How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (2024)

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Gain weight and build muscle with these surprisingly simple tips

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1Eating to Gain Weight

2Building Muscle Mass

3Staying Safe

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Co-authored byClaudia Carberry, RD, MS

Last Updated: March 15, 2024Fact Checked

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Many people with high metabolisms, thin frames, or low appetites struggle to gain weight. Whether you’re hoping to build muscle mass or to find a more healthy everyday weight, the best solution to gain weight is to eat more, and eat right. In this article, we’ll teach you how and what to eat to maximize your weight gain, muscle growth, and long-term health benefits.

Healthy Ways to Gain Weight Fast

  • Eat high-fat snacks like nuts, seeds, yogurt, guacamole, and hummus.
  • Drink high-calorie beverages like milk, smoothies, and milkshakes.
  • Try to fit 5 to 6 smaller meals into your day, and eat snacks in between.

Part 1

Part 1 of 3:

Eating to Gain Weight

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  1. 1

    Add calories to the meals you make. When you are preparing food, think of some creative ways to bump up the calorie count. Could your sandwich use a slice of cheese? How about poaching an egg in your reheated soup? Drizzle olive oil on your vegetables, or sprinkle seeds, nuts, or cheese on your salad.[1]

    EXPERT TIP

    How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (5)

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS

    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.

    How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (6)

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS
    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Claudia Carberry, Registered Dietitian, recommends: "Foods that are high in calories will help you gain weight faster. Add fats such as oil or butter to your meals to make the meal more energy dense."

  2. 2

    Stock up on high-fat snacks. Fat is an essential part of your diet, and eating it can be a healthy way to regulate your weight.[2] Eat nuts, seeds, and seed and nut butters. Try cheese and crackers, or dried fruit and full-fat yogurt. Hummus is great on bread or vegetables, and with plenty of tahini and olive oil it can help you up your calories. Olives and cheese are great when you want something really savory.[3]

    • Keep spreads such as guacamole, tapenade, pesto, and hummus in your fridge for easy snacking.
    • Carry nut-bars to fill your cravings when you're out and about.

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  3. 3

    Drink milk and other high-calorie beverages. Drinking water is good for you, but it can blunt your appetite. If you find yourself filling up on liquids during meals, try to make those liquids count. Drink milk, smoothies, and shakes.[4]

    • Go for full-fat milk rather than skim.[5]
    • Put peanut butter or protein powder in your smoothies and shakes.
    • Plant-based milks like coconut milk and peanut milk are fattening and delicious.
    • Try traditional nutritious drinks from around the world. Kefir, horchata, chia fresca, lassi, misugaru, and telba are all high in calories and proteins.
    • Drink water and low-calorie beverages after you have eaten.
  4. 4

    Get your proteins. Protein is essential for weight gain. Red meat can help you gain weight, especially if you are working on building muscle. Salmon is high in calories and healthy fats. Yogurt is high in protein.[6]

    • Other oily fish can also help you gain weight. Keep canned sardines and tuna in your pantry.
    • Beans are a great source of proteins and of starch.
    • If you are struggling to include enough protein, you can use a supplement such as whey protein.
  5. 5

    Eat vegetables and fruits with some heft. Instead of filling up on celery and other watery vegetables, eat vegetables with some calories. Avocados have healthy fat and are a versatile ingredient. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and corn can help you gain weight as well. [7]

    • Fruits like bananas, blueberries, grapes, and mangoes can give you calories and fiber.
  6. 6

    Get whole grain bread. Whole-grain bread, kinds of pasta, and crackers have more nutrients and more calories than processed grains. Enjoy your bread with butter, olive oil, peanut butter, avocado, or a drizzle of tahini and honey.[8]

  7. 7

    Have some dessert. While you shouldn't rely on sugary food, the occasional sweet snack is fine. Don't worry about occasionally indulging in cake or ice cream. If you crave dessert every night, try for small portions and healthier options: dark chocolate, whole fat yogurt with fruit and granola, trail mix, granola bars, or whole grain pastries.[9]

  8. 8

    Eat more meals. If you are underweight, you may fill up quickly. To remedy this, eat more meals. Try to fit 5-6 smaller meals into your day, rather than relying on three. Eat snacks in between.[10]

    • Eat one meal or snack right before bed. Eating before sleeping can help you gain weight.
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Part 2

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Building Muscle Mass

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  1. 1

    Build your muscles with strength training. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you'll gain weight as you build muscle. Get some strength training exercise at least twice a week. You can strength train at home by doing crunches, lunges, and squats. Lift weights, exercise with kettlebells and medicine balls, or use tubes.[11]

    • If you belong to a gym, you can train on the weight machines.
    • Sign up for a Pilates class.
    • Take a class or watch an exercise video before embarking on a new form of exercise.
    • Remember, stop if you are in pain. If something hurts, you are at risk of injury.
  2. 2

    Get aerobic exercise. Regular aerobic activity won't pack on the muscle as quickly as strength-training, but it will help you balance your workout routine. Cardiovascular exercises strengthen your heart, improve or manage some chronic health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, and give you more stamina throughout the day.[12]

    • Cardio exercises can include: jogging or walking, biking, swimming or hiking.
    • If you're performing aerobic exercises and are having trouble maintaining your weight, you may need to decrease the intensity, frequency, or duration of your aerobic exercises.
  3. 3

    Eat before and after your workout. Carbohydrates will help your stamina before you work out, while carbohydrates and protein together will help your muscles heal after you work out.[13]

    • Get a small meal or a snack in at least an hour before exercising.
    • If you have eaten a large meal, wait three to four hours before you exercise.
    • Good post-exercise snacks might include peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit, chocolate milk and crackers, or a smoothie with milk, yogurt, or whey protein.
  4. 4

    See a personal trainer. If you're having trouble finding a workout routine that works for you, a personal trainer can get you on track. They'll be able to guide you through specific exercises or routines that can help you add weight.

    • Check at a local gym for a trainer. Many times you can see a trainer there and they may even offer a discounted consult for your first visit.
    • Talk to your trainer about your weight and goals. Tell them you're interested in healthy weight gain.
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Part 3

Part 3 of 3:

Staying Safe

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  1. 1

    Gain weight slowly. Quick weight gain is neither healthy nor practical. If you are eating so much you feel uncomfortable, you might be doing other harm to your body. Avoid binging: stop eating when you feel full. If you're worried you didn't eat enough, make it up with a small snack later.[14]

    • Set your weight gain goal in cooperation with your physician, dietitian, or personal trainer.
    • You can realistically gain 1 to 2 pounds (0.45 to 0.91kg) of muscle weight per month if you are committed to your weight gain and work out regimen. You may gain more per month, but it will be a mix of muscle and fat. Healthy weight gain is about 1 to 2 pounds per week.
    • If you’re not a weight lifter, you can gain about 2 to 4 pounds (0.91 to 1.81kg) of both muscle and fat weight a month.[15]
  2. 2

    Skip junk food. While increasing your calorie intake would be a lot easier if you just ate fast food every meal, your health would suffer in every other way. Instead, focus on preparing your own food if you have the time. If you hate cooking or are too busy, find healthy ways to eat out. Stores that list all the ingredients of your meal, like sandwich shops and smoothie shops, are a good bet.

    • If you would like to make your own food but are always busy during the week, try to make a lot of food over the weekend. You can freeze half of what you make if you're worried about it going bad.
    • As a rule, avoid fried food, sugary snacks, soda, and candy.
  3. 3

    Talk to a doctor or dietitian. If you are having unintended weight loss, talk to your doctor. It's possible that there's an underlying problem causing you to lose weight. Your doctor can check your thyroid and see if you have a hormonal imbalance. If your doctor can't help you, visit a dietitian for advice.[16]

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Foods to Eat and Avoid

Sample List of Food and Drinks to Eat to Gain Weight

Expert Q&A

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  • Question

    How can I put weight on fast?

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS
    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS

    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Expert Answer

    Drinking calories is often easier to tolerate than eating additional food. Smoothies, shakes, or cream-based soups may be helpful if you are trying to gain weight.

    Thanks! We're glad this was helpful.
    Thank you for your feedback.
    If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHow

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  • Question

    What vitamins to take to gain weight?

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS
    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS

    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Expert Answer

    There are no vitamins that will make you gain weight. Vitamins do not contain any calories.

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  • Question

    How can I gain weight in a week?

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS
    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.

    Claudia Carberry, RD, MS

    Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

    Expert Answer

    Eating an extra 500 calories per day will help you to gain 1 pound in 1 week.

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    Thank you for your feedback.
    If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHow

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      Tips from our Readers How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (30)

      The advice in this section is based on the lived experiences of wikiHow readers like you. If you have a helpful tip you’d like to share on wikiHow, please submit it in the field below.

      • If you can't eat your calories, drink them. You can make a protein shake with a banana, a scoop of peanut butter, and some oats for an easy snack.
      • If you are going through puberty or a growth spurt, remember to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein.
      • One of the best times to weigh yourself is in the morning right after you've been to the toilet.

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      About This Article

      How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (45)

      Co-authored by:

      Claudia Carberry, RD, MS

      Master's Degree, Nutrition, University of Tennessee Knoxville

      This article was co-authored by Claudia Carberry, RD, MS. Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010. This article has been viewed 11,663,629 times.

      225 votes - 85%

      Co-authors: 336

      Updated: March 15, 2024

      Views:11,663,629

      Categories: Gaining Weight

      Article SummaryX

      If you want to gain weight, you’ll need to eat more calories than your body burns every day. The number of calories you’ll need to eat will depend on your age, sex, height, and activity level, but generally, you should aim to eat about 500 calories more per day than your daily recommended caloric intake. Make sure you’re choosing healthy, nutrient-dense foods with each meal. Avoid eating a lot of unhealthy processed foods to gain weight since it can lead to health problems. Some healthy, high-calorie foods you can incorporate into your diet include avocados, rice, nuts, whole-grain bread, yogurt, and olive oil. You can also drink shakes with protein powder to easily get in more calories on the go. If you're trying to gain weight to put on muscle, eat more foods that are high in protein, like eggs, fish, chicken, tuna, beans, and cottage cheese. For more tips from our Dietitian co-author, like what kind of vegetables and proteins you should eat to gain weight, keep reading!

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      Reader Success Stories

      • How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (46)

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        "I have always been able to gain weight, and a little at a time. I have high burn rate. I am now stabilized, but..." more

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      How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy (2024)

      FAQs

      How to Gain Weight, Increase Muscle Mass, & Stay Healthy? ›

      Eat small serves of protein foods before and after each resistance training session to help promote muscle growth. Accept that an increase in food intake may cause bloating or gas. Be prepared to gain some fat as well. It isn't possible to increase muscle mass without also increasing body fat.

      How can I gain weight and muscle healthily? ›

      10 quick tips
      1. Avoid drinking water before meals. This can fill your stomach and make it harder to get enough calories ( 35 ).
      2. Eat more often. ...
      3. Drink milk. ...
      4. Try weight gainer shakes. ...
      5. Use bigger plates. ...
      6. Add cream to your coffee. ...
      7. Take creatine. ...
      8. Get quality sleep.

      How can I gain weight and still be healthy? ›

      Do
      1. gain weight gradually by adding healthy calories – adults could try adding around 300 to 500 extra calories a day.
      2. eat smaller meals more often, adding healthy snacks between meals.
      3. add extra calories to your meals with cheese, nuts, and seeds.
      4. have high-calorie drinks in between meals, such as milkshakes.

      How can I gain weight and build muscle at the same time? ›

      Eat small serves of protein foods before and after each resistance training session to help promote muscle growth. Accept that an increase in food intake may cause bloating or gas. Be prepared to gain some fat as well. It isn't possible to increase muscle mass without also increasing body fat.

      What should I eat everyday to gain weight and muscle? ›

      Studies have shown that increasing the intake of fats and proteins might help you gain weight naturally. To my knowledge, food items like red meats, chicken, fish, beans, whole milk, eggs, cheese, full-fat yoghurt, nuts, butter, and olives may help in gaining weight while maintaining your health.

      Which food increase body weight? ›

      Carbs and high-fat foods: Healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and high in fiber, such as bananas, oats, quinoa, blueberries, sweet potatoes, cheese, and dark chocolate, can help you gain weight. Energy-rich foods: Energy-dense foods fuel your body and can help you put on pounds in a healthy way.

      How to gain 10 pounds in a month? ›

      Start by increasing your calorie and protein intake by eating every few hours. Take supplements, if needed, for that extra boost. Work out hard in order to turn any extra calories into muscle, not fat. If you plateau or need additional help, talk with a dietitian or personal trainer.

      Why is it hard for a skinny person to gain weight? ›

      Some people have a naturally low BMI due to physical characteristics that run in their family. A high metabolism. If a person has a high metabolism, they may not gain much weight even when eating high-energy foods.

      Why am I so skinny and can't gain weight? ›

      You may be born naturally small and your low BMI can be due to your genes. You may have a very high metabolism and find it hard to put on weight, even if you eat foods that have a lot of calories. You may not follow a healthy, balanced diet because you forget to eat or cannot afford nutritious foods.

      How to gain 10 pounds in a week? ›

      The following tips can help a person gain weight quickly and safely:
      1. Eat three to five meals a day. ...
      2. Weight training. ...
      3. Eat enough protein. ...
      4. Eat meals with fibrous carbohydrates and healthful fats. ...
      5. Drink high-calorie smoothies or shakes. ...
      6. Seek help where needed.
      May 30, 2018

      What supplement is best for muscle growth? ›

      Creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements — namely for its ability to increase muscle mass! Research has shown that increases in muscle mass can occur in as little as 4 weeks by supplementing with creatine in the diet. To see the fastest results, a loading protocol for creatine is often recommended.

      How to speed up muscle growth? ›

      6 Tips to Help You Build Muscle Faster
      1. Maximize your workout time with compound exercises. Some exercises only focus on specific muscles in your body. ...
      2. Go for high-intensity workouts. ...
      3. Make sure you're eating enough. ...
      4. Get enough rest. ...
      5. Try supplements. ...
      6. Make a goal to train each muscle two to three times per week.
      Jan 11, 2023

      What protein powder is good for gaining weight? ›

      Best 3 features for you
      Product NameFlavourDiet Type
      Mypro Sport Nutrition Plant Protein PowderChocolateVegetarian
      PENTASURE 2.0 High Protein High CalorieVanillaVegetarian
      MYHERB Women's Weight GainerChocolateVegetarian
      OZiva Protein & Herbs, Women, Natural Protein PowderVanilla AlmondGluten Free, Vegetarian
      6 more rows
      Mar 29, 2024

      How many bananas a day for weight gain? ›

      Bananas contain the right amount of carbohydrates and calories. Therefore, incorporating bananas into your diet depends on your goals. You can eat up to one banana a day as part of a healthy diet for weight loss. But eating 2 to 3 bananas will add up to 350 extra calories that can help you with weight gain.

      Is peanut butter good for you to gain weight? ›

      Peanut Butter and Weight Gain

      One tablespoon of peanut butter contains around 100 calories, making it an excellent option for those looking to gain weight. In addition, peanut butter is rich in healthy fats and protein, both of which are essential for muscle growth and weight gain.

      Which fruit is best for weight gain? ›

      11 high-calorie fruits for weight gain
      1. Bananas. Many high-calorie, power smoothies, and drinks are made with bananas as their main ingredient. ...
      2. Mangoes. ...
      3. Grapefruits. ...
      4. Blueberries. ...
      5. Coconut flesh. ...
      6. Avocados. ...
      7. Dried fruits. ...
      8. Grapes.
      Sep 23, 2022

      How does a skinny person gain muscle? ›

      In addition to exercise, changing the diet also helps skinny people gain muscle. Accordingly, the recipe is simple: Focus on lean protein, healthy fats, and slow-digesting carbs. At the same time, completely eliminate foods without nutrition from the diet.

      What is the fastest way to gain muscle weight? ›

      How to build muscle faster
      1. Increase your training volume. Getty Images. ...
      2. Increase your training frequency. Getty Images. ...
      3. Lift heavier weights. Getty Images. ...
      4. Switch to compound lifts. Getty Images. ...
      5. Eat more protein. Getty Images. ...
      6. Eat more in general. Getty Images. ...
      7. Get more sleep. Getty Images. ...
      8. Prioritize recovery. Getty Images.
      Apr 15, 2021

      How does a skinny guy gain muscle? ›

      Focus On Big, Compound Exercises

      The meat and potatoes of your training should be based on compound exercises like squats, chin-ups, dips, presses, rows and deadlift variations.

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