How Do I Gain Weight?

To gain weight, you need to consume more calories every day than you burn with physical activity. You can also gain weight by increasing the size of your muscles. Start with a calorie calculator to determine the number of calories you you'll need to consume every day to gain weight. You'll probably need to increase your calorie intake, and you can do that by eating a larger volume of food or by choosing foods that are energy-dense (high in calories). Either way, you should choose foods that are nutrient-dense instead of settling for high-calorie junk foods. Nutrient-dense foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods that are both energy- and nutrient-dense include legumes, nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados. You may also want to increase your consumption of dairy products, meats, seafood and poultry. Use seasoning blends, herbs and spices to add flavor and aroma.
The main goal is to increase your overall intake of calories every day; it doesn't really matter if you eat more meals or increase the size of the meals you eat right now. If you're not used to eating much at any one time, you may prefer to eat several small meals or snacks throughout the day. If you'd rather eat three meals each day, increase your portion sizes or add more foods to each meal.
Your meals should be balanced with the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Choose a portion of a protein source such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, legumes or tofu and serve with a side of green and colorful vegetables. Add a serving of starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet corn, rice or pasta as energy-dense carbohydrate sources. You can add a few extra calories to your vegetables and starches by topping them with butter, olive oil, sauces or cheese.
If you prefer to snack on smaller meals throughout the day, choose energy-dense foods, such as trail mix made with dried fruit, nuts and seeds. You can eat sandwiches made with peanut or other nut butters, or use meats and add calories with slices of cheese or avocado. Creamed soups are generally higher in calories than clear broths. Add more calories to creamed soups by adding a spoonful of dry milk powder.

Dietary Supplements for Gaining Weight


You might be tempted to buy dietary supplements for bodybuilding that promise weight gain and bigger muscles. Some of these products may contain hidden ingredients that can be harmful or compounds that haven't been studied for efficacy or safety. The United States Food and Drug Administration maintains a list of tainted bodybuilding products that should be avoided. If you feel you can't gain weight by simply increasing your calorie intake, you should see your health care provider before taking any protein or weight-ok, gaining supplements.

What About Exercise?


Resistance training exercises like weight lifting may help to increase your muscle size, which will increase your body weight. Aerobic exercises, such as running and stationary bicycling, are better for fat loss and excessive aerobic training may cause you to lose more weight. Resistance training can be done at a health club, gym, or at home with the proper equipment.

Tips to Help You Gain Weight


Don't add calories to your meals by choosing unhealthy fried foods such as french fries, chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Choose foods that are prepared with cooking methods like baking, poaching, and stir-frying. Remember that it can take a while to gain the weight you need, but be patient and continue to choose foods that are good for you until you reach your goal weight. Here are a few tips to get you started:
  • Have an extra slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter at breakfast.
  • Add extra cheese to an omelet.
  • Slice an apple and serve with almond butter.
  • Stir chopped nuts into plain yogurt and top with honey.
  • Carry a bag of trail mix for a convenient snack.
  • Serve yourself larger portions of starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet corn.
  • Add calories with a nutritious beverage such as milk, 100% fruit juices, or vegetable juice.