When it comes to packing your muscles and building them well, there are two critical and essential things, which are; to embrace the rules in training and getting proper nutrition.
You may become the best person in the gym by ensuring that you are doing all the necessary workouts, but miss on the nutrition part, which is not good at all and a simple explanation in layman’s language is – you are kissing off your dream body step after step.
Since I’ve already been through all of this, with all the experience and research, this article will talk about the importance of healthy foods to help gain weight, why you should focus on nutrition and the list of best weight gain foods.
Something you should know about the two processes of building muscles and gaining healthy weight is that; the training part breaks your muscles down while the nutrition part ensures that you build your muscles again by providing the essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals to keep you growing.
Therefore for better muscle building procedure you cannot neglect either of the two parts.
While most of the population strives to lose weight and get toned, hard-gainers and skinny guys look up for ways to put on weight though good bulking foods and get in the right shape.
It is important that before beginning a fitness routine or nutrition plan, you carefully examine your body type along and follow the right plans which are best suited particularly for your body type.
Once you’re sure about your body type and have a dream body in mind, it’s time to work upon the goals with the right nutrition and workouts. The below mentioned high calorie foods for weight gain are only helpful once you’ve figured out your goals.
Macro Nutrient Checklist
There are certain foods that help you gain weight, but before that, you should know the importance of nutrition in gaining weight.
When it comes to nutrition, you cannot just gulp down pizzas and drink coke and expect your body to gain healthy weight. While you may include cheat meals here and there, the majority of your fitness goals will depend on a high quality, protein rich, calorie dense foods.
This means, between the three macro nutrients: Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats, you have to specifically choose foods that rich in one or more of them. Don’t worry, we’ve done the homework and will list down some specific weight gain foods, so that you get the right idea.
The three macronutrients help your body perform specific functions and supply enough energy to perform activities. Due to this reason, we require them in large amounts in order for our body to function properly, grow and recover.
While all three macronutrients are important, they are not to be consumed in equal quantities. For example, each gram of carbohydrates and protein contains 4 calories, while just 1 gram of fats contains 9 calories. See the difference?
Talking about muscle building and gaining weight, while all three macro-nutrients are important, Protein specifically has a upper hand and is the priority when it comes to nutrition. As discussed in other articles, when you work out, you create micro tears in the muscle which need to be fed to be able to recover and grow stronger. This is where protein comes into play. The best weight gain foods will always be rich in protein or carbohydrates.
Muscles in our body are made up of two types of filaments, namely Actin and Myocin. Both of these are proteins and are made of amino acids.
For a layman, if you’re looking to gain weight and build muscles in your body needs more Actin and Myosin by combining amino acids in the muscle. Since protein helps you build muscle and recover well from workouts, it is the most important macro-nutrient when it comes to muscle building.
How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
There is a formula that is typically used to determine how much protein a person needs; however, there are variables that have to be accounted for during this process as well. The basic protein formula is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
To get the right amount of protein using this formula, you simply divide your current weight in pounds by 2.2 which will give you your weight in kilograms.
That number is then multiplied by 0.8 to determine your daily protein needs. However, if you are a very active person, your daily protein needs will automatically go much higher. If you are not active at all, your protein needs will be lower.
In addition to activity levels, you have to know your basic health condition as well to determine the right amount of protein that you need because certain health conditions mean that you will need to get more protein to regain your health.
While high protein diets may push protein above this 0.8 gram per kg mark, it will not go that much farther. The average bodybuilder only gets about 1.5 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of their own body weight to get bigger.
They do not build their remarkable bodies with protein alone, but with good overall nutrition, dedication, and hard work. Genetics also play a large role in their size and the ability to build large muscles.
How High is Too High?
Most of the high protein diets get around 30% of their daily calorie intake from protein with carbohydrates and fats making the other 70%.
Taking protein intake up to 35% and lowering fat intake to around 15% is beneficial for weight loss and can help the dieter feel full for longer than the lower protein amount.
However, protein intake of higher than 35% is not recommended because it can lead to a number of serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and kidney and gall stones.
The American Heart Association suggests that protein intake is limited to no higher than 35% for safety and that the bulk of the protein comes from very lean meat or plant sources whenever possible.
What about Carbohydrates and Fats?
While carbohydrates and fats may not be as important as protein when it comes to building and repairing muscles, they’re still of high priority when it comes to overall macro-nutrient dependency.
Fats provide 9 calories per gram compared to protein and carbs which only provide 4 calories per gram. Hence it is essential to balance the macro nutrient ratio in a way that benefits your body.
The priority is always to get in more protein, followed by carbohydrates and fats. Since fats contain comparatively more calories, it is needed in lesser quantity.
The best idea is to get enough protein as priority, and then fill in gaps in the remaining calories. Carbohydrates make sure that you recover well from workouts, and always feel energized to perform daily functions. Hence, foods rich in protein and carbohydrates will always be classified as healthy foods to gain weight.
Best Muscle Building and Weight Gain Foods
Sticking to these high protein foods should help your muscle production and give you enough energy.
Just remember that foods high in protein mean nothing if you don’t use them properly and follow a sound nutritional plan. Maintain a balance with the right workout and these healthy foods to gain weight and get the body you want.
Vegetarian Weight Gain Foods
Some of the strongest animals like gorillas, horses, and oxen are herbivorous. It’s, therefore, important to figure out best foods to gain weight in such a way that there is always an extra surplus of calories.
Even if calories have been burned through exercise and training, vegetarians can still get the required nutrients from fruits, seeds, and vegetables. Here is the vegetarian weight gain foods list for building muscle:
If you have difficulty in gaining weight, nuts are one good choice for you. 1 ounce of the almonds or the cashew contain up to 150 to 170 calories. This kind of food is the mixture of many compounds, like: fats, protein, and fiber. They provide you the necessary calories without affecting to your waistline.
Nuts are easy to be brought along with you. They can be served as a snack if you need more energy in the middle of the day. Excellent high calorie foods for weight gain, nuts should always be on top of your nutrition stack.
2. Protein shake
Protein together with the carbohydrate is the important compounds in gaining the muscle. You should drink a shake which contains protein and carbohydrate before you start exercising. This will help your workout to reach the effective goal.
Scientists have conducted many types of research and say that this combination has many benefits. For example, the muscle breakdown will be braked, the protein synthesis will be jacked up, and the energy is refilled.
In addition, with the aid of the shakes, the amount of blood flows to your muscle much more, the transportation of the creatine will be regulated. Moreover, the process of using the carbohydrate after your fitness is also improved.
Oats too are loaded with calories and most of it coming from coming from carbohydrates. 100grams of cooked oats contain around 360 calories, 66g carbs and around 15g protein. Oats are one of the high calorie foods to gain weight.
Oats are most effective when you add them to your breakfast meal as well as lunch meal as it will give you a boost for the day. I sometimes add raw oats to my shake with bananas, chocolate syrup and peanut butter and blend them to make a thick and creamy home made weight gainer shake.
4. Greek Yogurt
Looking for a perfect snack after your workouts?
Then look no further. Greek yogurt contains double protein amount than plain yogurt. When you take a spoonful of this yogurt, you will have your body generate the required energy to keep you going. It’s a better way of wrapping up your workouts and improving your immune system as well.
For better results from this yogurt, avoid the packed flavored yogurt and go for the one that is pack with muscle activating amino acid and enjoy the results big time.
You don’t have to drink more of Greek yogurt as you would do with other milk products to get the right results. This is the only whole milk product that gives you added advantage when it comes to muscle building process.
5. Dark Chocolate
This is also healthy enough for you to gain weight. However, it has a whopping 546 calories to be gained per 100 grams served.
In return, it has several health benefits for you aside from gaining weight alone. It contains powerful antioxidants, lowers the risk of heart disease and blood pressure, and improves the function of your brain.
Go out there and eat some dark chocolate bars as they’re one of the foods for bulking up.
Bananas contain high potassium content that helps prevents conditions such as puffiness and bloating as well as cramps and soreness. It is one of the best protein rich fruits.
You may experience these conditions after rigorous workout sessions or body building time. Potassium also helps to keep the body’s glycogen refilled and promotes the transportation of other nutrients to the muscles. Instead of eating ripe bananas, go for green bananas.
The best time to eat bananas is before going for a workout.
7. Full-fat cottage cheese
Cottage cheese consists of a great amount of casein, one kind of the protein, which make the digesting process slower.
The casein helps the amount of amino acid in your blood increase gradually and stays at the suitable level longer. This kind of food also includes live cultures which are considered as good bacteria to your health due to which cottage cheese is one of the best foods to gain muscle mass.
This will support you for absorbing the necessary nutrients in order that you become healthier.
8. Sweet potatoes
You may be wondering what this food product is doing in this list of vegetarian foods for building muscle. Sweet potatoes can be termed as low calories powerhouse carbohydrates that will ensure that your energy is high during the workout session.
They are also a rich source of dietary fibers that are very important for controlling appetite, burning fat, and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
It has a high potassium content that plays an important role in maintaining electrolyte balance, nerve function, and muscle health. The best time to eat sweet potatoes is before going for a workout.
This is the food which you should always have in your meals as it is the best food for building muscle mass.
When you feel that your weight is increasing, you should eat chickpeas instead of rice or grain. A cup of chickpea provides you 45 grams of carbs which are slow-acting as well as 12 grams of the fiber.
Lentils play an important role in your workout. A cup of lentils consists of 18 grams of protein as well as 40 grams of carbohydrate which make the digesting process slowly. You can buy this kind of food at the low price and it can be stored for a long time.
You can use lentils as an ingredient in one dish of your meal. Cook the lentils for about 10 minutes, the mix them along with the brown rice or sprinkle over a salad. You also can eat them alone.
11. Brown rice
With rice being one of the most important sources of carbohydrates, it is often difficult for people to compromise its consumption.
If you are looking to build your muscles you may consider including rice in your diet. Brown rice has complex carbohydrates that ensure that there is a slow release of energy over a long period of time, which is exactly why they are the best weight gain foods.
During digestion, carbohydrates break down into glucose that provides the maximum energy required by the cells. It’s advisable that 60% of our calories intake are provided through eating complex carbohydrates.
12. Fermented dairy products
Just some people know that fermented dairy products are a goof product for your workout. Kefir provides a lot of effective nutrients in order to build as well as shape the muscle.
One cup of kefir consists of about 150 calories and about 10 billion good bacteria. That is why kefir milk makes your digest process become easier than any regular milk.
The healthy bacteria will operate at the peak level so as to break down and assimilate the calories which are included in your meal.
13. Chia seeds
The chia seeds are known as the most nutritious food. For the indigenous South American, chia seeds provide them the energy as well as the strength.
The item includes a lot of omega-3 along with omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, soluble fiber, together with antioxidants. You can eat chia seeds by making a shake or using them along with the oatmeal.
14. Milk (organic)
Milk includes many important components, like whey, casein and is full of amino acid glutamine. Compared to the conventional milk, the organic milk contains much more omega-3 fatty acids.
If you are looking for foods to gain muscle mass, then milk should be on top of your list.
Apple is one kind of the fruit which is very good for the muscle strength with the aid of polyphenols content.
This item also helps you reduce the muscle fatigue and you can practice longer and harder as well. Polyphenols support for burning the fats very well. Apples should be added in your everyday diet.
16. Navy beans
Beans contain a great amount of the protein and cost quite cheap. One cup of navy beans provides an amount of 13 grams of the fiber.
Hempseed is usually supplied as a protein powder. This kind of deed is known as the great source of many components, like: protein, omega-3 along with omega-6 fatty acids.
It is very good for your health and also a great choice if you have difficulty in digesting the whey.
18. Green peas
Green peas are a necessary item you should always store a bag in your refrigerator. It also contains a great amount of the fiber, and are excellent weight gain foods.
19. Wheat germ
There are three components which create the wheat grain. They are: bran, germ as well as the endosperm. The germ consists of a great amount of plant-based protein. Wheat germ can be used as an ingredient of the protein boost like the oatmeal or a shake.
20. Soba noodles
Soba noodles are one kind of noodles following the Japanese style. Compared to other wheat-based noodles, this item contains a greater amount of the protein. And you can reduce the time of cooking this noodle.
Quinoa is the whole grains coming from the South American. It consists of a lot of amino acids and is an excellent source of proteins and carbohydrates. It is one of the best high calorie foods for weight gain.
22. Dried lentils
Dried lentils do not cost very much. This kind of lentils is rich in the fiber, protein as well as lots of necessary minerals.
Avocados are high in fat and this is the reason why most of the people consider them in their weight gain diets. The fat avocados contain is monounsaturated fat which helps reduce cholesterol in the body.
In short, avocados contain healthy fats so you shouldn’t be worrying about adding these weight gain foods to your diet.
The seed of the flax flower contains a lot of components, such as: the fiber, fatty acids along with the protein. Scientists believe that the flaxseed can limit hypertension, avoid the skin cancer and the disease related to your liver can be reduced.
Flaxseed is used as an ingredient in many forms, like: supplement tablets, oil or the ground-up powder.
25. Almond butter
Compared to the peanut butter, almond butter includes a greater amount of the protein. On addition, almond butter also contains B2 vitamins as well as E which improve your immune system.
The weight gain food list is incomplete without almond butter because of its nutrition properties.
26. Peanut Butter
To be honest with you guys, this is one of my favorite healthy foods for bulking. Peanut butter has around 588 calories per 100 grams of consumption.
Peanut butter can be easily consumed alone, or along with whole wheat bread to make it a thick, delicious peanut butter sandwich. Since peanut butter is a calorie dense, high quality food item, it is safe to qualify it as one of the healthy foods to gain weight.
27. Wheat Bread
The whole wheat bread is actually one of the healthiest breads as well as best bulking foods available in the market. Per 100 grams, it contains 247 calories that help you gain weight in a healthy way.
You can even spread it with a peanut butter or cheese if you want to.
The wheat bread can be replaced with Oatmeal or Multigrain, but will still remain an excellent weight gain food because of its high carbohydrates content.
28. Pea protein
Are you surprised of this item? The pea protein is better for your stomach than other forms of the protein. This product also includes glutamine and amino acids which are great for your practice.
29. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are my favorite go to snacks when I’m out. Loaded with calories, they can be useful for anyone who has a busy schedule and needs to carry calorie dense foods along in order to fulfill their caloric needs.
For example, one cup of raisins have around 390 calories, and don’t need any preparation. My advice? Always carry them in a packet wherever you go, and you’re good to go!
Non Vegetarian Weight Gain Foods
Because proteins are the foundation of bodybuilding, vegetarian sources may not be enough to get high quality protein in the quantity which is required for your body to gain weight.
This is why some of the richest sources of proteins include fish, lean meat, turkey, and pork. While there are decent vegetarian whey protein and mass gainer supplements that you can consider, it is always better to go with whole foods first.
If you’re looking for the non vegetarian weight gain foods list, here it is:
30. Omega 3 eggs
For a long time, eggs were considered as the food which caused the artery-clogging problems.
But then, the experts researched that the cholesterol in eggs does not relate to the heart disease. Now, eggs are thought to be healthy for the human body and play an important role in building the muscle, and are high calorie foods for weight gain.
The eggs yolks contain the amount of the cholesterol which supports the steroid hormones. Moreover, ½ gram of the leucine in an egg also helps your practice a lot due to which eggs are one of the best muscle building foods.
31. Lean beef
For a long time, lean beef has still existed in the list of the good food for gaining muscle. Why do people believe it to be good? Here are the reasons.
Beef includes a lot of necessary compounds, such as: B vitamin, amino acids, along with creatine. Lean beef is also good for the heart health with the aid of the saturated fat.
In addition, scientists at the Melbourne University believe that if you eat the red beef a lot, you can reduce the feeling of your anxiety as well as the stress.
32. Rotisserie chicken
Rotisserie chicken can be found in most of the supermarkets.
This food includes the protein which is in the high quality and also available. There are a lot of choices, like: one or to breasts, dark or light meat. You should choose which is suitable for you. Chicken is said to be the top mass gaining food due to it’s protein content.
There are some compounds in the salmon, like the high-quality protein, the long chain omega-3 fats (EPA, DHA).
These kinds of omega-3 are considered to be very good for the heart health. These components also limit the ability to break down the muscle while the amino acids are in the anabolic process.
If fish is not your favorite food, fish oil is another good choice for you. Salmon can be considered as the best food to gain muscle mass.
Bison is considered as the alternative to the lean beef. In 3 to 5 ounce of bison, there are just 2 or 3 grams of fat. In a comparable piece of beef, there are up to 8 to 9 grams of fat.
Bison does not include the protein much per ounce. This kind of food is suitable for the person who wants to stay lean.
Scallops are one kind of the seafood and contain a great amount of the protein. They are softy as well as tasty. A 3.5-oz scallop includes up to 15 grams of protein along with ½ gram of fat.
This is a really good choice which you should add in your meal in order to support for gaining your muscle.
36. Beef (from grass-fed cattle)
Beef is believed a good item for building your muscle. Beef contains a lot of important compounds, such as: zinc, iron, cholesterol, B vitamins.
Specially, the amount of conjugated linoleic acid (LCA) in the beef from grass-fed cattle is greater when compared to the conventionally raised cattle. That is why this is a wonderful choice for your meal.
Beets contain a high level of betaine which increases the operation of your liver as well as the joint. Scientists also believe that beets can help to improve the strength of your muscle.
NO boost is also included in beets and this is able to recover the energy.
38. Chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
Compared to other poultry cuts, chicken breasts provide a greater amount of the protein. It is one of the best muscle building foods available in the market.
Tuna is very rich in premium-quality protein which helps your digest process easier. A 5-oz can of chunk white tuna, one kind of the tuna family, consists of about 30 grams of protein.
The high protein content of Tuna makes it one of the best foods to gain weight.
Halibut is one kind of the white flesh fish and it contains the greatest amount of the protein among its species. A 3-oz halibut consists of just 2 grams of fat as well. This is one necessary item in your meal.
41. Pork tenderloin
Though bacon is rich in the protein, it contains too much fatty.
So pork tenderloin is a necessary alternative. Pork tenderloin is pretty lean and includes a high level of the protein. You can find it easily at the markets and you can eat it by grilling it up.
Anchovies are considered as small species which is rich in the canned protein. Anchovies are tiny, which is also means they contain fewer toxins than other species, making it to the list of best foods to gain weight.
Taking a whole meat of turkey meat guarantees you the absolute protein your muscles needs to build. For a long time, chicken meat has been counted as the most beneficial meat when it comes to building your muscles, but a different taste from turkey makes the whole difference.
It’s more beneficial especially when you eat turkey that is un-skinned, this ensures that you eliminate all the unnecessary body fats and keep the calories low as required.
If you are looking for meat that will drive your fitness and muscles enthusiasm to greater heights, then turkey is the best option. Apart from being nutritious it has the secret you need to get here you are heading.
Take a different root and say goodbye to the usual size of beef you take and alternate it with the deer meat.
For every 6-ounce serving, deer contains 42 grams of protein which is far much better than beef. Deer is an all-star meat with all the minerals that are required to boost testosterone production. Its also the best dietary in sourcing of creatine, which helps athletes and bodybuilders to lift heavier weights for improved muscle building.
Deer has meat that is said to be the most superior nutritional that provides more omega fats compared to all other grain-fed beef.
Unlike any other types of fish, the sable fish provides you with 26 grams of protein per 6-ounce servings and that provides you with the super omega-3 fats that is much needed for your muscles to grow. These nutritional benefits are eight times more than what you will get from eating tilapia.
Studies have proved that regular consumption of sable fish, ensure your muscles are protected during workouts, and you are highly protected from the onset of muscular fatigue. This fish also tends to reduce stress hormones that interfere with testosterone and muscle breakdown.
46. Protein Bars
Protein Bars are chocolate bars rich in protein, carbohydrates and fats. They are the easiest and most convenient when it comes to getting high quality protein and carbs, making them one of the best bulking foods.
A lot of these bars also contain huge amounts of fibrous carbs, which may also help you with digestions. Considering that these bars are high in fiber and protein, they’re classified as excellent weight gain foods.
47. Whey Protein Supplements
A whey protein supplement can help you in many ways, ranging from helping you recover well from workouts to providing you extra calories to help you reach your weight gain goals faster.
A whey protein supplement may contain between 20-40 grams high quality protein, which is easy to digest and gives you instant protein with minimum carbohydrates and fats percentage. In case you need, here’s a complete guide to using whey protein for weight gain.
48. Mass Gainers
Categorized as a supplement, a mass gainer is a great way to gulp down extra calories in a day without feeling full. These shakes contain over 1000+ calories with each serving, and contain excellent quality ingredients.
Though some people may not be able to get the desired results due to the extra calories from sugars and fast acting carbohydrates, these gainers are excellent if you’re looking to put on weight irrespective of the fat gains.
As discussed throughout the article, the only secret to gaining healthy weight is consuming more calories than you burn. Once you know this, the only step is to include high quality, nutrient rich weight gain foods in your diet.
Second, if you’re not currently working out or indulged in any physical activity, I’d recommend you to do. Physical activities not just help you stay fit, but also make sure that you’re on a path on building stronger muscles.
The best foods to gain weight will help better if you’re working out with the right intensity and take proper rest. Good workout, right nutrition choices and adequate sleep. Easy enough?
At last, while the right diet with whole quality foods can certainly take you to the next level, you may also need to consider taking supplements in order to boost the process.
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Rohan Arora is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist and has been actively involved in sports and fitness for over 8 years. He now leads the team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the world with personalized workout and nutrition plans, along with providing the right information on sports supplements.