What Are Good Calories To Gain Weight

by Daisy

Gaining weight can be a challenging endeavor, especially when done healthily. Consuming the right kinds of calories is crucial for adding lean muscle and avoiding excessive fat gain. In this article, we’ll explore the best sources of calories for weight gain, offer tips on how to structure your diet, and provide a comprehensive guide to healthy weight gain.

Gaining weight requires a caloric surplus, meaning you need to consume more calories than you burn. However, not all calories are created equal. It’s important to focus on nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals along with the extra calories. This approach ensures that you’re building muscle and maintaining overall health.


Understanding Caloric Needs

Calculating Your Caloric Needs

To determine how many calories you need to gain weight, you must first calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This includes your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the number of calories your body needs at rest – and the calories burned through physical activity. Various online calculators can help you estimate your TDEE based on factors like age, sex, weight, height, and activity level.


Establishing a Caloric Surplus

Once you know your TDEE, aim for a caloric surplus of 250-500 calories per day. This range is generally effective for gradual, sustainable weight gain without excessive fat accumulation. Adjust as needed based on your progress and goals.


Macronutrients for Weight Gain


Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair. Aim to consume 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Good sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats (chicken, turkey, beef)
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, cod)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Plant-based options (beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh)


Carbohydrates provide the energy needed for workouts and daily activities. Focus on complex carbohydrates for sustained energy:

  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats)
  • Vegetables (sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach)
  • Fruits (bananas, berries, apples)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)


Healthy fats are calorie-dense and support hormone production and nutrient absorption. Include sources of unsaturated fats in your diet:

  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds)
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil and other healthy oils
  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)

Nutrient-Dense Foods for Weight Gain

Dairy Products

Dairy products are rich in protein, fat, and essential vitamins and minerals. Incorporate the following into your diet:

  • Whole milk
  • Cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts and nut butters are excellent sources of healthy fats and protein. Try:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide sustained energy and are rich in fiber and other nutrients:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Whole wheat bread and pasta

Protein Shakes and Smoothies

Protein shakes and smoothies can be tailored to include high-calorie ingredients and are convenient for on-the-go nutrition. Ingredients to consider:

  • Protein powder
  • Whole milk or a milk alternative
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Fruits like bananas and berries
  • Oats or flaxseeds

Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are higher in calories and provide a good source of carbohydrates:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas

Lean Meats and Fish

Lean meats and fish are rich in protein and can help increase muscle mass:

  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

Meal Planning for Weight Gain


Start your day with a calorie-dense breakfast to set the tone for the day:

  • Oatmeal with whole milk, nuts, and fruit
  • Smoothie with protein powder, milk, nut butter, and fruit
  • Whole grain toast with avocado and eggs


Incorporate a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats into your lunch:

  • Grilled chicken with quinoa and steamed vegetables
  • Whole grain wrap with turkey, cheese, avocado, and vegetables
  • Lentil soup with a side of whole grain bread


A nutritious dinner can help maintain your caloric surplus:

  • Salmon with brown rice and roasted vegetables
  • Beef stir-fry with mixed vegetables and noodles
  • Tofu curry with sweet potatoes and spinach


Snacking between meals can help you reach your caloric goals:

  • Greek yogurt with honey and nuts
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers
  • Nut butter and banana on whole grain toast

Supplements for Weight Gain

Protein Supplements

Protein supplements, such as whey protein, can help you meet your protein needs, especially post-workout. Choose a high-quality protein powder and incorporate it into shakes or smoothies.

Mass Gainers

Mass gainers are high-calorie supplements that provide a blend of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. They are useful for individuals struggling to meet their caloric goals through food alone.


Creatine is a well-researched supplement that can help increase muscle mass and strength. It works by increasing the availability of energy in muscle cells.

See Also: What Are 5 Benefits Of Healthy Eating

Exercise and Weight Gain

Strength Training

Strength training is crucial for building muscle mass. Focus on compound movements that work multiple muscle groups:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench press
  • Rows
  • Pull-ups

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine. This stimulates muscle growth and helps prevent plateaus.

Rest and Recovery

Adequate rest and recovery are essential for muscle growth. Ensure you get enough sleep and allow time for muscle repair between workouts.

Monitoring Progress

Tracking Intake

Use a food diary or a mobile app to track your daily caloric intake and macronutrient distribution. This can help ensure you are consistently in a caloric surplus.

Measuring Results

Track your weight and body measurements regularly to monitor your progress. Adjust your caloric intake and exercise routine based on your results.

Adjusting Your Plan

If you’re not seeing the desired results, consider consulting a nutritionist or personal trainer to adjust your diet and exercise plan. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and goals.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Difficulty Eating Enough

If you struggle to eat enough, try:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Incorporating calorie-dense snacks
  • Drinking caloric beverages like smoothies and milk

Digestive Issues

If you experience digestive issues, consider:

  • Eating smaller meals more frequently
  • Choosing easily digestible foods
  • Consulting with a healthcare professional for advice

Balancing Macros

Ensure you are getting a balanced intake of macronutrients. If needed, adjust your diet to include more protein, carbohydrates, or fats based on your body’s response and your goals.

Healthy Weight Gain Tips

Focus on Whole Foods

Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods that provide essential nutrients along with calories. Avoid excessive consumption of junk food, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is crucial for overall health and can aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. Aim to drink at least 8 cups of water daily.

Avoid Empty Calories

Avoid foods and beverages high in empty calories, such as sugary drinks and processed snacks. These can contribute to fat gain without providing essential nutrients.


Gaining weight healthily requires a strategic approach that focuses on nutrient-dense foods and a balanced intake of macronutrients. By incorporating high-calorie, nutritious foods into your diet, engaging in strength training, and monitoring your progress, you can achieve your weight gain goals effectively and sustainably. Remember to consult with healthcare professionals as needed to tailor your plan to your specific needs and ensure optimal results.


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