Underweight is Unhealthy! Here’s How to Gain Weight Properly

We all know that being overweight is a health risk. It makes you 50% more likely to die an early death, according to the National Health Institutes (NHI). But did you know that being underweight means you’re 140% more likely to die an early death? This is because being underweight can also lead to health issues such as osteoporosis and a weakened immune system, among other thing. So, if you’re underweight, you should learn how to gain weight in order to keep yourself healthy.

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not out of controlUnderweight, But Not Out Of Your Control

Society is constantly telling us that we should be slim, slim, slim. But if you’re underweight, you can be just as, if not more, unhealthy than being overweight or obese.

What everyone should aim for is a good Body Mass Index (BMI) score.

But what is BMI?

BMI is a calculation of your weight over your age and height. You want your score to be above 18.5 (the threshold for being underweight), and below 25 (the threshold for being overweight). There are some issues with the accuracy of the BMI scale, but it’s still a decent base guide for setting a basic goal.

But how to gain weight fast if you’re underweight?

Unfortunately, to do so, you shouldn’t sit on the couch eating donuts and pizza all day.

You still need to make sure you’re eating healthy food to ensure you don’t encounter other health problems. Slim and ideal weight people are still at risk of developing heart disease and type-2 diabetes if they eat unhealthy. Being a healthy weight doesn’t always mean being healthy if you’re not eating good food.

Stick to the diet. Try Listonic.

So, if you’re looking for how to increase weight healthily and effectively, continue reading this guide. However, you can skip straight to your free printable food list to gain weight if you want.

Go to Food List to Gain Weight Shopping List Template

eat moreHow to Gain Weight

Eat More (Healthy) Calories Than You Can Burn

It’s a basic principle: if you eat more calories than you can burn, then you’ll start to put on weight. This is probably the fastest way to gain weight.

The average adult male will burn around 2,500 calories a day, and the average adult female about 2,000. In order to learn healthy weight gaining, you’ll need to eat around 500 extra calories more per day. That’s a total of 3,000 for men and 2,500 for women.

However, bear in mind that those figures are if you’re sedentary throughout the day.

You need to make sure that the 3,000 or 2,500 calorie figure you’re aiming for is net calories. If you’re working out, you’re going to be burning calories extra. For example, if you burn 270 calories from a 30-minute run, then you’ll need to be eating 3,270 or 2,770 calories to gain weight.

Tools such as online calories counters, and gadgets such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, can help you get a good idea of your net calorie intake.

weight gaining foodsWhat are the best weight gaining foods?

We’ve mentioned that you need to be eating healthy calories and told you what your daily calorie goal is.

But what food should you actually eat?

The answer: whole nutrient-rich food.

But what does that mean?

It means you want to be avoiding a lot of processed food. Yes, processed food can have a high-calorie count, but it’s lower in nutrients.

Having nutrient-rich food is actually key to helping you gain weight. This food should be:

  • High in protein – this will help you build muscle mass. Beef is an excellent high source of protein, along with other red meat.
  • Calorie-dense – food such as rice will help you stock up on calories without filling you up with saturated fat and sugar
  • Food containing good fats – fatty fish, and vegetables like avocados, are full of these. They will give you the calories you need, but also the benefit of boosting your nervous system from the Omega3 inside them.
  • Cooked in an oil containing good fats – if you’re using oil to give your food a calorie boost, use good oil containing healthy fats such as olive, linseed, rapeseed, and canola
  • Starchy – vegetables, like potatoes, beetroot, and carrots can add heft to your calorie count. They also provide you with plenty of vital vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.

eat more oftenEat More Often

One of the reasons you might be underweight is that you simply don’t tend to eat a lot of food. Most people will have their 3 main meals a day, with a little bit of snacking, and leave it at that. If you’re having just these 3 meals and can only ever seem to manage small portions, you’re never going to put on the weight you need to become healthier.

Therefore, try having more meals a day. If you end up having 5 meals a day, where you end up eating as much as you would for a normal meal, then you’re already adding 66% more calories per day.

Eating more meals is good because you don’t have to go through the discomfort of forcing yourself to eat so much that you feel overstuffed at standard meal times. Eating smaller meals more regularly throughout the day is often referred to as “grazing”. Not only is it more comfortable, it’s also effective for weight gain.

load upLoad Up Your Meals

One way to help you gain weight is to top up what you already eat with more food.

Peanut butter on toast? Add a banana and drizzle some maple syrup on it.

Grilled chicken? Smother it in sauce and top it with some cheese.

Light summer salad? Add chunks of grilled sweet potato, nuts, seeds, and drizzle it with olive oil and vinegar.

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don't drinkDon’t Drink 30 Minutes Before Eating

Did you know that liquid takes about 20 minutes to exit your stomach?

If your stomach is full of water, then you’re not going to eat as much because your stomach will become full quicker.

Furthermore, too much water in the stomach can actually lead to poorer digestion. This is because it dilutes the acid and enzymes that digest food, meaning you won’t be getting as many nutrients into your system.

drink more milkDrink More Milk

Milk is a miracle drink for those trying to gain weight. It’s packed full of protein, which helps to build muscle mass when you’re working out. No wonder it is the drink of choice for bodybuilders for many years. Be sure to go for full-fat varieties as these will have the most calories.

Don’t forget to eat plenty of dairy products, too, including, cheese, cream, and yogurt.

high fiberAvoid High-Fiber Food

Don’t get us wrong, you still need fiber in your diet, even if you’re trying to gain weight. If you don’t eat enough fiber, you could put yourself at risk of developing bowel cancer, and also increase your bad cholesterol and blood-sugar levels.

But, you should avoid food that is particularly high in fiber. These include:

  • Whole grain and whole wheat versions of food (such as bread and pasta)
  • Grains (such as bulgur wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, and brown rice)
  • Legumes (such as chickpeas, red kidney beans, white beans, lentils)

This is because fiber helps you feel full, and also helps slow down the digestion of food. If you’re already struggling to eat much food in 1 sitting, and are also trying to have more meals throughout the day, too much fiber can hinder your efforts because you’ll feel less hungry.

womenHow to Gain Weight FAQs

How can a woman gain weight fast?

In exactly the same way as men!

However, women require a bit more patience.

This is because the testosterone levels in men help to build muscle quicker. Testosterone is also the reason men tend to lose weight quicker, too.

Don’t be dismayed if a male ally in your quest for weight gain happens to bulk up quicker than you. You’re making progress, but it’ll just take longer.

boyHow can a boy gain weight fast?

The same principle applies to children as it does for adults. The only difference is that it is far more important for your child to eat healthily, otherwise the efforts to gain weight might impair their development.

We would seriously recommend working closely with a doctor and dietician to help monitor your child’s weight gain progress and health, and also to check for any underlying issues that might be causing them to be underweight.

highest caloriesWhat food is highest in calories?

Although calories are important, you should be focusing more on healthy, nutrient-rich, whole food, such as rice and milk.

Foods super-high in calories are usually junk food. Despite needing calories to gain weight, these calories come from bad saturated fat and added sugar which can increase your risk of suffering from heart disease or developing type-2 diabetes respectively.

highest fruitWhat is the most fattening fruit?


It’s technically a fruit.

1 avocado contains roughly 320 calories as is packed-full of healthy oil that will help lower your bad cholesterol level (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol level (HDL).

If you want a sweeter answer, passion fruit is one of the most calorie-packed. 100 grams of the fruit contains 97 calories.


Because it’s very sugary.

But, don’t be put off by that. It’s all natural sugar. Plus, passion fruit is a great source of vitamin C, which supports your immune system and nourishes brain function.

Other fruit high in calories include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Pineapples
  • Pomegranates
  • Watermelon

Dried fruit is also another great option for healthy weight gaining. This is because, as the fruit has been dried, the calorie value is more dense by weight. This means you can actually eat a lot more than the fresh variety.

Your Free Food List to Gain Weight

Now that we’re plumped you out with the knowledge for better and healthier weight gain, it’s time for you to pop to the shops and buy everything your need. Use this free printable grocery list template to help. Feel free to add or remove anything you wish to make the list your own.

Food List to Gain Weight ??✅?

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Meat and Fish

  • Beef
  • Fatty fish
    • Anchovies
    • Herring
    • Mackerel
    • Salmon
    • Sardines
    • Tuna
  • Goat
  • Lamb
  • Mutton
  • Pork
  • Veal
  • Venison

Dairy and Eggs

  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt


  • White bread
  • White pasta
  • White rice


  • Avocado
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes


  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Dried fruit
  • Mangoes
  • Passionfruit
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Pineapples
  • Pomegranates
  • Watermelon

Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Linseed
  • Peanuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seed
  • Walnuts

Healthy Oil

  • Canola oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Linseed oil
  • Rapeseed oil


  • Peanut butter
  • Nut butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Sauces
  • Vinegar

food list to gain weight - template

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