Weight loss and shedding those extra kilos to look good and get fit has taken most of the limelight. However, for some people, gaining weight is as hard as it is for some people to lose weight. Being underweight can be as detrimental to one’s health as it is being obese.
It is all about metabolism and how many calories an individual consumes in a day. This article focuses on weight gain meal plans that are aimed to help underweight people gain weight quickly and in a healthy manner.
There are a few things which need to be talked about though before we jump into the weight gain meal plans. Metabolism is divided into catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the breaking down of food into energy.
Anabolism is the process through which cells synthesize essential compounds. The rate of metabolism is an important factor to consider if you are planning to work on a particular diet schedule.
How fast your body breaks down the food that you consume determines how many calories you need to sustain yourself. The basic rule is that if the number of calories exceeds the number of calories you burn, you gain weight. The contrary is true as well.
Another important term that needs to be introduced is the body-mass index. The BMI is the ratio of one’s weight in kilograms to one’s height in meters squared. If the BMI is below 18.5, the person is considered underweight.
Women are more likely to be underweight than men. As discussed before, calories are the energy units that determine the weight of a body.
The source of calories is the food that you eat. Intake of food that is healthy and nutritious is the key to building a strong and fit body. If you’re looking to find more about your BMI or calculate the calories required to gain weight, use our Daily Calorie Calculator.
You might remember your science lessons from your early days in school where the importance of a balanced diet was highlighted many times. Preparing a well-balanced meal which covers all the vital nutrients is paramount.
For underweight people, the main aim is to take in as many calories as possible. Intake of meals that are rich in calories, taste good, and satisfy one’s hunger is the key to starting your journey to a healthier body.
Know Your Macro-nutrients
Macro-nutrients, as opposed to micro-nutrients, are the nutrients that your body needs in large quantities to sustain itself. Before planning weight gain meals, it is important to understand how your body needs these macro-nutrients and how they play a part in weight gain. Only then you can decide which food items you need to include in your meals. The three macro-nutrients are fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
The fat that you eat gives you extra energy to burn once the calories from carbohydrates burn out. Fats are also important in keeping your skin and hair healthy. They are responsible for the absorption of micro-nutrients which are essential as well.
Proteins are essential for muscle and tissue repair, and in turn help the muscle tissues grow stronger. Muscle mass adds to your weight similar to the fat mass.
Apart from muscles, proteins also help build blood, cartilage, bones, and skin. Unlike fats, the body does not store proteins so a steady supply via your food intake is necessary.
Carbohydrates are the source of energy that keeps your body running. Every balanced diet contains carbohydrates as a major element. Most of the carbohydrates are converted into glucose and enter the bloodstream. If the energy is not used, they are converted and get stored in the body as fat.
All three macro-nutrients form essential parts of a weight gain meal plan. If you are looking to gain weight quickly, a careful regimen of well-selected food items that contain all three macro-nutrients are mandatory.
ALSO READ: While you can definitely build a great body with whole foods alone, supplements can add value and help you achieve those goals faster. Checkout the best weight gain supplements and add them to your routine to speed up the process!
Weight Gain Cheat Sheet
The basic rule to gain weight is clear; eat more than you burn. However, what you eat needs to be rich in calories and easily digestible.
Any long-term project needs a plan to maximize efficiency and your weight gain project is no different.
Choose food items that are easily to digest and that pack more nutrients per mass units. Milk, eggs, red meat, and chicken are some of the very basic units that need to be a part of your meals to help you gain weight. A clever yet simple combination of these healthy food items might just be the key to building your body.
- Easily digestible carbohydrates: Some food items are light on your digestive system and break down easily to release energy. That’s what you should be gunning for. Food items like toast, white rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, eggs, and oatmeal are some easily digestible carbohydrates.
- Lean Proteins: Food items where the main source of calories is proteins rather than fats or carbohydrates are called lean proteins. A person who consumes 2000 calories per day needs around 50g of proteins as well. Food items like white-fleshed fish, beans and lentils, lean beef, low-fat cottage cheese, poultry, law-fat milk, egg whites, and shrimp all fall under the umbrella of lean proteins.
- Nutrient Dense Foods: Foods that contain large amounts of nutrients per mass unit are called nutrient-dense foods. Lean meat, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk are all nutrient-dense. All the factors need to be considered before planning healthy weight gain meal regimens.
Now that you know a little about the macro-nutrients, here’s a list of weight gain meal plans on a budget:
Amazing Weight Gain Meals:
Here are a few weight gain meals that are easy to prepare and are packed with calories to help you get those extra kilos:
Home-made Weight Gain Shake:
The home-made weight gain shake is easy to prepare and can give you 600-1000 calories per shake depending upon the ingredients and one of the best meals to gain weight. All the ingredients we use in this shake are nutrient dense and will help you add extra calories to your daily calorie requirement.
Ingredients: 250ml double toned milk, 2 spoon peanut butter, 1 cup dry oats, 1 serving chocolate syrup, 1 scoop whey protein powder.
How to Prepare: It is as easy as its name. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until it forms a thick creamy shake. The above mentioned ingredients will make it to 700 calories per shake. You can even add almond butter, raw dried fruits, vanilla ice-cream, and other ingredients as per your requirement of the calories.
Chicken and Rice:
Considered as one of the best meals to gain weight, chicken and rice is a stable for every fitness enthusiast. It can be consumed as a post workout meal too and is loaded with proteins and carbohydrates required by the body after a hard workout. A single plate serving will give you 350-500 calories along with 25g of protein and 20-40g of carbohydrates. The most common question here is whether you should eat brown or white rice. If you are a hard-gainer struggling to gain weight, their is no harm in consuming white rice. Just make sure you eat this meal during day time or as a post workout meal.
Ingredients: 1 cup brown or white rice, 1 portion chicken breast, barbecue sauce, and necessary spices.
How to Prepare: Cook a serving of white or brown rice. Prepare chicken breast by first boiling and, then putting it in a pan with olive oil, barbecue sauce, salt and oregano. This delicious meal of chicken and rice will give you enough calories and nutrients to feed your body and will keep your fast metabolism going.
Another easy weight gain meal, where you can add your own ingredients to increase the calories and nutrients. Whole wheat or multi grain bread should be preferred over brown or white bread. A single serving of 2 bread slices and chicken will give you 250 calories including 13g protein and 20g carbohydrates making it a power packed meal for weight gain.
Ingredients: Whole wheat or multi-grain bread, 1 portion chicken breast, barbecue sauce, 2 cheese slices, mayonnaise or tomato ketchup and lettuce.
How to prepare: The chicken breast can be prepared as mentioned above. Bread can be heated or toasted and filled with cheese slices, chicken and lettuce leaves. You can even add sliced tomatoes and cucumber to increase the nutritional values as well as the calories. Add this meal into you weight gain meal plan for some quick calories.
French Toast with Bananas:
Loaded with good proteins and low fat content, this high-protein French toast is the perfect way to start your day, and is considered an easy weight gain meal to get the calories in. Each serving contains 400 calories.
Ingredients: 2 slices of bread, 2 servings of egg whites, quarter cup of vanilla soy milk or almond milk, cinnamon, protein granola – oats and honey, half banana, syrup, vanilla extract.
How to prepare: Heat the bread in a microwave for 1 minute and let it sit. In a shallow dish, add the milk, vanilla extract, egg whites, and cinnamon. Heat a flat pan. Dip the bread in the mixture and sprinkle granola on one side. Place the bread on the pan with the crumble side down. Once it gets crisp and toasty, flip it. Meanwhile grill the banana similarly and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve the toast and the grilled bananas together for a hearty breakfast.
Vegetable Egg White Frittata:
Rubbery, dried out egg white frittatas are too old fashioned and difficult to get down the throat. Vegetable Egg White Frittata is a creamy protein rich breakfast that gets prepared in minutes.
Ingredients: 1 cup cottage cheese, 32 oz liquid egg whites, 1/3 cup diced bell pepper, 1/3 cup diced cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup mushrooms, 2 cups spinach, 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 tsp salt, ½ teaspoon paprika.
How to prepare: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place the casserole pan to get warm. Warm oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and put in all the chopped veggies – except the spinach. Season with garlic, onion, paprika, and turmeric and pan-fry the veggies until they start to brown. Add the spinach and then turn off the heat. Wilt the spinach and coat it in the seasoning by giving everything a quick toss or two. Thoroughly mix the egg whites and cottage cheese in a blender. Evenly space the cooked veggies at the bottom of the warm casserole pan. Pour egg mixture over the top. Cook for an hour or so. Enjoy after letting it cool.
Toast with savory add-ons are everyone’s favorite for breakfast. Salmon toast is one good choice that also packs a lot of protein. Each serving contains 290 calories.
Ingredients: 2 pieces of shredded salmon, 2 slices of sprouted grain bread, 2 tbsp greek yogurt, Lemon zest.
How to prepare: Toast the 2 slices of sprouted grain bread. Put the greek yogurt and salmon on the top. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Enjoy the tasty high protein breakfast.
Chicken Stuffed Bell Peppers:
Top choice for an easy and nutrient dense meal, chicken stuffed bell peppers is also mouth-watering. Each serving contains 326 calories.
Ingredients: 2 boneless chicken pieces, 2 Whole Bell Peppers, 1 Medium Tomato, 1/4 Red Onion, 1/2 Cup of Panko Bread Crumbs, 1/2 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese, 1 Tsp Italian Seasoning, 1 Clove of Garlic, 1 Tsp of Ground Cumin, Salt & Pepper.
How to prepare: Cut the bell peppers in half, remove seeds, and clean. Crumble the chicken pieces and mix with the bread crumbs, onions, tomato, garlic, and other seasoning. Add half of the cheese to the bowl. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix them. Paint over the surface of the baking sheet with some droplets of oil. Fill bell pepper halves with the stuffing and put them on the baking sheet. Heat for 15-20 minutes. Take it out, add the remaining cheese on the top, and place in the oven again for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Enjoy.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps:
Tender and crunchy, even then – sweet and spicy! It is high in protein and low in carbs. Gives 302 calories per serving, making it a healthy weight gain meal plan for hard-gainers.
Ingredients: 2 Boneless chicken pieces, 1 Can of Water Chestnuts, 1/2 Cup of White Mushrooms, 1 Tsp of Minced Garlic, 1 Tsp of Sriracha, 1 Tsp of Honey, 1 Tbsp of Teriyaki Sauce, 2 Tbsp of Rice Vinegar, Shredded Carrots, Bean Sprouts, 1 Tsp of Chopped Peanuts, 6 Iceberg Lettuce Leaves.
How to prepare: Grill the chicken pieces and mushrooms in a pan. Dice up the chicken by a spatula. Add them to a bowl after grilling the chicken and mushrooms until they turn lightly brown. Add the diced water chestnuts, sriracha, honey, teriyaki sauce, and rice vinegar. Mix them all together. Add the mixture to the lettuce leaves and top with bean sprouts, peanuts, and carrots. Enjoy.
England Style Shrimp Rolls:
A sweet and buttery delight, this England Style Shrimp Roll is quite unique – much different than a traditional sandwich. It uses only a few ingredients and some fresh produce. Each serving contains 343 calories.
Ingredients: 1 Country Potato Bun, 4 Pieces of Shrimp, 1 Tbsp of Vinegar, 100g of Light Mayonnaise, 1 Tsp of Horseradish, Salt & Pepper, Butter Spray, 85gm of Celery, Fresh Dill, Freshly squeezed Lemon, 1 Tsp of Paprika , Green onions.
How to prepare: Heat the shrimp in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or until it is warm. Then spray butter and toast on the potato bun. Chop the celery and green onions. Cut the shrimp to the best of your ability into small pieces. Add all ingredients – leaving the green onions. Mix them all together. Dash over salt and pepper as per taste. Fill in the potato bun with shrimp mixture. Add papika and green onions as toppings. Enjoy the meal.
Fall Chicken Noodle Stir Fry:
This butternut squash and chicken pad thai is sweet and savory. It is a great balanced meal. Each serving contains 238 calories, making it to the list of best meals to gain weight.
Ingredients: 115 gm squarely diced Chicken Breast, 1/2 Cup of precooked Butternut Squash Cubes, 2 whole scrambled Eggs, 56gm of Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles, 2 Tsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp of Fish Sauce, 1 Tbsp of Sriracha, 2 Tbsp of Teriyaki Sauce, 1 serving of fresh bean sprouts, 2 Tsp of Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Fresh Cilantro.
How to prepare: Cook the Pad Thai noodles. Drain and set off to the side. Keep warm. Heat up the pre-cooked butternut squash in the microwave. Cook for around 4 minutes for the squash to soften. Heat up the oil over medium heat, add the garlic, chicken, and butternut squash – in a non-stick skillet. Cut up the chicken in the skillet and heat until it turns golden. Add the eggs to the skillet and scramble. As the noodles become 75%-80% cooked through, add the noodles to the skillet. Add the fish sauce, teriyaki sauce, and sriracha. Keep stirring often. Add the bean sprouts. Cook for an additional minutes until bean sprouts are heated. Serve the top with red pepper flakes and cilantro. Enjoy!
Simple and healthy – quick to make delicious sauce. This healthy hack can reserve a seat for every other day at your dining table. Each serving contains 284 calories, qualifying as one of the healthy meals to gain weight.
Ingredients: 2 114 gm Beef Patties, Small Can of Tomato Paste, Canned Crushed Tomatoes, 1 Small Diced Onion, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Clove of Minced Garlic, 1/4 Cup of Chopped Parsley, 4-6 Chopped Basil Leaves, 2 Chopped Carrots, 2 Stalks of Chopped Celery, 1/2 Tsp of Dried Oregano, 1/2 Tsp of Dried Oregano, Salt and Pepper.
How to prepare: Heat two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to medium in a large saucepan. Add diced onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft, then add the carrots and celery with a pinch of salt and saute until carrots are softened. Add chopped beef, tomato paste, and cherry tomatoes to the skillet and stir. Add chopped oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir regularly. Serve sauce over noodles, then top with parsley. Enjoy!
Paleo Curried Chicken Salad:
Not that boring traditional chicken salad. It has a perfect balance of spicy curry and sweet fruit preserves. Each serving contains 140 calories.
Ingredients: 450gm cubed chicken, 1/4 cup paleo mayo, 2 tablespoons apricot preserves, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 tablespoons raisins, 2 tablespoons chopped scallion, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, Salt and pepper to taste.
How to prepare: Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl. Chop scallions and add to the bowl. Add raisins and carrots. Toss together apricot, mayo, vinegar, preserves, and curry powder in a separate small bowl. Stir till it is evenly blended. Add sauce to chicken mixture and stir till it is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Have a great salad!
BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Toast:
As an easily made healthy appetizer, BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Toast is a good choice to make. Each serving contains 289 calories.
Ingredients: 4 115gm Chicken Breast pieces, 5 Small Sweet Potatoes, 1 Red Onion , 1/2 Cup of Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce, 1/2 Tsp of Salt, 2/3 Cup of Low Fat Mozzarella, 1/3 Cup of Fresh Cilantro.
How to prepare: Heat the sweet potatoes in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Shred the chicken up as much as possible by two forks. Also, dice the onions. Mix together the chicken, BBQ Sauce , and onions in a bowl. Cut the cooled potatoes into strips to use as the base of the toast. Grill the sweet potatoes until it turns golden brown. Add the mozzarella cheese to the top of the toast and let it melt. Add the chicken-onion mixture to the top of the toast. Top with fresh cilantro. And the toast is ready to eat!
Chocolate Protein Lava Cake:
Desserts are not something worth sacrificing in a diet if it can be made healthy like this. Chocolate Protein Lava Cake contains 375 calories per serving.
Ingredients: 3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, 1/2 Cup of Chocolate Protein Powder, 1 Whole Egg, 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, 1/2 Cup of Oatmeal, 1/4 Cup of Lite Coconut Milk, 2 Tbsp of Stevia.
How to prepare: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend all of the ingredients together using a blender. Pour the mix into two baking cups. Bake the cakes for 5 minutes in the oven. The top and bottom should be cooked but the middle should be left soft and gooey. Top with fresh berries and fat free whipped cream. Enjoy!
Everything is possible if you put your heart and soul and most importantly, your body to it! Yes, it is hard to begin something but once the momentum builds up, the process becomes smoother. Gaining weight will soon be a piece of cake (full of calories, of course!) for you, and the reward is worth it; a body that is healthy and fit! Just remember, consistency is the key, with both nutrition as well as an effective training schedule.
A regular intake of healthy calories is all that your body needs. Begin by counting the number of calories you need in a day to gain weight, and start incorporating these amazing meals to gain weight into your diet. As time progresses, learn more about the right supplements, and use them to your advantage. At last, make sure that the weight gain meal plan that you adopt is easy and maintainable, since fitness is more of a lifestyle than a short journey.
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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.