If you feel skinny and undersized compared to your peers, putting on a few pounds of lean muscle can do wonders for your self-confidence and physical strength. However, weight gain should come about gradually with healthy, protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods. Avoid high-fat, high-calorie foods that may make you gain weight but can also be detrimental to your overall health. With a heavier, more muscled physique, you'll feel better about your body and confident in your ability to take care of it.
Meat and Fish
Cuts of beef that are not extra-lean are an excellent option for healthy weight gain. Don't choose the fattiest cut, but feel free to choose a large piece. Your weight will benefit from both the calories and the protein. Chicken, turkey and pork are also chock full of protein and contain healthy calories that will help you gain weight. Avoid frying the meat to keep unwanted, unhealthy fat out of your diet. If you choose fish, go for a high-protein, high-calorie fish like tuna. Salmon, mahi, grouper and trout can also help you gain weight. Along with a strength-training program, the high protein content of fish will also help you build muscle, which weighs more than fat.
Stay away from skim or low-fat dairy products when you're trying to gain weight. Drink full-fat whole milk and eat regular block cheese, not cheese product or sliced cheese. The calcium will help strengthen your bones, which is particularly important since you're adding more weight to your frame. Full-fat ice cream is permissible but does not contain much nutritional value. Go with full-fat yogurt, cream cheese and butter; however, don't overeat these foods. They are high in saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease, and their high fat content can cause you to put on extra body fat.
You get most of your energy from carbohydrates, so load up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that whole grains should make up at least half of your daily grain servings. Eating more whole grains, like whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice and popcorn, will provide benefits to your health, such as easier digestion and feeling satiated for longer between meals. Choose a whole-grain breakfast cereal or enjoy whole-grain muffins. For a snack, reach for a whole-wheat bagel or wheat crackers. If you're ordering pizza, stick with whole-grain crust. Remember, you want the number on the scale to go up, but you don't want to be overweight.
When you're trying to gain weight, you're at liberty to enjoy traditional snack foods that most dieters limit, because of their high calorie count. Consume generous portions of peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit and seeds. If you consume prepackaged frozen food, beware the high sodium content, which can quickly make you feel dehydrated.