10 Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

While most Americans are interested in losing weight, many are trying to gain weight.  To the surprise of some, gaining weight can actually be a difficult task.  Many people try to gain weight by simply eating as much as possible.  Unfortunately that can negatively affect your health, so a more refined approach is needed.  Here are 10 ways to stay healthy while gaining weight.


Foods High in “Good” Fats

To remain healthy while gaining weight, it is important to look for foods high in healthy fats.  Look for foods high in monosaturated fats including avocados, olive oil, sesame oil and canola oil.  Avoid saturated fats and trans fats because they can permanently damage the health of your cardiovascular system.  Monosaturated fats can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping you gain weight (Heart.org, 2014).


Some nuts also have high levels of monosaturated fat.  Macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans and almonds are all extremely nutritious and contain healthy monosaturated fats.  Products made from legumes can also be high in healthy fats. Peanut butter is a delicious legume that can help you put on weight.  Choose salt-reduced and sugar-reduced peanut butter for a healthier alternative.


Many types of meat are high in monosaturated fats, but they also contain high levels of the less healthy saturated fats. The methods used to cook meat can often introduced additional saturated fats or trans fats, so be careful about how you consume your meat. 


Foods High in Protein

Foods that are high in protein can help you develop muscle and put on weight.  Some healthier foods that are high in protein include: turkey breast, salt-reduced beef jerky, tuna, salmon, pork loin, pumpkin seeds, lean beef, hard boiled eggs, kidney beans and nuts. 


Foods High in Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are very useful for providing the body with energy over longer periods.  When combined with protein you have the perfect combination of energy and muscle repair.  Complex carbohydrates are often higher in vitamins and minerals than simple carbohydrates such as the ones found in sugar, honey and candy.  


Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes, legumes and green vegetables.


Potatoes are a great addition to a weight-gain diet because they can be easily combined with protein. Add cheese, monosaturated oils, beans, sour cream and meat to your potatoes. 


Continue to Exercise

Incorporate a small amount of aerobic activity into your workouts, but focus on building strength.  You will notice an increase in your appetite after a good workout, so have a post-workout snack ready.  When you add weight in the form of muscle, it persists much longer than adding fat. 


Drink Your Nutrients

A great way to increase the amount of calories you are ingesting is by drinking them.  Use smoothies that are packed with nutrient-dense ingredients.  Some of the best ingredients to use in a weight-gain smoothie include: bananas, flax seed, linseeds, crushed almonds, crushed soya beans, protein powder, milk, mango and avocados.  It’s important that you don’t drink your smoothie before meals, because it can ruin your appetite.


Eat Often

If you are underweight, you will feel full faster simply because your stomach is not big enough to hold large meals.  Eat nutritionally dense snacks throughout the day.  Buy a small container which you can easily put in your pocket so you can eat while traveling. 


Eat Before Bed

The human body’s metabolism slows at night, so calories are burnt more slowly.  That means more of the calories you consume just before going to bed will add weight.  Eat nutritionally dense foods just before going to bed.  If you have had a good workout that day, the additional calories will help build muscle while you sleep.


Avoid Packaged Foods

Because you are eating many portions, you should avoid packaged foods with unhealthy ingredients.  If you simply gorge yourself on frozen lasagnes you may be eating huge amounts of salt, sugar and trans fats.


Get Scientific!

You can measure the success of your strategy by calculating the total calories you are consuming and your total weight gained.  Plan your diet in advance and calculate the total calories for the day, the total vitamins and minerals.  Try many different foods to find the most effective for weight gain.   


Eat Desert

While the focus is on high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates, there is room for sugar.  Eat desert after meals, but try to make it something with at least one positive attribute.  For example, a big slice of apple pie covered in fruit and cream will give you extra calories and some nutritional benefit.


By following these simple guidelines you can put on weight and stay healthy.  By concentrating on foods with high levels of nutrients you will keep your body performing well as you reach your goal weight.

Related Links:




Heart.org, (2014). Monounsaturated Fats. [online] Available at: heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Monounsaturated-Fats_UCM_301460_Article.jsp [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014].