Diet Plan To Gain Weight – A Healthy And Safe Approach

Reviewed by Merlin Annie Raj, MSc (Nutrition & Dietetics), RD
Written by Priyanka Sadhukhan , Nutritionist, CDE, Reviewer & Writer

As obesity rates are sky high, everyone is quite obsessed about losing weight. However, being underweight or having a very low BMI is also a matter of concern and is often ignored by people.

Though globally, the prevalence rate of being underweight has slightly decreased (from 9.2% to 8.4% in girls and from 14.8% to 12.4% in boys), it still is an issue that needs attention (1).

In this article, we will discuss how you can gain weight in a healthy way and a sample diet plan you can follow.

What Is Your Healthy Weight Range?

Your BMI (body mass index) will help you determine your healthy weight range. Divide your body weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) squared to calculate your BMI (2).

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 denotes a healthy weight range. If your BMI is below 18.5, you are underweight.

Use this calculator to know your BMI scale and status.

Reasons For Being Underweight

Several medical conditions can make you underweight:

  • High Metabolism: Some people are built to be lean. Their metabolic rate is so high that they fail to gain weight even after eating high-calorie foods.
  • Family History: A few people are born with the kind of genes that make them naturally thin and have a low BMI.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can cause weight loss. Having an overactive thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) increases metabolic rate and may cause weight loss. Uncontrolled diabetes (Type 1), cancer, and any infectious diseases can make someone lose weight (3).
  • Eating Disorders: People with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can be underweight (3).
  • Depression: People who have depression may experience a severe loss of appetite and lose a substantial amount of weight very quickly. Such people need immediate medical help (3).

If your BMI is less than 16, please visit your doctor to diagnose any possible medical conditions.

Sample Diet Plan For Weight Gain

Though eating high-calorie foods like sodas, donuts, and French fries can make you gain weight, it is not a healthy approach.

Your aim should be to build muscle mass and gain weight in a healthy way. Eating processed foods for weight gain can lead to the accumulation of subcutaneous or visceral fat. This can result in the unhealthy deposition of fats around your belly area or organs, respectively.

Following is a sample diet plan that can aid healthy weight gain. This plan can vary based on the age, sex, the level of physical activity, and calorie requirements of the individual.

MealsTimeWhat to have
Early Morning7 a.m. – 8 a.m.
  • Overnight soaked almonds (6-7 pieces)
Breakfast8 a.m. – 9 a.m.
  • 2 multigrain breads with low-fat butter and egg omelet (2 egg whites from 1 whole egg).
  • A cup of corn flakes, oats with milk, or any cereal porridge (use full-fat milk).
  • Poha, upma, or daliya khichdi with lots of veggies.
  • 2 chapatis with a cup of veggies and a cup of boiled sprouts
  • 2 protein (Cottage cheese/sprouts) stuffed parathas with chutney or pickles.
  • Whole fruits or a glass of fresh vegetable juice with pulp.
After Breakfast11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • A glass of full fat milk with a health drink of your choice or whey protein.
Lunch1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • A small cup of rice and two chapatis.
  • A cup of pulses (masoor, moong, chana).
  • ½ cup of vegetable curry.
  • 3 oz chicken breast or a piece of fish/ eggs/ tofu/cottage cheese.
  • Mixed salad made of cucumber, carrot, and tomatoes.
  • A small cup of curd or yogurt.
Evening snack5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Veg sandwich with cheese.
  • Baked potato with skin and avocado dip.
  • Fistful mixture of roasted nuts.
Dinner8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
  • ½ cup of brown rice and 1 cup of kidney beans/black beans/ mushroom curry.
  • Mixed salad made of cucumber, carrot, and tomatoes.
Before bed10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
  • A glass of full fat milk.

Healthy Tips To Gain Weight Fast (And Safely)

1. Eat Calorie-Dense Foods

Foods high in calories and balanced in nutrients will help you gain weight. Foods like avocado, banana, and full-fat milk should be your staple.

2. Consume Healthy Carbs

Carbohydrates can help in weight gain. Replace high sugar and refined carbs like chocolates, donuts, pizzas with healthier options like banana, potato, sweet potato, whole grains, rice, and fruits, etc.

3. Consume A Protein Source With Every Meal

Your muscles are made of proteins. To gain weight and build lean muscle mass, you must include a protein source in every meal you consume. Aim to take 1.5-2 gm of protein for every kg of body weight.

Chicken breast, ground turkey, tofu, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, fish, eggs, milk, and yogurt should be your go-to choices of protein.

4. Add Healthy Fats To Your Diet

Don’t consume just any fatty food. Choose healthy fats that do not cause harm in the long run. Healthy fats are also good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Include foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, avocado oil, salmon, and olive oil in your diet. Eating a fistful of pumpkin or flaxseeds is a good way to provide your body with healthy fat.

5. Take Weight Gain Supplements

In some cases, diet and exercise alone may not bring about the desired results. Another way to go about this is by including some additional supplements in your diet.

Whey protein is an increasingly popular supplement you can add to your milk or smoothies.

6. Strength Training

Gaining weight doesn’t mean you have to gain fat mass. Gain lean muscle mass. You’ll look toned and defined. To get there, you need to hit the gym at least 2-4 times a week and lift some weights.

If you have any medical conditions, talk to your doctor before you hit the gym.

7. Eliminate Stress

Losing or gaining weight could be a stressful event. Stress often becomes a major hurdle when you try to achieve a goal. Therefore, it is important to reduce stress.

Have a relaxing bath to reduce stress. Put on some good music and dance until you drop. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises also work well to reduce stress.

8. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an essential determinant of your health and well-being. A person needs a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night to stay fit and fine. A cross-sectional study on Chinese University students revealed that good quality sleep helped strengthen muscle mass as compared to poor quality sleep (4).

9. Track Your Goal

Tracking your goal increases your chances of hitting your target. Maintain a food journal to write your calorie goal and track the foods that you eat.

Check your weight every week or 10 days. This not only motivates you but also helps you analyze your progress better. You can even track your exercise pattern and start measuring muscle gain.

10. Keep Yourself Motivated

Weight gain is not rocket science; it requires a scientific approach and well disciplined lifestyle. Be patient and keep yourself motivated. Do not aim to gain more than four pounds a month. Looking for faster weight gain could be unhealthy and may only give you temporary results.


Weight gain could be as challenging as weight loss, but consistency is the key for long-term results. Consuming calorie-dense junk foods should not be the aim. Instead, your focus should be to gain lean muscle mass as that can lead to a healthy weight gain.


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Priyanka is a nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator. She has over 8 years of experience in nutrition and dietetics with a strong research background. She is passionate about science and how it can be applied to one’s daily lifestyle. According to her, food is the best medicine, and proper nutrition is key to achieving good health. She has also written a book on PCOS and its management for doctors and patients. When she is not working, she loves spending quality time with family and friends. She loves creating innovative, healthy recipes and endorses healthier alternatives to junk foods to promote good health.