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Weight Gain Foods for Skinny Females (Most Effective)

weight management expert
Last updated on July 17, 2022

From teenage girls to full-grown women, many underweight females unhappy with their skinny looks find it hard to gain weight because they don’t eat the most effective foods for increasing calorie intake.

To help you achieve your ideal size, this article offers you a list of weight gain foods and valuable tips tailored for the dietary needs of females. These will help you gain healthy weight, respectively muscles instead of fat, whether you want to get thicker in your thighs, glutes, hips, arms, waist, or in any other part of your body.

Weight gain foods for females - featured.

List of weight gain foods for females

To find the foods that are most effective in making females gain weight, we analyzed the diet of 11 women that gained significant weight in a short time (days or weeks).

Then, we ranked the foods by their popularity, from the most consumed to the least.

Below is a list of the most efficient weight gain foods for females:

Protein shakes and smoothies

Females preparing shakes and smoothies to gain weight.

Protein shakes and smoothies are the most consumed weight gain foods by females who successfully gain weight.

91% of the females who gain weight fast include protein shakes and smoothies in their diets.

Protein shakes and smoothies are so helpful in gaining weight because they contain many high-calorie ingredients. Besides, both shakes and smoothies are very easy to prepare.

High-calorie shakes have between 476 and 1830 calories.

High-calorie smoothies have between 400 and 1254 calories.

Learn more about these weight gain drinks and follow easy recipes by checking our articles about high-calorie smoothies and weight gain shakes.

High-calorie grains

If you want to gain weight, you should add carb-filled grains into your meal plans.

91% of the women who gain weight effectively claim they eat grains to do so.

Here are the best grains for gaining weight, ordered by the popularity among women who successfully gain weight:

  • Bread or whole wheat bread: 73% of women
  • Oats: 45% of women
  • Rice: 45% of women
  • Granola or granola bars: 27% of women
  • Corns: 18% of women
  • Pancakes: 18% of women
  • Muffins or English muffins: 18% of women
  • Pasta: 9% of women
  • Tortilla wraps: 9% of women
  • Rice cakes: 9% of women
  • Crackers: 9% of women
  • Waffles: 9% of women
  • Croissants: 9% of women

As you can see, bread, oats, and rice are the most consumed grains among females who successfully gain weight.

Best grains for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight.

Besides being useful for weight gain, many grains are affordable. Pancakes, bread, rice, and pasta count among the cheapest high-calorie foods.

Calories in high-calorie grains

White bread: 267 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - White bread.[1]

Whole wheat bread: 254 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Whole wheat bread.[2]

Oats: 362 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Oats.[3]

Cooked white rice: 130 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - White rice.[4]

Granola: 489 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Granola.[5]

Granola bar: 471 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Granola bars.[6]

Boiled yellow corn: 96 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Boiled yellow corn.[7]

Pancakes: 269 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Pancakes.[8]

Muffins: 375 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Muffins.[9]

English muffins: 223 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - English muffins.[10]

Cooked pasta: 157 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cooked pasta.[11]

Tortilla wraps: 325 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: Nutritionix - Tortilla wrap.[12]

Rice cakes: 392 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Rice cakes.[13]

Whole-wheat crackers: 427 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Whole wheat crackers.[14]

Waffles: 291 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Waffles.[15]

Croissants: 406 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Croissants.[16]

High-calorie fruits

91% of the females who gain weight fast have fruits in their diet.

Fruits are not only full of vitamins and minerals but also get you energized, whether you feel sluggish or want to get ready for a workout.

Here are the best fruits for gaining weight, according to their popularity among women who successfully gain weight:

  • Avocado: 64% of women
  • Bananas: 45% of women
  • Dried fruits, like goji berries, dried cranberries, and dates: 36% of women
  • Orange juice: 27% of women
  • Apples: 18% of women
  • Mango: 9% of women
  • Plantains: 9% of women
  • Pineapple juice: 9% of women
Best fruits for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight.

While avocado is the most consumed fruit by females who gain weight effectively, bananas and dried fruits are also quite popular.

Find more weight gain fruits and their calories by going to the complete list of high-calorie fruits for weight gain.

Dairy products

91% of the women who gain weight efficiently eat dairy products to do so.

Dairy products have plenty of proteins and fats, both of which help in leveraging your calorie intake.

Here are the best dairy products for gaining weight, ordered by the popularity among women who successfully gain weight:

  • Yogurt or Greek yogurt: 55% of women
  • Cheese, cheddar or else: 36% of women
  • Cream cheese: 27% of women
  • Whole milk: 27% of women
  • Ice cream: 9% of women

Yogurt, Greek yogurt, and different types of cheese are the most consumed dairy products by females who succeed in gaining weight.

Best dairy for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight.

Tip: besides preparing shakes, you can use whole milk to make high-calorie drinks, such as a cup of hot chocolate or a dry milk drink.

Calories in dairy products

Full-fat yogurt: 78 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Full-fat yogurt.[17]

Full-fat Greek yogurt: 94 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Full-fat Greek yogurt.[18]

Non-fat Greek yogurt: 59 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Non-fat Greek yogurt.[19]

Cheddar cheese: 409 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cheddar cheese.[20]

Cream cheese: 350 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cream cheese.[21]

Whole milk: 61 calories/100 ml (2/5 cup)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Whole milk.[22]

Ice cream: 207 calories/100 g (3/4 cup)

Nutrition facts source: Nutritionix - Ice cream.[23]

Meat

82% of the females who gain weight fast eat meat.

Since meat is an excellent source of proteins, you can eat it to boost your muscle-building efforts.

Here are the best meats for gaining weight, ordered by the popularity among women who successfully gain weight:

  • Turkey meat: 36% of women
  • Chicken meat: 36% of women
  • Salmon meat: 27% of women
  • Beef steak: 27% of women
  • Bacon, from pork or turkey: 27% of women
  • Sausage: 18% of women
  • Salami: 9% of women
  • Goat meat: 9% of women
  • Tuna: 9% of women
Best meats for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight.

Poultry meat, namely turkey and chicken meat, are the most preferred meats by females who gain weight successfully.

Regarding turkey meat, women who gain weight fast prefer turkey patties, breast, pepperoni, meatballs, or bacon. When it comes to chicken meat, the breast and the drumsticks are their usual go-to.

Calories in meat

Turkey meat (roasted): 173 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Roasted turkey meat.[24]

Chicken breast (roasted): 165 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Roasted chicken breast.[25]

Chicken drumsticks (roasted): - 155 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Salmon (cooked): 231 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cooked salmon.[27]

Beef tenderloin steak (broiled): 273 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Beef tenderloin steak.[28]

Pork bacon (cooked): 501 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cooked pork bacon.[29]

Pork sausage (cooked): 271 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cooked pork sausage.[30]

Italian pork salami: 425 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Pork Italian salami.[31]

Goat meat (roasted): - 143 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Roasted goat meat.[32]

Canned tuna: 198 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Canned tuna.[33]

Eggs

73% of the women who gain weight effectively eat eggs to do so.

The fact that eggs are a good source of protein makes them ideal for gaining weight in the form of muscles, instead of fat. To get no fat from eggs, strip the yolks and eat only the egg whites.

Therefore, low-fat protein foods like egg whites are very useful when looking to gain weight by increasing muscle size.

Besides, eggs will not give you an upset stomach since they count among the easiest-to-digest foods.

Boiled eggs nutrition facts

  • Calories/1 whole boiled egg (50 g): 78
  • Proteins: 6 g
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Fat: 5 g

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Boiled eggs.[34]

Egg whites nutrition facts

  • Calories/1 large egg white (34 g): 52
  • Proteins: 11 g
  • Carbs: 2 g
  • Fat: 0 g

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Egg white.[35]

Nuts and nut butters

64% of the females who gain weight effectively consume nuts or nut butters.

Here are the nuts and nut butters for gaining weight, ordered by the popularity among women who successfully gain weight:

  • Peanut butter: 45% of women
  • Almond milk: 27% of women
  • Almonds: 18% of women
  • Any nut butter besides PB: 18% of women
  • Cashews: 9% of women
  • Pecans: 9% of women
Best nuts and nut products for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight.

Peanut butter is the most consumed nut butter by females who manage to gain weight effectively. Almond milk and almonds are the most preferred among nut milks and, respectively, nuts.

Find out more about nuts and nut butters and their calories by consulting our full guide about high-calorie nuts and nut butters for weight gain.

Protein powders

64% of the females who gain weight fast use protein powders.

Whey protein powder, mass gainers, and vegan protein powders were the most popular choices.

These powders are so popular mainly because they are pure protein sources. Therefore, they help females meet their daily protein needs without leveraging fat and carb intake. As a result, they build muscle easier.

Usually, protein powders work great in shakes and smoothies.

Whey protein powder nutrition facts

  • Calories/1 scoop (32 g): 113
  • Proteins: 25 g
  • Carbs: 2 g
  • Fat: 0 g

Vegan soy protein powder nutrition facts

  • Calories/1 scoop (45 g): 175
  • Proteins: 25 g
  • Carbs: 13 g
  • Fat: 3 g

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Soy-based protein powder.[37]

High-calorie vegetables

55% of the females who gain weight successfully consume potatoes or beans.

Here is how many of the women who succeed on their weight gain journey eat potatoes and beans:

  • Potatoes: 45% of women
  • Beans: 18% of women
Best vegetables for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight - potatoes and beans.

Whether you prefer baking potatoes, sweet potatoes, baby potatoes, or you like to make potato salads, these starchy vegetables are consumed by almost half of the women who gain weight effectively.

Also, beans, like the pinto beans, are vegetables that serve well for plenty of women that gain weight successfully.

To find more vegetables for gaining weight and their calories, go to our list of high-calorie vegetables.

Natural sweeteners

45% of the women who gain weight effectively use natural sweeteners on different foods to do so.

Here are the best natural sweeteners for gaining weight, ordered by the popularity among women who successfully gain weight:

  • Honey: 27% of women
  • Maple syrup: 27% of women

Whether you prefer honey or maple syrup, natural sweeteners are highly caloric because they’re full of carbs.

Yet, you must consume these carefully because they have a lot of sugar.

So, add a little bit of honey to your morning coffee or put a touch of maple syrup on a plate of pancakes.

Best natural sweeteners for gaining weight according to females who successfully gain weight: honey and maple syrup.

Calories in natural sweeteners

Honey: 304 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Honey.[38]

Maple syrup: 260 calories/100 g (3.5 oz)

Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Maple syrup.[39]

High-calorie protein bars

18% of the females who gain weight successfully consume high-calorie protein bars.

Bought from the store or made at home, high-calorie protein bars are easy to consume and load you with energy.

Besides, high-calorie bars count among the snacks with the most calories.

You can expect to get between 517 and 622 calories from the best high-calorie bars on the market.

Learn recipes for homemade bars and find out the best protein bars on the market from our article about high-calorie bars.

Other weight gain foods for females

As you’ve seen so far, females who gain weight have plenty of nutritious foods up their sleeves.

But there are more.

Here are a few other weight gain foods consumed by women who gain weight successfully:

  • Olive oil (for cooking): 9% of women
  • Light mayonnaise: 9% of women
  • Dark chocolate: 9% of women
  • Creamy Caesar sauce: 9% of women
  • Dry milk: 9% of women
  • Coconut oil: 9% of women
  • Cacao: 9% of women
  • Tahini: 9% of women
  • Hummus: 9% of women

Weight gain foods: guidelines for females

To reach a daily caloric surplus, which is a must-do for gaining weight, females need to eat high-calorie foods that help them meet their protein, carbs, and fat needs.

This weight gain mechanism is no different from what men need to do to gain weight.

However, there are a few things females need to pay more attention to when it comes to choosing weight gain foods, as enumerated below.

Females gain weight easier than men

Females burn fewer calories than men, so they can gain weight by eating less than males.

Women need approximately 400 calories less than men, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes.[40]

Focus on foods with carbs and proteins to aid muscle gain

Females are more prone to storing fat than men because they have higher estrogen levels and lower amounts of testosterone.[41]

Therefore, to not encourage the storage of fat, females need to focus on working out and eating weight gain foods that have enough carbs and proteins, which are the macronutrients that fuel and build muscles.

Find foods that have plenty of carbs and proteins in our list of high-calorie low-fat foods.

Work out to build muscle

It’s very important to work out regularly and challenge your muscles. This habit will make your body use the nutrients you get from weight gain foods to build muscle instead of storing them as fat.

And if you worry about turning your body into a female version of Schwarzenegger, don’t do it. The lower amount of testosterone in female bodies makes it very hard for women to build that kind of physique.

Eat weight gain foods for bone health

Because they're more likely to develop osteoporosis, females need to focus on weight gain foods that contain calcium, and which help them absorb and retain this mineral that is essential for bone health.

Females are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, a bone weakening disease.

A 2017 study published in The Journal of Clinical Medicine Research backs up this statistic.[42]

The good news?

Calcium foods reduce the risk of osteoporosis, according to the British Journal of Nutrition.[43]

Examples of weight gain foods that aid calcium intake:

  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Beans

Which females need weight gain foods

Whether they are girls or full-grown women, females who generally need weight gain foods are skinny, underweight, have a high metabolism, are breastfeeding, or want to get specific parts of their body to look thicker.

Being underweight can have harmful effects on your health. Below are just a few of them, according to a Massachusetts Department of Public Health review.[44]

  • Slower growth in children
  • Low muscle mass
  • Fragile bones
  • Anemia
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Fertility issues
  • Disrupted hormone regulations
  • Menstruation problems
  • Hair loss
  • Low energy and general fatigue
  • Lack of self confidence
  • Bad mood
  • Poor self-control
  • Poor sleep and stress
  • Increased mortality

If you’re breastfeeding, besides eating high-calorie foods with many healthy nutrients, respect your healthcare provider’s guidance.

Weight gain meal plans for females

Knowing what foods make females gain weight is not enough to make you end on a daily caloric surplus and get closer to your ideal weight.

Without scheduling to eat weight gain foods, you will find it hard to hit your calorie target daily. This is where meal planning comes useful.

Use the foods proven to make women increase their size to craft personalized weight gain meal plans for females.

Conclusion

There are plenty of high-calorie foods that can help females gain weight. As proof, we studied the diets of women who gained weight successfully.

The most effective weight gain foods for females:

  • Protein shakes and smoothies
  • High-calorie grains
  • High-calorie fruits
  • Dairy products.

Besides, more than half of the women who gain weight effectively eat meat, eggs, nuts, nut butters, protein powders, potatoes, and beans.

On top of this, some less preferred but still effective foods are natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, high-calorie protein bars, and a few other, like dark chocolate, coconut oil, olive oil, and tahini.

Yet, having a list of weight gain foods is not enough for females to add size the healthy way. In addition, girls and women need to:

  • Eat only a few hundred calories over their maintenance calories
  • Work out regularly to build muscle
  • Focus on foods with carbs and proteins to aid muscle growth
  • Consume weight gain foods that also increase bone health
  • Write down 7-day weight gain meal plans tailored for females

With this list of foods and tips in your mind, you should gain weight in a matter of days, whether you're very thin, have a high metabolism, or want to get thicker.

And if you want more ideas for nutritious meals, check our list of high-calorie foods for weight gain.

Sources

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