20 Amazing Methods for Healthy Weight Gain

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Some of the most recommended methods for healthy weight gain include lifting weights, drinking less water, eating more meals, cutting out junk food, drinking a glass of wine before meals, calculating your base calorie intake, taking dietary supplements, and many more.

When most people talk about gaining weight, it is with a decidedly negative tone, as obesity and the subsequent health concerns are such a serious problem in modern culture. However, there is a smaller proportion of the population that struggles with being too thin for a variety of reasons. Illness or injury can cause extreme weight loss, while some people simply want to increase their physical presence or size, perhaps as an athlete trying to develop a physical edge. As is obvious all around us, gaining weight to become obese is quite easy, but healthily gaining weight is a bit more of a challenge. [1]

Our bodies require a certain amount of calories and nutrient intake, and if we have too much or too little, then we become either obese or underweight, respectively. That simple relationship is the reason why most people think that diet is the end all be all solution for losing and gaining weight. However, lifestyle choices also play a major role in how our body stores fat, metabolizes nutrients and manages our weight. [2]

A healthy balance of lifestyle alterations and dietary choices can help you gain mass without lowering your overall health with the chronic problems associated with unhealthy weight gain and obesity. Sometimes loss of appetite may also cause weight loss. Research suggests that umami flavor increases satiety and enhances appetite.  [3]

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best methods for healthy weight gain.

Methods for Healthy Weight Gain

Drink Wine Before Meals

Wine has a curious property of inducing your appetite; therefore, if you want to have a healthy appetite before a meal, a glass of wine is always a good choice, particularly because wine is also rich in antioxidants and tannins that will improve your immune system and protect your health, while still stimulating your weight gain. [4]

Weight Training

While cardiovascular exercise does help build muscles, it can also cause you to lose weight. However, lifting weights is a way to convert your extra weight into lean mass, which weighs more than fat. It also is far healthier and increases your metabolism to have additional muscle mass. Weightlifting is one of the best ways to improve your health and help boost your body mass. [5]

Drink Less Water

Water may be the elixir of life for human beings, but it is also very good for filling you up and even ruining your appetite at times. While a certain amount of water is essential for health, try not to overdo the water intake between meals while trying to bulk up, as water won’t permanently contribute to your weight, only as temporary water weight before urination. [6]

Eat After Exercise

When your body is operating at a high level, your blood is pumping, and your metabolism is at its peak, eating a big meal can be a perfect way to optimize the nutrient intake and make the most of the caloric intake while your body can process the calories quickly. [7]

Eat Larger Meals

If you are used to specific portion size, make a conscious effort to increase it slightly. Don’t go overboard, but if the other option is snacking later, it will be a good choice to simply eat larger meals. Three large meals and two healthy snacks are recommended to increase weight gain in most people. [8]

A woman smiling and holding a grocery bag of fresh fruits and vegetables

The best way to have a nutritious diet is to eat fruits and vegetables of many different colors. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Chew Your Food

By making sure that you chew all of your food properly, you optimize the digestive system and ensure that you get all of the calories possible, rather than losing them into your digestive tract and in your waste. [9]

Eat More Meals

Another view in terms of portion size and frequency is to have 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day. This perspective, as well as the three large meals and two healthy snacks, are both valid options for healthy weight gain, depending on what you choose to eat in those meals! [10]

Add Yogurt to Your Diet

Yogurt is not only high in calories but is also a great source of prebiotic bacteria, which can help your body’s digestive system remain healthy and can optimize your nutrient intake to make sure the weight gain is beneficial and healthy. [11]

Eliminate Junk Food

Junk food can be an easy option for bulking up, as they are packed with trans fats, salt, and calories, but this is not the kind of caloric and nutrient intake that is required for healthy weight gain. Rather, this is a way through which you invite lifestyle-related comorbidities, which include chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and a range of other health risks. [12]

Maintain Your Diet

Some people are happy to put in a short amount of work and enjoy the results, but unfortunately, unless you maintain these new habits, you are likely to simply gain the weight back or fall back into bad habits, and possibly even get obese if you let all of your muscle tonings go. Keep your lifestyle on this healthy track you’ve chosen. [13]

An infographic on the best foods for healthy weight gain

An avocado toast or a banana milkshake is one of the best breakfasts for healthy weight gain. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Calculate your Specific Calorie Intake

Every person is different, so attempting to guess how many calories you need to pack on some pounds, do the math! There are plenty of BMI measurement tools and caloric intake algorithms out there on the Internet so you can accurately measure how much your body needs, and a what a healthy surplus will result in for your specific body. Being informed is a good way to gain weight well! [14]

Add Pistachios and Nuts

Pistachios, nuts, and walnuts, among others, are packed with beneficial minerals and good forms of fiber. Snacks that are high in fiber, including various wheat bread and grains, can also be a good way to increase your calorie intake along with having a healthy impact on your digestive system. [15]

Eat at Consistent Times

Your body enjoys being on cycles – don’t forget that! If you get into a consistent pattern of eating, digesting, and activity, your body will be more likely to “get the hint” and readjust hormonally to a certain degree. Your metabolism can learn your patterns. Perfect routines are impossible, but try to keep some consistency in your schedule. It will help!

Avoid Binge Eating

It can be tempting to simply eat a lot of food at once when you have the time, money, and food, but that is too much for your body to handle all at once and inevitably, some will be converted to visceral fat. Spread out your meals, as recommended earlier, and avoid binge eating.

Don’t Try to Gain Too Fast

This is one of the biggest mistakes of people who are trying to gain weight healthily. Gaining more than a pound or two a week can lead to dangerous instability in your metabolism and often results in crash dieting and constant weight fluctuations. Some situations require quick bulking up, but consulting a dietitian and a doctor when trying to gain weight very quickly is a good idea. [16]

Increase Your Protein Intake

Skin, cells, blood, organs, muscles, and lymph all require protein to be formed. If you want to increase your weight, you will need to boost your protein intake, as it is truly the “stuff” we are made of. Without protein (and meat is often the easiest source), it would be very difficult to gain healthy weight. [17]

Increase Your Oil Intake

One of the best ways to gain weight is actually by increasing your oil intake. Eating fatty foods is an unhealthy choice, so getting your fats in the form of beneficial omega-3s from special vegetable oils like canola oil and olive oil is the healthy option. This will improve your cholesterol balance and improve your health, while still boosting your weight. [18]

Get Checked

Some people are just genetically predisposed to not gain much weight, and there are actual hormonal deficiencies that prohibit people from turning nutrients into fat. If none of your other attempts at gaining weight seem to be working, getting checked for some of these actual conditions or even genetic traces that may explain your inability to gain healthy weight. [19]

Know Your Body

Some people gain weight in different ways. Eating sugary foods might not help some people gain healthy weight; instead, it might cause visceral fat, which is how people become “skinny fat”. You should reflect on how your body has gained weight in the fast, and try to replicate the healthy methods you’ve used before.

Dietary Supplements

Although this is usually considered the final option, as it can have some negative impacts, since it is somewhat unnatural, dietary supplements can be used to bulk you up quickly. However, always consult a dietitian and a physician before starting to use dietary supplements to make sure that it is the right choice for you. [20]

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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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