For the longest time, ‘health’ and getting ‘fit’ have been associated with losing weight. Now that’s helpful for those trying to lose weight, but what about us hardgainers?
That’s definitely not our definition of fitness, because we need to go the exact opposite direction. To subscribe to societal ideals of fitness, we must gain weight and build up our muscle mass. In this article, we list down some of the best fruits for weight gain.
Statistics: Being Underweight
Did you know, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there is an estimated 1.5% of the population, especially adults around the age of 20 and more, who have been struggling with gaining weight in an effective manner?
Now 1.5% might not seem like a significant statistic, but when you consider the population of the world that’s still over a billion people struggling to gain weight- astonishing, isn’t it?
Being underweight can turn out to be a big concern once you are out of puberty and have hit adulthood. It’s not just an issue of aesthetics and confidence, but being underweight leaves you physically more frail and you would fall sick more often than others (1).
However, if it is because of your high metabolic rate and simply the body type you were born with, then there are definitely ways you can gain weight naturally through sustained efforts. With an optimized diet, workout routine, and a few lifestyle changes, you can gain weight and bulk up your muscles adequately.
To optimize your diet for weight gain, you would have to ensure you are not only getting in high calories but also adequate nutrients. Fruits, or rather some specific fruits, are perfect to help you reach these goals.
Are fruits the option?
I know, when it comes to dieting for weight gain, fruits are possibly not the first thing to come to mind. We tend to focus on proteins and carbs, when we are trying to bulk up. Meat, nuts, starchy food, protein shakes, and the like, are all common fare in a weight gaining diet- the focus is typically on packing in as many calories (calorie surplus) as possible, often at the cost of nutrition.
Fruits, on the other hand, are perfect for bridging this gap. Some fruits, along with being high in caloric value, offer a rich supply of vitamins and minerals which your body sorely needs for optimal functioning and growth.
This article will discuss some high calorie fruits packed with nutrients and antioxidants that will help you gain weight naturally and effectively while also ensuring you are meeting your body’s nutritional demands.
All About Calories
In the world of fitness, you cannot escape the word ‘calorie’. Whether you are trying to lose weight, or gain, all your efforts can boil down to your calorie consumption.
So, let’s first clear up all there is to know about calories, so we can make informed decisions about what we need to include in our diet, especially finding the high calorie fruits for weight gain.
A lot of people tend to mistake calories with fat or sugar, but that is definitely not so. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about calories, which I would like to debunk here.
To understand how to include calories into your diet for best results, you need to understand what they are and why they are relevant in the first place.
What are Calories?
Calorie is basically a unit of energy. In the case of nutrition and health science, calorie refers to the energy that you would receive upon the intake of food or drink which would allow you to to work or do any physical activity.
So, that’s why you would notice the information on the calorie content present in the nutritional information section of any packaged food item.
Recommended: Here is how you can increase your appetite and gain weight.
Calories: Good and Bad
We categorize food as healthy or unhealthy on the basis of their nutritional content, not necessarily the caloric value. For instance, both a chicken salad and french fries have calories- what differentiates the two is their nutrient value.
It is a complete myth that calories are ‘bad’ for you. On the other hand, if your goal is to gain weight it doesn’t give you the free pass to eat anything and everything that has high calories.
Yes, you need a calorie dense diet, but you need these to be ‘good calories’ in order to not wreck your health.
How Many Calories Do You Require?
We as human beings need a lot of energy to function on a daily basis and we get them from our metabolic system as the foods get broken down to generate energy.
It’s not just going about your daily activities that requires calories. You need calories to conduct your biological processes, particularly digestion.
An average man generally requires 2,700 kilocalories (kcal) of energy per day, whereas the calorie requirement for women is typically 2,200 kcal. However, these are just average figures, and not everyone requires the same amount of calories.
What your ideal daily caloric intake should be depends on a lot of factors, the most important of which are your rate of metabolism, weight, and level of physical activity. Here are some of the many factors that determine your calorie requirement:
- Physical activity demands
- Health condition
- Body type
Here’s a breakdown of how many calories you can get from each of the macronutrients so that you can easily calculate them on your own before meals (unless you are using a calorie tracking app):
- Carbohydrate: 1 g of carbohydrate generates 4 kcal of energy.
- Protein: 1 g of protein can generate 4 kcal of energy.
- Fat: 1 g of fat can generate 9 kcal energy.
So now you know why it’s a tendency for people to confuse calorie with fat intake. Fats contribute the most calories amongst the macronutrients, and for those trying to gain or lose weight, this would be the most decisive food group to manipulate in their diet.
It is important to pay close attention to the type and amount of food you are consuming in order to determine the healthy calories in your system and ensure nutritional benefits as well as energy.
Are all calories healthy?
Not all calorie-rich foods are healthy for our system. Some could be providing you with empty calories, that is high energy with very little nutritional value. There would be no or negligible amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, or dietary fibres provided by these.
These empty calories are generally offered by saturated and trans fats and sugar in foods. These are, however, also responsible for making food taste really good, that it is indeed difficult to resist the temptation. Even Alcohol can provide empty calories.
For instance, around 153 kcal of energy is provided from a single serving of beer. But nutrition? No, we don’t think so. As enjoyable as these ‘bad’ calories are, and whether your goal is to gain or lose weight, it is best to limit your consumption of these.
So, we can conclude that high calorie food doesn’t necessarily mean that the food would be healthy or beneficial for our physical requirements. Maybe for a single burst of energy and enjoyment, yes, but for regular intake, it’s a resounding no!
How is Calorie Consumption Related to Weight Gain?
Now coming to the point of what happens when you consume a huge amount of calories but do not perform enough physical activity to burn those energies. Where do these go?
With your body’s natural tendency to convert food into energy in place, if you burn fewer calories than what you’ve consumed, your body starts storing this energy back in the form of fat or muscle, and that results in weight gain.
Now here’s something you need to keep in mind- muscle tissues have the tendency to burn more calories compared to fat tissues, that is why experts recommend strength training and aerobic exercises to burn up the calories. However, our motive here is to gain weight, and not lose them all.
Since fast foods contain a huge amount of calories and are really affordable, they used to be preferred by many people back in the 80s to cover for their daily caloric requirements. Especially when trying to bulk up.
But with time, as we progressed, science progressed, and now we know how unhealthy it can get to rely on junk foods on a regular basis.
So, we have now shifted our focus to consuming high-calorie food which is healthy and contains all the necessary nutrients that can help your body, in case you’re planning to gain some weight. And what can be better than natural sources of nutrition which are high in calorie and dietary fibers? Yes, we are talking about veggies, fruits, eggs, and meat!
Though meat and eggs are the main picks to create a diet heavy on calories and protein for most people trying to gain weight, vegans or those with dietary restrictions need to look for alternate sources.
While they typically jump straight onto the bandwagon of nutritional supplements, nothing beats the benefits of whole foods. In fact, even if you are alright with consuming meat, who doesn’t appreciate a little variety?
That’s where the hero of today’s article, high calorie fruits, comes in to save the day.
Can Fruits Help in Weight Gain?
As a matter of fact, fruits are the storehouse of all the raw nutrients that your body requires. From carbs, vitamins, and minerals, to amino acids and antioxidants, fruits offer everything that your body requires for its growth and development.
But yes, each fruit is unique in its own way, and not all of them have the same nutritional or caloric profile. While some are higher in carbs and calories, others have more dietary fibers and are high on their water content.
The goal here is to design your diet for weight gain in such a way that it incorporates fruits that are high on calories while also providing you with all the necessary nutrients.
Fruits for weight gain contain high levels of natural sugars (glucose and fructose) and various forms of carbohydrates (3).
Hold on, don’t start panicking hearing that fruits contain high sugar! I know, a lot of dietitians and doctors are constantly waging war against sugar owing to the various health risks it poses. But that’s typically against the stuff found in confectioneries and fast food. Natural sugars, like the sort found in or derived from fruits, are a whole different ball game altogether.
In the case of high calorie fruits, they contain natural dietary fibers that help with the absorption and utilization of this sugar in your regular activities.
Tweaking your diet, and adding some high calorie fruits can serve you well and help you attain better weight gain results.
Below, we have listed 8 fruits that make you gain weight.
8 Fruits That Make You Gain Weight
The best choice of fruit in the weight gain fruits list, if you’re looking to put on some extra mass on your body, is bananas. They are not just high in nutrients, but they can provide you with a good amount of carbohydrates and calories.
Bananas are considered the key ingredient for healthy high calorie smoothies and drinks for many gym goers and health conscious individuals, particularly those aiming to gain weight.
If you are looking for a good source of energy for your daily activities and workouts, and alongside, you want to put some extra calories in store so that it gets you that extra mass while you rest, well, banana is the fruit for you.
We have heard people say “bananas are a complete meal“. Scientifically, we cannot vouch for that but yes, it is close enough.
Here is the nutritional content of a standard medium sized banana approximating 120 g by weight:
- 105 calories
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrate: 27 grams
- Fat: 3 grams
- Vitamin B6
Moreover, the best thing about bananas is that they are readily available, and at a very affordable cost, in the market! This makes this fruit a very convenient snack that you can have on the go or when you feel hunger pangs between meals.
You can mix it up with some full-fat yogurt and nut butter to get some extra dose of calorie punch. Bananas are perfect for fruit salads, smoothies, smoothie bowls, and even in pancakes and desserts!
The ‘King of Fruits’ with its enticing juicy pulp and sweet refreshing flavour, is also a powerhouse of calories and nutrients.
Mangoes are a rich source of vitamins A, B, and E, and a host of minerals, including copper, magnesium, etc. What’s more, this fruit is loaded with fructose.
Mangoes definitely are royalty, when it comes to their nutritional profile. One cup of chopped mangoes can provide you 99 calories, which is quite a lot! Even though most of the calories is carbohydrate based and perfect for bulking up, there is no shame in admitting that the primary reason for consuming mangoes is how amazing they taste.
Here is a breakdown of the nutritional content of 165 g of mangoes (approximately 1 cup):
- 99 cal
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Carbohydrate: 25 grams
- Fat: 0.6 grams
- Vitamin A, B, and E
Summer salads, smoothies, salsas, and desserts are a few enticing and healthy dishes you can make from mangoes. If you want to maximize your gains, try pairing with other high calorie food such as nuts and coconuts.
Avocados are exotic fruits that have an impressive nutrient profile and can significantly boost your gains while also providing your body with an impressive dose of necessary nutrients.
They are not just high in calories, but also have a good amount of healthy fats, thus making them a great choice of fruit for gaining mass. They also contain antioxidants that are a great add on benefit.
Most of the calorie content for avocados is fat based, thus the calorie content is much higher compared to fruits with carbohydrate based calories.
Nearly 20 different types of vitamins can be extracted from this extremely nutrition rich fruit. Here are the nutritional profile of half of a medium sized avocado (100 g):
- 161 cal
- Protein: 2 g
- Carbohydrate: 8.6 g
- Fat: 15 g
- Vitamin A, B5, B6, E, K
Avocados are incredibly versatile and there are ample appetizing dishes you can make using it. Adding this nutrition rich fruit to salads, toasts, and wraps, or making spreads and dips out of it are great ways of amping up your calorie consumption for your weight gain diet.
Even though many are not ready to accept coconuts as a “fruit”, I say it’s a matter of semantics.
Coconut meat or flesh, and cream are highly nutritious and versatile sources of high calories. Not just calorific benefits, but this fruit has gained immense popularity in the fitness world for also providing a host of other health benefits.
The flesh of coconuts provides calories based on both fat and carbohydrates, topping the list of weight gain fruits list.
The fat is healthy, so you would not have to worry about cholesterol or any adverse effects on your health.
Especially when it comes to coconut cream, which is conveniently available on the canned form, keep in mind that the calories are HIGH. So only indulge if you’re looking for some serious gains.
Here is the nutritional chart of a 28 gram serving of coconut flesh:
- 99 cal
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrate: 4.3 grams
- Fat: 9.4 grams
You can enjoy your coconuts in many possible ways. Either sprinkle some shredded coconut on your salads, or maybe slice them up into strips and have them on the go.
Many prefer adding coconut into their cooked items, including soups and curries! Also, they can be blended into your smoothies and smoothie bowls (also works as a topping for the latter) as they taste really good and can push your health benefits.
If you have a sweet tooth, trying adding coconut into your desserts!
While too much coconut may not be ideal, but in moderation coconut meat can do wonders to help you gain weight while also benefiting off the micronutrients!
5. Dates and Other Dried Fruits
Technically, any fruit that has had all its water content drained out using some form of dehydration may be classified as a dried fruit. It could be anything from mangoes to apricots, but the most common dried fruits are raisins, dates, and various types of berries.
Dried fruits are typically extremely energy dense despite their small size, and are packed with essential nutrients, making them great fruits that make you gain weight. Along with offering high calories, they also contain very high levels of natural sugars.
Here is the nutritional breakdown of dried dates (per piece, which is approximately 24 grams), one of the most popular, affordable, and readily available dry fruits out there:
- 66.5 cal
- Protein: 0.4 grams
- Carbohydrate: 18 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Vitamin B6
For dried apricots, which also have an impressive nutritional profile, the chart for every 28 grams is:
- 67 cal
- Protein: 0.8 grams
- Carbohydrate: 18 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Vitamin B6, A, E
- Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin
For raisins, which are essentially dried grapes, here is the nutrient chart for a 1 ounce (28 gram) serving:
- 85 cal
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrate: 22 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Vitamin B
These dried fruits are great sources of calories and you can enjoy them as a snack straight out of the packet, or maybe combine them with salads, yogurts, oats, cereal, desserts, or any shake.
Dried fruits are perfect for helping you gain weight by amping up your calorie intake, and also great for snacking when those hunger pangs hit you between weight gain meals.
Just make sure you keep a check on the amount you consume per day, because they do have a tendency of making your blood sugar levels shoot through the roof beyond a point.
Plums are a rich variant of small fruits that can provide you with all the essential nutrients like vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and are great fruits that help gain weight.
They are also good sources of minerals which your body will need for development and building up like fluoride, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc and iron.
These high calorie fruits can serve up to 47 calories per 100 grams serving, and are also highly rich in dietary fibers.
So, if weight gaining is your objective, plums can be the best fruit for weight gain, and day to day snack with great taste and benefits.
Grapes are a storehouse for antioxidants and they contain a good amount of polyphenols which are popular for their anti-carcinogenic benefits. One variant of polyphenol found in the skin of grapes, resveratrol, is great for maintaining heart health and also provides flavor to red wine.
One cup of grapes can serve you up to 70 calories, which is not so high as compared to the other fruits we discussed, but their combination with sugar in jams, and other sweetened products can give you a good calorie punch and help with your gaining weight.
Pears offer a huge proportion of carbohydrates and most of the calories derived from pears (around 95% of the total calorie content) are carbohydrate based.
Due to low glycemic levels in the fruit, it is suitable for people with diabetic issues as well, and keeps your blood sugar levels in check, making them one of the best high calorie fruits that help gain weight.
Pears have a good amount of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers which helps with digestion and metabolic conditions.
A 100 grams serving of pears can provide you with 57 calories of energy.
High Calorie Fruits for Weight Gain: Effective or Not?
We are aware that fruits are not the most ideal for showing significant and immediate results of weight gain like it is for other high protein and high calorie sources like eggs and meat, or even whey protein supplements.
But fruits are healthy in every way possible and have added nutritional benefits, which help your skin, nails, hair, eyesight and what not! And of course, high calorie fruits like the ones we just discussed, are great for adding variety to your weight gain diet and perfect for snacking when you have hunger pangs.
When it comes to eating fruits to gain weight, you should not expect immediate results within a few weeks, and you should not exclusively bank on them for your gains.
But yes, it definitely pays off in the longer run, particularly when coupled with other sources of high calories and carbs. Wait a couple months to see tangible results, and don’t forget to optimize your exercise routine for weight gain.
As much as the food that you eat is important, it is absolutely necessary for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle and work your body out to see significant results in the most healthy way possible. You can check out our articles on how to gain weight naturally and some common mistakes people make that hinder their weight gaining process.
Weight gain supplements might be the fastest way to make significant gains, but they are derivatives and processed which strips them of a lot of the natural nutrition and goodness that you can receive from fruits or vegetables.
Then again, not every fruit caters to weight gain, so you need to be careful about your choice and make sure they are compatible with your caloric goals.
Concluding Thoughts: High Calorie Fruits for Weight Gain
Rather than creating your entire diet around fruits, treat these high calorie fruits for weight gain as add-ons to amp up your daily calorie consumption and ensure you are on a caloric surplus for weight gain.
All in all, fruits are awesome for providing you with a great deal of nutrition and a good amount of calories. Alongside training for hypertrophy, optimize your diet to keep yourself on a caloric surplus with the help of high calorie fruits, and you’ll reap the benefits in no time!
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Dipanjana’s tryst with fitness and nutrition started way back in high school when she developed an interest in reading about workout routines and diets. A postgraduate student of Literature, Dipanjana has studied Nutrition alongside- both as part of her University curriculum as well as online certificate courses. When she is not working out, Dipanjana can usually be found writing blogs and screenplays or napping amidst a sea of pillows.
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