Diet Plan To Gain Weight Fast | Reasons For Being Underweight

Tips to gain weight healthily if you have problems figuring out the optimal meal plan!

Medically reviewed by Merlin Annie Raj, RD (Registered Dietitian)
Written by Priyanka Sadhukhan, MSc (Nutrition), CDE
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Dip
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Everyone is obsessed with reducing weight. On the other hand, being underweight is a cause for concern that is frequently overlooked. Thankfully, you can go on a weight gain diet to solve this problem.

Though the global prevalence of underweight individuals has reduced significantly (from 9.2% to 8.4% in girls and from 14.8% to 12.4% in boys), it remains a problem that requires addressing (1).

We will go over how to gain weight in a healthy way in this post, as well as a sample food plan to follow. Take a look!

protip_icon At A Glance: Weight Gain Diet
  • Principle: Consuming additional 300 to 500 calories per day through calorie-dense foods, healthy carbs, fats, and protein
  • Purpose: To build muscle and gain weight in a healthy way
  • Who It Is For: Underweight individuals
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Who Should Avoid: Individuals who are obese, and those with any serious underlying medical conditions
  • Cons: May make one feel tired and cause digestive issues initially

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 ratei  XThe minimum number of calories a body needs to function while at rest is known as the basal 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 nervosai  XAn eating disorder characterized by extremely low body weight and an intense fear of gaining weight. and bulimia nervosai  XAn eating disorder characterized by bingeing on large portions of food and then purging by inducing vomiting. 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.

There are a few foods that can help you gain weight fast. Check them out in the section below.

What Foods Make You Gain Weight The Fastest?

  1. Nuts And Nut Butters: Almonds, peanuts, and natural nut butters are calorie-rich foods.
  2. Avocado: This fruit is loaded with calories and is a perfect addition to salads and sandwiches.
  3. Olive Oil: Use olive oil for cooking and drizzling on dishes to increase your daily calorie intake.
  4. Dairy Or Dairy Alternatives: Choose full-fat milk, yogurt, or dairy alternatives like coconut milk for added calories and nutrients.
  5. Dried Fruits: Snack on calorie-dense dried fruits like raisins, dates, and dried apricots.
  6. Smoothies: Create calorie-rich smoothies by blending fruits, yogurt, milk, and protein powder.
  7. Dark Chocolate: Enjoy dark chocolate in moderation for added calories.
  8. Cheese: Full-fat cheese varieties provide additional calories and are a good source of calcium.

Sample Diet Plan For Weight Gain

Grace Koeppen, RD, CD, says, “It all comes down to calorie intake versus calorie output when it comes to weight gain. You’ll want to eat more calories than the amount your body is burning off throughout the day. Aiming to increase your calorie intake by 300 to 500 calories per day will allow you to gain weight at a slow and steady rate. Gaining too much weight too fast can be detrimental to your health.”

While you don’t need to practice portion control, eating high-calorie foods, such as sodas, donuts, and French fries can make you gain weight, and it is not a healthy approach.

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 muscle building and gaining weight in a healthy way. Eating processed foods for weight gain can lead to the accumulation of subcutaneousi  XThe fat that is located just underneath the skin. It is a way for the body to store energy. or visceral fati  XA form of body fat that is stored in the abdominal cavity, near important organs like the liver, stomach, and intestines. . This can result in the unhealthy deposition of fats around your belly area or organs, respectively.

Irene Opoku-Acheampong, MPH, RD, LD, a dietitian at Emory University Hospital, says, “A sure way to gain weight is to include high-calorie, healthy fats and/or protein into every meal. Think avocado and creamy soups, and don’t skimp on the salad dressing! Adding avocados, nut butters, yogurts, and/or a protein supplement or powder to smoothies will increase the calorie content.”

She adds, “Try 6 oz orange juice, ½ banana, 3 oz strawberries, ½ avocado, and 2 tablespoons peanut butter for a nutrient-rich smoothie. Drinking a smoothie between meals can be very effective for weight gain and there’s not sufficient evidence to suggest drinking smoothies at night will promote substantially more weight gain.”

Mary Sabat, RD, LD, says, “Smoothies can be a great way to increase calorie intake as they are easy to make and can contain a variety of ingredients. For a weight gain smoothie, try blending together a banana, some nut butter, Greek yogurt, oats, and a scoop of protein powder.”

Following is a sample diet plan that can help you meal prep and aid in healthy weight gain. This plan can vary based on the age, sex, 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).
    Or
  • A cup of corn flakes, oats with milk, or any cereal porridge (use full-fat milk).
    Or
  • Poha, upma, or daliya khichdi with lots of veggies.
    Or
  • 2 chapatis with a cup of veggies and a cup of boiled sprouts
    Or
  • 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.
    Or
  • Baked potato with skin and avocado dip.
    Or
  • 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.

Does The Diet Plan To Gain Weight Fast Work? What Tracy Tredoux, A Nutritional Therapist, Says

Tracy Tredoux, DipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP, says, “This diet plan to gain weight fast includes some excellent, healthy food suggestions and lifestyle principles. From a nutritional therapist’s perspective, however, the main pitfall of this diet is the emphasis on ‘fast’ weight gain. The focus should be on progress rather than speed and overall health rather than quick weight gain. Sustainable gains are built on a foundation of balanced, personalized nutrition and smart choices, many of which this diet plan does offer.”

Healthy Tips To Gain Weight Fast (And Safely)

protip_icon Quick Tip
While you need to increase your calorie or food intake, be cautious of added sugars, salt, and saturated fat as they may lead to various health concerns.

1. Eat Calorie-Dense Foods

Banana milkshake on a table
Image: Shutterstock

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.

According to a survey among US residents, sugar, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are among the common sources of calories that impact weight gain. In 2020, a majority of the respondents in the survey believed that carbohydrates were among the most common nutrient sources that can cause weight gain. Check out the graph below to find out their view on the same over the years.

Source Of Calories That Cause Weight Gain

Source: Consumer rating of impact of type of calories on weight gain 2013-2021

3. Consume A Protein Source With Every Meal

Display of various protein-rich food items
Image: Shutterstock

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. Barbara Kovalenko, a nutrition consultant, says, “Drinking a protein shake at night may help with weight gain if it’s consumed as part of a balanced diet that includes a surplus of calories. However, it’s important to consider the individual’s daily caloric needs and nutrient intake.”

Mohammed Nadir, a content marketing blogger, shared his experience of gaining 20 pounds of healthy weight by taking protein shakes. He said, “In a little over six months, I gained over 20 pounds of healthy weight without even realizing it. What’s more satisfying is that I didn’t try some extreme stressful bulking method (i).”

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. Irene says, “Nut butters, particularly peanut and almond butter, can provide around 190 calories per serving and are therefore great for promoting fast weight gain.”

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

Woman doing strength training
Image: Shutterstock

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 do some weightlifting.

protip_icon Quick Tip

The best exercises to gain weight include deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench presses, pull-ups, leg presses, and bar dips.


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

Food journal for calorie tracking
Image: Shutterstock

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.

To support your weight gain journey, consulting with a nutritionist or dietitian can provide you with a personalized weight gain diet chart for gaining 10 kg or 20 kg, tailored to your specific dietary needs and allergies.

Infographic: Tips To Gain Weight In A Healthy Way

Being underweight may cause many health complications. Hence, maintaining a healthy weight is necessary for your overall well-being. However, you must gain weight in a steady and healthy way. Incorporating a well-balanced weight gain diet plan, consisting of nutrient-dense foods and strategic meal planning, can help individuals achieve their desired healthy weight goals.

The following infographic lists various ways to help you increase your weight healthily. Scroll down.

tips to gain weight in a healthy way (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Being underweight is undesirable, and all you need to look for is a good weight gain diet. While eating high-calorie junk and processed foods may make you gain weight, it is not a healthy method. Always go for healthy proteins, carbs, and fat alternatives like fat milk, bananas, avocados, legumes, chicken breasts, eggs, etc.

Remember that weight gain is not about gaining fat mass but lean muscle mass. Hence, consuming protein-rich foods is essential. You also can take supplements like whey protein. More importantly, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and reduce stress in your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which fruit is best for weight gain?

Bananas are one of the most calorie-dense fruits which are good for healthy weight gain.

What is the cheapest way to gain weight?

Having home cooked meals along with naturally calorie-dense foods like eggs, rice, potatoes, bananas, whey protein, etc. can help you gain weight without being hard on your pocket.

What shake to drink to gain weight?

Protein shakes are crucial in building muscle and gaining weight.

Key Takeaways

  • Metabolism, genetics, and medical conditions may make you underweight.
  • Get enough sleep and do strength training.
  • Follow a balanced diet, including proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates.
  • You can take supplements if diet and exercise don’t give the desired results.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight and obesity from 1975 to 2016 : a pooled analysis of 2416 population- based measurements studies in 128.9 million children, adolescents and adults, THE LANCET.
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32129-3/fulltext
  2. Assessing your weight, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
    https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/index.html
  3. Unintentional weight loss, National Health Services.
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/unintentional-weight-loss/
  4. Relationship between sleep and muscle strength among Chinese university students: a cross-sectional study, Journal of musculoskeletal and neuronal interactions, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5749041/
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