These 9 Foods Will Help You Gain Weight

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Go for Energy Dense Healthy Foods

Bowl with spelt whole grain spaghetti, tomato sauce, parmesan and basil
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We know that so much nutrition and diet advice is about how to lose weight, but if you're too thin, you're probably looking for ways to gain weight.

And we can help!

To gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn every day. But please don't rely on high-calorie junk foods that aren't nutritious when there are energy-dense foods that are good for you. Here are nine of our favorite weight-gaining foods. 

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Bagels

Freshly baked bagels
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Bread and cereals, in general, are good sources of complex carbohydrates your body needs for energy. Bagels just happen to be extra calorie-dense compared to their thinner cousins. While one slice of bread has about 70 calories, one small 3-inch bagel has over 150 calories. And those big coffee shop bagels have 300 or more calories. Top your bagel with cream cheese and some 100-percent fruit spread for a high calorie (but healthy) snack. Whole grain bagels are best -- they'll boost your fiber intake.

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Pasta

Chinese Noodles in a Red bowl
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Pasta is another calorie-dense source of carbohydrates so it can serve as the base of a healthy and high-calorie meal (for example, one cup of cooked spaghetti noodles has 220 calories). Top your pasta with lycopene-rich marinara sauce and add a quarter cup of shredded cheese for more calories and calcium. Or choose a high-calorie Alfredo sauce. If you're pressed for time and money, you can try my ramen noodle makeover. Oh and choose whole wheat pasta whenever you can.

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Dried Fruits

Dried apricot, plums, apples, pears, figs, raisins and dates in bowl
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Give yourself a quick calorie boost by eating a handful or two of dried fruits. They have less volume than their fresh counterparts, so that means one half-cup dried fruit has more calories than fresh. For example, one cup of raisins has 200 calories compared to a full cup of fresh grapes, which has about 60 calories. Raisins are probably the most popular dried fruit in your local grocery store, but you can also find dried berries, apricots, cranberries, and even tropical fruits.

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Healthy Oils

Variety of infused olive oils
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Adding extra fat to your food is an easy way to add calories, but you want to be sure to choose fats and oils that are good for you. Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and can add calories and flavor to pasta, bread, or vegetables. Canola oil is a good source of omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, and it makes a terrific all-purpose cooking oil. Walnut and grape seed oils are lighter in flavor and perfect for topping salads.

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Avocados

Bowl of Guacamole and whole and sliced avocados on dark wood
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Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids plus they have vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. One avocado has more than 200 calories so it's a good way to add extra calories without sacrificing good nutrition. Add avocado slices to your sandwiches or make guacamole and serve with baked tortilla chips. You can also add guacamole to soft shell tacos or burritos

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Nuts and Seeds

mixednuts.jpg
Mike Coombes

Nuts and seeds contain polyunsaturated fats that add healthy calories to your diet. Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all good for you. Eat roasted nuts and seeds by the handful or slather some nut butter on an apple for a nutrient-dense and calorie-dense snack.

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Granola

Plate of homemade granola
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Make your own granola with any combination of dry whole grain cereals, nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Store your granola in an airtight container and serve it for breakfast. Pack some granola into small plastic containers that you can take with you on a busy day. For more flavor and calories, you can add chocolate chunks or peanut butter chips.

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Fruit Juice

Glasses of orange juice, grapefruit juice and multivitamine juice, juice squeezer and fruits on wood
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Choose 100-percent fruit juice instead of sugary sodas and energy drinks. Look out for fruit-flavored drinks that are mostly sugar or high-fructose corn syrup -- they just don't have the nutritional value of 100-percent fruit juices. Vegetable juice (low-sodium is best) tends to be lower in calories, but still contains vitamins and minerals.

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Protein Bars

Organic Muesli Bars
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You can increase your protein intake (and calories) with protein bars. You can buy them in most any grocery or convenience store, or make your own homemade protein bars. Eat one or two protein bars in addition to your regular diet -- they probably won't help you gain weight if you use them to replace other foods. 

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