Are you one of those people who find it difficult to gain weight? You desperately want to get rid of your chicken legs and want to add some muscle mass. Piling on empty calories won’t do the trick. You must consume weight gain foods that are also highly nutritious and rich in proteins. Here’s a list of 19 super foods that help you gain weight naturally.

Weight gain foods

1. Milk

Milk has been used for years to gain weight and build muscles. Even scientists agree that milk consumption acutely increases muscle protein synthesis, leading to an improved net muscle protein balance (1). Milk provides the perfect balance of carbs, proteins and fats in your diet. It is also a good source of many other vitamins and minerals (2).

According to different studies, milk, when combined with resistance exercise, promotes muscle mass maintenance and gains in men as well as women (3, 4).

Milk contains both casein and whey proteins, so it helps in better weight gain than other sources of protein like soy (5).

So drink one or two glasses of milk before or after your workout for better muscle mass.

2. Nuts and nut butters

Eating nuts and nut butters are a healthy way to gain weight. Nuts provide healthy unsaturated fats, proteins and carbs, so they are the perfect food for weight gain.

Macadamia nuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are some of the highest-calorie nuts.

Just 95 grams of almonds contain 546 calories and 20 grams of protein (6). You can add chopped nuts to your morning cereal or add them to your salads. Avoid salted nuts as too much sodium can be harmful to health.

Nut butters can also help with weight gain. You can enjoy a tasty snack if you add almond butter or peanut butter to a fruit or a slice of whole-wheat bread.

3. Rice

Rice is an excellent source of carbs and can help you gain weight. Just one cup of cooked rice (165 grams) can provide 193 calories and 44 grams of total carbohydrates (7). Rice also contains many vitamins like thiamine and niacin and is easy to prepare.

You can add other rich sources of protein like chicken and meat to rice to make it more nutritious.

4. Avocados

Avocados are incredibly calorie and nutrient dense. They contain around 20 minerals and vitamins. One large avocado (200 grams) provides 322 calories, 29 grams of fat and 17 grams of fibre (8). Avocados are a great immunity booster because they are a rich source of vitamin C. This is highly beneficial for underweight people as they can be prone to illnesses.

5. Cheese

Cheese is high in calories and fats. It is also rich in protein and other mineral and vitamins which make it a healthy food source for weight gain.

One cup (132 grams) of diced cheddar cheese contains 532 calories, 44 grams of total fat and 33 grams of protein (9). Add it to your meals for those extra nutritious calories.

6. Bananas

Bananas are the ideal calorie dense snack that you can take with you anywhere. It is one of the best weight foods which is packed with different health benefits.

One cup of mashed bananas (225 grams) packs in 200 calories, 51 grams of total carbohydrates and 1 gram of fat (10). You can have this fruit on the go or add it to your oatmeal or spread it on your toast with nut butter.

7. Red meats

Red meats are naturally rich in minerals and vitamins that are essential for muscle gain. It is also one of the most popular weight gain foods among people looking for ways to gain weight. It contains zinc, selenium, vitamin B2, B6 and B12 and iron, all of which are important for muscle repair and growth.

A six-ounce serving of steak contains 3 grams of leucine, and this helps our body to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and helps add new muscle tissue (11).

Red meats are also a good source of creatine, which is a great muscle building supplement (12). Since red meat is even higher in calories and fats, they help you gain weight faster than lean meats.

According to a study done on 100 senior women, when they added six ounces of red meat to their diet and performed resistance training, they gained muscle mass and had an 18 percent increase in strength (13).

8. Starchy Carbs

Adding starch carbs to your diet is an easy way to gain weight. Some healthy sources of starchy food include quinoa, oats, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, winter root vegetables, beans and legumes. Not only do they help add weight, but they also improve your muscle glycogen stores. Glycogen is essential for training and sports (14).

Many of these foods also provide resistant starch which improves gut health and insulin resistance (15).

9. Fatty fish

Fatty fish are a good source of healthy fats and protein. Protein is essential when you are trying to bulk up. Fatty fish is also an important source of essential fatty acids, vitamin D and zinc. A three-ounce serving of salmon contains 175 calories, 10 grams fat and 19 grams protein. A three-ounce serving of mackerel contains 223 calories, 15 grams fat and 20 grams protein.

These fish are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which provide numerous health benefits.

10. Dried fruit

Dried fruits, especially figs, are a rich source of nutrients. These high-calorie snacks are an excellent source of antioxidants as well (16). They have a high sugar content, which makes them ideal for gaining weight and great to taste. Dried fruits like figs and plums also contain a lot of fibre.

When mixed with nuts and yoghurts, they provide the perfect blend of healthy fats and nutrients.

11. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolates are a calorie dense food that is packed with nutrients. Each 100 bar of dark chocolate has 600 calories, so this makes it a great snack if you are trying to gain weight. Make sure that you have chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa. Dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants and other healthy nutrients like fibre and magnesium (17).

12. Eggs

Eggs are very useful in muscle building as they are packed with high-quality proteins and healthy fats. This makes eggs as one of the best contenders for weight gain foods. One large egg has 90 calories, 6 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein. It also contains all the amino acids that our body needs. You can eat as many eggs as you want, in fact, many bodybuilders eat up to six eggs a day.

13. Full fat yoghurt

Full fat yoghurt provides a healthy mix of carbs, proteins and fats. Combining this yoghurt with fresh or dried fruits can make it a fantastic and healthy snack.  Adding yoghurts are also a great way to add protein content to any smoothie.

Yoghurts, granola and berries can be added in layers to make a healthy yoghurt parfait for a well-balanced breakfast.

14. Healthy oils

Extra-virgin olive oils, avocado oil and coconut oil are some of the most calorie dense foods on the planet. These oils are rich in nutrients and provide many health benefits. Coconut oil protects our kidneys and heart and helps to control the cholesterol levels. One cup of coconut oil contains 1879 calories and 189 grams of saturated fat (18).

Just adding a spoon to the sauces and salads you eat can add healthy calories to your diet.

15. Cereals

Choose healthy cereals to provide you with a good source of carbs, calories and other nutrients. Grain-based cereals and oats are a better option than the processed variety that is high in sugars (19). Go for oats, granola, multigrain, bran and Ezekiel contain beneficial nutrients and healthy antioxidants.

16. Homemade protein smoothies

Commercially made smoothies are often full of sugars and contain very little nutrition. You can make smoothies at home with ingredients that add nutrition and help in weight gain.

Here are some easy to make healthy protein smoothies:

Caramel apple shake: Mix one sliced apple, one cup of yoghurt, a scoop of vanilla whey protein and a tablespoon of sugar-free caramel sauce with two cups of milk.

Berry shake: Mix one cup of mixed berries with one cup of high protein yoghurt and one scoop of ice cream and milk.

Spinach avocado shake: Mix one cup of spinach, one avocado, one banana, I pineapple and one cup of vanilla whey protein with milk.

These smoothies can easily add 600 healthy calories to your diet.

17. Protein supplements

Whey protein supplements are an easy way to gain weight. Some people considered them to be unhealthy, but that is not the case. Whey protein is made from dairy and can help to improve your health (20).

These supplements are an easy way to increase your intake of proteins which is essential if you are doing rigorous physical training.

18. Whole grain bread

Bread is a good source of carbohydrates but eating the plain white bread is not the answer. Opt for whole grain bread as it is packed with fibre and nutrients. You can also combine it with other protein-rich foods like eggs, meat and fish to make more nutritious and calorie dense meals.

19. Cereal bars

Cereal bars contain a mix of slow and fast digesting carbs, and this makes them an excellent choice for a snack before or after an exercise training session. Go for bars that are made up of healthier whole grains. Some of these bars also contain dried fruit and nuts.

Final thoughts on weight gain foods

Gaining weight can be as painful as losing it. However, we must try to gain weight healthily and not consume empty calories. Add calorie-dance nutrient-rich food to your diet plan. When combined with resistance exercise, these weight gain foods will help you gain weight and muscle.