Ultimate Weight Gain Foods List and Guide
Most of our clients come to us looking to lose weight, although many also need help gaining weight.
Whether you want to improve your performance, build muscle mass, move up a weight division, or recover from illness-related weight loss, it can be challenging to find the right advice to achieve healthy weight gain. Most people are trying to lose weight, after all. But, weight gain can actually be just as challenging for some.
Fortunately, there is a weight gain plan to help you achieve your goal. We can show you how to gain weight effectively, and even build lean muscle without putting on fat. Everything will be laid out for you below. It’s not just about knowing the best foods to eat to gain weight, but also when to eat them.
How to Safely Gain Weight
First things first- we need to uncover the reasons why you’re underweight or struggling to reach your goal weight.
Do you have a low appetite? Are you overtraining? Are you properly digesting your food?
These scenarios should be taken seriously, and I recommend speaking with a professional who can help you address any underlying reasons and make the process of gaining weight more manageable. Figuring out the root cause of a struggle always leads to greater long term success.
Core Principles for Weight Gain
Perhaps you need to formulate a weight gain plan for females, or you’re a coach looking to create a meal plan for football players to gain weight and muscle. Whatever your specific goals are, these general principles will help guide you.
Every now and then I meet an athlete who has been told to “just eat more food.” Weight gain is not that simple. Anyone who has ever struggled with weight gain in the past, or has a naturally fast metabolism, can tell you that. However, eating more is a crucial part of the puzzle. It’s human biology: you need to consume more calories than your body burns to gain weight.
But, there’s an obvious problem with this advice. It’s all too easy to go overboard and end up eating too much of the wrong foods.
If your goal is to build muscle mass without gaining fat mass, you only need a mild calorie surplus. As a general rule-of-thumb, aim for 300–500 calories per day above your normal daily energy requirements for slow weight gain, or 700–1,000 calories per day for fast weight gain. However, if counting calories makes you anxious—forget about it—and instead work towards small, incremental increases in your daily food intake.
QUALITY before QUANTITY
While the previous point may sound like a free pass to eat “whatever you want whenever you want” — let me tell you my friends, chowing down on pints of ice cream, candy, and Coca-Cola is not the best way to go about gaining weight. These ‘old school’ weight gain foods will not only lead to bloating and breakouts, but will also impact your progression and performance as an athlete.
Cardiorespiratory and muscular adaptations are achieved through progressive training that cycles your body through periods of stress and recovery. If you don’t fuel your body with the right nutrition, optimal training AND optimal recovery won’t be possible.
So don’t cut yourself short with junk foods. It’ll only sabotage your recovery and wreak havoc on your immune system, ultimately putting yourself at an increased risk of fatigue, burnout, and injury. Instead, aim to eat whole, unprocessed foods that are calorie-dense, but also nutrient-dense. This means skipping processed foods and added sugar, in favor of fresh fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains, unprocessed meats, and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
NEVER Skip Meals
This is by far the most common peril in an athlete’s diet. According to a recent study, published in the Journal of American College Health, only 23% of Division I female athletes consume breakfast. But it’s not just athletes—as many as 25% of adults and 36% of adolescents in the United States choose to forgo the most important meal of the day.
I get it; life gets busy. Between training sessions, study and work, sometimes there isn’t enough time to even contemplate food, let alone sit down and actually enjoy a meal. Plus, with your rigorous workouts, an extra 15 minutes of sleep can seem so much more enticing than breakfast, especially if you’ve never been one to “wake up” hungry.
However, when it comes to gaining weight and improving your performance, missing a meal is the equivalent of missing a training session. It can undo all your hard work, both on and off the field.
The antidote? You guessed it: Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day (Genius, right?). At a very minimum, you should eat three meals per day, but for optimal results, aim to nourish your body every few hours when awake.
Increasing the frequency of your meals and snacks will enable you to increase calorie consumption without feeling overly full. However, this will require planning, especially if you have an intense training program. Some tips: set your alarm earlier, prep the night before, and always have some healthy grab-n-go snacks, like a high-protein trail mix, hard-boiled eggs, almond flour crackers with hummus, or—a personal favorite mine—almond butter and apples. If your appetite is particularly low, use a timer to remind yourself to eat every two hours.
Watch WHAT and WHEN you drink
With all the focus on food, it can be easy to forget about fluids. Yet fluids are one of the most efficient ways to boost calories. Drinks are convenient to carry, easily digested, and generally not as filling as food so you can pack more in without feeling full. But, it’s important to choose your drinks wisely.
Healthy options include home-made fruit smoothies, vegetable juices, protein shakes, and milk alternatives (such as oat, hemp, or coconut milk). Try jazzing up your smoothies with nutritious toppers, like chia seeds, avocado, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, flax oil, and nut butter. For more ideas check out my three favorite weight gain smoothies!
Smoothies are among the best weight gain foods; however, when you drink fluids can have a significant impact on your appetite. For example, some people find drinking immediately before or during meals blunts their appetite, making it harder to consume sufficient calories. If this is you, aim to ingest fluids 30 minutes after your meals.
Remember Recovery Nutrition
Forgetting to refuel after exercise can rob your body of the necessary nutrients you need for muscle growth and repair. When you’re training loads are high, failing to refuel your body can also leave you feeling fatigued, impair your immune system, and leave you vulnerable to injuries. Not to mention, unintended weight loss. For optimal recovery nutrition, remember the “Three R’s” — Repair, Replenish and Rehydrate.
- REPAIR your muscles after exercise with protein. Exercise causes micro-tears in your muscles in a process known as protein degradation. This occurs at different rates, depending on the type, intensity, and duration of exercise, but also how well-trained you are. Consuming protein immediately after exercise delivers the amino acids needed to repair these micro-tears, as well as provide the building blocks necessary for new muscle tissue.
- REPLENISH your muscle glycogen stores after exercise with carbohydrates. Glycogen is your body’s preferred fuel during exercise—whether that’s intense, intermittent or prolonged. Glycogen is broken down into glucose and used by your muscle cells to form ATP—the main molecule required for muscle contraction. Therefore, restoring glycogen levels after exercise is essential for athletes who train day after day, particularly when trying to promote weight gain. If your blood glucose and muscle glycogen stores are depleted, your body will turn to the next available fuel—stored fat, and in very lean individuals, even muscle protein—making it very difficult to gain weight.
- REHYDRATE with at least 2 liters of water per day—the equivalent of 8 to 12 glasses. Athletes will need to replace electrolytes and fluids lost during exercise. Sports drinks without food dye or too much sugar like Biosteel, or electrolyte focused supplements such as Klean Athlete Hydrate are a great option for quick rehydration.
The goal: consume carbohydrates and protein within the first 45 minutes after exercise, and replace all lost fluids. For a healthy post-workout snack, make a smoothie with almond milk, whey protein, a banana, chia seeds and a scoop of nut butter such as Justin’s honey almond nut butter. (Please note that whey protein is only beneficial if you are 100% that you are tolerant! Plant Protein such as Momentous AbsoluteZero Plant Based Protein is one of our favorites and can be a great alternative.)
Be Consistent and Realistic
When it comes to gaining weight, and in particular building lean muscle mass, it’s important to be realistic and patient. There are many different factors that affect our ability to change our body shape and size, including our sleep quality, stress levels, and yes, our genetics too.
For example, you may have found it difficult to maintain a healthy weight following a major event in your life. Stress can affect our appetite and eating behaviors, but also how we digest and metabolize food. So try not to place unrealistic expectations on yourself and be patient with your body. Unless you’re genetically blessed, gaining lean body mass typically takes months. Significant lean body mass can sometimes take years!
How do I Gain Weight and Muscle Without Putting on Fat?
I’ll never claim it’s easy, but it is possible to gain muscle without gaining fat.
1. Assess Your Current Body Fat %
Your current body fat percentage should indicate whether or not you need a calorie surplus in order to gain muscle. Generally speaking, a body fat percentage above 5-16% for males and around 22-23% for females indicates that you have enough fuel in reserve to build muscle. If your body percentage is below these values, you will need to increase your calorie intake.
2. Increase Calories Gradually
As mentioned earlier, you need to eat more to gain more. If your goal is to build muscle mass without gaining fat mass, you only need a mild calorie surplus.
As a general rule-of-thumb, aim for 300–500 calories per day above your normal daily energy requirements for slow weight gain. Those who are concerned about gaining extra body fat should increase calories intake in small increments.
3. Macros, Marcos, Macros
It seems everyone is harping on about “macros” these days. And there’s no surprise here. Getting your macros in order is one of the most important factors when it comes to gaining lean muscle mass.
(Side note: Calculating grams per kg of body weight is actually a much more accurate approach vs. counting macros but for the sake of easily understanding this article, we are going to roll with macros.)
As a general rule, aim for a 40/30/30 percentage breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats each day. This means obtaining 40% of your daily calories from protein, and 30% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fats. Or as mentioned, for greater accuracy, utilize recommendations in grams per kilogram of body weight. More on this below. (But again, please keep in mind that your sport, training demands and current eating regimen play a major role in these calculations. A qualified sports dietitian can help steer you in the right direction.)
4. Stock up on Protein
Muscles are quite literally made of protein so if you want to build muscle—you need to eat plenty of it! Muscle growth can occur via two processes: hypertrophy and hyperplasia. Hypertrophy involves an increase in the size of muscle fibers, whereas hyperplasia involves an increase in the number of muscle fibers through cell division. Either way, both processes occur via protein synthesis.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition adults need 1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram or 0.6-1.0g per pound of body weight per day, while adolescents need 1.8 to 2.2 grams per kilogram or 0.8 to 1.1g per pound of body weight per day. However, emerging evidence suggests higher protein intake (>3.0 g/kg/d) may have positive effects on body composition (e.g. promote fat loss, maximize muscle retention) in resistance-trained individuals.
- Adults: 1.4 to 2.0 g/kg/day or 0.6-1.0g/lb/day
- Adolescents: 1.8 to 2.2 g/kg/da 0.8 to 1.1g/lb/day
For an ~180 lb. male 0.9g/lb (or 80-kilogram male 2 g/kg) is ~160 grams of protein per day, which on a plate looks like:
- 4 x eggs (28 grams of protein)
- 100g x chicken breast (31 grams)
- 100 g x salmon (20 grams)
- 100 g x organic tofu (8 grams)
- 1 x cup of broccoli (3 grams)
- 2 x cup of kale (5 grams)
- 1 x cup of hemp milk (5 grams)
- 1 x cup of lentils (18 grams)
- 3 x handful of almonds (9 grams)
- 2 x TBSP peanut butter (8 grams)
- 1 x protein shake (25 grams)
5. Distribute Protein Evenly
The body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at any one time. So a succulent chicken breast in the evening won’t cut it—to maximize anabolism (building muscle), protein should be evenly distributed, every 3 to 4 hours throughout the day. Ideally, 0.25 to 0.40 g/kg per meal, with a minimum of four meals in order to reach a minimum of 1.6 g/kg/day.
An ‘even’ distribution of protein throughout the day, as opposed to a ‘skewed’ distribution, is associated with higher rates of muscle protein synthesis over 24 hours. In a 2014 study by Mamerow, the consumption of ~30 g of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner stimulated higher protein synthesis rates over 24 hours than a skewed protein intake of 10 g at breakfast, 15 g at lunch and 65 g dinner.
6. Take Advantage of Protein Supplements
Using protein supplementation both before and after resistance can have a major impact on muscle growth due to improved amino acid delivery. In fact, several studies have shown that consuming protein immediately before and after a bout of resistance training can stimulate higher rates of muscle protein synthesis for up to three hours. In contrast, failing to eat after exercise can lower protein synthesis.
To stimulate muscle growth, the ACSM recommends ingesting 0.4 g/kg of high-quality protein within 45 minutes of finishing your workout. Grass-fed whey protein is the best option for pre-and-post workout as its rapidly absorbed, in comparison to casein protein which has a slower and more sustained rate of absorption.
Whey protein is also high in leucine, an important essential amino acid (EAA) shown to activate anabolic pathways. Try to find a protein blend that contains 700–3000 mg of leucine content per 25-gram dose, in addition to a balanced array of the essential amino acids (EAAs). For the best products, check out our favorite grass-fed whey protein powders and if you tend to experience digestive issues with protein supplements, our post on the best post-workout shakes may be of help.
7. Consume Protein Before Bed
Hit the protein before you hit the hay—pre-sleep protein, when combined with resistance training, supports hypertrophy. In a 2012 study, participants who consumed approximately 40 grams of casein protein 30 minutes before sleep experienced higher rates of overnight muscle protein synthesis, without promoting fat storage.
Another study in 2015, demonstrated that during a 12-week resistance training program, the daily consumption of approximately 28 grams of casein protein plus 15 grams of carbohydrates before sleep resulted in greater gains in muscle strength and size compared to non-caloric placebo.
As always though, listen to you body. If sleep is any way compromised, your gut starts to feel funky, your skin starts to look a little rough etc. it’s time to find an alternative option to casein. Just because research supports something, doesn’t mean its the best option for everyone.
8. Eat Enough Carbohydrates
The rate of glycogen depletion depends primarily on the intensity of exercise—the greater the exercise intensity, the greater the rate of depletion. As a result, high-intensity exercise, such as repeated sprinting, can rapidly lower glycogen levels, even though the entire workout is relatively short (such as 10 × 20-second sprints with brief recovery intervals). In contrast, an endurance athlete who runs at a moderate intensity for hours will also experience a large decline in muscle glycogen, although depletion will be at a slower rate than the sprinter.
Individualized recommendations for carbohydrate intake should take into consideration your training load and competition program. For example, you’ll need more carbohydrates on heavier training days and in the lead up to an endurance event. According to the ACSM, athletes with very high training need to consume a minimum of 8–12 g of carbohydrate per kg each day.
|n||Training Load||Carbohydrate Intake|
|Light||Low intensity or skill-based activities||3–5 g/kg of body weight/day|
|Moderate||Moderately intense exercise program (such as, 1 h per day)||5–7 g/kg/d|
|High||Endurance program or team sports (such as, 1–3 h/d mod-high-intensity exercise)||6–10 g/kg/d|
|Very High||Extreme commitment (such as, 4–5 h/d mod-high intensity exercise||8–12 g/kg/d|
9. High Volume Training Resistance Training
A common misconception is that eating more protein will automatically make your muscles grow faster. This is far from the truth. Building muscle takes much more than just protein shakes. Resistance training is a crucial part of the puzzle. You cannot expect to gain lean muscle mass without providing a stimulus from protein synthesis. And the best-known stimulus for muscle protein synthesis is overloading your muscles through resistance training.
If you’re aiming to build muscle without putting on fat, aim for a minimum of four resistance training sessions per week. This is particularly important after the age of 50 when anabolic hormones decline and muscle breakdown accelerates.
Healthy Weight Gain: Commonly Asked Questions
The above information will help you better understand how to gain weight and muscle. However, having worked with hundreds of athletes over time, I’m asked many questions about how to safely gain weight and what foods to eat to gain weight. Below I have tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Are High-Protein Diets Safe?
Yes and No. High-protein diets are beneficial for muscle hypertrophy and training adaptations, although it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Some scientists suggest that high-protein diets (daily intakes above 35% of total energy intake or above 0.8 g/kg bw for adults and 1.0 g/kg/bw for adolescents) are associated with potential adverse side effects with prolonged use, including bone mineral loss, liver disorders, and kidney damage.
These concerns have been raised because extremely high protein intakes (> 3.0 g/kg bw) can raise acid levels in the blood, which promotes calcium loss from bones and inhibits calcium absorption by the kidneys, resulting in excess calcium in the urine, aka “hypercalciuria.” Therefore, as a precaution, high-protein diets are not recommended for individuals with existing kidney or liver problems.
However, in otherwise healthy individuals, there is little evidence to suggest that high protein intakes are dangerous. A recent analysis, published in 2018, found no significant evidence to suggest long-term high-protein intakes alter kidney function in healthy people.
Other studies have also shown that high-protein diets actually have a positive effect on bone mineral density and can play an important role in preventing fractures, particularly in elderly people. If you’re over the age of 50, consuming 2.0 g/kg/bw is considered safe provided you choose lean proteins and ensure your calcium intakes remain above 600 mg/day.
If you would like more to know the ideal amount of protein you should be consuming in your diet, check out our post Recommended Protein Intake for Athletes.
Posts related to our Ultimate Weight Gain Guide:
- 10 Best Grass Fed Whey Protein Powders
- 3 Powerful and Pure Weight Gain Shakes
- Recommended Protein Intake for Athletes
- Essential Post Workout Shake Ingredients
- Best Post Workout Shake and Why You Need One Now
- The 5 Best Protein Bars on the Planet
What is the Fastest Way to Gain Weight?
Consuming an excessive amount of calories, especially from nutrient-poor foods, can lead to unwanted increases in subcutaneous fat (fat just beneath the skin) and visceral fat (deep fat that accumulates around organs). When these types of fat accumulated around your belly, you can put yourself at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
In order to maximize muscle growth while minimizing fat gain, aim for around 700–1,000 calories above your maintenance level, get your macros in order, and include at least four resistance training sessions per week. You don’t need to count calories for the rest of your life, but it can help for the first few weeks until you get a better idea of the quantity of food you need.
If you would like know more about the best foods to eat to gain weight and an exact plan on how to structure your diet to achieve success, check out our Ultimate Weight Gain Guide which includes both a detailed Food List Manual with the best snacks and supplements for weight gain and a Shake and Meal Plan Manual with best shake and meal recipes to help fuel up like a champion.
What is a Healthy Weight Gain Rate?
To keep it simple, gaining 0.5 to 1 pounds per week (0.25-0.5kg/week) is considered the sweet spot for lean bulking. Beginners tend to gain muscle at a faster rate compared to those who’ve been training for a few years.
|EXPERIENCE||RATE OF MUSCLE GROWTH|
|Beginner||1-1.5% of body weight per month|
|Intermediate||0.5-1% of body weight per month|
|Advanced||0.25-0.5% of body weight per month|
If you’re really serious about lean bulking, you can also use the muscle-to-fat gain ratio to assess whether you’re gaining weight at a healthy rate. A healthy muscle-to-fat gain ratio is 1:1 —meaning for each pound of muscle gained, you gain one pound of fat.
If you’re gaining fat at a faster rate than you’re gaining muscle, it’s likely you’re consuming too many calories, the wrong calories or your training needs optimizing. But, how do you determine your fat mass compared to your muscle mass? By testing body composition. A DEXA scan, bod pod or even “old school” skinfold calipers will do the trick. Your local gym or university will likely offer testing.
Is Whey Protein Good for Teenage Athletes?
Protein supplements are an efficient way to increase protein intake, especially for time-poor athletes who can’t afford to feel bloated or sluggish. There’s nothing more convenient than throwing back a protein shake or refueling with an emergency protein bar. However, protein supplements should never replace real nutrient-rich food. Young athletes, in particular, should use it more as a post-workout recovery tool vs. a meal replacement.
When using protein supplements, however, quality is paramount. Ideally, your whey protein should come from grass-fed cows, which produce milk higher concentrations of healthy unsaturated fatty acids, as well as beta carotene and linoleic acid. The best whey proteins are free from millions of additives, like artificial colors and flavor enhancers.
What are the Best Foods to Eat to Gain Weight?
Again, it’s very important to focus on quality before quantity. This means eating mostly fresh, whole foods. Unfortunately, whole foods are typically more filling because they contain more fiber and protein than processed foods, making it harder to increase the amount you eat. Below you can find a list of the best weight gain foods:
1. Healthy Fats
Fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient. It has 9 calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates and proteins contain roughly 4 calories per gram. Fats are therefore the most efficient way to increase your daily calorie consumption. But you need to choose wisely. Healthy monounsaturated fats (like avocado and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (like oily fish are) are the best foods to eat to gain weight.
Fats also serve many vital functions to maintain our health. They provide the building blocks for hormones, facilitate our brain function, and contain anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re aiming to build lean muscle mass, adding healthy fats to your regular meals can facilitate the production of anabolic hormones. Anabolic hormones, like testosterone and the human-growth hormone promote muscle growth and healthy weight gain. You should aim to consume 1-2 grams of fat per kilogram of body weight each day.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, mackerel.
- Nuts: Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews.
- Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds.
- Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, MCT oil.
- Others: Eggs, avocados, tahini, coconut cream, coconut yogurt
How to incorporate healthy fats into your meals:
- Breakfast: Sprinkle chia seeds and almonds on your oats
- Lunch: Drizzle your salad with olive oil and add avocado
- Dinner: Bread your fish with cashew nuts
- Snack: Add organic flaxseed oil to your smoothie
Tip: Avoid ‘Low Fat’ and ‘Fat-Free’ products—Why? Contrary to popular belief, these products are not healthier. In fact, more often than not, they’re laden with refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, which can cause blood sugar spikes and unpleasant digestive symptoms. Choose ‘Full Fat’ or ‘Whole’ varieties instead.
2. Nutrient-rich Carbohydrates
Low GI or complex carbohydrates are necessary to provide your body with a sustained source of energy throughout the day, which helps prevent the breakdown of muscle and adipose tissue. Ensure each meal has a serving of whole grains—gluten-free or not.
Whenever possible, aim for ‘ancient grains’. These are varieties that have remained unchanged for several hundred years, and hence are less refined, more nutritious, and are generally free from harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Whole and ancient grains are rich in fiber for digestive health, B vitamins for healthy red blood cells and magnesium need for nerve transmissions.
Low GI Carbohydrates (55 and under):
- Whole grains: brown rice, barley, quinoa, rye/whole grain bread, oats
- Ancient grains: spelt, farro, einkorn, black barley, red and black rice, buckwheat
- Lentils: kidney beans, green lentils, red lentils, chickpeas
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams.
- Dried fruit: raisins, dates, prunes, dried apricots
- Fresh fruit: pears, apples, peaches, grapefruit, strawberries, cherries
High GI or simple carbohydrates quickly raise your blood glucose level and are therefore beneficial for rapidly replenishing muscle glycogen after exercise. Simple carbs also cause a spike in insulin, which drives nutrients (like protein) into your muscle cells to help aid recovery.
There are supplements, such as dextrose monohydrate, that you can add to your post-workout protein shake to optimize glycogen replenishment and muscle protein synthesis. However, there are many simple sugars found foods, which will also quickly replenish your glycogen levels.
High GI Carbohydrates (70 and above):
- Rice milk
- Dried fruit like sultanas, cranberries or raisins.
- Orange juice
- Mashed white potato
3. Lean Proteins
As mentioned earlier, you need to eat plenty of protein. This means including 0.25 to 0.40 g/kg with every meal! Focus on high-quality, lean meat and plant-based proteins, opting for organic, grass-fed varieties where possible. Also remember that protein needs to be weighed AFTER it is cooked, not before.
- Red Meats: beef steak, pork, lamb, turkey (high leucine!)
- Poultry: chicken, eggs
- Fish and Seafood: wild salmon, yellowtail, sardines and tuna (canned in olive oil), anchovies, mackerel, tilapia, snapper, trout, prawns, scallops, squid
- Dairy: full-fat yogurt, whole milk, and cheese (only if you promise me you are easily producing a well formed stool every single day.)
- Organic Soy products: tofu, tempeh, edamame lentils, soy milk.
- Lentils: chickpeas, green peas, beans.
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almond milk.
- Seeds: hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
- Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, sweet potatoes.
- Others: nutritional yeast (delicious cheesy flavor!), spirulina,
- Protein bars (check out my favorites here)
- Whey protein powder (releases faster for pre-and-post workout. Check out our review of the top grass-fed whey protein powders to find a flavor you love. We’ve found everything from Matcha to bourbon vanilla bean sourced from Madagascar)
- Casein protein powder (slow-release before bed)
For a complete guide on healthy weight gain foods, supplements, and how to use them in smoothies and meals, download our Ultimate Weight Gain Guide or for the food portion only, download the Food Manual.
Weight Gain Plan for Females: Is it Different for Female Athletes?
Generally speaking, females have a harder time gaining muscle mass than males. This is primarily due to hormonal differences. Males have higher levels of testosterone, the major anabolic hormone responsible for muscle growth, making it easier for them to build muscle.
Gender does not have a major impact on the type of foods needed to gain weight. Whether you’re male or female, you should aim to eat whole foods that are nutrient-dense and energy-dense. However, there are some considerations to take into account when planning meals.
Be sure to eat enough iron, especially during menstruation, by eating red meat and incorporating plenty of green leafy vegetables. Women also tend to be at higher risk of osteoporosis, so make sure you eat plenty of calcium-rich foods and get enough vitamin D. Roughly 10 minutes of sunshine three days a week is enough to get your recommended vitamin D!
It’s also worth noting that the average female has lower daily energy needs due to a generally smaller frame. However, this isn’t always the case, especially for female athletes with intense training schedules. This goes without saying, but always include exercise levels when determining your daily energy requirements. If you’re looking for advice on how to formulate a weight gain meal plan for females, checkout out our FWDfuel Ultimate Weight Gain Guide.
Start Gaining Weight
Gaining or regaining weight can be just as challenging as trying to lose weight. But it doesn’t need to be stressful or complicated. Remember that just like other areas of training and competing, discipline and consistency are essential for success.
Are you are a football player trying to gain mass, female athlete trying to build muscle, or coach looking to provide a meal plan for your athletes to gain weight? Download our Ultimate Weight Gain Guide or get in touch with us today for one-on-one advice for you or your team.