Although it may seem simple, gaining weight requires a thoughtful diet and exercise plan to be successful. As with weight loss, gaining weight is a matter of consuming the correct number of calories. Those trying to gain weight always question how many calories they should eat to gain weight.
However, the goal should be to gain muscle, not just excess body fat. Hence, eating a balanced meal with all essential nutrients is vital. Too much body fat leads to health problems, while lean muscle mass provides many benefits for health. Therefore, learning safe methods of gaining weight through increased calorie consumption is essential.
How Many Calories to Gain Weight?
A nutritionist can help you determine how many calories you should consume daily based on age, gender, metabolism, body composition, and physical activity. Consuming fewer calories than you burn will result in weight loss, so if you’re looking to gain weight or build muscle, you may need to increase your daily calorie intake by 500 or more calories.
An average person gains 1 pound or 0.45 kg body weight every week by increasing 500 to 1000 calories daily. However, the type of weight acquired (fat or muscle) depends on the exercise regime and the intake of macronutrients.
A 20% caloric surplus is necessary to gain weight healthily. Some athletes and people who often go to the gym practise dirty bulking, which is when they eat as much as possible without adhering to nutritional guidelines.
But, they do not gain unhealthy weight as they do with a routine resistance training schedule to gain adequate muscle and strength. But, if you do not club it with enough exercise, dirty bulking also results in gaining unwanted fat. So, balancing a dirty bulk with sufficient high-quality proteins and healthy fats is vital for a caloric surplus.
Caloric Surplus for Different Age Groups
The following chart outlines how many calories help to gain weight at a rate of 1 pound or 0.454 kg weekly.
- 20 years: 3230 calories per day
- 30 years: 3153 calories per day
- 40 years: 3075 calories per day
- 50 years: 2998 calories per day
Some approaches only work with a caloric surplus. For example, the number of calories men and women need to gain weight can vary. Men require more calories to gain weight since they have higher lung capacity. On the other hand, women need fewer calories due to their lower muscle mass and shorter heights than men. Therefore, use a calorie calculator to determine the ideal calorie intake based on age, weight, gender, and other factors for best results.
The HealthifyMe Note
To gain weight, you need to eat more calories than your body burns. How many additional calories you need to eat each day depends on your level of exercise and starting body composition. Eating 500-700 extra calories is an excellent place to start, but it’s not guaranteed to make you gain weight.
Weight Gain Guidelines From a Nutritionist
It is essential to realise that just because you want to gain weight does not mean you can eat whatever you want. Eating unhealthy foods such as chips, sodas, doughnuts, fried foods, candies, and gummies will cause you to gain weight in a harmful way.
According to research, unhealthy weight gain will mostly happen around your abdomen, putting you at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Instead, you should choose wholesome foods that will help you gain muscle, such as protein-rich foods.
Other guidelines to follow are:
- Snack frequently throughout the day and eat small meals every three to five hours to help you eat more without feeling too full.
- Drink beverages high in calories, such as whole milk, juice, smoothies, shakes, etc. Add protein powders to milk rather than water to increase the protein content.
- Use large plates. Small plates can make people eat less.
- Include foods like peanuts, macadamia nuts, cheese, full-fat yoghurt, beef, pork, sweet potatoes, dark chocolates, avocados, coconut milk, peanut butter, granola, etc.
- Choose fatty portions of meat, such as chicken or turkey thighs, salami, or short ribs.
- Increase the calories by adding extra toppings or condiments. Examples include cheese, bananas, nuts, dried fruits, honey, and maple syrup.
- Cook with healthy fats to gain weight—for example, avocado oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, etc.
- It is crucial to gain weight safely. Therefore, individuals must eat a balanced diet and get enough cardiovascular exercise.
- Eat in different locations and ambiences with friends and family to enhance your appetite.
- A walk before meals can enhance your hunger, helping you eat more.
How quickly you gain weight depends on how many extra calories you eat and how well you stick to an exercise routine. However, calorie requirements vary from person to person, so it’s best to see a nutritionist and follow their personalised recommendations.
There is no secret to speeding up the weight gain process, as there are genetic limitations to how much muscle mass you can effectively build.
However, increasing calorie intake too quickly can also lead to more body fat gain than muscle. So tread with care and preferably appoint a certified nutritionist to help design the program.