WebMD Feature Archive
Healthy ways to gain weight
With many of us engaged in a constant battle of the bulge, the idea of being too thin makes us green with envy.
It’s not much fun, though, for people who are desperately trying to put on weight. It definitely isn’t something to be jealous of.
For people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight or are trying to gain weight, it can be a real challenge. Reasons for needing to gain weight include health issues, lack of appetite, fuelling sport, building muscle or just trying to overcome skinny genes.
There’s no real health problem with being skinny naturally. However, if you want or need to gain weight, do it the healthy way - which is not about stuffing your face at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Calories count, but so do nutrients
Focus on healthy foods to gain weight, because even though you have more leeway with calories, good nutrition is still paramount.
If you're underweight, aim to gain weight gradually until you're a weight that is healthy for your height and age.
It’s crucial that you gain weight the right way, not by eating chips, sweets or cakes and other high-calorie junk foods full of saturated fat and sugar, or with fizzy drinks. These foods can increase your body fat instead of your lean body mass.
Instead, aim for three meals and several snacks a day and base your diet on healthy eating principles.
Foods that pack a punch
Foods highest in calories and nutrients are those high in fat.. Plant fats from nuts, peanuts, seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, avocados, hummus and oils are great sources of healthy fats loaded with nutrients and calories.
Animal fats provide nutrients and the same amount of calories as plant fats, but they also contain saturated fats, which can increase bad cholesterol.
Drink high-calorie juices instead of water and choose high-calorie condiments, such as mayonnaise, thousand island, and caesar salad dressings.
Meal replacement drinks and smoothies are very convenient. Eat nuts by the handful or sprinkle them on top of soups, salads, cereal, desserts and casseroles for added protein, fibre, healthy fat and calories. Granola, loaded with nuts and dried fruits, is a concentrated source of nutritious calories, especially when eaten with full-fat Greek-style yogurt, which is higher in protein than milk?
Dried fruits are a concentrated source of calories that can be tossed on salads, yogurts, cereals, desserts and trail mixes or eaten alone.
Potatoes are a great vehicle for toppings. When you cook potatoes, add in flavoured oils, milk, cheese, chilli, vegetables and beans.
Another easy way to add calories is to drizzle olive oil on vegetables, salads, whole grains, soups, casseroles and stews.