Enjoy These 22 High-Calorie Foods For Weight Gain

A list of the best foods for a diet to complement your muscle and weight gain journey.

Medically reviewed by Ella Davar, RD, CDN
Written by Priyanka Sadhukhan, MSc (Nutrition), CDE
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health
Fact-checked by Payal Karnik, MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Gaining weight is as difficult as losing it. Sara Chatfield, Registered Dietitian, says, Gaining weight can be challenging if you have a fast metabolism or if you have a restricted diet or poor appetite.”But, simply adding a few high-calorie foods can help you gain weight, to build muscle mass. However, you should aim for consistent strength training to prevent increasing fat mass. Including these foods that help you gain weight in your diet also helps boost your stamina and energy levels.

Here’s a list of the top 21 weight-gaining foods that you can include in your diet. Check it out!

22 High-Calorie Foods For Weight Gain

An assortment of high calorie foods for weight gain
Image: Created with Dall.E

Jesse Feder, Clinical Dietitian, says, “The highest calorie food by volume is oil. This includes avocado oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, grape seed oil, etc. Other high-calorie foods include red meats, full fat dairy, avocados, and nut butters. High calorie snacks include nut butters, cheese, trail mix/nuts, granola, and milk or chocolate milk. Fruits that are high in calories include avocados, figs, dates, and coconut.”

1. Peanut Butter

A woman is having toast with peanut butter for weight gain
Image: Shutterstock

Peanut butter is considered one of the best foods to gain weight. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 191 calories, 7 g of protein, 16 g of fat, and 7 g of carbohydrates (1).

Peanuts are rich in protein and contain all the 20 amino acids that strengthen the immune system and build stamina (2).

Having any type of nut butter every day as a snack or with slices of fruits does not lead to significant weight gain. But, its regular consumption can offer you better weight control (3).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Blend peanut butter into smoothies or add it as topping on your breakfast cereal/porridge to increase your consumption.

2. Full-Fat Dairy

Full-fat milk is the best, whether you are trying to lose or gain weight. When you are trying to gain weight, you benefit from the healthy fats, minerals, and protein present in whole or full-fat milk.

One cup (244 g) of whole or full-fat milk gives 149 calories of energy, 8 g of protein, and 8 g of fat (4).

Full-fat milk with a protein supplement or whey protein powder and fruits (like banana or berries) makes for the best high-calorie smoothie to gain weight, build muscle mass, and improve muscle recovery (5), (6).

Lucas, a bodybuilder and blogger, decided to consume 200 grams of protein daily for 30 days. He said, “I started to notice some positive changes. My skin was looking tighter and my muscles felt denser. I also felt an increase in strength and energy (i).”

Thus, these high protein foods for weight gain are also the best calorie foods that you can easily consume.

A study conducted at McMaster University (Canada) found that milk-based proteins are better for the development of muscle mass than soy-based proteins (7).

3. Banana

A woman having bananas in her breakfast
Image: Shutterstock

Bananas are loaded with dietary fiber, potassium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and healthy fats (8).

One medium-sized (118 g) banana provides 105 calories of energy and 27 g of carbohydrates. A study conducted on male cyclists suggests that the ingestion of banana helps improve energy levels (8).

You can have a banana with a cup of milk and a few nuts for a power-packed breakfast or make a smoothie with the same ingredients and have it before working out. Here are more breakfast ideas to add to your weight gain foods list.

4. Meat With Marbling And With Skin

Animal protein is among the best sources of protein and is also one of the best high calorie foods for weight gain. Meat that is marbled with fat and still has its skin is one of the best choices if you want to gain weight without affecting your health. This type of meat plays an important role in a nutritious diet as it contains beneficial fatty acids. It contains more oleic acidi  XOdorless and colorless fatty acid found in plants and animals that has a beneficial effect on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. and less stearic acidi  XA type of fatty acid found in plants and animals that helps regulate energy metabolism in fat tissue. , which has a positive effect on your health (9).

As per another study, the high oleic acidi  XOdorless and colorless fatty acid found in plants and animals that has a beneficial effect on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. content in beef may be able to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Since highly marbled meat (like Wagyu and Hanwoo beef) does not increase LDL cholesterol, you can add it to your diet list under foods to gain weight (10).

5. Potatoes And Other Starches

Adding potatoes to any dish is a cost-effective way to add more calories to your diet. Potatoes and other starchy vegetables are rich in carbohydrates and a must for your healthy high calorie foods list. Studies show that the intake of carbohydrate-rich foods along with protein supplements helps build muscle mass (11).

Consume boiled, baked, or roasted potatoes to get the best out of its nutrients.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Mash boiled potatoes with butter/ghee/mustard oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper for a delicate yet delicious side to pair with your meats and greens.

6. Rice

A woman having rice in her weight-gain diet
Image: Shutterstock

Rice is a cost-effective way to add more calories to your plate.

100 g of white rice provides 130 calories of energy and 28 g of carbs with a very little amount of fat (12).

When you are in a hurry, just microwave a bowl of rice with some curry. It adds bulk to your high calorie diet and is quite satiating. (13).

When you are in a hurry, just microwave a bowl of rice with some curry. It adds bulk to your diet and is quite satiating.

7. Salmon And Oily Fish

Salmon and other oily fishes are good sources of protein, which helps increase muscle mass and aid weight gain.

100 g of salmon gives 142 kcal of energy along with 20 g of protein and 6 g of fat (14).

A study conducted in Korea found that consuming fish with vegetables can help improve muscle mass (15).

Consume 1-2 pieces of fish per day with leafy greens and nuts to gain weight or lean muscle fast. Include a salmon or oily fish steak in your lunch or dinner along with hot rice to make it more palatable as all these are foods that make you gain weight.

8. Homemade Protein Smoothies

Protein smoothies are loaded with nutrition and do not contain artificial sweeteners and taste enhancers. You can have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a pre or post-workout meal.

Studies have found that taking protein supplements with resistance training helps build muscle mass and, thus, gain weight  (16).

Here are a few quick homemade protein shake ideas:

  • Peanut Butter Protein Shake – 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup full-fat milk, and 1 banana.
  • Chocolate And Apple Protein Shake – 2 scoops chocolate protein powder, 1 cup soy milk/almond milk, and 1 apple.
  • Banana And Almond Protein Shake – 1 large banana, ½ cup yogurt, ½ cup milk, and 2 tablespoons almond powder.

9. Full-Fat Cheese

A woman eating sandwich with full-fat cheese
Image: Shutterstock

Cheese is a calorie-rich milk product that is a staple all over the world in different forms. Cheddar cheese is loaded with protein and calcium (17). The same is true for feta, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and cottage cheese. Thus, having cheese can help you gain lean muscle and strengthen your bones.

10. Dry Fruits And Berries

Dried fruits like dried coconut and raisins are loaded with calories, carbohydrates, and healthy fats (18). Consume a handful of dried fruits as a pre- or post-workout snack or add them to smoothies and breakfast bowls.

Dates are a great satiating and instant energy-giving food. One pitted date (24 g) provides 67 kcal of energy and 18 g of carbs with vitamins and minerals (19).

Fresh dates are loaded with simple sugar, which replenishes energy and revitalizes the body (20).

Eat 3-4 dates when you are hungry or as a pre-workout fruit to boost your energy levels during a workout.

You can also include cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in your diet as they have several nutrients and phytochemicals. They can improve your blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Thus, they may help in preventing and managing diabetes (21). Though there is no direct study that suggests berries aid gain weight, they may help you in doing so without increasing metabolic syndromei  XA group of conditions that increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other heart diseases. .

11. Pasta And Wheat Products

Woman eating pasta in a restaurant
Image: Shutterstock

Whole wheat pasta can also help you gain weight. Make a delicious protein-rich pasta using chicken/mushroom/soy chunks. Add some red or white sauce, toss in some veggies and Italian herbs, and you are good to go.

12. Avocado

Avocado is a rich source of energy. Thus, it helps you gain weight when combined with proper foods. 100 g of avocado offers energy-dense 160 calories of energy and 15 g of fat (22).

Have an avocado smoothie or sliced avocado on whole wheat bread for breakfast. You can also make guacamole and have it with your meals.

13. Mango

Mangoes are not only delicious and sweet but also high in calories and packed with dietary fiber, fruit sugar, vitamins, and minerals. They have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties and can be added to smoothies, breakfast bowls, and protein shakes to gain weight (23).

14. Tahini

Tahini is a sesame seed paste that is popularly used in Mediterranean foods like hummus and baba ganoush.

Scientists have found that sesame seeds are loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats that have antihypertensivei  XA property that helps lower blood pressure levels to the standard range, preventing stroke and other diseases. properties. The lignans in sesame seeds also have anti-inflammatory and immunity-strengthening abilities (24).

Add 2-3 tablespoons of tahini to your salad/mashed potatoes/barbeque and have a delicious meal that will also help you gain weight healthily.

15. Full-Fat Yogurt

Like full-fat milk, full-fat yogurt is helpful when it comes to weight gain (25).

It is loaded with good gut bacteria, calcium, and milk protein that help improve your immunity, strengthen your bones, and offer the benefits of consuming good-quality dairy fat (26).

Consume 1-2 small bowls of yogurt per day. You can increase the amount if your body can tolerate it. Add it to salad dressings, smoothies, and shakes.

16. Legumes

Legumes like lentils, beans, and peas are moderate in calories but excellent sources of plant-based protein. This is especially beneficial if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Apart from helping you build lean muscle mass, legumes also help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels (27).

Have mung bean sprouts for breakfast or consume Bengal gram salad or lentil soup.

17. Whole Grain Cereal Bars

Whole grain cereal bars are high calorie foods that can be enjoyed both before and after a workout.

The nuts and cereals found in these bars provide instant energy, and the calories in them help increase weight.

You can also make homemade cereal bars by mixing dry fruits with honey or maple syrup. Have them as a snack or post-workout nutrition.

18. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a high-calorie bittersweet delight. It is a rich source of antioxidants (28).

You can add dark chocolate to your smoothies, homemade protein shakes, peanut butter sandwiches, a glass of milk, or biscuit sandwiches. Get creative and use this ultimate soul-comforting food to gain a few extra pounds.

19. Hummus

Hummus is made with boiled chickpeas, which are protein-dense and high in fat content. 100 g of hummus contains 237 kcal of energy along with 8 g of protein and 18 g of fat (29).

Hummus can be taken as a high-calorie snack for weight gain when combined with baked chips, nachos, or sautéed veggie sticks.

20. Chicken Thigh With Skin

If you are looking for a high-calorie food for weight gain, try chicken thighs instead of the breast. Chicken thighs are loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals (30). Chicken skin is also naturally high in collagen, which is beneficial for the skin, hair, and nails.

Consume leafy greens and whole grains (quinoa or rice) along with your chicken thigh meal. Do not go overboard as chicken thighs contain a high amount of saturated fats.

21. Trail Mix And Other Types Of Nuts

Trail mix is a mixture of nuts with seeds with some dehydrated fruits. It is loaded with sugar and makes for a nutritious calorie rich food item for gaining weight. You can satisfy your sweet craving by having some trail mix. It can also be an excellent pre-workout snack to maintain energy levels.

22. Olive Oil

Olive oil is calorie-dense and primarily made up of triglycerides with a combination of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is a healthier alternative to regular cooking oils due to its rich composition of healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). Research has shown that an increased intake of MUFAs can contribute to weight gain with significant consumption (31). Health experts recommend a daily olive oil intake of around 30 grams or 2 tablespoons to enjoy its benefits (32).

Weight management is fundamentally tied to the balance between calorie intake and expenditure. Consuming more calories than you burn is known to result in weight gain (33). Therefore, even with healthy fats like olive oil, portion control is essential.

Infographic: Tips For Gaining Weight The Healthy Way

If you want to gain some weight, then doing it the healthy way is very important. From genetics to underlying medical conditions, there are several reasons for being underweight. But, with some effective tips and the right diet, you can achieve a healthy weight. Click on the infographic below to learn some tips for gaining weight.

tips for gaining weight the healthy way (infographic)

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Conclusion

Gaining weight may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Incorporating high-calorie foods into your diet is essential for weight gain and bulking. Opting for high-fat, high-carb, and nutrient-dense options can provide the necessary energy and nutrients for muscle-building and mass gain. Consume the foods mentioned in this list, add resistance training or strength training to your workout routine, and remain stress-free. You will soon start gaining lean muscle and the right amount of fat. Take care!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I eat 4000 calories a day?

If you want to consume 4000 calories a day, it is advisable to include healthy fats and healthy calorie-laden foods like avocado, clarified butter, and full-fat dairy. Try avoiding any junk or processed foods. You also may increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and go for lean meat as well.

How many calories do I need to gain 5 kg?

You gain about 1 kilo a week for every 1000 calories added. Hence, you may need to add 1000 calories extra per week to gain 5 kilos in a period of 5 to 6 weeks.

Are eggs good for weight gain?

Yes, eggs are a good choice for weight gain. They are packed with protein and can be easily incorporated into the diet.

Do oats with milk increase weight?

Yes, oats with milk can help with weight gain. However, ensure you mix oats with full-fat milk.

How many calories do you burn sleeping?

One will burn approximately 50 calories per hour while sleeping. However, this count can vary from person to person.

How to gain weight?

If you want to gain weight, there are a few things you can do. First, eat more. Specifically, you should aim for an extra 300-500 calories per day for slow weight gain or 700-1000 calories per day for faster results. Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, potatoes, eggs, and dairy products, and try to eat frequently throughout the day. Exercise is also important, especially strength training. Finally, you can try drinking smoothies and shakes made with high-calorie, nutritious ingredients or eating energy-dense foods like nuts and seeds.

What food makes you gain weight the fastest?

To put on some extra pounds, you can add certain weight gaining foods to your diet, such as red meat, oily fish, beans, nuts, whole milk, eggs, and avocados. Don’t forget to include cheeses, yogurt, and whole-grain products as well. If you are still wondering what to eat to gain weight, foods like potatoes, dried fruits, oils, and butter can also help

Key Takeaways

  • Peanut butter, full-fat milk, banana, potato, rice, oily fish, and cheese are high-calorie foods that help you gain weight.
  • Homemade protein smoothies are packed with nutrition and contain no artificial sweeteners. So, you can have it as a workout meal.
  • Along with these foods, adding resistance and strength training will also help gain lean muscles.

Ready to pack on some healthy pounds? Discover the top 33 high calorie foods that can help you gain weight effectively. Watch now and start your journey towards a healthier you!

Personal Experience: Source

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.

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