5 Tips to Gain Weight Easily and Safely

sxc.hu: cobrasoft

sxc.hu: cobrasoft

Recently one of my readers emailed and said,

This maybe sounds weird because you always teach us how to lose weight, so do others, but how can I gain weight? I’m a 178cm tall guy, but I only weigh 55kg.”

Far from being weird, this is a really great question.

I do deal quite a bit with how to lose weight on this blog. But, gaining weight can also be a major problem for some. The issue for most is knowing exactly how to gain weight safely.

Do I need to gain weight?

If you’re wondering whether you need to gain weight, check out my BMI calculator. Simply enter your height and weight, and this nifty little tool will do the rest! :-)

So, do you find yourself needing to gain a little weight, like my reader? Here are 5 tips to gain weight safely…

1. Set a realistic goal weight
Setting a realistic target weight is just as important when you’re trying to gain weight, as it is when you want to lose weight.

You also need to remember that increasing your weight gradually is the safest way to do so–around 1 kg (2 lbs) per month would be a good goal.

2. Record what you eat
It may also be helpful to keep a log of what you are eating, and also how much physical activity you take.

This will give you a better idea of any adjustments you need to make.

3. Stick to healthy foods
Despite the fact you are trying to gain weight, unfortunately it isn’t a license to eat unhealthily!

Make sure your meals are well balanced by focusing on the five main food groups…

  • Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes should make up about one third of your diet. 
  • You should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (aim for at least 5 per day). 
  • About one fifth of what you eat should be foods like meat, fish, eggs, beans or nuts. 
  • Try to eat 3 portions of dairy foods each day. 
  • And, fatty or sugary foods should make up the smallest part of your diet.

To find out more about what a healthy balanced diet looks like, check out my balanced nutrition series.

4. Add extra calories
To increase your weight you obviously need to add extra calories.

An extra 350 calories each day from healthy foods and drinks will be helpful.

Try to keep healthy snacks with you throughout the day, to make sure you are eating regularly. A few good examples include:

  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Milk, yoghurt and soy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Rice pudding and custard
  • Cheese and wholegrain crackers

For more healthy snack ideas see these articles: Awesome Healthy Snack Ideas! and 25 (more) Healthy Snack Ideas.

Also, do remember it’s okay to have an indulgent treat now and again! Here are some dessert ideas.

5. Eat regularly
When you’re trying to gain weight, eating regularly is absolutely essential.

If you find this difficult, I suggest menu planning so that you know exactly what you will eat at each meal and snack throughout the day, and you’ll be less likely to skip meals.

Here are some suggestions for adding extra calories to your daily menu:

  • Have an extra slice of toast for breakfast.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds, sprinkle nuts or seeds into yogurt, cereal, oatmeal and stir fries.
  • Have a bowl of vegetable soup with your sandwich at lunch.
  • Drink 100% pure fruit juice at dinner rather than water.
  • Serve an extra spoon of mashed potato, wholemeal rice or wholemeal pasta at dinner.
  • Add peas, beans or lentils to meals such as curries, casseroles and soups.
  • Finish your evening meal with some fresh fruit and natural yoghurt.
  • Use fortified milk in hot drinks and soups.
  • Limit low-calorie beverages, such as diet drinks, and replace with milk, smoothies or juice.

Are supplements required?
You shouldn’t need to take food supplements if you are eating healthily while increasing your calorie intake.

If you think you would like to try taking supplements, speak with your doctor or dietitian, who can explain the various options available to you.

Don’t forget to exercise
You may have been afraid to exercise in case it led to increased weight loss. 

But, regular exercise plays a key part in helping you gain weight in a healthy way, and it’s really important for maintaining strong bones and muscle tone.

Just remember to maintain your increased food intake, with enough extra calories so you continue to gain weight gradually.

Walking would be an excellent choice of physical activity (aim for 30 minutes, five days a week). Resistance training, using weights, may also be a good choice to help you build muscle strength.

If you’re concerned about being underweight, do make an appointment to see your doctor, who can check for underlying conditions which may be preventing you from gaining weight.

Best wishes!

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Armen December 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Or, you could eat every day for a few months, what the average person eats on Christmas day!! lol j/k


Melanie December 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm

lol, yes that would work too, but we can’t endorse that sort of advice here!!! :-)


Carla December 11, 2009 at 8:02 am

Nice problem to have ;)
.-= Carla´s last blog ..Body Image Confessions =-.


Melanie December 11, 2009 at 8:35 pm

I think people can also be very hurtful to underweight individuals though, it’s not just the overweight and obese who get flack! It’s often assumed an underweight person has an eating disorder, so it can also be very distressing.


b4u January 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Hey! Thanks so much for the info. I am at least 7 kg (15 lbs) underweight and resolved this year to put on those pounds :)
Hopefully these ideas would help me accomplish my goal !


Marj July 27, 2010 at 10:47 pm

For us that are under weight it is just as hard to gain as to loose. Besides being low weight for my size I have been put on a liquid diet after surgery and my goal is not to loose the 15 to 20 pounds that the doctor said that I would loose. To complicate this I have food allergies to cow and goat dairy products. eggs, almonds, and cocoa bean. I am looking for liquid and soft food ideas.


Melanie August 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

Hi Marj,
I’m sorry to hear you’ve been unwell. Have you read this article on the soft food diet? This may be helpful, let me know if you’ve any specific queries.


GENTI September 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm




Melanie September 17, 2010 at 8:57 am
Elizabeth July 22, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I will definitely try my mom to get to do more of these listed! She is so skinny that people often think she is anorexic even though she is not. She just never stops moving!


Melanie July 27, 2011 at 10:24 am

It’s nice that you are so caring, Elizabeth :-)


Jay November 3, 2011 at 1:36 am

very interesting, im currently trying to gain weight since i lost a bit too much but was wondering with those extra calories will i hit a “plateau” eventually or will i have to stop eating those and not be afraid to loose again weight?


Melanie November 4, 2011 at 8:52 pm

If you are still gaining weight now with your current food intake, it’s highly likely that you will need to cut out 100 or 200 calories, when you reach your target weight. See how that goes for you, and if you are still gaining, cut another couple of hundred calories. Basically, you will have to play around with it a little, until you find what is right for you. When your weight is stable week after week, you will know what your calorie intake fits your expenditure needs. I hope that helps.


Jay November 4, 2011 at 11:09 pm

thanks alot!


ryan October 22, 2012 at 3:46 am

hi melanie,,,
if i do workout too , is that good to gain weight or fat faster ?


Melanie October 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm

If you are lifting weights that is a great way to gain bulk and weight.


Nicole February 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Hello I’m having a similar i lost tomuch weight and im trying to gain some back b/c I feel to small.


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What do you think of eating nuts such as Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts to gain weight they both have high Calories 1oz=190 Calorie and good Sat Fat?


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abootaleb April 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm

hi dr melanie
i live in iran and some foods that u suggested for gaining weight are not available in my home country,such as casserole and custard and so on.can i replace them with other foods which are common in my land? i am so skinny ;my height is 181cm but my weight is 60kg.everything i eat doesnt effect on me plz help me cuz this makes alot of distresses upon my soul.thank u for ur helping website


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