How to Gain Weight Fast Most people are on the other end of the scale, desperately trying to lose weight. But 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, fueling sports, building muscle, or just trying to overcome skinny genes.
However, if you want or need to gain weight, do it the healthy way — which is not about bellying up to an 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 still rules.
Weight Gain is achieved through high-calorie products or meals designed to help you consume more calories and protein.
“Try to eat six times a day, with each meal (or at least three of them) containing protein, starch, vegetable[s], and fat,” says sports nutritionist and Georgia State University professor emeritus Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD. A sample meal would include a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with mayonnaise and tomatoes and a fruit smoothie. Eat often and choose wisely, and you can expect to gain an average of half a pound to 1 pound per week.
What Does Underweight Really Mean?
Being underweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5. This is estimated to be less than the body mass needed to sustain optimal health.
Conversely, over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is considered obese.
Summary Being underweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5. It’s much more common in women and girls.
Several Things Can Cause Someone to Become Underweight
There are several medical conditions that can cause unhealthy weight loss, including:
- Eating disorders: This includes anorexia nervosa, a serious mental disorder.
- Thyroid problems: Having an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can boost metabolism and cause unhealthy weight loss.
- Celiac disease: The most severe form of gluten intolerance. Most people with celiac disease don’t know that they have it (10Trusted Source).
- Diabetes: Having uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type 1) can lead to severe weight loss.
- Cancer: Cancerous tumors often burn large amounts of calories and can cause someone to lose a lot of weight.
- Infections: Certain infections can cause someone to become severely underweight. This includes parasites, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Summary There are several medical conditions that can cause unhealthy weight loss. If you’re underweight, see a doctor to rule out a serious health problem.
Eat More Calories Than Your Body Burns
The most important thing you can do to gain weight is to create a calorie surplus, meaning you eat more calories than your body needs.
You can determine your calorie needs using this calorie calculator.
If you want to gain weight slowly and steadily, aim for 300–500 calories more than you burn each day according to the calculator.
If you want to gain weight fast, aim for around 700–1,000 calories above your maintenance level.
Keep in mind that calorie calculators only provide estimates. Your needs may vary by several hundred calories per day, give or take.
You don’t need to count calories for the rest of your life, but it helps to do it for the first few days or weeks to get a feel for how many calories you’re eating. There are many great tools out there to help you.
Summary You need to eat more calories than your body burns to gain weight. Aim for 300–500 calories per day above your maintenance level for slow weight gain or 700–1,000 calories if you want to gain weight fast.
Eat Energy-Dense Foods and Use Sauces, Spices and Condiments
Again, it’s very important to eat mostly whole, single-ingredient foods.
The problem is that these foods tend to be more filling than processed junk foods, making it harder to get in enough calories.
Using plenty of spices, sauces and condiments can help with this. The tastier your food is, the easier it is to eat a lot of it.
Also, try to emphasize energy-dense foods as much as possible. These are foods that contain many calories relative to their weight.
Here are some energy-dense foods that are perfect for gaining weight:
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
- Dried fruit: Raisins, dates, prunes and others.
- High-fat dairy: Whole milk, full-fat yogurt, cheese, cream.
- Fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil.
- Grains: Whole grains like oats and brown rice.
- Meat: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, etc. Choose fattier cuts.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
Summary You can add sauces, spices and condiments to your foods to make it easier to eat more. Base your diet on energy-dense foods as much as possible.
Combining a high calorie intake with heavy strength training are the two most important factors.
That being said, there are several other strategies to gain weight even faster.
Here are 10 more tips to gain weight:
- Don’t drink water before meals. This can fill your stomach and make it harder to get in enough calories.
- Eat more often. Squeeze in an additional meal or snack whenever you can, such as before bed.
- Drink milk. Drinking whole milk to quench thirst is a simple way to get in more high-quality protein and calories.
- Try weight gainer shakes. If you’re really struggling then you can try weight gainer shakes. These are very high in protein, carbs and calories.
- Use bigger plates. Definitely use large plates if you’re trying to get in more calories, as smaller plates cause people to automatically eat less.
- Add cream to your coffee. This is a simple way to add in more calories.
- Take creatine. The muscle building supplement creatine monohydrate can help you gain a few pounds in muscle weight.
- Get quality sleep. Sleeping properly is very important for muscle growth.
- Eat your protein first and vegetables last. If you have a mix of foods on your plate, eat the calorie-dense and protein-rich foods first. Eat the vegetables last.
- Don’t smoke. Smokers tend to weigh less than non-smokers, and quitting smoking often leads to weight gain.