Foods to Help You Gain Weight

Underweight people can benefit from high calorie foods. HeyHey Designs/Getty Images

Not everyone is overweight. But to read magazines and scroll the Internet, almost everything focuses on weight loss. However, there are many people with the opposite problem: those who could gain a few extra pounds, especially if they are underweight, which may be a result of living with multiple food allergies.

Here are a few high calorie food suggestions and how to use them. Of course, always avoid your food allergens, as this list includes many high calorie foods, to which you may be allergic.


A naturally high fat plant food, avocado is packed with healthy fats. Serve it alone with a squeeze of lemon or smash it onto bread as part of a sandwich. Don’t forget to try guacamole dip!

Plant oils

Plant oils and those plant oils that are highly refined are considered to be safe for most individuals with food allergies. Try olive oil, highly refined nut oils, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil to add an extra source of calories to pasta, vegetables, and other foods. 


Seeds add calories in the form of fat, as well as fiber, to the diet. Try sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, chia seeds and more! Sprinkle them atop oatmeal, cereals and salads, add them to smoothies, or just eat a handful on their own. Seed butters, such as sunflower butter (one brand is called Sun Butter) are a great allergen-free alternative to nut butters like almond or peanut butter.


If you can eat milk and milk products, cheese is an easy way to incorporate more calories into the diet.

Add cheese to a sandwich, in casseroles, atop vegetables, on potatoes, or as a stand-alone snack. If you are allergic to milk, give an allergen-free type, such as Daiya cheese, a try.

Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts are naturally packed with fat and protein and are a good source of calories, particularly when you consider the high calorie content contained in just a small handful of nuts.

Eat them alone, or add them to salads, or mixed into hot cereal. Nut butters come in a variety of types: almond, cashew, and more. Use these like you would peanut butter (below). Obviously, if you have a tree nut allergy, you won’t be able to use this option for weight gain; try seeds as an acceptable alternative.

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Like other nuts, peanuts are a rich source of calories, but are to be avoided if you have a peanut allergy. Peanuts and peanut butter are versatile additions to the diet: as a singular snack, added to salads, included in a trail mix, and in homemade desserts. Peanut butter is great on toast, in sandwiches, in smoothies, stirred into oatmeal, and as a dip for fruit and vegetables. If you are peanut allergic, try seeds and other high calorie foods to help you gain weight.

High Fat Dairy Foods

Whole milk, whole milk yogurt, whole milk and hard cheeses, butter, premium ice cream, and cream cheese have more calories than their lower fat relatives like 1% milk or low fat yogurt, and therefore, can contribute additional calories to your diet.

Keep these foods on hand and use them in your daily eating patterns, as well as in baking and as a substitute in recipes. Don’t forget, many sauces are made with dairy products and are a good source of extra calories. Of course, if you have a milk allergy, try fortified soymilk as an alternative, as it closely mimics the nutritional profile of cow’s milk.

Canned Fruit and Fruit Juice

When you’re trying to gain weight, you need to find the extra calories wherever you can. Canned fruit in heavy syrup is one option. Also, reconstituting fruit juice with less water can help supply some additional calories.


While you always hear about choosing lean sources of meat (lean beef, skinless poultry, and more fish), the opposite is true if you’re trying to gain weight. In this situation, you’ll want to opt for higher fat meats such as 85% lean beef, poultry with the skin, sausages, ribs and even fried chicken. Try to work these items into your diet more often.


Because they contain more sugar and fat, desserts tend to be high in calories. If you’re trying to pack on the pounds, you’ll have more leeway in your diet for desserts.

In my experiences working with children, gaining weight when it’s needed isn’t always easy. You need high calorie foods and other strategies to be successful. Often, incorporating an array of these efforts will yield the best results.

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