What to Eat for Breakfast to Gain Weight

If you're underweight or looking to add muscle, food is your friend. Breakfast is a good time to add extra calories to support your weight-gain diet, and healthy, high-calorie foods are essential. Be creative at breakfast so you can pack on healthy muscle and achieve the physique you desire.

Eat high calorie foods such as avocados to help gain weight at breakfast. (Image: serezniy/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Healthy, high calorie foods, such as avocado, nuts and nut butter, feature prominently in breakfasts that support weight gain. Added protein is also a must.

Why Gain Weight?

Much marketing surrounds losing weight or maintaining a healthy size, but it's not unusual for some people to be in need of adding a few pounds to their frame.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains that you may seek to gain weight if you've had a serious illness or have been hospitalized or if your doctor has told you that you're below a healthy weight. If you've unintentionally lost too much weight or are an athlete looking to build muscle, you may also seek to put on a few pounds.

Weight-gain gimmicks or magical "supplements" aren't likely to work, however. Instead, focus on weight-gain recipes that use high-quality, nutrient-dense foods.

Weight-Gain Diet: Add Calories

Ultimately, increasing your calorie intake beyond what you burn daily helps you put on the pounds. For a healthy increase in your size, the American Council on Exercise recommends an extra 300 to 500 calories per day that come from a balance of macronutrients: Protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Healthy foods, not an extra candy bar or bag of Cheetos, are key. They'll help you feel energized and nourished as you add the pounds. Plus, healthy foods encourage quality weight gain in the form of muscle, not just fat.

Protein Plays an Important Role

Muscle is made up of protein. Adding some of your extra calories in the form of this macronutrient supports healthy weight gain. The_ Journal of the American Medical Association_ published research in January 2012 which found that when people were overfed — meaning they took in more calories than needed to maintain their weight — the extra calories from protein contributed to the addition of muscle, not fat.

When participants were overfed with a diet containing 25 percent of calories from protein (compared to those overfed with 5 percent or 15 percent of calories from protein), lean muscle mass increased significantly.

Breakfast is a good time to add extra calories from protein. A weight-gain diet may include breakfast foods such as eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, whey protein and ground turkey. Avoid adding calories by using highly processed protein such as bacon and sausage.

How Much Extra Protein?

You want to eat a slightly larger portion of protein at breakfast, but not so much that your body can't use it properly to add healthy muscle weight. A study published in the_ Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition_ in February 2018 determined that the body can use only a certain amount of protein in a sitting to build healthy tissue.

This amount is 0.4 to 0.55 grams per kilogram of your body weight per meal. This translates to 0.2 to 0.25 grams per pound of your body weight — so a 120-pound person benefits from about 24 to 30 grams of protein at breakfast and thereafter at future meals and snacks.

Protein sources at breakfast may include:

Using whey protein supplements can be a valuable way to add extra protein and calories at breakfast to encourage weight gain too. Nutrition Research published an animal study in October 2016 confirming that whey protein is a nutritional aid that supports muscle growth. If you add whey protein to a morning smoothie or stir it into oatmeal, choose one that doesn't have a lot of added sugar or chemicals.

Weight-Gain Foods to Try

Carbohydrates and fats are also important to healthy weight gain. Carbs provide fuel for your muscles and, as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends, should make up at least half of your calories per day.

Healthy carbohydrates can help you add calories to pad your intake and gain weight. Skip the white carbs that show up at breakfast, such as muffins, waffles and pancakes. Instead, go for whole-grain bread and pancakes, oats, quinoa and dense vegetables, such as sweet potato. Eating dried fruits, such as dates and raisins, is another easy way to add calories at breakfast.

Fat is a dense source of calories, but not all fats are healthy for your body. Fat has more than twice the calories of carbs and protein, so it takes less to boost your calorie intake. Healthy sources of fat include the unsaturated types of olive oil, walnuts, seeds, almonds, avocados and fatty fish.

Weight-Gain Breakfast Ideas

Now that you have an idea about what to add at breakfast, put them together into tasty meals. Some great combinations include:

  • Oatmeal cooked in milk with peanut butter and raisins stirred in
  • Tofu scramble with black beans, sliced avocado and salsa
  • Omelet made with whole eggs and egg whites, feta cheese, diced potato, tomatoes, peppers and onions
  • Whole-grain pancakes topped with bananas and nut butter
  • Greek yogurt with whole-grain muesli and chopped apple
  • Smoothie made with dates, whey protein, frozen banana, nut butter and milk of choice

Serving sizes depend on your personal calorie goals.

You may be tempted to add more calories in the form of sugar, saturated fat and white-flour carbohydrates — a healthy pour of maple syrup, a cinnamon roll or a pile of bacon. These foods certainly add calories, but they don't boost your health with quality nutrients. So, stick to nutrient-dense foods instead, like those listed. When you gain weight, you want it to be healthy lean mass rather than simply pounds of fat.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.