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Top 10 Ways to Gain Weight

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Top 10 Ways to Gain Weight
A hearty salad with tuna, eggs, starchy potatoes and asparagus. Photo Credit martinturzak/iStock/Getty Images


Being too skinny can make you self-conscious and cause you to feel weak. Gaining weight may help you better your athletic performance and stamina. For optimal health, seek to add muscle rather than just fat to your frame. Certain lifestyle strategies will help you gain weight.

Increase Calories

You will not be able to gain weight if you do not increase your caloric intake. Anthony Ellis of Iron Magazine recommends eating calories equivalent to at least 18 times your body weight in pounds. Five hundred extra calories a day will add a pound of weight a week.

Eat Calorie-Dense Foods

Gaining weight requires that you seek out foods high in calories. Instead of choosing a clear, broth-based soup at lunch, go for the chili. Snack on nuts instead of popcorn and raisins instead of grapes.


A person seeking to gain weight should never skip meals. Carrying snacks in a gym bag or backpack ensures that you always have something on hand, even if a regular meal is not readily available. Trail mix, energy bars, whole-grain crackers and granola make portable, non-perishable snacks.

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Eat Frequently

Adding more to each of your main meals will help increase your daily calorie intake. Eating often is another strategy than can help increase calorie consumption. Instead of sticking to three main meals, a weight-gain strategy of eating six or seven substantial meals may help you achieve your results.

Eat Monounsaturated Fats

The American Heart Association advises people to limit their consumption of saturated and trans fats, while focusing on heart healthy monounsaturated varieties. Fat is calorically dense and contains nine calories per gram—so add it to your meals as an accent. A person seeking to gain weight may toss pasta with olive oil, spread nut butter on toast or slice avocado on top of sandwiches.

Strength Training

Lifting weights helps to create more lean muscle mass. Heavy free weights---like barbells and dumbbells---help stress the muscles so that they must repair and build up bigger and stronger. Be sure to supplement your workouts with adequate nutrition to be sure you are not creating a calorie deficit through exercise


Milk, juice and smoothies make calorie-dense alternatives to water. Avoid sugary sodas and soft drinks, which provide little nutrition with their calories.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Moderate cardiovascular exercise can help stimulate the appetite. Even those seeking to gain weight need aerobic activity to improve lung and heart health.

Junk Food

Junk food may contain significant calories, but very little nutrition. Eating too much processed foods, fast foods, refined sugars and white carbohydrates will encourage weight gain through fat, not through healthy lean muscle.


Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, peas and corn offer more calories than their leafy green counterparts. Carbohydrates rich in whole grains are usually denser and provide more calories, fiber and nutrition than refined-flour versions

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