20 Best Foods for Healthy Weight Gain

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The best foods you can add to your diet to increase your weight in a healthy way include potatoes, pasta, rice, exotic fruits, nuts, shrimp, red meat, bananas, eggs, granola, bagels, avocados, and many more.

When most people think about gaining weight, it is seen as an unacceptable thing; there is no denying that obesity is a rampant problem in the world today. However, there are some people who actually need to gain weight for a variety of reasons. Whether you are a Hollywood actor packing on some pounds for a new role or a college athlete that wants to bulk up for the upcoming season, it is important to know how to gain weight in a healthy, manageable way. Also, when recovering from an injury or an illness, which often causes a drop in body weight, gaining weight in a healthy way is very important. [1]

As with most health goals, there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to gain weight. Sitting on a couch, snacking on pizza, potato chips, and beer for a few weeks will certainly lead to some weight gain, but not the healthy type you want. As we can see from modern society, becoming overweight or obese is easy, but gaining weight in a healthy, controllable way takes more effort and determination. There are many health risks associated with an unhealthy weight gain, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, low metabolism, gout, and a general decrease in overall health. That being said, having a body weight that is too low can also be dangerous, resulting in hormonal issues, bone density loss, and organ malfunction. Sometimes loss of appetite may also cause weight lossResearch suggests that umami flavor increases satiety and enhances appetite. [2]

Healthy foods for weight gain (raw chicken, fish, pork, tomatoes, red chilies, apples, cucumbers, eggs, spinach, milk, and apricots) on a wooden table

Gaining or regaining weight can be just as difficult as losing weight. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Best Foods for Healthy Weight Gain

If you add the following foods to your daily or weekly diet, you will be able to increase your weight in a healthy way to avoid all of those issues and get the results you want. [3]


This is probably the most obvious choice for gaining weight, as most people instantly cut these carbohydrate-heavy vegetables from their diet when they are trying to lose weight. Fortunately, potatoes are rich in fiber and vitamin C, in addition to giving you a bump to your weight. Make sure you keep the skin on for the optimal intake of nutrients. [4]

Whole Grain Bread

Bread is a natural source of carbohydrates, but eating regular white bread is an empty and less healthy way to get them. Choose whole grain bread, which is packed with fiber and nutrients, in addition to the weight-boosting carbohydrate load. [5]

Peanut Butter

One of the easiest and most delicious ways to gain healthy weight is by spreading some peanut butter on bread. Salty, soft peanut butter on toast has nearly 200 calories and also provides a high protein boost that your body can use in a productive way. [6]


The best thing about cheese is that you can put it on anything. The high-fat content in most types of cheese will definitely help you increase your weight, but cheese also contains necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as a good amount of protein, which will help you gain weight in a healthy way. [7]

Whole Milk

One of the easiest ways to gain a bit of extra weight is to get rid of your skim milk and replace it with high-fat whole milk. Basically, the fat is left in, adding only 60 extra calories per serving, but also keeping a lot of extra vitamins and healthy fats in your milk. It is an easy change that can give you weight gain results quickly. [8]

Red Meat

Having a steak once or twice a week may seem indulgent, but red meat is high in minerals that your body needs, along with good fat and calorie content. The more marbled a piece of meat is, the more fat is in the cut, which will help increase your weight. However, eating too many rich servings of red meat every week can cause other health issues, so eat red meat in moderation. [9]


This is a slippery slope for weight gain, as too much butter can be a negative health risk. However, if you are looking to pack on some pounds quickly, add butter to your meals and as your cooking base (replacing olive oil or vegetable oil). You will be consuming approximately 80 grams of fat for every 100 grams of butter, one of the most fat-rich foods out there, which will definitely boost your weight. [10]


Eating whole eggs floods your body with good cholesterol, moderate amounts of calories, and high levels of vitamin A, D, and E. Additionally, eggs don’t fill you up as much as other food, which means that you can give yourself a weight boost by eating 3-4 whole eggs a day. [11]


For quick on-the-go energy and weight gain help, grab a banana. They are high in potassium, carbohydrates, and other important nutrients that give you energy and keep you healthy, but there are also more than 100 calories in a banana, so they can help you bulk up. [12]


Adding this protein and mineral-rich food to your diet 2-3 times a week will not only offset those meals where you avoid red meat but will also help bulk you up. It will help in strengthening your immune system and protecting your cardiovascular system as well.


Similar to adding potatoes to your diet to boost the weight, make sure to have plenty of pasta. It is composed almost entirely of carbohydrates, which is what your body needs to add bulk. Mixing up a thick bolognese sauce of red meat and tomatoes will help you boost your calorie count even further. [13]


This may not seem like the most exciting food to add to your diet, but the high concentration of sugar, fiber, and protein (provided you eat your granola with yogurt) is a very healthy way for you to add extra calories. [14]

Dried Fruits

When fruits are dried, they actually retain more calories than fresh fruits, don’t fill you up as fast and can help pack on the pounds in a healthy and nutritious way. [15]

Exotic Fruit

Fruits like mangoes, papayas, and pineapples are very rich in sugar and can help pack on some extra, healthy pounds without too much effort. Also, the rich mineral, vitamin, and antioxidant content of these fruits (not to mention fiber) will make sure you are gaining weight in a healthy way.

An infographic on the foods for weight gain

Avoid eating processed or unhealthy foods for weight gain. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


These tasty bite-sized shellfish are packed with calories, as well as healthy forms of fats and acids that are beneficial for health. Also, shrimp are easy to snack on and don’t seem to fill you up very quickly, so you can have a major calorie boost without feeling sluggish. [16]


Although these are quite like bread, they are actually very calorie-dense and are packed with complex carbohydrates. They are an easy on-the-go food any time of the day to pack on a few extra pounds. [17]


These tasty fruits are high in calories, approximately 140 calories in each piece. However, while helping you bulk up, avocados also give you a rich variety of minerals, particularly potassium, as well as vitamin E and folate. [18]

Brown Rice

Much like pasta, bread, and potatoes, brown rice is a great source of compact carbohydrates and also gives you a healthy dose of fiber to improve your heart health, digestion, and cholesterol levels. [19]


This type of bread may not be popular around the world, but is known and loved for its sweetness and it packs over 300 calories per 100 grams. Add some extra pieces of cornbread to your diet and see a healthy weight gain in no time. [20]

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is relatively low in fat but has almost 100 calories in a medium-sized breast. If you’ve already gotten your fat intake but are looking for calorie-load, chicken breasts are a great choice. [21]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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