While it would be nice to eat your way to an hourglass figure, no food has the power to give you a bigger butt or breasts. Gaining weight can increase the size of your chest and booty — but it'll also make you gain weight in other areas, and where you gain weight comes down primarily to genetics.
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However, healthy foods can help you gain weight and, combined with a targeted exercise program, help you build muscle to help enhance an hourglass shape.
The Myth of 'Spot Gaining'
Weight loss and weight gain work in similar ways. Just as there's no one way to spot reduce fat in specific areas of the body, you can't exactly gain weight strategically either.
To gain weight, you'll need to take in extra calories each day, also known as a calorie surplus. That extra fuel supports a demanding workout program, provides nutritional support for muscle growth and gives you energy to gain pounds.
As there is about 3,500 calories in one pound, by increasing your calories by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, you'll gain between 1 to 2 pounds per week, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, if you want a majority of your weight gain to go to muscle, increase your calories slowly.
Increasing your protein is another way to boost muscle gain, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Increasing your protein will give your body the fuel it needs to build muscle. Depending on your body type, you can increase your protein levels as high as 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
Foods for Weight Gain
When you put your calorie increase into action, start by prioritizing healthy, whole foods. Avoid processed foods as much as possible and eat a variety of vegetables and fruits each day, recommends the Mayo Clinic. If weight gain is the goal, consider higher-calorie plants.
Vegetables and Fruit to Eat
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potato
- Brussels sprouts
Prioritize lean protein sources, like chicken, turkey, fish or low-fat dairy to increase your daily intake. You can also try plant-based protein sources, like soy, tofu or tempeh. However, if possible, avoid consuming too many supplements, as these are often expensive and too good to be true, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Protein-Based Foods to Eat
- Greek yogurt
Try and eat mainly whole-food carbs, too, like rice or sweet potato, as opposed to ultra-refined carbohydrates, like bread. Also, get in plenty of whole grains. Carbs are a primary energy source for your workouts, as your body stores them in your muscle tissue.
Carbohydrate-Based Foods to Eat
- Whole grain pasta
- Sweet potato
Also, increasing your healthy fat intake is a great way to up your overall daily calories, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Adding some unsaturated fats to your daily diet, like avocado, nuts or olive oil, is a seamless way to spur some weight gain.
Healthy Fat-Based Foods to Eat
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty fish
Extra calories will help you gain both muscle and fat. While you can't selectively put on weight in your butt and breasts, you can increase the muscle in certain areas of your body, giving your physique the shape you're looking for.
Exercising to Shape Your Physique
Diet alone will help you gain weight but you'll see the best results if you include a targeted strength-building program in your routine.
In the weight room, incorporate exercises that target your glutes, including:
- Hip thrusts
- Glute bridges
Increasing your chest size will be a little more difficult, as breasts are mainly composed of fat tissue. But if you strengthen your pec muscles, they can lift your breasts and give your chest a more developed look. Exercises that target your chest include:
- Chest presses
- Chest flyes
These moves can be easily progressed or modified and they can start to strengthen and shape your chest as you'd like.
Some strategic exercise is also helpful when you want to shape your physique to meet specific preferences. For instance if you're after an hourglass figure, that doesn't mean you need to spend hours on crunches to cinch your waist. Instead, consider growing your shoulders and back to give your body the illusion of a curvy shape.
As you get stronger, you'll want to increase your overall training volume, which is the amount of reps, sets and weight you're lifting. Also known as progressive overload, this consistent increase over time will keep your muscles growing stronger and larger, helping you avoid plateaus in your progress.