Foods To Help Gain Weight

Foods To Help Gain Weight
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

Foods to help gain weight might seem really easy to find, especially since so many people are trying to lose weight. But for someone who’s underweight, or trying to put on muscle, while eating healthy foods it can actually be tough.

There are foods that make you fat, and then there are foods that help you gain weight in a healthy way. One of the key concepts is calorie density – how many calories there are in a given volume of food.

For those of you who aren’t looking to gain weight, you can use this as a list of foods that you should avoid, or try to eat the opposite.

If you’re looking to build muscle, keep in mind that you can’t eat your way to bigger muscles. You need to do strength training to turn what you eat into muscle. Food’s role is to help support your training.

The issue most people have in trying to gain weight is that their stomach fills up before they can get enough calories in it. This is especially true when you eat a healthy whole foods plant-based diet, since those foods have lots of fiber and water.

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The foods to help gain weight are going to be the ones that are most calorie-dense – meaning they have a lot of calories for their volume.

There are plenty of options for calorie-dense foods out there, as we can see by the obesity epidemic. In order to gain weight in a healthy way, you need to look for calorie-dense foods that are also healthy.

Nuts, Seeds and Avocados

Because nuts, seeds and avocados are high in fat, they’re also high in calories. Fat gives you 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbs give you 4. They’re healthy, high-fat foods that help you gain weight. Much healthier than potato chips.

Add nuts and seeds to your breakfast, on top of a salad, steamed veggies or soup. Have nut or seed butters (peanut, almond, sunflower, cashew, etc) on toast or rice cakes, as a salad dressing base or in a pureed soup or bean dip. Put avocado slices on a pizza or sandwich, or puree it into a dip for some sweet potato fries.

Pureed Foods

If you puree your food you can often fit more into your stomach before you get too full. It helps break down the fiber, and is especially helpful for getting lots of greens into you when you just can’t eat enough salad.

Try making smoothies, pureed soups, dips and sauces with all your regular healthy whole foods. Hummus and creamy squash soup are two of my favorites.

Dried Foods

Water tends to fill up your stomach, so if you eat foods that have been baked, dried or dehydrated you’ll be able to get more calories in with a smaller volume.

Things like dried fruits, baked vegetables (instead of steamed), healthy homemade muffins and cookies, breads, and crackers. Just be sure the baked goods you eat aren’t loaded with refined sugar, flour or oils. Even though they have lots of calories, they’re not a healthy way to gain weight.

Protein Powder

If you’re trying to build muscle, and you’re working out intensely on a regular basis, you might need more protein than usual. Protein powders are the easiest way to do that, and are also an easy way to add calories in general. Throw some into a smoothie or your morning porridge.

Be sure to look for a type that’s pure – with no sugar or flavors or chemicals added. My favorite type is hemp, but you can also find excellent pea or brown rice powders. Soy and whey powders are a lot cheaper, but they tend to cause digestive problems (aka gas) and are both really common allergens.

Click to read about my favorite vegan protein powders.

What challenges do you have in trying to gain weight? Let me know below – did I miss anything you were wondering about?


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