Nutrition to Gain Weight When Exercising
You need to eat enough calories, make sure you’re receiving the right nutrients, and stick to your workout routine if you want to gain weight the healthy way while working out. If you want to bulk up via exercise and healthy eating, consider these recommendations.
- Determine how many calories you need to consume each day: Use a calorie calculator to get a rough idea of how much food you need to eat to maintain your current weight. To gain weight, increase this amount by 500 to 1000 calories each day. Eat more lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains rather than processed meals. Add in some fiber-rich fruits and veggies, too.
- Eat frequently: Instead of three main meals daily, try eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. This will help revive your metabolism and offer your body a steady supply of nutrients.
- Add healthy fats to your diet: To boost the calories, you take in via your food, include healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
- Intake of protein: Protein helps grow and repair muscles. Consume 1.2–1.5 grammes of protein per kilogramme daily.
- Intake of carbs: Carbohydrates fuel exercise. Consume whole grains, fruits, and veggies for energy.
- Hydrate Body: Hydration requires drinking lots of water before, during, and after exercise.
- Resistance training: Muscle gain requires resistance training.
- Maintain consistency: Improve your diet and exercise consistently to gain weight. Stick to your workout and nutrition plan for results.
Remember that healthy weight gain takes time. Before changing your diet or exercise routine, consult a dietician or other healthcare professional.
The 18 Healthiest Meals That Can Help You Gain Weight the Most Quickly
Plant and animal protein, healthy fats and oils, carbohydrates, and full-fat dairy are the finest weight-gaining foods. Your diet depends on your weight and health objectives.
It may be just as challenging for some individuals to put on muscle or weight as it is for others to reduce their overall body fat percentage.
But, by simply including more items in your diet, you may make your attempts to gain weight more successful while also improving your overall health.
Here is a list of 18 of the most wholesome meals that may assist you in gaining weight or muscle in a manner that is not unhealthy.
1.Homemade protein smoothies
Homemade protein smoothies are healthful and fast weight gainers.
Because commercial smoothies are sugary and nutrient-deficient, making your own is ideal. It lets you regulate taste and nutrients.
Here are a few great options. If lactose intolerant, mix each with 2 cups (470 mL) of dairy or soy milk. Both contain more minerals and calories than alternative kinds of milk.
- Chocolate banana nut shake: Blend one banana, one scoop of chocolate whey protein, and one tablespoon (15 mL) of peanut butter.
- Vanilla berry shake: Mix 1 cup (237 mL) of fresh or frozen mixed berries, ice, high-protein, full-fat Greek yogurt, and 1 scoop of whey protein.
- Chocolate hazelnut shake: Mix 15 ounces (444 mL) of chocolate milk, one scoop of chocolate whey protein, one tablespoon (15 mL) of hazelnut butter, and one avocado.
- Caramel apple shake: Mix one sliced apple, 1 cup (237 mL) of full-fat Greek yogurt, one scoop of caramel- or vanilla-flavored whey protein, and one tablespoon (15 mL) of sugar-free caramel sauce.
- Vanilla blueberry shake: Mix 1 cup (237 mL) of fresh or frozen blueberries, one scoop of vanilla whey protein, 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt, and sweetener if desired.
- Supergreen shake: 1 cup (237 mL) of spinach, one avocado, one banana, 1 cup (237 mL) of pineapple, and one scoop of unflavored or vanilla whey protein.
These smoothies have 400–600 calories, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Milk has been used to grow weight and muscle for decades.
It contains calcium, vitamins, minerals, and a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats (2Trusted Source).
Milk’s casein and whey proteins help build muscle. According to research, it may even build muscle when mixed with weightlifting (3).
Milk, or whey and casein, may also increase bulk growth more than other protein sources (4).
If you’re exercising, drink one or two cups of whole milk (149 calories per cup) as a snack, with a meal, or before and after (5Trusted Source).
Milk smoothies are another tasty way to consume milk. Blend 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of whole milk, two teaspoons of honey, and one teaspoon of vanilla for a quick morning protein boost (about 275 calories).
Gain weight using rice, a cheap carb source. White rice has 204 calories, 44 grams of carbohydrates, and minimal fat per cup (158 grams) (6Trusted Source).
Rice also has a lot of carbohydrates and calories per serving. If you have a small appetite or fill up fast, this helps you eat more.
2-minute microwavable rice packets may be added to protein sources and prepackaged meals when you’re in a hurry.
Another way is to make a big batch of rice, chill or freeze it, and then mix it with various proteins and healthy fats for meals throughout the week.
Rice may be made delicious in numerous ways. Stirring in these things after cooking rice adds flavor, calories, and protein:
- Butter, Parmesan
- Broccoli and cheese
- Scrambled eggs
- Toasted sesame, peanut, or cashews
Curry, pesto, or alfredo sauces on rice add flavor and calories. If time is short, you may purchase these pre-made sauces.
Rice can make a meal. Wild rice and chicken kale make a healthful lunch (400 calories per serving).
This baked vegetable-tofu “fried” rice is a healthier alternative to Chinese takeout fried rice.
4. Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts and nut kinds of butter are great weight gainers.
One small handful of raw almonds (1/4 cup) has 170 calories, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of good fats (7Trusted Source).
Only two handfuls of nuts every day might contribute hundreds of calories.
Nut butter may quickly convert smoothies, yogurts, and crackers into high-calorie snacks.
This three-ingredient peanut butter banana smoothie is a fast energy boost (270 calories, using whole milk). Use another nut butter for peanut allergies.
Use 100% nut kinds of butter without sugar or oils. Make almond butter using this recipe. It’s simple and cheap.
5. Red Meats
Red meats may be the finest muscle-building meal.
Steak has 5 grams of leucine per 6 ounces (170 grams).
Leucine is essential to muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth (8Trusted Source, 9). It has 456 calories and roughly 49 grams of protein.
Red meats are also a good source of dietary creatine, which may be the finest muscle-building supplement (10).
Choose fattier cuts to consume more calories and gain weight.
In one research, 100 older women ate 6 ounces (170 grams) of red meat and did weight exercises six days a week for six weeks.
The ladies increased lean mass, strength, and IGF-1 (11Trusted Source).
Both lean and fatty foods include protein, but fatty meat has more calories, which might increase your weight. Brisket is a popular beef meal.
Slow cookers make brisket cooking faster.
Prepare this brisket dish for a healthy supper with 300 calories per 3-ounce (85 grams) portion in the morning.
6. Potatoes and starches
Potatoes and other starchy meals provide calories quickly and cheaply.
Choose a nutritious starchy carb:
- quinoa \soats
- corn buckwheat sweet potatoes
- winter roots
- Potatoes and other carbohydrates boost muscle glycogen and carbs to help you gain weight.
Most sports run on glycogen (12).
These carb sources contain nutrition, fiber, and resistant starch to sustain gut microbes (13Trusted Source).
Sweet potato toast is a popular Instagram trend. Prep takes minutes. After washing, drying, and thinly slicing a medium sweet potato, toast it in a toaster or oven.
Add your favorite toppings. Apply mashed avocado and a fried egg (300 calories per serving): a fantastic breakfast or post-workout snack.
Quinoa is a seed cooked like a grain. It may be eaten alone, added to soups, or ground into flour for bread, beverages, and porridge.
Quinoa is a complete protein that includes all nine essential amino acids. Protein, minerals, and B vitamins are abundant.
This healthy lunch dish for quinoa and roasted sweet potato bowls contains sweet potatoes and quinoa (336 calories per serving).
Additional methods to add calories to complex carbs:
- potato-sour cream
- grating cheese over quinoa or potatoes
- roasted veggies with olive or avocado oil and olive slices
- adding hummus to whole grain toast or crackers
- substituting dairy or soy milk for water in oatmeal or other hot cereals
7. Salmon and oily fish
Salmon and oily fish are an excellent protein and healthy fats sources, just like red meat.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most essential and well-known nutrients that salmon and oily fish give us.
They suit your health and help fight diseases (14Trusted Source).
One 6-ounce (or 170-gram) fillet of wild sockeye salmon without bones has about 250 calories and 12 grams of good fats. The same serving has 37 grams of high-quality protein, which can help you gain weight or build muscle (15Trusted Source).
Salmon can be steamed, sautéed, smoked, grilled, baked, or poached, among other ways. You can also try smoked salmon or sushi and sashimi, which are dishes made with raw salmon.
Fresh or frozen salmon is often slightly more expensive, but canned salmon is fast and cheap. Almost all canned salmon comes from the wild, not farms, which is very healthy.
Think about adding salmon to your diet in these easy and healthy ways:
- Use canned salmon instead of tuna in your usual “tuna” salad for a change of pace.
- Make a Cobb salad, but use canned salmon instead of chicken. Add bacon, hard-boiled egg, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Try some smoked salmon. Spread cream cheese on whole-grain bread or crackers, top with smoked salmon, cucumber, tomato slices, or capers, and eat.
- You can make a salmon salad with leafy greens, asparagus, mayonnaise, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt with total fat.
8. Protein supplements
Protein supplements help sportsmen and bodybuilders gain weight. Proteins include whey, soy, egg, and pea.
Whey protein and mass gainers may help you gain weight quickly and cheaply when combined with strength exercise (16).
Whey protein isn’t unhealthy or unnatural, as some believe. Milk-derived whey protein improves health and reduces illness risk (17).
Working out may need additional protein supplements.
Whey protein, like meat and other animal products, has all the required amino acids for muscle growth (18Trusted Source).
Before, after, or whenever.
Breakfast protein smoothies are the simplest method to incorporate protein powder. You have the remainder of the day to consume balanced meals and snacks for proper nutrition.
Homemade smoothies are usually healthier than store-bought ones, which may include sugar and flavourings.
Try this simple whey smoothie recipe for a high-energy breakfast. For additional protein, add peanut butter, almond butter, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.
Unflavored whey protein adds protein to soups, mashed potatoes, and porridge.
9. Dried fruit
Dried fruit is a snack that is high in calories and has antioxidants and micronutrients (19).
There are many kinds of dried fruit, and they all naturally have a lot of sugar in them. This makes them great for gaining weight, especially since they are easy to eat and taste.
People often think dried fruits lose most nutrients, but this isn’t true. Dried fruits still have most of their vitamins and minerals and have a lot of fiber (20Trusted Source).
Try mixing dried fruit with something that has protein in it, like meat, cheese, or a whey protein shake. They also go well with nuts and plain full-fat Greek yogurt, which mixes healthy fats, protein, and other essential nutrients.
Dates are healthy and full of fiber. They also have a lot of antioxidants. They are also easy to make and can be used as a high-calorie snack in many ways. About 130 calories can be found in just two Medjool dates (21Trusted Source).
Put nut butter, cream cheese, or cooked grains like rice or quinoa inside the dates. Add one or two dates to smoothies, sauces, and dressings for a touch of sweetness.
10. Whole grain bread
Whole-grain bread is another good source of carbs that will help you gain weight.
Bread and protein sources like eggs, meat, and cheese can make simple, high-calorie, and well-balanced meals.
Try to buy natural pieces of bread with whole grains and seeds when you buy bread. Most grocery stores sell healthier versions, like Ezekiel bread.
Sandwiches are one of the most accessible, flexible, and easy-to-carry meals to help you gain weight. You can put almost anything in them, like meat, cheese, vegetables, nut butter spreads, avocado, and more.
Try one of these recipes for sandwiches. You can get anything from a simple Reuben sandwich to a healthy wrap or a creative take on the classic grilled cheese.
During the pandemic, sourdough bread has become more popular, and for a good reason. It is one of the most healthy and filling types of bread.
Many people are learning how to make sourdough starters during the pandemic. You only need flour, water, and salt to make sourdough bread. About 160 calories are in a slice that weighs 2 ounces (56 g).
Sourdough has live, good bacteria that feed the bacteria in your gut, which can boost your immune system (22Trusted Source).
Avocados are full of fats that are good for you.
Avocados have more calories than most whole fruits, so they are a great food to eat if you want to gain weight.
About 322 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 14 grams of fiber can be found in one large avocado (23Trusted Source).
Avocados also have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds that are good for you.
Try putting avocados in your main dishes or other foods, like omelets or sandwiches.
Avocado toast is one of the most popular and easy ways to eat avocado. Just mash up an avocado and spread it on your toast. It’s that simple.
The versatile avocado can also be enjoyed in the following ways:
- as a topping
- as a mayonnaise substitute
12. Healthy cereals
Cereals that are good for you can be a great way to get carbs, calories, and nutrients.
It would help if you stayed away from processed, high-sugar cereals, but oatmeal cooked with whole milk is a great way to get carbs into your diet.
A 1-cup serving of cooked oatmeal has about 130 calories, plus the calories in any whole milk or toppings you add (24Trusted Source).
Think about putting the following on top of your hot oats, overnight oats, or full-fat Greek yogurt:
- dried fruit
- chia seeds
- fresh berries
- homemade granola
Cereals and oats from grains also have healthy nutrients like fiber and antioxidants (25).
When buying cereal, pay attention to these healthy options:
- Ezekiel brand
Make sure to read the label and stay away from cereals that have too much sugar added. If you can, choose those with the most fiber.
Granola is a mix of cereals, dried fruits, and nuts high in calories. It has a lot of fiber, protein, and micronutrients. Between 200 and 300 calories can be found in just a half cup of granola.
Try making your own if you want to avoid the added sugars in some store-bought granola.
13. Cereal bars
These healthy cereal bars are excellent high-calorie snacks on the run. Most bars have 150–200 calories.
They include slow- and fast-digesting carbohydrates, so they’re beneficial before or after the workout.
Combine a cereal bar with full-fat Greek yogurt, boiled eggs, cold pieces of meat, or a protein shake for a quick snack or dinner.
Some cereal bars feature sugar, oils, salt, and preservatives, while others are healthier. Make bars yourself. It’s simpler than you think.
Make cereal bars using these recipes. Your cupboard may already have the few things you need.
If you don’t cook, you can buy nutritious cereal bars. Stick to bars with whole grains and healthful components like dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.
14. Dark chocolate
High-quality dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants.
Dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao helps control stress hormones and blood sugar.
It may also lower heart disease, certain malignancies, inflammation, stress, and type 2 diabetes. (26).
Dark chocolate, like other high-fat meals, is rich in calories.
Each 100-gram (3.5-ounce) bar with 60–75% cacao solids offers 600 calories filled with fiber, magnesium, and antioxidants (27Trusted Source).
Dark chocolate may be eaten in numerous ways.
Decorate your morning porridge, add a few curls to a fruit platter, or prepare hot drinking chocolate like the Parisians do.
Energy bites, no-guilt chocolate truffles, and chocolate peanut butter avocado pudding are healthy chocolate sweets.
Several varieties of dark chocolate fill supermarket aisles. Choose a good one with 70% cacao.
This guide offers professional purchasing advice.
Cheese has always been a mainstay.
It’s fattening like dark chocolate. One 28-gram ounce of cheddar cheese includes 110 calories and 7 grams of protein (28Trusted Source). One ounce is less than you believe. Dice-sized.
Cheese tastes good and adds several hundred calories to most foods.
Creamed, soft, and hard cheeses are offered. Find your favorite healthy cheeses on this list.
Many kinds of cheese contain saturated fat and cholesterol. Cheese should be eaten moderately, like most high-calorie foods.
Mac and cheese are famous. Even without an appetite, it goes down quickly. This healthy mac and cheese recipe is a classic.
Lastly, the grilled cheese sandwich. Who can occasionally resist our childhood favorite of whole-grain bread or English muffins?
16. Whole eggs
Eggs are among the best muscle-building foods. They provide high-quality proteins and healthy fats. A 2-ounce raw egg with shell (50 grams) provides 74 calories (29Trusted Source).
Eating the entire egg is crucial. Egg yolks contain most of their nutrients.
Unless you’re allergic to eggs, you may eat three eggs daily.
Many sportspeople and bodybuilders eat six every day.
Boiled, poached, fried, baked, and scrambled eggs are diverse.
Use them in:
- baked egg muffins
- bread substitutes
- desserts like egg custard and créme brûlée (in moderation, of course)
Omelets are a favorite anytime. Add meats, vegetables, cheese, sour cream, and avocado for a high-calorie feast.
Try these egg breakfast dishes for lunch or supper.
17. Full fat yogurt
Full-fat Greek yogurt is another healthful, portable snack. Its protein, carb, and fat content is well-balanced.
Before you add all your wonderful combinations and toppings, a 6-ounce serving of plain, whole-milk yogurt has 165 calories and 15 grams of protein (30Trusted Source).
Yogurt-based weight-gain and high-calorie snacks are plentiful. Some:
- 1–2 cups yogurt with fresh or dried fruit. Add nuts, seeds, honey, oats, dark chocolate, or coconut flakes.
- Chocolate peanut butter pudding: Combine 1–2 cups of yogurt, 100% cocoa powder, peanut or nut butter, and a sweetener like a stevia, honey, or sugar. Whey adds protein.
- Yogurt parfait: Layer 1–2 cups of yogurt with granola and mixed berries for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
- Smoothies: Full-fat Greek yogurt adds protein and a milkshake-like texture to most smoothies.
Whole-milk Greek yogurt has more calories, less sugar, and roughly double the protein of regular yogurt (31Trusted Source). Straining thickens Greek yogurt. This makes it a tasty snack or topper.
Selecting the finest yogurt at the grocery store is difficult. Avoid sugar, thickeners, and preservatives by reading the label.
These are purchasing tips.
18. Healthy fats and oils
Good fats and oils are calorie-dense (32Trusted Source).
Add 120 calories to sauces, salads, and cooking by adding one tablespoon (15 mL) of olive oil (33Trusted Source).
- extra virgin olive oil
- avocado oil
- coconut oil
Butter coffee is a modern method to consume healthful fats. Mix coconut oil and unsalted butter into a frothy latte from boiled coffee.