Gain Weight Diet: Add Muscle, Not Fat

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

It may seem strange but gaining weight is actually a goal of many instead of losing weight.

gain muscle weight

Guys that have thin frames especially seek to bulk up a bit, but it’s important to gain weight in a healthy way. This means gaining weight by adding muscle mass and not by just getting fat.

An effective gain weight diet that aims to cause weight gain is based on solid nutrition and the right type of exercise.

Some guys can eat a lot of food but never gain any weight. It’s more than just eating a lot of food, but instead, eating the right kind of food and stimulating the muscles to begin using those nutrients for growth.

Calorie Content of Food to Gain Weight

Proteins and all carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9 calories per gram, but different foods have different calorie density due to what the food is made of and its water content.

A person could eat two heads of lettuce and feel quite full, but few calories would be consumed. However, a small stick of butter would contain loads of calories although it would be difficult to eat a stick of butter in one sitting.

If you want to beef up your calorie content of your gain weight diet then choose calorie-concentrated foods.

Choose foods that are both nutritionally dense and calorie dense, as they will help you gain weight by adding muscle mass and not fat.

Look for recipe ideas here.

Foods That Have Few Calories

gain-weightFoods that have a lot of fiber and a high water content are usually very low in calories.

Many vegetables are low calorie foods and won’t help you gain weight but are often used by body builders to “lean up” before a competition. Nutritionally, vegetables should still be included in the diet, but not in bulk. Here are some low calorie options.

  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • cucumbers
  • spinach
  • celery
  • cauliflower
  • peppers
  • onions
  • oatmeal

Carbs That are Calorie-Dense

Choosing the right carbs is important and just because a food has a lot of calories, it doesn’t mean the food is nutritious or that it will help you gain weight. For instance, white bread and white sugar are calorie dense but they are nutritionally empty and have been shown to cause people to gain weight, although in the form of fat cells not muscle mass.

Pick foods that are made of complex carbs, that will provide your body good nutrition, and that will not spike blood sugar levels. Calorie dense carbs to use as part of a gain weight diet include.

  • whole wheat pasta
  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • sweet potatoes
  • potatoes
  • fruit
  • juices
  • beans
  • whole grain bread

Calories From Fats

This is an item of great controversy in the area of diet and gaining weight. Some promote eating very little fat, while others say that you can eat as much fat as you like and still lose fat and build muscle.

There is a happy medium. Those wishing to gain weight should eat some fat, but make sure the majority of the fat consumed is healthy fat. Cells actually require fat to function and grow. Stay away from processed fats like hydrogenated oils and eat natural fats found in foods such as;

  • nuts
  • avocados
  • eggs
  • olive oil
  • fish oil
  • flaxseed oil

Muscle Mass Builder: Protein

Since muscles are composed of protein, then it only makes sense that a gain weight diet should contain a lot of protein rich foods. Now protein doesn’t go straight to your muscles but is first broken down into amino acids and then the body uses these amino acids to build the proteins it needs to grow more muscle cells.

Most people think of meat as their number one protein source, but legumes, some grains, and some vegetables are good sources of protein as well. Protein rich foods include;

  • chicken
  • beef
  • fish
  • eggs
  • lentils
  • beans
  • nuts
  • quinoa
  • avocado
  • amaranth
  • peas
  • plain yogurt
  • milk

See also High Protein Diets

Gain Weight Diet Supplements

When possible whole foods are the best choice when eating a healthy weight gaining diet, but sometimes protein supplements and weight gain supplements can be useful. Many of these products are loaded with sugar and other additives. Find products that are as pure as possible.

Also beware of workout supplements that contain loads of caffeine, especially if you are sensitive to it.

Protein supplements don’t have to taste like a chocolate sundae, but are healthier when plain whey protein is mixed into freshly made smoothies.

Weight Gain With Meal Replacement Products

While meal replacement products seem like an easy and convenient way to gain weight, they should be used in limited quantity. Most of these products are full of sugar and processed ingredients.

These are expensive and money would be better spent buying natural peanut butter, and other whole foods that are nutritionally and calorie dense.

Diet Plan Recommendation

We recommend Body Building Revealed by Will Brink. This is a totally comprehensive program that uses science, resistance training, and diet for weight gain in the form of lean muscle mass. Some of the program highlights include.

  • Extensive and detailed guidance on exactly what to eat for the best muscle gains.
  • Well-researched reports into a multitude of supplements. Find out exactly what is hype and what actually works.
  • Detailed workout plans and programs from a variety of sources (and yes, they tell you exactly what you need to know if you are a beginner).

This program also has a members only website that gives you the following tools to help you pack on the muscle.

  • Training gurus and their programs
  • Nutrition Database
  • Meal Planner
  • Supplement and Book Reviews
  • Calorie Planner
  • Exercise and Training Videos
  • A very active forum!
  • Free updates for life.

If you’re willing to put in a little hard work then this program is a great tool to teach you the secrets of professional bodybuilders.

See Also: Muscle Growth Diet by Ori Hofmekler


  • Labre, M. P. (2005). Burn fat, build muscle: A content analysis of Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness. International Journal of Men’s Health, 4(2), 187-200. link
  • Etemadi, A. A., & Hosseini, F. (1968). Frequency and size of muscle fibers in athletic body build. The Anatomical Record, 162(3), 269-273. link
  • Westcott, W. L., & Loud, R. L. R. (2013). BUILD MUSCLE: Enhancing Resistance Training Results With Protein/Carbohydrate Supplementation. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 17(2), 10-15. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: November 30, 2015. Disclaimer