Add avocados to a variety of foods to increase their calorie content.
Gaining body weight requires you to take in more calories than you burn. You gain 1 pound of body fat when you consume 3,500 calories more than you use. By eating 500 calories more than you expend each day, you will gain body fat at the rate of 1 pound a week. Focusing on nutritious, high-calorie foods and beverages will help you achieve your goal of gaining weight.
Bulk Up on Grains
Including one or more servings of grains with most meals and snacks can help you gain weight. A cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta provides 174 calories, a medium bagel has 270 calories, and each ounce of whole-wheat pretzels provides 103 calories. When you consume whole grains instead of refined grains, such as white bread, rice and pasta, you help control your body weight and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. To increase the calorie content of your grains, add sources of healthy fats and lean proteins. Try a salmon and brown rice bowl with broccoli, sesame oil and low-sodium teriyaki sauce for a main course; dip breadsticks into olive oil before a pasta dinner; or snack on pretzels and low-fat cheese.
An ounce of almonds or cashews has 163 calories, walnuts have 175 calories per ounce, and an ounce of pecans provides 196 calories. Peanuts are nutritionally similar to tree nuts, and they provide 161 calories per ounce. Tree nuts and peanuts contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and they are sources of vitamin E and dietary fiber. Add nuts to cereal and cottage cheese, or dip celery, carrots, apples or pears into almond or peanut butter.
Drink Your Calories
A cup of fruit juice has 114 calories, and a cup of nonfat milk contains 83 calories. Adding beverages to your diet lets you consume extra calories without feeling as full as if you had chosen solid foods to provide the same calories. Have caloric beverages between meals to get extra calories throughout the day. The Student Nutrition and Body Image Awareness Campaign at UCLA suggests choosing juice, milk or smoothies instead of water, plain coffee and tea, and diet soft drinks.
Sneak in Calories with Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is portable and does not require refrigeration, so you can keep some handy at home, at work, in your gym bag or in your car. A small 1.5-ounce box of raisins contains 129 calories. Dried fruit is more calorie-dense than fresh fruit; for example, a cup of raw apples has 57 calories, while a cup of dried apples contains 209 calories. Nutrients in dried fruit include dietary fiber and potassium. Eat dried fruit on its own or in trail mix, or add dried cherries, raisins or cranberries to salads or oatmeal.
Go for Fatty Fish
Choosing fatty fish instead of leaner protein sources can help you gain weight. A 3-ounce serving of salmon provides 175 calories, while a comparable portion of turkey breast has 116 calories, and a 3-ounce serving of crab has 71 calories. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and anchovies, provides omega-3 fats, which can lower your risk for heart disease. Make mackerel and potato soup, or add sardines to salads.