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How Many Calories in a Day Does it Take to Gain Weight?

author image Lisa M. Wolfe
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.
How Many Calories in a Day Does it Take to Gain Weight?
Eat healthy calories to gain weight. Photo Credit Terry Vine/Blend Images/Getty Images

If you want to gain weight, you will depend on calorie-counting to help you reach your goal. Keep in mind that to gain one pound of body weight, you will need to consume 3,500 calories. Ideally, you do not want to increase your body weight by eating additional fatty foods, such as desserts or milkshakes. Your extra calories should consist of lean proteins such as chicken and fish, vegetables, and whole wheat breads and pastas.

Calories for Survival

Your body needs a certain number of calories every day to stay alive. The IDEA Health and Fitness Association says you can estimate your minimum daily caloric needs with these formulas:
For women: multiply 16 by your weight in pounds.
For men: multiply 17 by your weight in pounds.
These formulas consider that you are upright and walking around throughout the day, not simply lying in bed. So, if you are immobile, your required calories will be slightly less.

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Calories for Weight Gain

A reasonable goal is to gain one pound of body weight per week. The American Council on Exercise suggests that each day you consume 500 extra calories. After seven days, you will have eaten 3,500 calories, which equals one pound of weight. These 500 calories will be in addition to the calories that you need for survival. For example, if you determine from the above formula that your daily intake of calories should be 2,000, you will need to eat 2,500 calories every day to gain weight.

Calories for Health

When you are trying to gain weight, you need to eat a well-balanced diet so that you are not simply gaining fat weight. Continue to eat healthy foods such as lean meats and vegetables. Consider eating an extra meal or two during the day.

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