Foods Making You Gain Weight

Foods Making You Gain Weight, According to a Dietitian. No single food in isolation of everything else you eat is going to make you gain (or lose!) weight. But often, the same barrier stumps so many people when it comes to weight loss and healthier eating: sneaky sources of added sugar or saturated fat lurking throughout the pantry, fridge, or freezer.

Many times these foods are marketed as healthier options, leading you to buy them for their purported benefits — but actually, you might’ve been much more satisfied if you’d chosen the real thing instead. Other times, they’re foods that have replaced the calories coming from one type of nutrient with another. For example, keto snacks swap sugar for high-fat coconut oil or butter; low-fat foods swap fat for added sugar. Read labels carefully — especially anything with a "free," "low," or "less" claim — to make sure you’re making a choice that works best for you.


Healthy Weight-Gain Meal Plan

Whatever your reason, we've got you covered in this 7-day diet plan for adding pounds the healthy way. These breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods, like fiber-rich whole grains, lean protein (including plant-based protein options), healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and veggies. With some simple meal-prep steps and recipes that do double duty and feed you more than once, we've streamlined the process of taking in the calories you need to gain weight, so it's an easy endeavor.

How Many Calories Do You Need to Gain Weight?

This meal plan is set at 2,500 calories, with modifications for 2,000 and 3,000 calories. You're probably familiar with 2,000 calories as a standard target for your daily eating. The FDA uses this round number for giving general advice about diet. For this reason, it's also the number you'll see on Nutrition Facts panels.

But 2,000 calories isn't one-size-fits-all, especially when you're trying to gain weight. Your current weight, height, age, gender, and activity level all factor into the calories you need to put on pounds.

To find out your own caloric needs for weight gain, you'll first need to get an idea of your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the amount of calories your body needs to support a sedentary lifestyle, not including exercise. Once you've established your RMR, you can factor in your activity level for a more accurate calculation of your needs.

Step 1: Calculate your resting metabolic rate

One simple way to calculate your resting metabolic rate is to multiply your current weight by 12.


For example:

If you weigh 150 pounds: 150 x 12 = 1,800 calories/day

Theoretically, this is how many calories you burn throughout the day, not including if you exercise. You would maintain your current weight if you stuck with this many calories per day.

Step 2: Factor in your activity level

Depending on how much you exercise, you'll want to take your resting metabolic rate and multiply it by the following numbers to get a more accurate estimate of how many calories you burn on a daily basis.

  • Lightly active (light exercise 1 to 3 days/week): x 1.2

  • Moderately active (moderate exercise 3 to 5 days/week): x 1.4

  • Very active (hard exercise 6 to 7 days/week): x 1.6

  • Extra active (extra-hard exercise 6 to 7 days/week): x 1.8

  • Super active (extra-hard exercise 6 to 7 days/week and a physical job): x 1.9

For example:

1,800 calories/day x 1.2 (moderately active) = 2,160 calories/day

This is how many calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight if your activity level stays the same.

Step 3: Add more calories for weight gain

If you're in the bulking phase of bodybuilding (which is when you're trying to gain muscle) or if your doctor has advised you to follow a weight-gain diet, you can aim to take in 5 to 10% more calories.


For example:

For 5% more calories: 2,160 calories/day x 1.05 = 2,268 calories/day

For 10% more calories: 2,160 calories/day x 1.1 = 2,376 calories/day

Healthy Foods to Eat More to Gain Weight

When it comes to gaining weight and building muscle, macronutrients matter. But it's a myth that you have to go all-in on high-protein foods in order to gain muscle. While protein is vital for repairing the micro-tears that weight lifting and other exercises create in your muscles, carbohydrates and fats continue to serve important functions in your body as you bulk up—so don't neglect them! Here are some foods to focus on for a balance of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of protein.

  • Oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies

  • Meats like turkey, chicken and lean beef, pork and lamb

  • Beans and legumes, including chickpeas, black beans, lentils, cannellini beans, and hummus

  • Eggs

  • Nut butters and nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans

  • Whole grains like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and quinoa

  • High-calorie fruits and vegetables like avocados, coconut, bananas, mangoes, and dried fruit

  • Full-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese

Healthy Weight-Gain Meal Plan: 2,500 Calories

Here's what a healthy weight-gain meal plan looks like at 2,500 calories. If you're looking for a different calorie level, see the notes at the bottom of each day to see how to bump the calories down to 2,000 calories, or up even more to 3,000 calories.

How to Meal-Prep for Your Week of Meals

  • Make the Vegan Freezer Breakfast Burritos to have for breakfast this week.

  • Make 5 hard-boiled eggs.

  • Bake the Almond-Honey Power Bars to have as snacks throughout the week.

  • Prep the Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables With Cauliflower Gnocchi and store in the fridge for lunches.

  • Make the Maple-Nut Granola to have throughout the week.

Day 1

Breakfast (704 calories)

  • 2 servings Vegan Freezer Breakfast Burritos

  • 1 cup strawberries

A.M. Snack (246 calories)

  • 1 serving Almond-Honey Power Bar

Lunch (649 calories)

  • 2 servings Vegetable & Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 1 cup mango chunks

P.M. Snack (200 calories)

  • 1 large apple

  • 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

Dinner (716 calories)

  • 1 serving Sheet-Pan Maple-Mustard Pork Chops and Carrots

  • 1 1/2 cups Easy Brown Rice

Daily Totals: 2,514 calories, 104 g protein, 340 g carbohydrates, 45 g fiber, 88 g fat, 2,563 mg sodium

To make it 2,000 calories: Omit the peanut butter from the P.M. snack and omit the rice from dinner.

To make it 3,000 calories: Add an extra Almond-Honey Power Bar to the A.M. snack, add an extra 2 Tbsp. peanut butter to the P.M. snack, and add an extra ½ cup brown rice to dinner.

Day 2

Breakfast (430 calories)

  • 1 serving Raspberry Peach Mango Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 hard-boiled egg

A.M. Snack (192 calories)

  • 15 baby carrots

  • 3 Tbsp. hummus

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (648 calories)

  • 1 serving Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables with Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 tsp. unsalted butter

P.M. Snack (265 calories)

  • 1 serving Homemade Microwave Popcorn

  • 1 large banana

  • 8 unsalted almonds

Dinner (951 calories)

  • 2 servings Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes

  • 2 cups fresh spinach & 1 cup shredded carrots topped with ½ Tbsp. olive oil & ½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Daily Totals: 2,486 calories, 120 g protein, 298 g carbohydrates, 64 g fiber, 98 g fat, 2,470 mg sodium

To make it 2,000 calories: Omit the hard-boiled egg at breakfast, omit the hummus at the A.M. snack, omit the toast and butter at lunch, and omit the banana and almonds in the P.M. snack.

To make it 3,000 calories: Add another hard-boiled egg at breakfast, add 6 whole-wheat crackers and another tablespoon hummus at A.M. snack, and add dinner dessert of 8 oz. 2% plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp. honey & 1 cup strawberries.

Day 3

Breakfast (646 calories)

  • 2 servings Maple-Nut Granola

  • 1 cup 2% milk

A.M. Snack (267 calories)

  • 1 slice Swiss cheese

  • 8 whole-wheat crackers

Lunch (648 calories)

  • 1 serving Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables with Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 tsp. unsalted butter

P.M. Snack (234 calories)

  • 6 oz. 2% plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup strawberries

  • 1 Tbsp. honey

Dinner (709 calories)

  • 2 servings Creamy Chicken, Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom One-Pot Pasta

Daily Totals: 2,505 calories, 116 g protein, 315 g carbohydrates, 48 g fiber, 94 g fat, 2,052 mg sodium

To make it 2,000 calories: Reduce granola to 1 serving and reduce milk to ½ cup at breakfast, and omit the hard-boiled egg and Swiss cheese at A.M. snack.

To make it 3,000 calories: Increase gnocchi to 2 servings at lunch and add 1 graham cracker at P.M. snack.

Day 4

Breakfast (646 calories)

  • 2 servings Maple-Nut Granola

  • 1 cup 2% milk

A.M. Snack (218 calories)

  • 15 carrot sticks

  • 1/4 cup hummus

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (648 calories)

  • 1 serving Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables with Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 tsp. unsalted butter

P.M. Snack (335 calories)

  • 4 graham crackers

  • 1 medium apple

Dinner (651 calories)

  • 1 serving Southern Style Oven-Fried Chicken

  • 1 serving Greek Potato Salad

  • 1 serving Garlicky Green Beans

Daily Totals: 2,499 calories, 81 g protein, 330 g carbohydrates, 53 g fiber, 101 g fat, 2,471 mg sodium

To make it 2,000 calories: Reduce granola to 1 serving and milk to ½ cup at breakfast, omit the buttered toast at lunch and reduce the P.M. snack to 3 graham crackers.

To make it 3,000 calories: Add 2 additional graham crackers and 2 Tbsp. peanut butter to PM snack, add a second slice of whole-wheat toast with 1 tsp. butter at lunch and add a second serving of beans at dinner.

Day 5

Breakfast (507 calories)

  • 1 serving Raspberry Peach Mango Smoothie Bowl

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs

A.M. Snack (492 calories)

  • 2 servings Almond-Honey Power Bars

Lunch (648 calories)

  • 1 serving Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Vegetables with Cauliflower Gnocchi

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 tsp. unsalted butter

P.M. Snack (165 calories)

  • 2 servings Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Dinner (697 calories)

  • 2 servings Green Goddess Salad with Chicken

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 1 tsp. unsalted butter

Daily Totals: 2,509 calories, 157 g protein, 295 g carbohydrates, 60 g fiber, 86 g fat, 1,579 mg sodium

Meal-Prep Tip: Make the Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps tonight so they're all ready to go for lunch on Days 6 and 7.

To make it 2,000 calories: Omit eggs at breakfast and omit 1 Almond-Honey Power Bar at the A.M. snack.

To make it 3,000 calories: Add 1 medium apple with 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to the P.M. snack and add a dinner dessert of 1 square of dark chocolate.

Day 6

Breakfast (569 calories)

  • 1 serving Raspberry Peach Mango Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 medium orange

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs

A.M. Snack (214 calories)

  • 1 medium apple

  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Lunch (738 calories)

  • 2 servings Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps

  • 1 cup strawberries

P.M. Snack (241 calories)

  • 4 graham crackers

Dinner (722 calories)

  • 2 servings Tortilla Chip Flounder with Black Bean Salad

Daily Totals: 2,484 calories, 125 g protein, 311 g carbohydrates, 64 g fiber, 91 g fat, 2,281 mg sodium

Meal-Prep Tip: Refrigerate the last 2 Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps to have for lunch on Day 7.

To make it 2,000 calories: Omit the hard-boiled eggs at breakfast and reduce to 1 wrap at lunch.

To make it 3,000 calories: Add 2 Tbsp. peanut butter to the P.M. snack and add 1½ cups Easy Brown Rice at dinner.

Day 7

Breakfast (644 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegan Freezer Burritos

  • 1 medium banana

  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter

A.M. Snack (230 calories)

  • 6 oz. 2% plain Greek yogurt

  • ½ cup blueberries

  • 1 Tbsp. honey

Lunch (692 calories)

  • 2 servings Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps

P.M. Snack (246 calories)

  • 1 serving Almond-Honey Power Bar

Dinner (665 calories)

  • 1 serving Creamed Spinach-Stuffed Salmon

  • 2 servings Garlicky Green Beans

  • 3/4 cup Easy Brown Rice

Daily Totals: 2,478 calories, 117 g protein, 302 g carbohydrates, 54 g fiber, 100 g fat, 2,548 mg sodium

To make it 2,000 calories: Reduce to 1 wrap at lunch and omit rice at dinner.

To make it 3,000 calories: Add a small pear and another Almond-Honey Power Bar at the P.M. snack and add an extra cup of rice at dinner.

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