Gaining or adding muscle can be as hard for some as losing weight. However, adding certain foods can help you lose weight more effectively and make it healthier. Here are 18 healthy foods that can help you gain weight and muscle.
Making protein smoothies at home can help you gain weight quickly and in a healthy way. It’s a great way to make your own smoothies, as commercial ones are often high in sugar and low in nutrients. You also have complete control over the taste and nutritional content.
These are just a few of the delicious variations that you can try. If you are lactose intolerant, you can mix each one with 2 cups (470mL) of milk or soymilk. Both kinds of milk have higher nutritional and calorie content than any other alternatives.
- Chocolate banana nut smoothie: 1 banana, 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein, and 1 tablespoon (15mL) of peanut butter or another nut butter.
- Vanilla berry shake: Mix 1 cup (237mL), of fresh or frozen mixed fruit, ice, 1 cup (237mL) of high-protein, full-fat Greek yogurt, and 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein.
- Chocolate hazelnut shake: Mix 15 ounces (444mL) chocolate milk with 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein, 1 teaspoon (15mL) hazelnut butter, and 1 avocado.
- Caramel apple smoothie: 1 sliced apple, 1 cup (237mL) full-fat Greek yogurt, 1 scoop caramel- or vanilla-flavored Whey Protein, 1 tablespoon (15mL) sugar-free caramel sauce/ flavoring.
- Vanilla blueberry shake: Mix 1 cup (237mL), of fresh or frozen blueberries with 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein and 1 cup (237mL) of vanilla Greek yogurt. Add sweetener if necessary.
- Super green shake: Mix 1 cup (237mL) spinach, 1 avocado, and 1 banana with 1 cup (237mL) pineapple and 1 scoop unflavored or vanilla protein whey.
These smoothies contain between 400-600 calories and a high level of protein, as well as important vitamins and minerals.
Summary: There are so many great protein smoothie recipes. Avoid the most common commercial versions as they may have added sugar and not be as nutritious.
For decades, milk has been used to gain weight or build muscle. It is rich in protein, carbs, fats, and calcium. Milk is a great source of protein for those looking to build muscle. It contains both caseins as well as whey proteins. It can even be combined with weightlifting to increase muscle.
Studies have also shown that milk (or whey and/or casein) can increase mass gains over other protein sources. Drink one to two glasses of whole milk (149 calories) before or after a meal.
You can also add milk to your diet with milk smoothies. Blend 1 cup of frozen berries with 1 cup of whole milk, 2 teaspoons honey, and 1 teaspoon vanilla for a quick boost of protein (about 275 calories).
Summary: Drinking milk is a great way of getting more protein into your diet. It has both caseins as well as whey proteins.
Rice is an easy and inexpensive carb source that can help you lose weight. One cup (158g) of cooked white rice has 204 calories, 44g of carbs, and very little fat. Rice is also very calorie dense, so you can get a lot of carbs and calories in a single meal. This allows you to eat more, especially if your appetite is low or you are hungry quickly.
Microwavable rice packs can be added to any protein source or pre-made meal when you are on the move. Another popular way to make rice is to cook a large batch, then refrigerate or freeze individual portions. Then, you can combine the rice with different proteins and healthy fats for different meals throughout the week.
You can make bland rice taste amazing in many different ways. Stirring in these ingredients after cooking rice is the easiest way to increase taste and calories as well as give your rice a protein boost.
- Butter and Parmesan cheese
- Broccoli and cheese
- Scrambled eggs
- Toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, or cashews
You can also add a sauce to your rice to increase the taste and calories. If you are short on time, these sauces can be bought ready-made. You can make a rice dish into a complete meal. This wild rice and the chicken-kale combination make a nutritious lunch (400 calories per portion).
Summary: Rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates that is easy to digest and eat.
If you are looking to lose weight, nut butter and nuts are great options. A small handful (1/4 cup) of raw almonds contains 170 calories, 6g of protein, 4g of fiber, and 15g of healthy fats. Nuts are high in calories, so a couple of nuts per day can easily add hundreds of calories to a meal or snack.
Nut butter can be added to many snacks and dishes such as yogurts, crackers, and smoothies. This will make them a high-calorie snack that is quick and easy to prepare. This peanut butter banana smoothie is a quick and easy way to get a boost of energy. It has only three ingredients and 270 calories. You can substitute another nut butter if you have a peanut allergy.
Make sure to choose 100 percent nut butter without added sugars or oils. You can also make your own almond butter using this recipe. It’s simple to make and it won’t break the bank.
Summary: Nuts and nut butter can be delicious, high-calorie treats. Nut butters are great for you, and they can be easily added to many snacks or recipes.
Red meat is one of the most muscle-building foods. Six ounces (or 170 grams) of steak contain approximately 5 grams of leucine. Leucine is the essential amino acid your body requires to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It also helps you build new muscle tissue. It also has 456 calories and almost 49 grams of protein.
Red meats also contain dietary creatine, which is a powerful muscle-building supplement. You might consider choosing fattier cuts. These provide more calories than leaner meats. This will help you eat more calories and increase your weight. One study found that 100 elderly women added 6 ounces (170g) of red meat to their diets. They also did resistance training six days per week for six weeks.
Women gained muscle mass, strength increased by 18%, and IGF-1 (muscle-building hormone) was elevated. Both lean and fat-rich types of meat provide great protein. However, fatty meats can have more calories which can lead to weight gain. Brisket is one of the most well-known fatty beef dishes. Briskets can be time-consuming to prepare. However, if you have a slow cooker it can make the process much quicker.
Summary: Red meat is a great source of protein and can help you build muscle. It is rich in leucine, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis. You’ll eat more calories if the meat is fattier.
Starchy Food (Potatoes)
You can easily add calories to potatoes and other starchy foods by using potatoes and other starchy foods. These healthy starchy carbs are worth your consideration. Potatoes and other starches not only add calories and carbs to help you gain weight, but they also increase your muscle glycogen.
Glycogen is the main fuel source for most sports and other activities. These carb sources can also provide essential nutrients and fiber as well as resistant starch which can help to nourish your gut bacteria. Sweet potato toast is a popular Instagram trend. It takes just minutes to prepare. Wash, dry, and slice medium-sized sweet potatoes. Then toast it in a toaster oven or toaster oven to your preference.
You can then add your favorite toppings. You can add mashed avocado to the mixture and then top it with a fried egg (300 calories per portion). This is a great breakfast option or snack after a workout.
Quinoa can be described as a seed that is prepared and eaten in the same way as a grain. Quinoa can be eaten as it is or added to soups or flour for use in bread, drinks, and porridge.
Quinoa is superior to many other grains because it is a complete protein. This means that it contains all nine of the amino acids our bodies can’t make. Quinoa is also rich in minerals and vitamins, as well as high levels of protein.
You can also add calories to complex carbs by:
- Add sour cream to potatoes.
- Adding grated cheese to quinoa and mashed potatoes.
- Roast your vegetables in olive or avocado oil.
- Topping with sliced olives.
- Adding hummus to whole-grain bread or crackers.
- You can use dairy or soy milk in place of water when you cook oatmeal or other hot grains.
Summary: Healthy starches can be a great way for you to get essential nutrients and fiber, increase your calorie intake, and increase the amount of muscle glycogen.
Salmon and other oily fish, like red meat, are great sources of protein as well as important healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the most important and well-known of all nutrients provided by salmon and other oily fish, are one of the most important and well-known.
They have many benefits for your health. A 6-ounce (170-grams) serving of wild sockeye salmon deboned provides approximately 250 calories and 12g of healthy fats. This same serving contains 37 grams of high-quality protein that can be used to build muscle and gain weight.
Salmon can be prepared in many ways, including steamed, sauteed, or smoked. You can also eat smoked salmon or raw salmon in sushi or sashimi. While fresh or frozen salmon can be more expensive, canned salmon is quick and affordable. Most canned salmon is wild-caught rather than farmed. This gives it a high nutritional value.
These are some healthy and convenient ways to add salmon to your diet:
- Use canned salmon to give your “tuna”-style salad a new twist.
- You can substitute canned salmon for the chicken in a Cobb salad. Then add bacon, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Smoked salmon is worth a try. Spread cream cheese on whole-grain bread or crackers. Add smoked salmon and garnish with cucumber slices, tomato slices, capers, or capers.
- Prepare a salmon salad using leafy greens and asparagus.
Summary: Salmon and other oily fish are great sources of healthy omega-3 fats. You can also get high-quality protein from them to build muscle.
Whey Protein Supplements
For athletes and bodybuilders looking to lose weight, protein supplements are a popular strategy. There are many options, including egg, soy, and pea proteins. Whey protein supplements and mass gainers (supplements that can help you gain muscle mass), can be very cost-effective and easy ways to lose weight.
Whey protein can be misunderstood as unnatural or unhealthy. Whey protein, which is made from milk, has been shown to improve health markers and lower the risk of developing diseases. Supplements may prove even more valuable if you are also training, as your daily protein needs increase.
Whey protein, like meat and other animal products, has all the essential amino acids needed to stimulate muscle growth. It can be used before, after, or at any time during your day.
A protein smoothie is a great way to get protein powder into your diet, especially for breakfast. This gives you time to eat nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day, ensuring that you have a healthy nutrient intake. A smoothie made by you will generally be healthier than one bought ready-made.
This basic whey shake recipe will provide you with an energy-dense breakfast. You can add peanut butter, almond butter, or flaxseeds to get even more protein. To increase the protein content, unflavored whey protein can also be added to soups, mashed potatoes, or oatmeal.
Summary: Protein supplements can be a cost-effective way to increase your protein intake.
Dry fruit is high in calories and provides micronutrients and antioxidants. There are many types of dried fruits, each with high sugar content. They are great for weight loss because they are easy to eat and great tasting. Many people believe that fruits lose their nutrients after they are dried. However, this is not true. Dried fruits are rich in fiber, and the majority of vitamins and minerals they contain remain intact.
Combine dried fruits with protein sources such as meats, cheeses, and whey protein shakes. These fruits can also be mixed with full-fat plain Greek yogurt and nuts, which provide a combination of healthy fats, proteins, and other important nutrients.
Dates are high in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrition. As a high-calorie snack, they are versatile and easy to prepare. Two Medjool dates are enough to provide 130 calories. You can fill dates with cream cheese, nut butter, or cooked grains such as rice and quinoa. For a little sweetness, add one or two dates to smoothies, sauces, and dressings.
Summary: Dried fruits are rich in antioxidants, healthy fiber, calories, and vitamins. It is a great way to increase the nutrition and calories in your diet.
Whole-grain bread can also be a good source of carbs to help you lose weight. Combining bread with protein sources like eggs, cheese, and meat can result in simple, low-calorie, and well-balanced meals.
Buy whole grain bread and natural seeded bread when you are looking for bread. You can find healthier versions at most grocery stores, like Ezekiel bread. Sandwiches are one of the most convenient, versatile, and portable ways to lose weight. Your imagination is the only limit to their ingredients: meats and cheeses, vegetables, nuts butter spreads, avocados, and many other options.
These sandwich recipes are worth a try. There are many ways to make the classic grilled cheese sandwich, including the Reuben and healthy wraps. During the pandemic, sourdough bread was a popular choice. It is one of the most nutritious, satisfying bread.
Many are now learning how to make starters for sourdough during the pandemic. Sourdough bread is made with three ingredients: flour and water. A single slice of sourdough bread weighing in at 2 ounces (56g) will provide you with 160 calories. Sourdough contains live good bacteria that can feed bacteria in your gut. This can help strengthen your immune system.
Summary: Whole-grain bread can help you gain weight, especially when they are combined with good-quality protein.
Avocados are full of healthy fats. Avocados, unlike other whole fruits, are high in calories and can help you lose weight. One large avocado contains around 322 calories, 29g of fat, and 14g of fiber. Avocados also contain vitamins, minerals, as well as beneficial plant compounds.
Avocados can be added to main meals, as well as other dishes like omelets and sandwiches. Avocado toast is one of the easiest and most popular ways to enjoy avocado. Simply mash avocado on toast. It’s so easy!
There are many other delicious ways to enjoy avocados:
- As a topping
- As a mayonnaise substitute
Summary: Avocados are rich in healthy fats, and nutrients. They can be used in many different dishes or as a stand-alone.
Cereals rich in healthy carbohydrates can provide a great source of nutrients, calories, and carbs. You should avoid high-sugar cereals. However, you can add healthy forms of carbs to your diet, like oatmeal with whole milk. A cup of cooked oatmeal will provide you with 130 calories. You can also get the calories from any whole milk or toppings.
You might try topping hot oats or overnight oats with full-fat Greek yogurt. Oats and cereals made from grains also have beneficial nutrients like fiber and healthy antioxidants.
These healthy options should be your main focus when shopping for cereals:
- Ezekiel brand
Pay attention to the label and stay away from cereals that are high in added sugar. When possible, choose those that have the highest fiber. Granola is a high-calorie, low-calorie mixture of nuts, cereals, and dried fruits. Granola is high in protein, fiber, and micronutrients. One-half cup of granola provides between 200 and 300 calories. To avoid buying granola in stores, you might want to make your own.
Summary: Eating cereal is a great way of gaining weight and consuming more fiber. Stick to healthier options like oatmeal.
You can snack on some of the healthier cereal bars available on the market, which are high in calories and great for those who are on the move. Most bars average between 150-200 calories. These are also good choices before and after training sessions, as they contain a mixture of slow-digesting and fast-digesting carbohydrates.
You can make a meal or snack out of a cereal bar. Some cereal bars can be healthy, but others may contain added sugars, oils, and preservatives that aren’t as appealing. Making your own bars is an option. It is much easier than you may think.
These recipes will help you make your own cereal bars. You’ll often only need a handful of ingredients and may even already have the ingredients in your pantry. If you don’t have the time or desire to cook, there are many store-bought healthy cereal bars. Be sure to use bars that are made with whole grains, as well as other healthy ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Summary: Stick with cereal bars made from whole grains and other healthy ingredients like dried fruits and nuts.
High-quality dark chocolate has a lot of antioxidants and other health benefits. Dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao (the seeds from which chocolate is made), is believed to regulate blood sugar and stress hormones. It can also reduce your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, inflammation, stress, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions.
Dark chocolate, like other high-fat foods, has a high-calorie density. This means that it is easy to consume a lot of calories. Each 100g (3.5 ounces) bar containing 60-75% cacao solids contains 600 calories. It is also packed with micronutrients, and health-promoting compounds, such as fiber and magnesium.
Dark chocolate can be enjoyed in many different ways than just straight eating. You can garnish your morning cereal with it, curl some fruit on top, or enjoy steaming hot drinking (or sipping!) chocolate, just like the Parisians.
Healthy chocolate desserts can be made, such as energy bites or no-guilt truffles. There are many varieties and quality options for dark chocolate in supermarket aisles. Make sure you choose high-quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao.
Summary: Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and other nutrients. It also contains plenty of calories that will help you lose weight.
Since ancient times, cheese has been a staple food. It’s high in fat and calories, just like dark chocolate. One ounce of cheddar cheese (28g) contains 110 calories and 7g of protein. It is much smaller than you may think. It is about the same size as a pair of dice.
Cheese is delicious and can be added to many dishes, adding hundreds of calories. There are many types of cheese, including cream, soft and hard. This list contains healthy cheeses that will suit your taste buds. Many kinds of cheese contain high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. Cheeses of any kind, like most high-calorie foods, should be enjoyed in moderation.
Mac and cheese are one of the most beloved cheese dishes. Even if you don’t have much appetite, it is easy to eat. This mac and cheese recipe is a healthier version of the classic. We can’t forget the grilled cheese sandwich. We can’t resist this childhood favorite on English muffins or whole grain bread every now and again.
Summary: Cheese is rich in healthy fats and protein. If you want to add it to your meals, it can be used as a flavor and calorie boost.
Eggs are one of the best foods for building muscle. Eggs are a wonderful source of high-quality proteins and healthy fats. A large raw egg of 2 ounces (50g) has approximately 74 calories. Consuming the whole egg is also important. Almost all the nutrients found in eggs are in the yolk.
You don’t need to restrict your egg intake if you don’t have an intolerance. You can eat as many eggs as you like. Many bodybuilders and athletes will consume six meals a day or more. Eggs can be prepared in many ways.
These can be used in omelets are favorite meal at any hour of the day. For a high-calorie treat, add meats, vegetables, and cheese, and then top it with sour cream or avocado. These recipes are great for egg breakfasts, and we don’t care if they are served for lunch or dinner.
Summary: Eggs are one of the best foods to build muscle. You can eat as many eggs as you like in a single day. They’re also full of nutrients.
Greek yogurt with full fat is another convenient and healthy snack. It is a healthy snack that contains a good mix of fat, protein, and carbs. A 6-ounce portion of plain, whole-milk yogurt will provide you with 165 calories and 15g of protein. This is before you add your favorite toppings or combinations.
Yogurt can be used in many high-calorie snacks as well as healthy weight-gain recipes. Here are some:
- Yogurt with fruit: Mix 1-2 cups yogurt with fresh or dried fruits. You can add nuts, seeds, and honey to the yogurt.
- Chocolate peanut butter pudding: Combine 1-2 cups yogurt with 100 percent cocoa powder or peanut butter and a sweetener like honey, stevia, or sugar. For more protein, you can add a scoop of whey.
- Yogurt parfait: Mix 1-2 cups yogurt with granola, mixed berries, and yogurt in layers to make a delicious and healthy breakfast or snack.
- Smoothies: Greek yogurt can be added to any smoothie to increase its protein content and give it an almost milkshake-like texture.
Whole milk Greek yogurt has more calories, less sugar, and nearly twice as much protein than regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is thickened after it has been strained. This yogurt is great as a topping or as a snack by itself.
It can be difficult to choose the best yogurt from the many options available at your grocery store. Pay attention to the label and stay away from yogurts containing thickeners, sugars, or preservatives.
Summary: Full-fat Greek yogurt can be another great ingredient to add protein and healthy fats to your diet. It can be used as an ingredient in many recipes or it can be enjoyed on its own.
Oils and Fats
Oils and healthy fats are the highest calorie-dense food on the planet. You can easily add 120 calories to your cooking by adding 1 tablespoon (15 mL), of olive oil to sauces and salads. Butter coffee is a trendy way to get healthy fats. Make a cup of brewed coffee and add coconut oil and unsalted butter to make a foamy latte.
Summary: It is important to include healthy fats in your diet, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Use olive oil and avocado oil as healthy oils.
Consistently eating more calories than you burn with exercise is the key to gaining weight. It is also important to lift weights so that extra calories from high-calorie snacks and foods can be used to build muscles instead of fat. You can incorporate the food on this list into your meals and meal plans.