Foods to Gain Weight: A Healthy Approach

Mehak Shah

November 3, 2023

In a world where discussions often revolve around losing weight and achieving a lean physique, it’s important to remember that maintaining a healthy weight is a goal for many individuals. While some people aim to shed extra pounds, others may find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum, struggling to gain weight healthily. 

For those seeking to increase their body weight, understanding the right foods and nutritional strategies is crucial. This article will explore the foods that can help you gain weight while prioritising your overall well-being. We’ll delve into the nutritional advantages of these foods, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into your diet, ensuring you achieve your weight goals the healthy way.

Food Groups for Healthy Weight Gain

Healthy weight gain involves a well-rounded approach that incorporates various food groups to provide essential nutrients and promote overall well-being. To achieve this goal, it’s important to focus on four essential food groups: Carbohydrates, Protein, Dairy, and Healthy Fats.


Carbohydrates serve as a primary source of energy for your body. While some may associate carbs with weight loss, they are an essential part of a healthy weight gain strategy. Complex carbohydrates, found in foods like whole grains, brown rice, and sweet potatoes, provide sustained energy throughout the day. They also help you maintain a calorie surplus, a crucial aspect of gaining weight.


Protein is the building block of muscle, making it a vital component of your diet when aiming to gain weight. It supports muscle growth and repair, ensuring that your weight gain includes lean muscle mass. Foods rich in protein, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and plant-based sources like beans and tofu, should be a fundamental part of your diet.


Dairy products are calorie-dense and offer a combination of protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients like calcium. Whole milk, yoghurt, and cheese can contribute to your daily calorie intake while providing nutrients that support overall health. Including dairy in your diet can help you achieve your weight gain goals while ensuring you meet your nutritional needs.

Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats, often referred to as healthy fats, are a valuable addition to your diet when aiming to gain weight healthily. These fats, found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, are calorie-dense and can help increase your daily calorie intake. Additionally, they support heart health and provide a sense of fullness, making them a balanced choice for your weight gain journey.


Healthy weight gain involves a balanced approach with four key food groups: Carbohydrates, Protein, Dairy, and Healthy Fats. Carbs offer energy and a calorie surplus, which is essential for weight gain. Protein aids muscle growth and repair, ensuring a gain of lean muscle mass. Dairy products, calorie-dense and nutrient-rich, support overall health while contributing to calorie goals. Healthy fats, found in foods like avocados and nuts, boost calorie intake, promote heart health, and provide a sense of fullness, making them a wise choice for healthy weight gain.

15 Healthy Foods to Gain Weight

When considering a healthier weight, selecting the right foods is essential. Besides helping gain weight, these foods can promote overall well-being. Let us explore a range of foods that are not only calorie-dense but also packed with nutrients that your body needs.

1. Rice

Rice is a staple food that plays a crucial role in healthy weight gain. It’s particularly high in carbohydrates, with uncooked brown rice containing about 76.7 grams of carbs in a 100-gram serving. While many associate carbohydrates with weight loss, they are equally vital for gaining weight healthily. Complex carbohydrates, like those found in whole grains, brown rice, and sweet potatoes, provide your body with sustained energy throughout the day. Furthermore, they help you maintain a calorie surplus, a fundamental aspect of achieving weight gain.

Rice is versatile, and you can pair it with various protein sources like meat or beans, allowing you to increase both protein and calorie consumption. Incorporating rice into your diet is a practical and nutritious way to support your healthy weight gain journey.

2. Whole Grain Bread

Whole-grain bread is another valuable addition to your diet when aiming for healthy weight gain. It contains complex carbohydrates and more protein compared to its white bread counterpart. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy, helping you maintain a calorie surplus essential for gaining weight.

One of the advantages of whole-grain bread is its versatility. You can enhance its caloric value by topping it with protein-rich foods like nut butter or avocado. Creating sandwiches with nutrient-dense ingredients is another smart way to incorporate whole-grain bread into your diet. Whether as toast for breakfast or the foundation of a satisfying sandwich, whole grain bread supports your journey towards healthy weight gain.

3. Whole Grain Cereals

Whole grain cereals, including oats, wheat, barley, and rice, are excellent choices for those looking to gain weight healthily. One can purchase these grains individually and mix them at home to serve with milk or yoghurt, or you can opt for premixed cereals or cereal bars.

These cereals are rich in complex carbohydrates and provide a sustained release of energy throughout the day. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall well-being. However, it’s important to read labels carefully, as some cereals may have significant amounts of added sugar. Choose whole grain cereals with minimal added sugar to ensure you’re making a nutritious choice.

4. Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are a natural way to increase the calorie content of your meals while adding a touch of sweetness. They contain fructose, a natural sugar found in fruit, making them a healthier alternative to refined sugars. Dried fruits can be a versatile addition to your diet.

For instance, you can sweeten your cereals or oatmeal with dates, mix dried apricots into yoghurt, or blend dried fruits into a nutrient-packed smoothie. Moreover, dried fruits can enhance the flavour and nutritional value of salads and various cooked dishes. By incorporating dried fruits into your diet, you not only boost your calorie intake but also benefit from the array of vitamins and minerals they provide.

5. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, derived from cocoa beans, is a delightful and nutritious addition to your quest for healthy weight gain. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate usually contains less sugar and a higher cocoa content, making it a source of valuable antioxidants.

Dark chocolate not only enhances the taste of your dishes but also contributes to your calorie intake. You can easily add extra flavour and calories to your meals by topping them with cacao powder or nibs. Keep in mind that products with a higher cacao content offer more health benefits, making them a delicious and nutritious choice for those aiming to gain weight healthily.

6. Other Starches

Several other starchy options can assist you in your journey to gain weight healthily. Starchy foods are rich in glucose, which your body stores as glycogen, a crucial source of energy during physical activities.

Potatoes, pasta, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, and legumes such as beans and chickpeas are excellent sources of carbohydrates. These foods provide energy and offer essential nutrients and dietary fibre. Including a variety of starchy foods in your diet can help you maintain a healthy calorie surplus while ensuring you meet your nutritional requirements.

7. Salmon

Salmon is a versatile and nutritious food choice that supports healthy weight gain. It is a source of both protein and healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which are renowned for their role in promoting brain and eye health.

The protein content in salmon aids in muscle growth and repair, ensuring that your weight gain comes along with lean muscle mass. Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon provide various health benefits, making it an excellent choice for those striving to gain weight in a balanced way.

8. Eggs

Eggs are nutritional powerhouses, rich in both protein and healthy fats. They are also abundant in choline, a nutrient essential for brain health and crucial in foetal development. Including eggs in your diet can contribute to your protein intake, supporting muscle growth and overall health.

Whether you prefer them scrambled, boiled, or as part of a delicious omelette, eggs are a versatile and nutritious option for those aiming to gain weight healthily.

9. Protein Shakes and Supplements

Protein shakes and supplements can be convenient tools for increasing your protein intake without significantly altering your regular diet. These products are beneficial for individuals who have vegetarian or vegan dietary preferences or those who need to gain weight but struggle with a reduced appetite.

Protein shakes vary in their protein content, so it’s advisable to check the label or consult with a dietitian to choose the right one for your needs. Opt for options with low-added sugar to ensure you’re making a healthy choice.

Protein supplements, including protein bars and drinks, can be integrated into your daily routine to meet increased protein demands. These products are also beneficial for individuals looking to track their protein and calorie intake accurately.

10. Milk

Milk is a calorie-dense food rich in calcium, carbohydrates, and protein. A cup of 2%-fat milk provides a significant calorie boost. Its protein content makes it an ideal choice for those seeking to build muscle. Additionally, the calcium in milk supports bone density and overall bone health.

Whether you enjoy it plain or in a glass, milk can be a valuable addition to your diet when working toward healthy weight gain.

11. Cheese

Cheese is another dairy product known for its calorie density. It contains protein and calcium, and the nutritional content varies depending on the type of cheese and its manufacturing process.

Aged cheeses tend to have fewer carbohydrates, with a higher proportion of calories coming from fat. It’s essential to be mindful of its sodium content, so read labels to ensure you’re not exceeding your daily sodium intake.

12. Yoghurt

Full-fat yoghurt is an excellent source of calories and protein. Opt for plain or Greek yoghurt instead of flavoured options, as flavoured yoghurts often contain high amounts of added sugar.

You can naturally enhance the flavour of yoghurt by adding honey, fruits, nuts, or unsweetened cocoa powder. Including yoghurt in your diet provides you with a tasty and nutritious way to support healthy weight gain.

13. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a calorie-dense option that is high in monounsaturated fats, a type of unsaturated fat known for its health benefits. Even a tiny amount of olive oil can significantly increase your daily calorie intake and add flavour to salads, pasta dishes, and various recipes.

While olive oil offers numerous advantages, including heart health benefits, it contains some saturated fat, so it’s crucial to consume it as part of a balanced diet.

14. Nuts and Seeds

Many nuts and seeds are rich sources of unsaturated fats and calories. For instance, just 20 grams of almond butter provides a substantial calorie boost, along with essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium.

Nuts and seeds are versatile additions to your diet, as you can snack on them or incorporate them into various dishes. Their calorie density makes them an excellent choice for those looking to gain weight healthily.

15. Avocados

Avocados and avocado oil are natural sources of unsaturated fat. Whole avocados are also rich in vitamins and minerals like folate, magnesium, and potassium.

Adding avocados to your sandwiches, salads, and smoothies can significantly increase their calorie content while providing essential nutrients. This versatile fruit supports healthy weight gain while contributing to your overall nutritional needs.


Selecting the right foods is essential for achieving a healthier weight while promoting overall well-being. Foods like rice provide sustained energy and support a calorie surplus, which is crucial for weight gain. Whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereals, and dried fruits offer complex carbohydrates and essential nutrients. Dark chocolate adds flavour and nutrition, while starchy options like potatoes and legumes provide glucose for energy. Salmon, eggs, and dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt contribute calories, protein, and nutrients. Olive oil enhances calories and flavour, and nuts, seeds, and avocados offer unsaturated fats and nutrients. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can embark on a journey towards healthy weight gain while enjoying a variety of nutritious and delicious options.

Health Concerns of Rapid Weight Gain

Gaining weight too quickly can lead to potential health issues that you should be aware of. Here are some essential points to consider:

Nutritional Deficiencies

Rapid weight gain often involves consuming foods high in sugar and saturated fats but lacking essential nutrients. It can lead to nutritional imbalances, making it challenging to build muscle, maintain strong bones, and sustain energy levels. To avoid these deficiencies, focus on nutrient-rich foods that support overall health.

Less Muscle Accumulation

Slow, steady weight gain allows you to build muscle alongside fat. Muscle not only contributes to a toned and healthy appearance but also helps with everyday tasks like lifting groceries or climbing stairs. Incorporate strength training and a protein-rich diet to promote muscle growth and maintain a balanced physique.

Excess Fat Accumulation

Quick weight gain primarily consists of added body fat, which can pose health risks, even if your BMI falls within the normal range. Accumulating excess fat, especially around the belly, increases the risk of conditions like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Prioritise a balanced approach to weight gain to avoid these potential health issues.


Rapid weight gain can lead to nutritional deficiencies, less muscle accumulation, and excess fat storage, potentially increasing the risk of health problems. To achieve a healthy weight gain, focus on nutrient-rich foods, incorporate strength training and maintain a balanced approach to your dietary choices and physical activity.

Quick Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

Healthy weight gain involves more than just eating more; it’s about making strategic choices to ensure you’re nourishing your body while increasing your calorie intake. Here are some quick tips to help you on your journey:

  • Avoid Drinking Water Before Meals: Drinking water right before meals can fill your stomach and make it harder to consume enough calories in your meal.
  • Eat More Often: Incorporate extra meals or snacks into your daily routine, especially before bedtime, to increase your calorie intake.
  • Choose Full-fat Milk: Opt for full-fat milk to stay hydrated and increase your protein and calorie consumption simultaneously.
  • Use Larger Plates: Larger plates can encourage you to eat more, helping you meet your calorie goals.
  • Add Cream to Your Coffee: Enhance the calorie content of your daily coffee by adding cream.
  • Prioritise Quality Sleep: Proper sleep is crucial for muscle growth, so ensure you’re getting enough rest.
  • Start with Protein and Fats: When eating mixed meals, begin with calorie-dense and protein-rich foods. Save higher fibre options for later.
  • Quit Smoking: If you smoke, consider quitting, as smoking can hinder weight gain. Quitting may lead to healthier weight management.


Healthy weight gain involves strategic choices, such as avoiding pre-meal water consumption, eating more frequently, choosing full-fat milk, using larger plates, adding cream to coffee, prioritising quality sleep, starting meals with protein and fats, and quitting smoking if applicable. These tips can help you increase your calorie intake while nourishing your body effectively.

HealthifyMe Suggestions

Genes can play a role in determining how your body responds to different diets and influences your susceptibility to weight gain. This is known as nutrigenomics. While specific genetic factors can vary, a few common genetic variations may impact your diet suitability and weight gain diet, some such genes are: FAT-Metabolism Genes, Carbohydrate Tolerance Genes and Dietary Response Genes.

Body composition on an individual does depend on their genetic modification. However, making a diet plan as per individual specific needs may help.


Achieving a healthy weight gain is not only about increasing your calorie intake but also about making informed food choices that prioritise your overall well-being. By incorporating nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, lean proteins, dairy, healthy fats, and an array of calorie-dense options, you can embark on a journey to gain weight in a balanced and sustainable manner. Remember that it’s not just about the quantity but the quality of calories you consume. Coupled with exercise and strategic meal planning, you can work towards your weight goals, ensuring that you look and feel your best. It’s a process that requires patience and dedication, but with the right approach, the results can be both satisfying and healthy.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are some foods that can help with healthy weight gain?

A: To support healthy weight gain, it’s essential to choose foods that are calorie-dense and nutrient-rich. Options like brown rice, whole-grain bread, lean proteins, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and avocados provide the necessary calories while delivering vital nutrients your body needs for overall well-being.

Q: Can a diet rich in calories aid in gaining weight?

A: Yes, a calorie-rich diet is crucial for weight gain, but it’s important to emphasise that the quality of calories matters. By focusing on high-calorie foods that also contain nutrients, you ensure that your weight gain is not just about quantity but also about nourishing your body effectively.

Q: What is a calorie surplus, and how does it relate to weight gain?

A: A calorie surplus occurs when you consume more calories than your body expends. This surplus of energy is stored as body weight, primarily in the form of fat. It’s the fundamental principle behind weight gain. To gain weight healthily, you need to maintain a calorie surplus by consuming more calories than you burn through daily activities and exercise.

Q: Are there specific foods that are high in healthy fats for weight gain?

A: Yes, certain foods are rich in healthy fats, which can contribute to a calorie-dense diet. Options like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil not only provide essential calories but also offer health benefits due to their unsaturated fat content.

Q: How can protein-rich foods support muscle growth during weight gain?

Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair. When you consume protein-rich foods such as lean meats, fish, eggs, and plant-based sources, you provide your body with the building blocks it needs to develop and maintain lean muscle mass. It ensures that your weight gain includes muscle rather than just fat.

Q: What are some carbohydrate-rich foods for increasing calorie intake?

A: Carbohydrate-rich foods like whole grains, potatoes, pasta, and legumes are excellent choices for boosting calorie intake. They provide energy and help you maintain a calorie surplus, which is essential for gaining weight healthily.

Q: Can dairy products be beneficial for gaining weight?

A: Yes, dairy products like whole milk, yoghurt, and cheese are calorie-dense and offer essential nutrients such as calcium and protein. These foods can support your weight gain goals while ensuring you meet your nutritional requirements.

Q: Are there fruits and vegetables that can aid in weight gain?

A: Dried fruits and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and corn can be valuable additions to your diet when you’re looking to increase your calorie intake. They provide extra calories while still offering essential vitamins and minerals.

Q: How can nuts and seeds be incorporated into a weight gain diet?

A: Nuts and seeds are calorie-dense and nutrient-rich. You can include them as snacks or add them to various dishes, providing extra calories and essential nutrients to support your weight gain journey.

Q: Are there meal-planning strategies for individuals looking to gain weight?

A: Meal planning for weight gain should focus on calorie-dense, nutrient-rich foods. Regular, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day help you meet your calorie goals while ensuring your overall nutritional needs are met.

Q: What are some high-calorie snacks for healthy weight gain?

A: High-calorie snacks like mixed nuts, energy bars, and whole-milk yoghurt with added fruits and nuts can be effective choices for increasing your daily calorie intake.

Q: How can a balanced diet help ensure weight gain is done in a healthy way?

A: A balanced diet ensures that you gain weight in a way that supports overall health. It promotes muscle gain while reducing the risk of excessive fat accumulation, allowing you to achieve your weight goals while maintaining your well-being.

Q: What is the role of protein shakes and supplements in weight gain?

A: Protein shakes and supplements can be helpful for individuals with specific dietary preferences or appetite challenges. They provide a convenient way to increase protein intake, which is essential for muscle growth during weight gain.

Q: Are there any potential side effects or concerns with rapid weight gain?

A: Rapid weight gain can lead to potential health issues, including nutritional deficiencies, less muscle accumulation, and excess fat accumulation. It’s essential to aim for a balanced and gradual approach to weight gain to avoid these concerns.

Q: How long does it typically take to see noticeable results when trying to gain weight?

A: The time it takes to see noticeable results in weight gain varies from person to person. Factors such as calorie intake, exercise, and individual genetics play a role. It’s essential to remain patient and consistent in your approach, as healthy weight gain is a gradual process.

Research Sources

1. USDA Values for Uncooked Brown Rice

2. The Importance of Marine Omega-3s for Brain Development and the Prevention and Treatment of Behavior, Mood, and Other Brain Disorders

3. Dairy Consumption and Metabolic Health

4. USDA Values for Olive Oil

5. Health Risks of Overweight & Obesity

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

Related Articles


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your health is our priority. Talk to one of our experts and get the best plan for you today.
Chat With Us