Weight issues are one of the most common concerns of every person in the modern world. Whether it is about being underweight or shedding those extra pounds, the loop is never-ending. Being overweight and/or obese is frowned upon since it paves a way for a myriad of diseases including diabetes and high cholesterol. However, being underweight has its own side effects, which include but is not limited to weak immunity, deficiency of certain nutrients like calcium and iron, osteoporosis and fertility issues. Therefore it is imperative that you maintain a healthy weight.

A good balance of exercise and a balanced diet can be the key to all your weight issues.

Generally, weight gain is considered way easier than losing weight. After all, all you have to do is increase your calories and eat more. Right? Well, yes and no. Eating a lot or binging on healthy food would certainly increase your calorie count but it would not assist you in gaining weight miraculously. In fact, there is a strong possibility that you might end up being skinny fat which is just as bad as being obese. Research suggests that skinny fat people have the same visceral structure as that of obese people and are at equally high risk of developing all the obesity-related disorders.

In this article, you’ll get to know what foods you can opt to gain healthy weight and stay fit and what exactly you should avoid if you want to keep from being skinny fat.

  1. Body mass index: Are you really underweight?
  2. What to eat to gain weight
  3. What not to eat to gain weight: How to gain weight in a healthy way
Doctors for What to eat and what not to eat to gain weight

In today’s image-conscious society, it is easy to be concerned about weight issues, especially for young adults. What would otherwise be considered a normal or healthy weight may be taken as overweight by some however the opposite is also true. According to a study, there is a major difference between the perceived weight of an individual and their actual weight. Most obese people don’t even realise they need to shed those extra pounds.

Determining your BMI or body mass index would be helpful in determining this. BMI is defined as the measure of total body fat. It is a mathematical value based on your height and weight. The equation for BMI is:

Your body mass in Kg/ (your height in meters)2

Generally, a person having a BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight, a BMI between 18.5-24.9 comes under normal weight category and BMI above 25 is considered to be the overweight category and above 30 is obese

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Now you know how to find your BMI and ascertain if you indeed need to gain weight. The next question would be, what exactly you should eat to reach that weight goal? Undoubtedly you need to increase your total calorie intake and take more carbohydrates, proteins and fats which will make sure that you not only get all the energy for your everyday work but also you bulk up lean muscle mass and keep excess fat at bay. It might look like a lot to hear but once you start working on towards your weight goals you’ll realise its anything but fun and easy with a lot of yummy options at your disposal. Let us have a look at the foods you can eat to gain healthy weight.

Proteins for weight gain

Proteins and protein supplements are one of the most endorsed dietary additions for those looking for weight gain. Taking more protein is equated to a better-toned body and higher muscle mass along with weight gain. However, according to RDA, the daily protein requirement of a person with a normal level of physical activity is about 0.8 to 2 g per Kg of body weight, which can be easily obtained through diet. In fact, research evidence suggests that the increased protein requirements of athletes don’t need to be compensated with supplements either and a high protein diet does not have a significant impact on muscle mass unless added with resistance training and that too in the long term.

Additionally, taking more protein would mean you need to cut down on some other foods to reach your daily caloric value. Excess protein in the body further increases the risk of kidney damage and heart ailments. So, it is the best that you take your daily requirement spread throughout the day equally. This ensures that you get your fill of energy throughout the day. Proteins are also filling and would keep you sated between meals.

Some of the good sources of proteins include eggs, fish, pulses or legumes, milk and nuts.

Carbohydrates to gain weight

When it comes to weight gain, carbohydrates and fats could be your best friend. But then both these nutrients are also linked to obesity and cardiovascular problems. The question remains, will it be healthy to gorge more carbs and fatty food just to gain those extra pounds? Certainly not.

While carbohydrates help you get an instant source of energy and has a calorific value almost equal to that of an equal amount of protein, binging on carbs is not an ideal dietary choice. This is because all the extra carbs get stored in your liver in the form of fats which is quite counterintuitive to a healthy weight gain goal.

Fibre is a type of carbohydrate which is known to reduce the risk of various diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, but it promotes weight loss. Despite that, it is important that you do not remove fibre from your diet since fibre helps your body to digest food and keeps your digestive system healthy. Also, it makes sure that you do not pile up on excess cholesterol.

To sum up, carbs can help you get the energy you need for your day and forms an important part of your weight gain diet plan though it is best not to binge too much on carbs as it would just increase your calorie count.

To add healthy fat to your diet you can take more vegetables like potatoes and broccoli, whole grain bread and flour, pasta, cereals, rice, milk, fruits, and legumes.

Fats and oils for weight gain

Just like carbohydrates, fats can be good for gaining weight until you make sure to take them in moderation and opt for healthy fats along with a proper balance between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

Adding olive oil, sunflower oil and foods rich in omega-3 fats would additionally be helpful in weight gain. Flax seeds, fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna and nuts are a good source of healthy fats.

You can also opt for whole milk, eggs and meat to add more fat to your diet and make your own dips and salad dressings at home. 

Fruits for weight gain

We have already discussed some of the most common nutrient sources and their importance in weight gain. Fruits are just a good mix of most of those nutrients along with some bioactive compounds that could aid in keeping you healthy and maintaining various metabolic processes while you are busy counting calories. Though research studies indicate that taking fruits may help you in weight loss, when added with a proper weight gain diet, it can instead be your extra carbs or fat source and aid you in gaining more pounds. It’s all about how you use it. Fruits like mango, banana and avocado are considered to be good for weight gain. They are high in calories and provide healthy fats (avocado).

Instead of just taking a fruit salad as a meal you can take fruits on the side, or as a snack. Blend some of your favourite fruits to make a smoothie bowl for yourself. Don’t forget to put some milk and cream in it to give it that extra richness. Or give your boring salads a twist and add some natural sweeteners like honey to it or some granola or yoghurt and put on weight in a healthy way.

Dairy products for weight gain: milk, cheese, yoghurt

Dairy products are of course your best bet in any weight gain regime. They provide you with a wide range of proteins and essential amino acids along with carbohydrates and fats. A whole meal anybody? Most dairy products have one or both of the two major proteins viz whey protein and casein. The former metabolises quickly and provides you with quick energy refill while the later takes time to digest and hence provides you with a constant source of energy and protein.

Whole milk (2% fat) is rich in both of these proteins while yoghurt and cheese lack whey proteins. Nonetheless, any and all dairy products facilitate a healthy weight gain.

A delectable way to add more dairy to your diet is by making milkshakes or adding yoghurt to your bowl of fruit salad and dips. You can also munch on a cheese sandwich or make a whole wheat pasta or a pizza topped with some cheese and some veggies of your choice to enjoy as a snack or a meal.

If you are a fan of traditional Indian food, various curried incorporate milk and curd as a constituent and you always have an option of adding cream and making yourself some shahi paneer. Though it is always advisable that you use healthy fats for cooking these recipes.

Energy dense foods for weight gain: nuts and plant oils

Energy density is a term used to define the amount of energy it gives off per 100 gram. Energy-dense foods usually include plant oils and nuts. The density is mostly due to the presence of fats as fats provide higher energy per gram. Research evidence suggests that eating energy-dense foods can aid in weight gain quickly. So, get your hands on nuts like pistachios, almonds, cashews and walnuts. They provide you with healthy fats along with vitamins and minerals and are not as filling. You can top up your smoothies with a handful of nuts or sprinkle them over salads to add that extra crunch.

Alternatively, you can make for yourself a peanut butter sandwich. Though it is preferable that you avoid the salted and fried nuts and go for plain ones instead.

Other foods that help you gain weight

Apart from the aforementioned foods, there are some other things that you can add to your diet to gain weight without compromising your health.

Meat and fish: Meat and fish are two of the best sources of dietary proteins. They are rich in essential amino acids and vitamins which lead to an overall health buildup. Fish, especially salty fish have omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that helps maintain heart health. Get crafty and cook up some chicken nuggets or fish chips or better yet make your salads more nutritious by adding some chicken or lamb to it and  If you are worried about bulking up too much you can go for low-fat meat like chicken breast.

Eggs: Just like meat and fish, eggs are also rich in proteins. Though eggs contain leucine, an amino acid that helps you build up muscles. What better than a food that also helps you build muscle mass along with providing you with nutrition and satiety. You can take the traditional boiled or scrambled eggs or treat yourself with a sunny side up along with some cheese toast or a big bowl of fruit and nut smoothie.

Water: Water may not be the last thing to consider in a weight gain diet but it is essential for transporting all the nutrients and electrolytes throughout your body and it also detoxifies and cleanses excess waste making sure that you have a good metabolism and don’t get prone to diseases.

Artificial sweeteners or excess sweets

Though natural sugars from fruits and dairy are considered good for gaining weight, it is the best that you stay away from artificial sweeteners or refined sugar since they are not only harmful to your body but also they act as empty calories and provide no nutritional value of their own.

For the same reason, it is best to avoid sweets like those gulabjamuns, jalebis and barfis or pastries and cakes which additionally contain refined flour. If you have a sweet tooth though you can always wear that kitchen apron and cook a healthy pastry or dark chocolate brownie from scratch as chocolate hosts an array of antioxidants and is good for health.

Carbonated beverages and prepacked juices

Most of us know that carbonated beverages and soft drinks are not good for health, apart from having added sweeteners and artificial flavours they also increase air in the body and cause bloating and stomach gas which is not good for your body. Packed fruit juices hold the same disadvantage. Unlike eating a fruit, which contains fibre, your fruit juice provides an instant rush of sugar to your blood which is not considered healthy. This is also true for your homemade fruit juices. To gain maximum benefit, it is suggested that you take fresh fruits instead.

Processed and fried food

Processed usually contain artificial ingredients and are not very healthy when it comes to their nutritive value. And let's face it they aren’t satiating so you are bound to overeat. Fried foods, on the other hand, contain trans fats and other harmful fatty acids which is just going to add to your waistline or visceral fat. Avoid processed and fried foods like french fries, chips, samosas, kachoris or readymade dips and sauces and ready to eat foods. Instead cook your own dressings and sauces to ensure that you are taking healthier nutrients, especially fats.

You can also make your own whole wheat pizza and pasta or make air fried samosas, fries and chips because as much as we are diet conscious it is hard to suppress those fast food cravings.

 Coffee, tea and light drinks

Since you are looking forward to gaining extra Kilos, learn to say no to drinks like tea and coffee which curb appetite and make you eat less. They are not rich in calories either. Similarly cut down on diet drinks.

Dr. Dhanamjaya D

Dr. Dhanamjaya D

15 Years of Experience

Dt. Surbhi Upadhyay

Dt. Surbhi Upadhyay

3 Years of Experience

Dt. Manjari Purwar

Dt. Manjari Purwar

11 Years of Experience

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

8 Years of Experience


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