A healthy way for adding pounds

Trying to gain weight may be just as challenging as trying to lose weight. The good news is that gaining weight is possible by following a few healthy eating tips.

Consider several small meals a day to gain weight

Eat several small meals rather than the traditional three meals a day.  The additional meals may be two or three substantial snacks between three moderate-size meals. Spreading out food during the day will allow more enjoyment of your food without feeling stuffed.

High calorie foods that may help you gain weight

Think about calories. Choose foods that are high in calories. Also, you should concentrate on foods packed with nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals, rather than rich desserts and fried foods. Choose foods from the Food Pyramid, and keep fats, oils, and sweets in moderation. Aim to consume the maximum recommended number of servings from each group shown on the Pyramid. Smart choices are:

Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta

  • Granola
  • Bagels
  • Biscuits
  • Cornbread


  • Canned fruit in syrup
  • Dried fruits
  • Fruit nectars
  • Avocados


  • Olives
  • Potatoes
  • Peas 
  • Corn
  • Squash
  • Vegetable juices

Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts 

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Poultry
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Omelets 
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter 
  • Kidney beans 
  • Black beans 
  • Chickpeas

Milk, yogurt, and cheese

  • Milk
  • Full calorie fruited yogurts 
  • Hard cheeses
  • Ice cream
  • Puddings
  • Custards
  • Milkshakes

Ways to add extra calories to your diet 

Make every bit count. Extra calories can make interesting additions to each meal. Ways to include those extra calories are:

  • Using milk instead of water in hot cereals, soups, and sauces.
  • Sprinkling powdered milk into casseroles and meatloaf.
  • Adding avocado, cheese, and salad dressings to sandwiches. Fat-free products will add calories without adding fat.
  • Mixing cooked, chopped meat into casseroles, side dishes and pasta.
  • Adding wheat germ, nuts, beans or cheese into side dishes, stir frys and pasta dishes.
  • Choosing high calorie beverages, appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts when dining out. Take leftovers home for a snack.

Snacking tips that may help you gain weight

Snack smart.  Snacks play an important part in gaining weight. Snacks that add calories, vitamins, and minerals can be made by:

  • Adding powdered milk to yogurt or ice cream-based fruit and fruit juice shakes.
  • Making dips for crackers, chips, and fresh fruit or vegetables with mashed beans, fat-free salad dressings, or lowfat varieties of cheese, sour cream, or cream cheese.
  • Spacing snacks throughout the day so meals aren’t spoiled.
Last reviewed: 
September 2017

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