How To Eat to Gain Weight Fast: A Step-by-Step Guide to Natural Weight Gain

“I need to gain weight fast, help me please!”

“I really find it hard to put on muscle. What is the best way to achieve natural weight gain? I don’t want to take weight gain supplements.”

“I eat and eat and eat but still nothing! How can I gain weight? What’s the best weight gain supplement out there?”

I need to gain weight but I don’t know what to eat to gain weight. Can you give me a list of food to gain weight?”

These are some of the most frequently asked questions I encounter in relevant forums, so I thought I’d create a step-by-step guide that will address everything one needs to do in order to achieve healthy weight gain.

Step 1. Calculate How Much Calories You Need to Gain Weight

You need to calculate how much calories you are burning per day on average.

a.) Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR :

Men = 1 x [ Body weight (kg)] x 24

Women =  .9 x [Body weight (kg)] x 24

*1 kg = 2.2 lbs

b.) Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

Your TDEE = Multiply your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) with a number determined by how active you are:

Activity factor:

Sedentary =BMR X 1.2

Lightly active = BMR X 1.375

Moderately active = BMR X 1.55

Very active = BMR X 1. 725

Extremely active =BMR X 1.9

So if you’re male, 70 kg, 25 years old and moderately active, your BMR will be 1680 kcal and your TDEE will be 2604 kcal.

If you’re female, 48 kg., 25 years old and moderately active, your BMR will roughly be 1037 kcal and your TDEE will be 1607 kcal.

Step 2: Create a Calorie Surplus

In order to gain weight, you need to create a calorie surplus. A simple guideline is that for every 3,500 excess Calories (kcal) you consume, you will gain about one pound of weight. This means that every day you must create a calorie surplus of about 500 calories to gain 1 lb of weight every week.

So your weight gain diet plan basically involve eating 500 calories over your TDEE (every day).

Step 3. What To Eat To Gain Weight: Best Food Choices to Gain Weight

While it’s true that fat contains the most calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrate, adding high-fat foods to your diet would be an efficient but unhealthy way to create a calorie surplus.

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). So 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.

The best choices of food for weight gain (in no particular order) are:

Fish & Seafood

Fruits and Vegetables are healthy Sources of Calories
Fruits and Vegetables are healthy Sources of Calories

Meat & Meat Products

Complex Carbohydrates

Legumes & Grains

Nuts & Seeds




For a detailed list of the best foods to eat to gain weight and build muscle fast, click here.

Step 4: Track and Measure

The guidelines given here are just good starting points. Your body will still be the one who will dictate what works and what doesn’t work for you.

The best way to gain weight is to track and measure your weight gain results on a weekly basis and listen to your body. You might find that eating 500 calories over your estimated TDEE  per day is still not producing any weight gain for you. In this case, just increase the calorie surplus by another 300 to 500 calories. Be patient and keep tweaking until you notice some changes.

There are people who need to eat 6000 calories a day to gain weight. If you’re one of these people, don’t be too hard on yourself. Understand that it’s just the way your body is built, and that it is possible to gain weight and build muscle mass.


Remember that eating to gain weight is just one part of the equation. If you really want to gain weight quickly, a muscle building routine must be part of your weight gain program.  A weight training program, supported by a nutritious high-calorie diet, can help you gain weight as lean muscle mass instead of body fat.

Now you’re probably one of those who find cooking particularly stressful because you don’t know how to cook wholesome meals. Don’t worry, there’s a solution – a collection of done-for-you meal plans full of recipes perfect for bodybuilders.

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Founder & Fitness Nerd

Founder of Muscle4Hardgainers. Loves to experiment and teach others the best ways to reach their physical goals.