weight loss

How many calories should I eat to gain weight?

Written by hana

Although gaining weight may seem simple, it takes a thoughtful diet and exercise plan to be successful. As with losing weight, gaining weight is about consuming the right number of calories. Those who are 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. Thus, eating a well-balanced meal with all the essential nutrients is vital. Too much body fat leads to health problems, while lean muscle mass provides many benefits for health. Therefore, it is essential to learn safe ways to gain weight by increasing your calorie intake.

How many calories to gain weight?

A dietitian can help you determine how many calories you should consume each day based on your age, gender, metabolism, body composition, and physical activity. Consuming fewer calories than you burn will lead to weight loss, so if you’re looking to gain weight or build muscle, you may need to increase your daily caloric intake by 500 calories or more.

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

A 20% caloric surplus is necessary for healthy weight gain. Some athletes and people who often go to the gym practice dirty bulge, which is when they eat as much as possible without adhering to dietary guidelines.

But they don’t gain unhealthy weight like they do with a routine resistance training schedule to gain enough muscle and strength. But, if you do not hit it with enough exercise, dirty bulge also leads to unwanted fat gain. So, balancing lean mass with adequate amounts of quality proteins and healthy fats is vital to a calorie surplus.

Calorie surplus for different age groups

The following chart shows how many calories contribute to an average weight gain of 1 lb or 0.454 kg per week.

  • 20 years: 3,230 calories per day
  • 30 years: 3,153 calories per day
  • 40 years: 3,075 calories per day
  • 50 years: 2,998 calories per day

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

HealthifyMe note

To gain weight, you need to take in more calories than your body burns. The number of extra calories you need to eat each day depends on your level of exercise and starting body composition. Eating an extra 500-700 calories is an excellent place to start, but it is not guaranteed to gain weight.

Tips for gaining weight from a nutritionist

It is essential to realize that just because you want to gain weight does not mean you can eat whatever you want. Eating unhealthy foods such as chips, soft drinks, cakes, fried foods, sweets, and chewing gum will lead to weight gain in a harmful way.

According to research, unhealthy weight gain will mostly occur around your belly, which puts you at risk of diabetes and heart disease. Instead, you should choose healthy foods that will help you gain muscle, such as protein-rich foods.

Other guidelines to follow are:

  • Snack frequently throughout the day and eat small meals every three to five hours to help you eat more without feeling full.
  • Drink beverages that are high in calories, such as whole milk, juice, smoothies, shakes, etc. Add protein powders to milk instead of water to increase the protein content.
  • Use large plates. Smaller plates can make people eat less.
  • Include foods such as: Peanutsmacadamia nuts, cheese, full-fat yogurt, beef, pork, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, avocado, coconut milk, peanut butter, granola, etc.
  • Choose fatty parts of meat, such as chicken thighs, turkey, salami, or short ribs.
  • Increase calories by adding toppings or condiments. Examples include cheese, bananas, nuts, dried fruits, honey, and maple syrup.
  • Cook with healthy fats to gain weight – eg, avocado oil, nut oil, flaxseed oil, etc.
  • It is essential to gain weight safely. Therefore, individuals should follow a well-balanced diet and get adequate cardiovascular exercise.
  • Eat in different places and atmospheres with friends and family to boost your appetite.
  • Walking before meals can boost your hunger and help you eat more.


How quickly you gain weight depends on how many extra calories you eat and how well you stick to your exercise routine. However, calorie requirements differ from person to person, so it’s best to see a dietitian and follow his or her personal recommendations.

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

However, increasing your caloric intake too quickly can also lead to more body fat than muscle. So, tread carefully and preferably hire a certified nutritionist to help design the program.

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