How many calories should I eat to gain weight?

While it may seem simple, gaining weight requires a thoughtful diet and exercise plan to be successful. Just like losing weight, gaining weight is a matter of getting the right number of calories. Those trying to gain weight always wonder how many calories they should eat to gain weight.

However, the goal should be to gain muscle, not just excess body fat. Therefore, it is essential to eat a balanced meal with all essential nutrients. Too much body fat leads to health problems, while lean muscle mass has many health benefits. That’s why it’s essential to learn safe methods of gaining weight by consuming more calories.

How many calories to gain weight?

A nutritionist can help you determine how many calories you should be consuming each day based on age, gender, metabolism, body composition and physical activity. Taking in fewer calories than you burn will make you lose weight, so if you want to gain weight or build muscle, you may need to increase your daily calorie intake by 500 or more calories.

An average person gains 1 pound or 0.45 kg of body weight each week by increasing 500 to 1,000 calories daily. However, the type of weight gained (fat or muscle) depends on the exercise regimen and macronutrient intake.

A calorie surplus of 20% is necessary to gain weight in a healthy way. Some athletes and people who go to the gym often do dirty bulking, that is, they eat as much as possible without following dietary guidelines.

But they don’t gain unhealthy weight like a routine resistance training regimen to gain muscle and strength. But if you don’t do it with enough exercise, dirty bulk also results in gaining unwanted fat. Balancing a dirty bulk with sufficient high-quality proteins and healthy fats is therefore essential for a caloric surplus.

Calorie surplus for different age groups

The following chart shows how many calories help you gain weight at a rate of 1 pound or 0.454 kg per week.

  • 20 years: 3230 calories per day
  • 30 years: 3153 calories per day
  • 40 years: 3075 calories per day
  • 50 years: 2998 calories per day

Some approaches only work with a calorie surplus. For example, the number of calories men and women need to gain weight can vary. Men need more calories to gain weight because they have greater lung capacity. On the other hand, women need fewer calories due to their lower muscle mass and shorter heights than men. Therefore, use a calorie calculator to determine the ideal calorie intake based on age, weight, gender, and other factors for best results.

The HealthifyMe note

To gain weight you need to eat more calories than your body burns. How many extra calories you should eat each day depends on your level of exercise and starting body composition. Eating an extra 500-700 calories is a great place to start, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll gain weight.

Guidelines for weight gain from a nutritionist

It’s essential to realize that just because you want to gain weight doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Eating unhealthy foods such as chips, soda, donuts, fried foods, candy, and gummies will cause you to gain weight in a harmful way.

according to ResearchUnhealthy weight gain usually occurs around your midsection, putting you at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Instead, choose healthy foods that help you build muscle, such as high-protein foods.

Other guidelines to follow are:

  • Snack regularly throughout the day and eat small meals every three to five hours to help you eat more without feeling too full.
  • Drink high-calorie beverages such as whole milk, juice, smoothies, shakes, etc. Add protein powders to milk instead of water to increase the protein content.
  • Use large plates. Small plates can cause people to eat less.
  • Including foods such as peanutsmacadamia nuts, cheese, full fat yogurt, beef, pork, sweet potatoes, dark chocolates, avocados, coconut milk, peanut butter, granola, etc.
  • Choose fatty cuts of meat, such as chicken or turkey thighs, salami, or short ribs.
  • Increase the calories by adding extra toppings or condiments. Examples are cheese, bananas, nuts, dried fruit, honey and maple syrup.
  • Cook with healthy fats to gain weight, e.g. avocado oil, walnut oil, linseed oil, etc.
  • It is crucial to arrive safely. Therefore, individuals should eat a balanced diet and get enough cardiovascular exercise.
  • Eat in different places and settings with friends and family to increase your appetite.
  • A walk before meals can increase your appetite, helping you eat more.


How quickly you gain weight depends on how many extra calories you eat and how well you stick to an exercise routine. However, calorie needs vary from person to person, so it is best to consult a nutritionist and follow their personal recommendations.

There is no secret to speeding up the weight gain process, as there are genetic limitations to how much muscle mass you can effectively build.

However, increasing calorie intake too quickly can also lead to more body fat gain than muscle mass. So proceed with caution and preferably appoint a certified nutritionist to help design the program.

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