups of milk
Chocolate hazelnut shake
- mix chocolate milk (444 ml),
- chocolate whey protein (1 scoop),
- hazelnut butter 1 tablespoon,
- and avocado (1)
Caramel apple shake
- Mix apple (1 sliced)
- natural yogurt 1 cup,
- whey protein caramel- or vanilla-flavored (1 scoop)
- and of sugar-free caramel sauce or flavoring (1 tablespoon)
Vanilla blueberry shake
- fresh or frozen blueberries (1 cup),
- vanilla whey protein (1 scoop),
- vanilla yogurt un/ sweetener (1 cup).
- Mix these with 2 cups of milk (cows or almond).
Super green shake
- Spinach 1 cup
- 1 avocado, 1 banana,
- pineapple 1 cup
- and unflavored or vanilla whey protein (1 scoop).
These shakes are packed with a lot of nutrients i.e. high proteins and essential vitamins and minerals with each flavor having about 400–600 calories.
Drinking two glasses of full cream milk daily with a balanced diet coupled with some exercises will sure ensure your build up muscles and help you gain weight.
Carbohydrates and starchy foods
Your body use carbohydrates for fuel and energy. These can make you gain weight as eating them in excess cause your body to use all the carbohydrates it needs and store the rest as fat and thus making you gain some weight.
Moreover, carbs are a source of roughage or fiber which is essential for maintaining a healthy bowel. Starchy foods have the most calories of all the carbohydrates foods and they should form the basis of each meal.
14 – Rice
This is one of the nutrient-dense food which gives you 190 calories in just one cup with high amounts of carbs in one serving. Eating rice is so perfect, particularly for people with poor appetite.
Moreover, rice is easily prepared, with the option of the two-minutes packs that are microwavable which you can combine with other protein rich foods. Most people also cook rice in bulk to eat it in one week mixed with other nutritious foods.
However, you need to eat variety of other foods which help you gain weight because overdoing it on eating rice can interfere with the absorption of zinc and iron through arsenic and phytic acid found in extreme amounts of rice.
15 – Whole-Grain Bread
Whole-grain breads are rich in starch and can definitely help you gain weight fast. You could try mixing them with protein sources like eggs, meat and cheese. When buying bread, it is imperative to buy whole-grain which is high I fiber.
Moreover, bread is a one of the major sources of starch which are also rich in glycogen like the potatoes. They can help you build muscle.
16 – Dried Fruit
These are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with high amounts of calories. There are so many fruits to choose from just to widen your snack choices while adding up a lot of calories.
Dried fruits have a higher amounts of sugar which makes them one of the best foods to snack with as they sure will make you gain weight. These are also
highly recommended for people who are recovering from diseases with low appetite as they are nutritious as well as tasty.
There are concerns that dried fruits can lose their nutritive value. A study conducted in Australia to look at the nutritive value of Australian dried fruits showed that fruits keep their nutrients intact through their drying process and they are a great source of micronutrients and fibers.
Moreover, these could be combined with other protein sources like meats or whey protein shake. Dried fruits are commonly eaten with nuts and natural yoghurt to provide protein, healthy fats and other nutrients.
17 – Other Starches
Starchy foods are a good choice as they are generally cost-effective and easily accessible. Moreover, eating starchy foods increase your muscle glycogen stores which enhance weight gain. As such glycogen has become the predominant source of fuel for sports and activities.
There is a lot of food to choose from which are the great source of starch;
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Winter root vegetables
- Beans and legumes
Starchy foods are best sources of fiber which is very good for maintaining your bowel movement and health. Also, eating these foods regularly will help nourish your gut bacteria as these foods are rich in resistant starch.
18 – Healthy Cereals
You need to be careful which cereal you choose as most of the processed cereal are sugar-coated which could be harmful to your health. as such, you need to choose cereals like oatmeal, oats, sorghum as these are also packed with soluble fibers and antioxidants.
To gain weight fast, you should include these starchy and nutritious cereals;
19 – Cereal Bars
Although these can make great snacks due to their slow- and fast-digesting carbs mix, these could totally be bad for you if they are not made from whole grains, nuts and dried fruits. That’s why it is great to check the nutritional information before you buy or indulge in these.
However, can be such a great source of calories ideal for trainers before and after their training sessions to give them the much needed energy boost. Moreover, these make a good combo with other snacks like yogurt, boiled eggs, cold cuts of meat or a protein shake which are a good eats for weight gain.
Healthy Fats and Oils
Of all the nutrients, fats are the most calorie-dense and they are found in most food we eat. However, you need to choose the fat that is healthy to promote healthy living like; the monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fats in order to benefit from fat.
Good to know : You can also intake Omega 3 supplements like Omega XL.
You must avoid trans-fat, always and these are mostly used in the JUNK food which most people regard as comfort foods. These are mostly processed foods like; French fries, cold meats, baked foods, etc.
Moreover, eating healthy fats is protective from cardiovascular disease as they keep your cholesterol at normal levels. There are few foods to include in your diet which are good fats;
10 – Avocados
Avocados are among the healthy foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are very good for your health. for someone aiming to gain fat, eating avocados is a great choice due to its richness in nutrients.
Moreover, like most nutrient-dense foods, avocados; have a lot of calories (322 calories), about 29 grams of fat, fiber (about 17 grams), are high in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Eating these will sure make you gain the healthy fat, and assist you gain weight the healthy way.
Avocados make a good addition to other healthy meals and adding them could help you enjoy your food as well as help you gain weight. These are the other food that goes hand and glove with avocados; omelets, whole wheat bread, eggs, etc.
21 – Olives
These are packed with vitamins and antioxidants and are a good addition to a healthy diet. Olives are used to make one of the healthiest and trusted oils for cooking and adding to salads and other foods.
22 – Dark Chocolate
With dark chocolate you should always think “the darker, the better” with the cocoa content of over 70 % in order to gain all the antioxidants and other nutrients in them. Moreover, a 3-5 ounce (100 gram) of dark chocolate gives you at least 600 calories, which means these are good for helping you gain weight.
Other nutrients that you find in dark chocolate include;
- and antioxidants
Moreover, healthy fats are excellent when added to sauces, and salads as well as your food during cooking due to the calorie-dense properties.
The healthy choices include;
- extra virgin olive oil,
- avocado oil
- and coconut oil.
Weight and health
Acquiring and maintaining a healthy weight is essential for your health. As such it is important to keep a normal weight range rather than being over/underweight as both these can be harmful to your health as it predisposes you to diseases.
There are few anthropometric measurements used to measure your weight. This is because one measurement alone is not sufficient to satisfy few factors playing a role in giving individual their weight. These factors include;
- muscle-fat ratio,
- and body fat distribution,
- or body shape.
As such two or three of the measurements can be used to determine if an individual fall in the healthy range;
Body mass index
This is calculated by taking the weight and dividing it with the person’s squared height. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives a guideline on weight as follows;
- BMI< 18.5 means underweight.
- BMI ranging between 18.5 and 24.9 means normal and healthy.
- BMI ranging between 25 and 29.9 is overweight.
- BMI over 30 indicates obesity. There are classes on this category.
This is another way used to measure your weight. This indicator is very important as having too much upper-body fat (where your vital organs are like heart, kidneys, etc) increase a risk of coronary heart diseases or cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Thus the measurement says;
- Women must have less than 38 inches
- Men must have less than 40 inches
This measure the ratio of your waist and hips to help you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- In male -Less than 0.9:
- In females- Less than 0.8:
There are many other measurements used like the Body fat percentage, Waist-to-height ratio, etc.
Gaining weight is one of the less talked about areas because globally there is a significant increase of obesity which is the leading cause of non-communicable diseases. More importantly, people do not JUST lose weight, there is always a cause.
It is thus important for those who are; not on a strict diet, not exercising, or doing things that potentially reduce your weight to consult if they lose a lot of weight in a short space. These could be an indication of underlying health problems like;
- having an over-active thyroid
- eating unbalanced diet
- having celiac disease
- depression problem
- having pancreatitis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- having cancer
Moreover, there could be many other reasons leading to unexplainable weight-loss and as such, you should see your doctor. These should be the circumstances that could prompt you to wanting to enter a weight-gain diet. A person who already has a normal weight should be aiming to maintain the weight rather than gaining it.
Some people decide to gain weight as a sport or hobby where the inspiration is on carving out their abs to enhance their six pack. These people will use diet and training to ensure their goal of pilling up on muscle is realized.
Diet must play a major role for bodybuilders so they can use other enhancements as supplements to a healthy nutrient-dense food. This is because diets do not come with life-threatening risks like steroids and many other supplements which are available on the market.
Furthermore, muscle is heavier than fat and as such, recent literatures suggest that the BMI can be adjusted (BMI between 25 to 29.9) to cater for the body builders and other trainers provided their waist circumference is within range;
- Women must have less than 38 inches
- Men must have less than 40 inches
Some useful tips to complement your diet
These simple to follow tips will help supplement your diet and ensure that you gain weight. There are several habits that could prevent you from gaining weight which we want you to look out for.
Remember, the body builders can ensure that their high calorie is backed by heavy strength workout regularly for more visible results. Recovering patients should consult before doing exercises. Useful tips;
- Avoid drinking water or fluids before meals as this will make you full and thus reduce the amount of food you eat. Don’t drink water before meals.
- Frequent meals and snack in-between of high calorie food to load up more calories. You culd even eat meals before bed, as your body will not digest the food but just store it as fat.
- Replace drinking water with full-cream milk to quench your thirst. This will add up more calories.
- Use shakes and smoothies as your snack as these are packed with high; protein, carbs and calories.
- Increase your portion size by ensuring that you are also utilizing bigger plates to dish your food. This will ensure you dish more food while encouraging you to eat more food.
- Instead of adding whole milk to your tea or coffee, try adding cream as these has a lot of fat and calorie.
- Get enough rest, especially a recovering patient to allow your body to heal and muscle growth.
- Be patient with yourself, gaining weight should be a gradual process to allow your body to deal with the new change.
- In your well-balanced diet, rather start with the nutrient-dense foods first to avoid getting full before eating those.
- Those who smoke may need to stop it as smoking is associated with weight loss and that could prevent you from gaining weight. In fact, quitting to smoke can potentially lead to weight gainConclusion
Since gaining weight is all about over-loading your body with calories, it is important to know when to stop so you don’t become overweight in the process.
Also, the underlying (health issues) causes that led to losing weight must be attended to in order to gain the lost weight and be able to maintain the new weight gained.
And for the bodybuilders, they still need to make sure that their body building falls within the acceptable BMI and waist circumference.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can skinny people gain weight fast?
There are many ways, but the most recommended is to eat more often – 4 to 6 meals a day instead of the standard 3. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein for every meal is also advised.
Which fruit is good for weight gain?
Dried fruits are very good for weight gain. Dates, raisins and any generally dried fruit will be best in giving you calories to gain weight.