What Foods Should You Eat To Gain Weight – I talk a lot about weight loss on this blog, but it’s not always the goal.
There are many reasons why you actually want to gain weight. Maybe you’re recovering from an eating disorder, or you’re trying to build muscle. Sometimes you can just deal with losing your appetite and need to maximize your calories without eating a ton of food.
What Foods Should You Eat To Gain Weight
Just as losing weight requires a calorie deficit (taking in fewer calories than you burn), gaining weight requires a calorie surplus (eating more than you burn).
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No single food can make you gain weight – it’s always about the number of calories.
Many people operate under the misconception that too many carbohydrates will cause weight gain, or that eating too much sugar will cause unwanted body fat to accumulate, but this is not true. Overall, too many calories will cause weight gain.
And when we talk about a calorie surplus, please remember that we are talking about a consistent period of time. If you overeat for a day (or a week), it will not lead to significant and lasting weight gain.
You will only gain weight if you consistently eat in excess calories over time. And if you don’t want to gain weight, rest assured that overeating from time to time will not cause you to gain weight. Every day isn’t going to be perfect, and that’s okay!
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There is still a common misconception that if you eat “clean” you will not gain unwanted weight.
If your goal is to build muscle, you need to be in an overall calorie surplus. That won’t change much.
But for most people this means that if they eat a ton of calories, but only eat “healthy” foods, they won’t gain any fat. You know, because calories are “clean”.
If your body needs 2,500 calories a day and you eat nothing but 5,000 calories of chicken, rice and salad a day, you will still gain unwanted body fat.
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While it’s great to prioritize healthy food choices, too many extra calories will still put you in a huge calorie surplus, leading to excess weight gain.
Think of it this way: If you want to lose weight and you drastically cut your calories, you won’t see the results you want. Yes, you will lose weight, but you will also lose hard-earned muscle, and the results will not be sustainable.
The point is not to eat a ton of “clean” food. The key is to gradually increase your calorie intake over time.
If you are reading this and your goal is to gain weight – slowly. Don’t jump from eating 1,600 calories a day to 3,500 calories a day. Even if you eat as healthy as possible, you won’t get the results you want.
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Don’t get me wrong—you can gain weight fast if you really want to, but if you rush the process, it will be a lot of unwanted fat. Take it slowly. Your body will thank you.
This is where the reverse diet comes into play, which you can read about in my post here.
Okay, so we understand how weight gain works, so what foods can you use to achieve that calorie surplus?
The following foods are great choices for healthy weight gain because they are high in calories and low in volume, allowing you to get as many calories as possible without filling you up too much.
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Unlike weight loss where eating large amounts of food is recommended, we want to focus on smaller amounts to maximize our calories.
Why nuts are good for weight gain: Whether they’re peanuts, cashews, almonds or anything in between, nuts are a great source of calories. A small 1/4 cup serving, which fits in the palm of your hand, will give you about 200 calories. Plus, it’s full of healthy fats, helping you stay full with minimal food intake.
Why chia seeds are good for weight gain: Just two and a half tablespoons of chia seeds will give you 150 calories, making them an easy addition to your diet. Sprinkle chia seeds on salads, bake them in breads, add them to smoothies or whatever you want!
Why almond butter is good for weight gain: Whether it’s peanut butter or almond butter, almond butter is a great way to get extra calories. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is very small, and most people will use more (sometimes double) than that when making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
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If sandwiches aren’t your thing, you can add a dollop of peanut butter to a smoothie, eat it plain, or use it as a dip for fruit or crackers.
Why Banana Chips Are Good for Weight Gain : You’ll often find banana chips in trail mix (which are also a high-calorie option) because they’re tasty and sweet. Unlike dried fruit like raisins (see below), banana chips are delicious and crunchy and even sweeter than raw bananas. A 1/2 cup serving will contain about 150 calories, and it’s easy to snack on more than that if needed.
Why raisins are good for weight gain : Ah, raisins. While grapes are a great low-calorie, high-volume option, raisins are almost the opposite. A 1/2 cup serving, which can be an easy handful, will exceed 200 calories.
You can snack on raisins on their own, or enjoy them with peanut butter for a high-calorie snack.
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Why pasta is good for weight gain : I don’t know about you, but my stomach is a constant pit for pasta. A serving of pasta is about the size of your closed fist, and it’s normal to eat more than that. If you go to a restaurant, you can eat 2-3 meals at a time, which can be 400-600 calories in pasta alone. While pasta may not contain much other than carbs, it can still be a great addition to your calorie intake.
Why bread is good for weight gain: There are many types of bread, but a typical slice will contain about 100 calories. 1oz is the weight for thinly sliced bread, and if you cut a slice of bread yourself, chances are you’ll end up with more than 1oz. Calories aside, bread is a great source of many nutrients (depending on the type), making it a very healthy choice overall.
Why granola is good for weight gain: Granola can vary depending on the ingredients, but a 1/2 cup serving usually has 200-250 calories. It is much more calorie dense than a typical breakfast cereal because of the small pieces (usually using some type of oat) and added sweeteners such as honey or syrup.
Why eggs are good for weight gain: Eggs often get a bad rap, but in my opinion they are one of the best snacks out there. One egg is about 70 calories, and loaded with healthy fats, protein, and a ton of vitamins. You can snack on hard-boiled eggs, or pair some eggs with toast for a delicious breakfast.
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Why coconuts are good for weight gain: Coconuts come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter how you slice them, they’re a dense source of fat and calories. 1/4 cup can easily be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal, smoothies or anything else!
Why olive oil is good for weight gain : Olive oil is a very easy addition to your cooking, adding 120 calories per tablespoon. Adding a spoon (or two) to your pan while cooking is an easy way to add calories without filling up. Olive oil can also be used to drizzle food after cooking or to make a delicious salad.
Why honey is good for weight gain: Honey is sweet, and it’s a great flavoring to use to add extra calories. Honey is very versatile and can be added to almost any food (even flavored foods) to add a few extra calories. Although it is high in sugar, there is no reason to fear excess sugar!
Why avocados are good for weight gain : If you look up “healthy fats” in the dictionary, avocados will probably pop up immediately (though don’t fact-check). One avocado contains about 250 calories and is loaded with all the good fats you need to keep you satisfied. Make avocado toast, mix it into a sauce, add it to a sandwich or pretty much anything you can think of.
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Why dark chocolate is good for weight gain: Milk chocolate is also a good source if you have a sweet tooth, but many people choose dark chocolate.
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