This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.
How To Gain Weight In 30 Days? 5 Tips To Gain Healthy Weight
Weight loss is a huge focus of health research for a good reason. According to the CDC, nearly 42% of the US population is considered obese. However, the CDC also reports that 1.% of adults are underweight (defined as a body mass index <18.5), which is also detrimental to health. Temporary changes such as illness might also cause a drop in weight and the need to regain quickly. Others may have an interest in gaining lean body mass.
To gain weight in 30 days comes down to calorie excess. You will need to eat 500-1200 calories per day in excess of the energy you burn to gain about 5-10 pounds in a month. However, it’s important to choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods to maintain health at the same time.
How to gain weight can be an individual answer, but we’ll review the essential components of successful weight gain.
Can You Gain Weight in 30 Days?
Yes, most individuals can gain weight in 30 days. Just how much and how quickly can be difficult to predict. The science of metabolism is complex, and there are still a lot of unknown variables that may influence how easy or difficult it is for a person to gain weight. There is likely a component of genetic influence that science is working to understand. There is also a theory in the research that we each have an individual “set point” for body weight that impacts metabolism. This is not yet fully understood or proven true.
Weight gain in short periods, such as 3 days or less, is likely not true body mass gains but rather water fluctuations. However, gaining weight for women and men is possible with the right plan.
What we know right now, as a general rule, is it takes about 3500 calories in excess of your daily needs to gain 1 pound. Excess means above the energy your body burns on a daily basis to function (your resting energy expenditure or REE) plus the energy burned in physical activity. A healthy and achievable rate of weight gain is 1-2 pounds per week, which equals an excess of at least 500-1000 calories per day.
Theoretically, if your overall energy expenditure per day is 2000 calories, you would need to consume at least 2500-3000 calories per day. There are many clinical methods to determine resting energy expenditure (REE), but most are not practical methods for everyday use. To help determine your estimated REE, an equation is available, or search for an online calculator.
While eating junk food like ice cream and fried foods will certainly result in weight gain, that will likely results in almost exclusive gains in fat mass. This method will have consequences for your long-term health and increase the risk for heart disease. Choosing healthy foods is still very important when you are looking to achieve a healthy weight and build strength.
How to Gain Weight in a Month? 5 Methods to Gain Weight Healthily
Eat More High-Protein Foods
Consuming enough protein will ensure you are gaining lean muscle mass in proportion to body fat on a high-calorie diet. A meta-analysis investigating the impact of excessive feeding regimens in athletes found that a high protein diet had a positive effect on gaining muscle mass vs. fat mass Try eating more of these high protein foods at every meal or snack:
- Lean meat cuts of beef, chicken, or pork
- White fish, shellfish, or tuna
- Tofu, tempeh, or soybeans
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt
Increase Consumption of Healthy Fats & Carbohydrates
Fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient, so focusing on foods high in healthy fats along with whole-grain carbs will balance lean protein foods in your diet plan to gain body weight efficiently.
Carbs and fat from refined sources are an easy go-to when you might think about gaining weight. However, carefully choosing a balance of unsaturated fat and high fiber foods will be important to ward off the result of excess belly fat.
These healthy fats and complex carbs will help your weight gain goals:
- Olive oil or avocado oil
- Nuts and Seeds such as cashews, peanuts, pistachios, or walnuts (also a good source of protein!)
- Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
- Whole milk dairy products
- Brown rice, quinoa, or bulgur
- Whole grain bread
Eat More Frequently
A simple way to increase your calorie intake is to eat more frequently throughout the day. Try these tips:
- Eat at least three meals per day
- Fit in three snacks daily, including a bedtime snack
- Try drinking beverages between meals and snacks. Fluids can fill you up without as much caloric benefit
Focus on Nutrient-dense Foods to Get Those Extra Calories
Eating for rapid weight gain can be difficult in terms of the sheer volume of food intake you may need to consume. It will be helpful to focus on calorically dense foods that have the most calories in a low volume. Good options include:
- Nuts or nut butter
- Dried fruit
- Moderate amounts of high-fat dairy such as half & half and butter
- Coconut flakes
- Chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds
Include these foods as toppings or condiment-like additions to your foods for high impact. This might look like adding 1-2 tbsp of half & half creamer for your coffee, sprinkling chia seeds on yogurt, or adding sliced avocado to your salad.
Combine Nutrient-dense Eating With Weight Training
To support muscle growth as part of gaining weight, include a regular weight training workout with a high-calorie diet. Weight lifting or resistance training will support your goals of building muscle, but high-intensity cardio or aerobic exercise will likely burn too many calories and slow down weight gain.
There is still a careful balance of energy expenditure for resistance training workouts when the goal is to gain weight fast. Research suggests a higher resistance load with fewer repetitions will provide the most benefit to gaining muscle mass.
Weight training has been shown to be especially effective in gaining muscle mass when combined with sufficient dietary protein. So, a healthy diet with nutrient-dense choices is an important factor in reaping the muscle-building benefits of a weight training program.
Diet Plan to Gain Weight in 30 Days
Exactly what a diet plan may look like for gaining weight is highly individual and can look very different for everyone. Always talk with your doctor before starting a new eating plan or physical activity regimen. If you need a personalized eating plan for your targeted calorie intake, consider meeting with a dietitian for more guidance.
If we use a standard benchmark discussed earlier of 2500-3000 calories per day, a daily eating plan may look like the one below. In general, this plan aims for about 600 calories per meal and at least 300 calories per snack.
Sample 1- Day, 2800 Calorie Meal Plan
- 3 eggs
- 1 slice whole-grain toast with 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 8 oz whole milk
- ¼ cup cashews
- ¼ dried fruit
- 3 oz tuna with ½ an avocado on whole-grain bread
- Mixed greens side salad with 2 tsp olive oil dressing
- 8 oz whole milk
- Fruit Smoothie with protein powder
- (1 cup frozen fruit, ½ cup milk, fruit juice, and one scoop whey protein)
- 6 oz grilled chicken
- 1 cup roasted vegetables with olive oil
- 1 cup brown rice with butter
- 8 oz whole milk
- Oat granola bar
- Fresh berries and 3/4 cup yogurt
Planning can be important to ensure you are meeting your energy needs and eating a balanced diet while working to gain weight quickly. To keep on track, it may be helpful to plan meals and snacks ahead of time for this period to achieve your healthy weight goals.
It may feel a little overwhelming for your food budget. If so, check out our tips on healthy eating on a budget.
Gaining weight in 30 days is possible, but the means to an end is important for your overall health.
It may be a tempting excuse to stock up on junk foods but focus on increasing lean protein intake, choosing healthy fats and whole grains, and selecting calorically dense additions for the most impact. You may find you need to eat more frequently to meet your excess energy needs in order to gain weight.
There is no need, nor is it recommended, to be sedentary to gain weight. Choosing weight training exercises to build muscle as part of your overall gains will be most advantageous.
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