We now know that to gain weight and make our muscle grow, we need to eat a lot. But not all foods are good for weight gain. Some can help you gain muscle, while others will only make you fat. So here I made a list of the best weight gain foods you can eat for optimum muscle growth.
See, calories are not created equal. Calories from fats is different from the calories you get from proteins or carbohydrates. So even if you are trying hard to gain weight, don’t resort to fatty, unhealthy foods just to achieve your daily calorie needs. You may be able to build muscle by eating Hamburgers, Ice Cream and Pizzas but you will also gain fat plus you may also develop known illnesses linked to high-fat diets like heart diseases.
Foods that are ideal for healthy weight gain are those that have a high nutrient density (more nutrients per calorie) AND a high energy density (more calories per gram). These are the ones that will truly aid your muscles to grow.
Don’t just go for high fat foods in an effort to gain weight fast, because what you’ll end up doing is just gain fat, not lean muscle mass.
Here are the best choices of food for weight gain. If you consume these and couple it with an effective weight training program, you will surely build muscle fast:
- Distilled Water – drink a lot of water every day to keep your muscles hydrated
- Herbal Teas, especially Green Tea are rich in anti-oxidants
Best Muscle Gaining Proteins:
1. Fish & Seafood
- All kinds of fish (Salmon /White fish, tuna, etc)
2. Meat & Animal Products
Ideally, get meats that are free range and organically fed. Always go for the leanest meats available.
Cheeses that are strong tend to have more flavor and less fat. Go for low-fat, high-protein ones though like feta cheese, parmesan and cottage cheese.
- Eggs and egg whites
Best Muscle Gaining Carbohydrates:
1. Complex Carbohydrates
- wholegrain / wholemeal bread, bagels, pitta and wraps
- wholewheat pasta
2. Legumes & Grains
- Wholegrain Oats (not the instant type which is usually rich in sugar)
- Brown Rice
- Beans (Lima, yardlong, pinto, edamame beans, white beans, adzuki, kidney beans, mungo beans, fava, )
- Peas (Blackeye peas, green peas, chickpeas, split peas,
- Wheat bran
- shredded wheat cereal
- Oat bran
- Wild rice
- Whole barley
Best Muscle Gaining Fats:
Believe it or not, having a diet of 20% to 30% fats can significantly increase your muscle gains as long as you are getting the right type of fats. Tweak your macronutrient ratio to see which percentage is best for you.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are very convenient sources of good fats.
- Seeds (sunflower, sesame, squash, flax seeds, pumpkin
- Sesame seeds/Sesame butter
- Peanut Butter (Organic, no added sugar)
- Almond butter
- The best nuts are walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts
Best Muscle Gaining Fruits and Vegetables:
Always go for an assortment of colors and make sure your fridge is always stocked with fresh vegetables. I typically shop for seasonal vegetables from a quality perspective and cost perspective. If you can, go for local and organically grown produce.
- sun dried tomatoes
- Sweet Potato
- coleslaw (home made)
- Vegetable soups
- Dried fruits
- Berries (Elderberries
- passion fruit
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and Spices can really help boost your appetite. The more tasty your food, the more you’ll eat! Feel free to use any you fancy.
- Chillies, all sorts
- Tomato products
- Agave nectar
- pure cocoa
- Oils and Oil Sprays – Olive oil, rapeseed oil or canola oil, Dr. Udo’s Essential Oil Blend. 100% dark extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants.
- Sauces and Condiments – There are many options that will enhance your taste buds while not counteracting the nutrient profile of the meal. Healthy ones are home-made pesto, salsa, curry sauce, tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, white cooking wine, red wine, and raspberry vinegar.
Remember that a healthy weight gaining diet is one of the most important factors that will dictate whether or not you will reach your muscle building goals. If you really want to make your muscle grow quickly, an effective muscle building routine tailored for Hardgainers must be part of your weight gaining program. A muscle building program, supported by a healthy calorie surplus obtained from the abovementioned weight gaining foods, can help you gain lean muscle mass instead of body fat.
However, if like me, you find cooking and meal planning difficult, a collection of done-for-you meal plans with recipes specifically tailored for bodybuilders may be exactly what you need to ensure you follow through with your program.