The 10 Best Steps To Gain Weight Successfully and Healthily

Gaining weight can be challenging for many individuals with fast metabolisms or health conditions like cancer or chronic stress. However, with the right approach, it is possible to gain weight in a healthy, gradual, and sustainable manner. This article provides the top 10 evidence-based steps to gain weight safely and effectively. From consulting your doctor to focusing on nutritious whole foods, resistance training, and self-care, these methods have been shown to support healthy weight gain.

The 10 Best Steps To Gain Weight Successfully and Healthily

Step 1: Get Evaluated by Your Doctor

If you suspect you may be underweight due to medical issues, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Get your height, weight, and other vitals measured. Your doctor will assess if any underlying health conditions are causing your low body weight like hyperthyroidism or eating disorders. They can also check for nutrient deficiencies and recommend follow-up tests or treatments if needed. Informing your doctor about your weight gain goals will allow them to provide tailored nutrition and lifestyle advice suited to your individual needs.

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Step 2: Develop a Calorie-Dense Meal Plan

To gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn daily. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you determine your ideal calorie intake based on factors like age, gender, height, and physical activity levels. They can also recommend calorie-dense foods to include in your meals and snacks. Some examples are nuts, seeds, nut butter, full-fat dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, oils, grains, and starchy vegetables. Tracking your meals using a calorie-counting app is another way to ensure you meet your calorie goal.

Step 3: Eat Frequently Throughout the Day

It is not healthy or sustainable to suddenly increase your portion sizes alone. Spreading out your calorie intake into smaller, more frequent meals and snacks makes it easier to consume extra calories without feeling overly full or gaining excess weight. Some effective strategies are having breakfast within an hour of waking up and snacks 2-3 hours apart from meals. You should aim to eat at least 3 main meals with 2-3 healthy snacks in between daily.

Step 4: Emphasize Protein-Rich Foods

Protein is important for building and repairing muscles. Studies suggest adults need at least 0.8 grams of high-quality protein per pound of body weight daily for weight gain. Good sources are lean meats like chicken and turkey, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, legumes, nuts, and protein powders. Emphasizing protein at meals has benefits like feeling fuller for longer and preserving muscle mass during weight gain. It is best to spread protein intake evenly throughout the day for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

Step 5: Choose Whole Grains and Starchy Vegetables

Whole grains and starchy vegetables provide energy in the form of complex carbohydrates and fiber to support weight gain. While non-starchy vegetables are also important, focus more on potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, corn, and legumes which are higher in calories. Pair these carbohydrate sources with healthy fats and proteins. Some examples of whole grains to include are brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole wheat, or rye bread.

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Step 6: Incorporate Healthy Fats and Oils

Consuming the right type of fats in moderation is essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. It also adds calories to support weight gain without feeling too full. Monounsaturated (“good”) fats from olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds are heart-healthy choices. Other fatty fish, flax, and chia seeds provide anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Use healthy fats and oils liberally in meals for flavor and added nutrition.

Step 7: Drink Calorie-Dense Beverages

Beverages are an easy way to drink your calories instead of eating them. Milk and plant-based milk alternatives are nutritious options that provide protein. For variety, consume homemade smoothies made with milk or yogurt, nut butter, bananas, oats, and dates. Fruit juices should be 100% fruit variety with no added sugars. Limit sugary sodas and opt for nourishing herbal teas with added fat like coconut or hemp milk instead when not hungry.

Step 8: Engage in Strength Training Exercises

Regular resistance or weight training exercises are important for preserving and building new muscle mass during weight gain. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat and can boost metabolism over the long run. Aim for full-body workouts at least twice weekly and combine exercises that work all major muscle groups like legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and core. For newbies, bodyweight moves are sufficient until adapting to a routine.

Step 9: Monitor Your Progress Regularly

Don’t rely on scales alone to measure weight gain success. Scales can fluctuate daily depending on several non-weight factors. Instead, also closely evaluate differences in how your clothes fit, body measurements, body composition changes, and progress pictures monthly. Note changes in strength, stamina, and performance in workouts. Meet periodically with your doctor, dietitian, or trainer if possible to make adjustments as needed toward healthy and fat-free weight gain.

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Step 10: Practice Self-Care and Manage Stress

Failing to address issues concerning emotional health or stress can undermine even the best diet and routine plans. Poor eating habits and lack of sleep often occur under chronic stress. Find healthy outlets through hobbies, social interactions, or nature to keep stress levels in check. Maintaining a good work-life balance and prioritizing rest is equally important for supporting sustainable weight gain goals over time.


Is it possible to gain weight with strength training alone without altering my diet?

While strength training can help build muscle mass, nutrition plays a major role alongside exercise to effectively gain visible weight. Adjusting your diet to consume more whole, nutritious calories than burned through exercise is necessary for sustainable weight gain results.

How long will it take to gain a significant amount of weight safely?

On average, it is possible to safely gain 0.5-2 pounds of weight per week by gradually increasing daily calorie intake by 300-500 calories. Most health professionals recommend aiming for 1-2 pounds of weight gain weekly over 6 months with a balanced diet and training regimen.

Is it important to track macros for weight gain?

While tracking macros or macronutrients is not mandatory for all individuals, it helps those struggling to put on pounds get a clear understanding of meeting their protein, carb, and fat needs each day. This is valuable, especially for the initial 2-3 months until consistent weight gain occurs.

Should I change my diet plan if I hit a weight gain plateau?

It is common to hit short plateaus due to normal water weight fluctuations even when progress seems steady. However, if no weight gain shows for 2-4 weeks, then a dietitian can help tweak your calorie intake levels or macronutrient ratios to optimize results again.

Is it still possible to gain muscle mass without gaining fat?

Yes, it is possible to build muscle mass without excessive fat gain by emphasizing a high-protein diet alongside progressive strength training. Gradually increasing calories from nutritious whole foods while keeping cardio exercise moderate can support lean muscle tissue growth over fat storage over time.


Gaining weight calls for effective yet patient strategies rather than crash diets. The top 10 steps reviewed in this article focus on increasing calorie and nutrient intake through nutritious whole foods, balanced macros, and calorie-dense beverages. Regular resistance training promotes muscle growth for “good weight“. Self-monitoring aids in keeping track of progress while managing stress and preserves mental and physical well-being on the journey to a healthier weight. Consult your doctor for medical issues but implementing lifestyle changes can aid goal achievement naturally.


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