Free Weight Gaining Meal Plan
Written by Aly Bouzek, MS, RDN and reviewed/edited by Katie Dodd, MS, RDN, CSG, LD, FAND
Planning meals that help with weight gain and prevent unintended weight loss can seem overwhelming. A solution? Follow a weight gaining meal plan! This simple step can lead to successful weight gain by tracking calories and ensuring enough of the right foods are being consumed.
If this process still seems daunting, keep scrolling! Below, you will find tips to gain weight, how to create your own weight gaining meal plan, and find access to a free 7-day weight gaining meal plan that you can start using right away.
How to Gain Weight
Gaining weight can feel like an uphill battle at times. To make the goal of weight gain more achievable, focus not only on eating enough calories, but also focus on the types of calories that specific foods provide.
3500 Calorie Surplus
To gain weight, you need to eat more calories than your body uses – this is called a calorie surplus. Specifically, to gain 1 pound of body weight, you would need to eat 3500 calories in addition to what your body burns for energy.
Eating this many calories may seem like a lot, but it doesn’t need to happen at a single meal. Breaking down calorie needs into 3 meals and 3 snacks seems much more manageable and much less daunting!
Types of Calories
All foods provide calories, or energy. Foods that the body needs in large amounts are called macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These foods all contain different amounts of calories and all are important when trying to gain weight.
Protein provides 4 calories per gram. This means that for every gram of protein you eat, you are eating 4 calories. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram as well, and fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Protein foods include beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, meats, and dairy. Carbohydrate foods include breads, grains, dairy, and fruits. Fat foods include nuts, oils, seeds, fish, and dairy.
These are important factors to remember when trying to gain weight. If you are short on calories, look to fats to increase the most calories per gram of food. But do include all three food types to ensure proper nutrition and adequate weight gain.
How to Gain Weight in a Week
We learned that it takes 3500 calories to gain 1 pound of body weight. To achieve a weight gain of 1 pound per week, you would need to consume an additional 500 calories per day.
Meal planning and meal prepping are keys to meeting the goal of 500 extra calories per day and can help in gaining 1 pound of body weight per week.
Weight Gain Meal Plan Tips
Your weight gain meal plan should focus on high-calorie foods spread throughout the day to keep you feeling full, but not so full that you skip meals and thus, calories. Below are a few tips to help when creating your weight gaining meal plan.
- Focus on eating smaller meals more frequently. This is especially important with older adults because as we age our appetite decreases. Aim to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day to keep calories up and weight loss down.
- Pay attention to when you drink fluids. Drinking fluids before meals fills your stomach, leaving little room for the meal itself. Aim to drink fluids after meals or choose high calorie smoothies and high calorie shakes as in-between meal snacks.
- Incorporate “fortified” foods. Fortified foods are high calorie foods that can be added to meals and snacks and include butter, cream, cheese, olive oil and whole milk.
For example, use “fortified” milk when making a high calorie shake by adding dry milk to liquid whole milk. You can also add yogurt, protein powder, or peanut butter to shakes and smoothies to increase calories.
Other examples are to add cheese to your salads and scrambled eggs, use full-fat dressing for salads and marinades, and use butter or oil when cooking instead of cooking spray.
Serving high calorie foods for both meals and snacks can ensure you get the most bang for your buck and can help you on your weight gaining journey.
Meal Prep for Weight Gain
It is important to prepare meals and snacks ahead of time to successfully gain weight.
First, decide what meals and snacks will be best consumed, focusing on favorite dishes and flavors. It can also be beneficial to take note of in-season foods, so grocery shopping is easier and more wallet-friendly.
Second, make your shopping list by food category. Include: dairy, fruit, vegetables, meat, bread/grains, canned foods, spices, desserts, drinks, etc. This will make the shopping trip quick and easy and will ensure you don’t forget any foods.
Third, you can meal prep for the week by batch cooking and chopping vegetables. Batch cooking is cooking large quantities of foods that will be needed throughout the week for multiple meals.
For example, bake/grill a few extra chicken breasts and refrigerate for later use. Remove from the refrigerator and microwave when it is time to serve the meal. Please note that cooked chicken will only keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Finally, choose a few favorite meals and serve them multiple times a week. This allows for even more batch cooking and for easier shopping trips because there are less ingredients needed.
Weight Gaining Meal Plan
A weight gaining meal plan can be essential to weight gain success. Having meals planned out for the week leaves little room for second-guessing or the thought of, “I’ll just snack all day and I’ll be fine.”
Additionally, a weight gaining meal plan provides an estimated number of calories for the week. Having access to calorie totals in meals and snacks can help confirm that enough calories are being consumed each day to promote weight gain.
Weight Gain Shakes
Older adults often get fuller faster and sometimes offering high calorie shakes or smoothies between meals is easier for them to drink. And, ultimately, get enough calories to continue weight gain.
Download Weight Gaining Meal Plan
If you’ve enjoyed learning more about creating a weight gaining meal plan, but are still nervous about making one yourself, don’t worry! I have provided a completely free 7 day weight gaining meal plan that will get you started.
A weight gaining meal plan is a great tool to use to gain weight and prevent unintended weight loss. I hope this article provided helpful information on how to gain weight in a week by creating a weight gaining meal plan.
If you are still unsure about weight gain meal planning, don’t forget to sign up for your Free Weight Gaining Meal Plan! And to learn even more about gaining weight, check out my Weight Gaining SECRETS e-book!
- Cold Food Storage Chart. FoodSafety.gov. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts. Reviewed April 12, 2019. Accessed June 4, 2020.
- How to Gain Weight the Healthy Way. PearlPoint Nutrition Services. https://pearlpoint.org/weight_management/how-to-gain-weight-the-healthy-way/. Accessed June 1, 2020.
- Nutrition Basics. Washington State University. https://mynutrition.wsu.edu/nutrition-basics#fats. Accessed June 1, 2020.
- Zeratsky K. What’s a good way to gain weight if you’re underweight? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/underweight/faq-20058429. Published August 31, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2020.
- Calorie counts from: FoodData Central. USDA website. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/. Accessed May 27, 2020.