20 Best Weight Gain Tips (and Muscle Mass)

Weight gain can be a challenging and often demanding journey that many people struggle with. From figuring out what to eat to, knowing how much and when, the path to healthy weight gain can sometimes feel overwhelming.

This is precisely why I have compiled this comprehensive list of weight gain tips designed to navigate you through this journey with knowledge and ease.

Weight Gain Tips

This guide dives into 20 actionable weight gain tips that will assist you in increasing your caloric intake, optimizing your nutritional balance, and supporting muscle growth.

20 Weight Gain Tips

People can gain weight and maintain it by taking several achievable steps. These include the following:

1. Increase Caloric Intake Gradually

One of the cornerstones of weight gain is increasing your caloric intake. However, it’s crucial to do this gradually and mindfully.

By incrementally upping your daily calories, you’re less likely to feel overly full, which helps maintain motivation and ensures you consistently hit your caloric targets.

A surplus of about 500 calories a day can lead to a healthy and gradual weight gain of approximately 1 pound per week.

By pairing your increased caloric intake with regular exercise, especially strength training, you’ll be able to ensure a balance between fat and muscle gain.

This approach fosters healthier body composition and prevents excessive fat accumulation.

Distributing these extra calories across your meals and snacks throughout the day can make the process more manageable.

Adding an extra serving of a side to your dinner or incorporating an additional nutrient-rich snack, like a weight gainer smoothie, can be a simple yet effective strategy.

2. Drink Your Calories Too

Drinking your calories is one of my favorite tips and often a game-changer for those on a weight gain journey. For some people, it’s a much easier and more comfortable way to increase caloric intake without feeling overly full or bloated.

High-calorie smoothies and shakes serve as an effortless way to sneak in more nutrients between meals. They offer the flexibility of having them on the go and can be personalized to your taste and nutritional needs.

3. Regular Strength Training

Someone strength training and doing a deadlift

Strength training plays a crucial role in muscle gain, which is healthier and more sustainable than just gaining fat.

Regular workouts focusing on compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses can stimulate several muscle groups at once, promoting overall muscle growth.

Aim for at least 2-3 strength-training sessions per week. Each session should target different muscle groups to ensure balanced development.

It’s advisable to work with a fitness professional if you’re new to strength training to ensure you’re performing exercises with the correct form and minimizing injury risk.

4. Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress plays a vital role in your weight gain journey. Keeping a food diary or using a weight gain app not only ensures you’re meeting your calorie and nutrient goals but also provides visual motivation.

Many apps offer engaging visuals, charts, and graphs that illustrate your progress, making the fruits of your efforts more tangible. Seeing your progress visualized can significantly boost your motivation and adherence to your weight gain plan.

Remember, it’s harder to see changes in body composition when you’re comparing day to day in the mirror. However, logging your progress over time provides a clear, unbiased picture of your journey.

You can observe how your body changes, how your strength improves, and how your dietary habits evolve. This information can be incredibly validating and encouraging.

Moreover, tracking can help identify any nutritional gaps in your diet. If you notice consistent shortcomings, these can be addressed with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist to ensure your diet is well-rounded and supportive of your weight gain goals.

Gaining weight is a process, not an overnight event. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and to understand that consistent effort and adjustment are keys to success.

5. Frequent Meals

Consuming five to six smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones, can help increase your overall caloric intake without causing feelings of overfullness.

This approach can also keep your energy levels stable, reducing the chances of energy crashes that might lead you to reach for unhealthy snacks.

Each meal should be balanced with a mix of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure you’re meeting your caloric and nutrient needs.

If you find it challenging to prepare multiple meals, consider meal prep strategies where you prepare several meals at once.

6. Protein Supplements

A scoop of protein powder

Protein is key for muscle growth, and supplements like whey or casein can help meet increased protein needs when it’s hard to get enough from food alone.

These can be mixed with milk or water for a post-workout shake or added to smoothies, oatmeal, or homemade protein bars for a quick and convenient protein boost.

Remember, while protein supplements can be helpful, they’re not a replacement for a balanced diet.

Use them to supplement your protein intake from whole foods, not replace them. Always choose high-quality supplements, and consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist if you’re unsure.

7. Post-Workout Nutrition

Refueling your body with a balanced meal or shake containing both protein and carbs within 45 minutes of your workout can promote muscle recovery and growth. An example could be a protein shake paired with a banana or a chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread.

This post-workout nutrition window is when your muscles are most receptive to nutrients, and it can help maximize your muscle-building efforts.

Also, remember to hydrate adequately, as workouts lead to fluid loss through sweat.

8. Add Healthy Fats

Healthy fats like salmon, avocado, nuts and seeds on a board

Healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil provide essential nutrients your body needs for optimal function. These fats are healthy and calorie-dense, making them excellent for weight gain.

These foods can be easily incorporated into your meals and snacks. For instance, you could add avocado slices to your salads or drizzle olive oil on your roasted vegetables.

9. Protein-Packed Breakfast

Starting your day with a high-protein breakfast can help kick-start your metabolism and aid in muscle building.

Foods such as Greek yogurt, eggs, lean meats, and a protein-rich smoothie can make a substantial difference in your daily protein intake. One of my favorite breakfasts is these protein pancakes.

10. Add Nut Butter

Nut butters, such as almond, cashew, or peanut butter, are high in healthy fats and protein and can be an easy way to add extra calories to your meals and snacks.

You could add a spoonful to your breakfast smoothie, spread some on a slice of whole-grain toast, or use it as a dip for your fruit snacks.

While nut butters are an excellent choice for healthy weight gain, try to choose natural, unsweetened varieties to avoid excess sugar.

11. Midnight Snacking

Consuming a protein-rich snack before bed can provide your body with the amino acids it needs to repair and build muscle overnight. Consider having a light, protein-rich snack before bedtime.

This could be a protein shake, a bowl of cottage cheese, or a slice of whole-grain bread with almond butter, providing your body with the amino acids it needs to repair and build muscle overnight.

Make sure to keep these snacks light and healthy. Eating a large, heavy meal just before bed can disrupt your sleep and lead to digestive issues.

Also, it’s best to avoid sugary snacks, as these can lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, potentially disrupting your sleep.

12. Avoid Drinking Before Meals

Drinking large amounts of fluids before meals can fill your stomach and decrease your appetite, reducing your food intake.

While it’s important to stay hydrated, try not to let your fluid intake interfere with your food intake.

Choose calorie-rich beverages like smoothies or milk over water around meal times to further increase your caloric intake.

13. Healthy Desserts

Healthy protein pancakes stacked with peanut butter

Choose healthy high-calorie desserts to help add more nutrients and calories. Protein pancakes with peanut butter, homemade granola bars, or Greek yogurt with honey and nuts are examples of desserts that are nutritious and calorie-dense.

Remember, the goal is not just to add calories but to add nutrient-dense calories. Look for recipes that use whole grains, fruits, nuts, and other nutrient-rich ingredients.

This way, you’re getting more than just extra calories – you’re also providing your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal health.

14. Use a Larger Plate

Psychological factors can greatly influence your eating habits. Larger plates can make portions seem smaller, tricking your brain into accepting more food [*]. This is a small psychological trick to help increase your caloric intake.

15. Starchy Vegetables

High-calorie vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn are higher in calories than non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or spinach.

Incorporating more starchy vegetables into your meals can help increase your caloric intake while also providing important vitamins and minerals.

Try roasting or baking these vegetables and adding some healthy fat, like olive oil, for even more calories. Aim for variety in your diet to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.

16. Eat Before Bed

Incorporating a pre-bedtime snack into your routine can significantly help in augmenting your overall caloric intake.

However, the trick is to opt for the right kind of foods that would support your weight gain goals without hampering your sleep quality.

One of the best choices for a pre-bedtime snack is something high in protein, particularly casein protein, and complex carbohydrates. Casein protein, found in dairy products, is a slow-digesting protein.

Consuming it before bed can help supply your body with a steady stream of amino acids for muscle repair and growth throughout the night.

Avoid foods high in sugar or heavily processed snacks before bed, as these can disrupt sleep. Also, be mindful of portion sizes, as large meals before bed can lead to indigestion and interfere with sleep quality.

17. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

Nutrient-Dense Foods like beans, fish, eggs, nuts and wild rice

Rather than filling up on empty calories, choose foods that are high in nutrients per calorie. Foods such as meats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are all great choices.

They’re not only high in calories, but they also provide your body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber it needs to function properly.

When planning your meals and snacks, think about how you can add more of these nutrient-dense foods. For example, top your whole grain toast with avocado and eggs for breakfast, or add a handful of nuts and seeds to your salad at lunch.

18. Use More Healthy Oils

Cooking with oils or adding them to salads and cooked vegetables can increase the calorie content of your meals without making them much larger or more filling.

Opt for healthy oils like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. These provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for your heart health.

Remember to use oils in moderation, as they are very concentrated in fat. A drizzle over your salad or veggies is usually enough.

19. Dried Fruits

High-calorie fruits like dates, raisins, and apricots are calorie-dense and provide a good source of fiber and antioxidants.

They can be eaten as a snack, added to cereals, yogurts, or homemade granola bars, or used in baking as a natural sweetener.

Keep in mind, dried fruits are also high in natural sugars, so moderation is key. Also, opt for unsweetened dried fruits whenever possible, as some brands may add a lot of extra sugar.

20. Protein Bars

Protein bars can be a convenient snack option that’s high in protein and calories. They’re portable and easy to eat on the go, making them a good option for a quick snack between meals or after a workout.

Look for bars made with whole food ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, and minimal added sugars. Remember, while protein bars can be part of a healthy diet, they shouldn’t replace a meal.


Athletic man and woman tracking calories on a clip board at the gym

Embarking on a weight gain journey can be an exciting and challenging journey. However, armed with the right knowledge and strategies, you’re well-equipped to navigate this journey successfully.

These weight gain tips provided are aimed at making the process more manageable, enjoyable, and effective for you.

Remember, consistency is key, and every small step you take contributes to the bigger picture. It’s not just about increasing the numbers on the scale, but about improving your overall health and wellbeing.

Use these tips as your roadmap, customize them to fit your lifestyle, and remember that everybody is unique, so listen to yours and adjust accordingly.

Incorporate these weight gain tips into your routine, track your progress, celebrate your victories, and most importantly, be patient with yourself. Healthy and sustainable weight gain is a journey, not a destination.

I hope this guide empowers you in your pursuit and brings you closer to achieving your health and fitness goals. Happy gaining!

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