Meal planning can be a helpful tool if you’re trying to gain weight.
When done right, it can help you create the calorie deficit required for weight gain while providing your body the nutritious foods it needs to function and remain healthy.
Planning your meals ahead can also simplify the meal prep process and save you time.
This article explores the most important aspects of meal planning for weight gain, including a few easy recipes and extra tips to help you reach your goals.
When it comes to weight gain meal plans, the magnitude of options can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you search for the most suitable plan.
Creating a calorie surplus in a nutrient-dense way
All weight gain plans have one thing in common — they get you to eat more calories than you burn.
However, though a calorie surplus will help you gain weight regardless of how it’s created, what you eat is just as important as how much you eat. That’s because the food choices you make are instrumental in helping you meet your nutrient needs.
A good gain weight meal plan should follow some general criteria:
- Include plenty of protein and fiber. The right amount of protein will support muscle growth and also
- Fill up on carbs-Including foods rich in fibrous carbohydrates and healthful fats in every meal will help to increase the number of both calories and nutrients in the diet.
- Drink high-calorie smoothies or shakes. Fill up on healthy smoothies instead of soda since smoothies provide nutrient-dense calories without making a person feel overly full.
- Exercise- Exercise especially training on strength, can help you gain weight by building up on muscles. Exercise may also stimulate your appetite.
Being Underweight. What does it mean?
Being underweight is when you have a BMI (Body mass index) of under 18.5. on the BMI scale. You can check your BMI on this BMI Calculator
With that it is easier for you to calculate the amount of calories you need to add more pounds. You can determine your calorie needs using this Calorie calculator.
TIP. You need to eat more calories than your body burns to gain weight. Aim for 700–1000 calories per day above your maintenance level if you want to gain weight fast.
Building nutrient-dense meals
To incorporate these tips into your weight gain meal plan, start by filling one-third to one-half of your plate with healthy starch i.e Potatoes, rice. These are high in calories and provide energy.
Then, fill one-quarter to one-third of your plate with protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, tofu, or legumes, and the remainder with whole grains, fruit, or starchy vegetables. These add protein, vitamins, minerals, and more fiber.
You can boost the flavor of your meal with a dash of healthy fats from foods like avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds.
Create a habit of having 3-5 meals which include snacks. Protein- and fiber-rich snacks seem the most effective for weight gain.
Good examples include whole bread with peanut butter, bananas, roasted groundnuts, or Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts.
TIP: A successful weight gain meal plan should create a calorie surplus while meeting your nutrient needs.
An important aspect of a successful weight gain meal plan is its ability to help you restore the weight you have lost.
Here are some tips to help increase your meal plan’s long-term sustainability.
Pick a meal planning method that fits your routine
There are various ways to meal plan, so be sure to pick the method that best fits your routine.
You may decide to batch cook all of your meals over the weekend, so you can easily grab individual portions throughout the week. Alternatively, you may prefer to cook daily, in which case, opting to prep all of your ingredients ahead of time might work best for you.
If you don’t like following recipes or prefer a little more flexibility, you may opt for a method that requires you to fill your refrigerator and pantry with specific portions of foods each week while allowing you to improvise when putting them together for meals.
Batch-shopping for groceries is another great strategy that helps save time while keeping your refrigerator and pantry filled with nutrient-dense foods.
Consider trying an app
Apps can be a helpful tool in your meal planning arsenal.
Some apps offer meal plan templates that you can alter based on your food preferences or allergies. They can also be a handy way to keep track of your favorite recipes and save all of your data in one place.
What’s more, many apps provide customized grocery lists based on your selected recipes or what’s left over in your fridge, helping you save time and reduce food waste.
Pick enough recipes
Picking an adequate number of recipes ensures that you have enough variety without requiring you to spend all of your free time in the kitchen.
When selecting how many meals to make, look at your calendar to determine the number of times you’re likely to eat out — whether for a date, client dinner, or brunch with friends.
Divide the remaining number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners by the number of meals that you can realistically cook or prepare for that week. This helps you determine the portions of each meal you’ll need to prep.
Then, simply sift through your cookbooks or online food blogs to pick your recipes.
Allowing yourself to get overly hungry between meals may push you to overeat at your next meal, making it more difficult to reach your weight gain goals.
Adding snacks in between meals can help you increase your caloric intake if you are having trouble eating enough. Snacks can help lower hunger, promote feelings of fullness, and reduce the overall number of calories you eat per day.
Eating a variety of foods is instrumental in providing your body with the nutrients it needs.
That’s why it’s best to avoid meal plans that suggest batch cooking 1–2 recipes for the whole week. This lack of variety can make it difficult to meet your daily nutrient needs and lead to boredom over time, reducing your meal plan’s sustainability.
Instead, ensure that your menu includes a variety of foods each day.
Speed up your meal prep time
Meal prepping doesn’t have to mean long hours in the kitchen. Here are a few ways to speed up your meal prep time.
- Stick to a routine. Picking specific times to plan the week’s meals, grocery shop, and cook can simplify your decision-making process and make your meal prepping process more efficient.
- Grocery shop with a list. Detailed grocery lists can reduce your shopping time. Try organizing your list by supermarket departments to prevent doubling back to a previously visited section.
- Pick compatible recipes. When batch cooking, select recipes that use different appliances. For instance, one recipe may require the oven, no more than two burners on the stove top, and no heating at all.
- Schedule your cook times. Organize your workflow by starting with the recipe requiring the longest cooking time, then focus on the rest. Electric pressure cookers or slow cookers can further reduce cooking times.Stick to a routine. Picking specific times to plan the week’s meals, grocery shop, and cook can simplify your decision-making process and make your meal prepping process more efficient.
Inexperienced cooks or those simply wanting to reduce the time spent in the kitchen may want to pick recipes that can be prepared in 15–20 minutes from start to finish.
Store and reheat your meals safely
Storing and reheating your meals safely can help preserve their flavor and minimize your risk of food poisoning.
Here are some government-approved food safety guidelines to keep in mind.
- Cook food thoroughly. Most meats should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (75°C) while cooking, as this kills most bacteria.Thaw food in the refrigerator.
- Thawing frozen foods or meals on your countertop can encourage bacteria to multiply. If you’re short on time, submerge foods in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
- Reheat food safely. Make sure to reheat your meals to at least 165°F (75°C) before eating. Frozen meals should be eaten within 24 hours of defrosting.
- Dispose of old food. Refrigerated meals should be eaten within 3–4 days of being made, and frozen meals should be consumed within 3–6 months.
Summary: Picking a meal-planning method that works for you, along with an adequate number and variety of meals and snacks that can be cooked or reheated quickly and safely, increases your likelihood of sustainable weight loss.
Weight gain recipes don’t have to be overly complicated. Here are a few easy-to-prepare ideas that require a minimal number of ingredients.
- Soups. Soups can be batch-cooked and frozen in individual portions. Be sure to include a lot of vegetables, as well as meat, seafood, beans, peas, or lentils. Add brown rice, Chapati, or potatoes if desired.
- Pasta. Start with a whole-grain pasta of your choice and source of protein, such as chicken, fish, or tofu. Then mix in a tomato-based pasta sauce or pesto and some vegetables like broccoli or spinach.
- Grain bowls. Batch cook grains like quinoa or brown rice then top with your choice of protein, such as chicken or hard-boiled eggs, non-starchy veggies, and a healthy dressing of your liking.
- Slow cooker or electric pressure cooker recipes. These are great for making chili, enchiladas, spaghetti sauce, and stew. Simply place your ingredients in your device, start it, and let it do all the work for you.
- Salads. Salads are quick and versatile. Start with fruit salads, a few colorful vegetables, and a source of protein. Top with olive oil and vinegar and add nuts, seeds, whole grains, or starchy vegetables.
Weekly meal planner
- Breakfast: Finger millet peanut porridge
- Snack: 1 banana,1 cup plain yoghurt, glass of water
- Lunch: 2 chicken drumstick and 1cup mashed potato, vegetable salad and a glass of whole milk
- Snack: ½ cup noodles with 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese(300 cal)
- Dinner: 1 cup spaghetti with tomato sauce and 3 oz. cooked ground beef,1 medium breadstick,1 Tbsp. butter Snack: ½ cup chocolate ice cream
- Breakfast: Peanut butter sandwich milk tea
- Snack: An orange, 2 oatmeal cookies with raisins, 1 cup whole milk
- Lunch:Peanut butter beef curry, 1 chapatti, 1 cup rice and vegetable salad of tomato, onions and chili.
- Snack: ½ avocado on a slice of bread
- Dinner: grilled chicken sandwich with ¼ piece chicken and 2 chapatis
- Snack: 4 squares graham crackers 1 cup 2% milk
- Breakfast: Yam and scrambled egg with mango juice
- Snack: Two slices whole wheat bread with two tablespoons jam, Orange juice
- Lunch: Lentil and Avocado salad, 2 portions mashed potatoes with a cup of whole strawberry yoghurt
- Snack: 3 chocolate chip cookies and 1 cup chocolate milk
- Dinner: 4 oz baked salmon,3/4 cup rice with 1 Tbsp. butter, 3/4 cup steamed broccoli with 1 oz. melted cheese.
- Snack: 1/2 avocado on 1 slice toast
- Breakfast: Avocado with egg sandwich and I glass Whole milk
- Snack: ½ cup Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp. honey and 1 small cup ground nuts
- Lunch: Macaroni cheese pasta, stirred in steamed veggies (carrots/broccoli) and minced beef and a slice pawpaw
- Snack: Plain bagel and 2 tbsp. cream cheese
- Dinner: Grilled fish fillet, baked potatoes with spinach and green beans sauteed in 1 tbsp olive oil
- Snack: English muffin and 1 tbsp. nut butter
- Breakfast: Cottage cheese pancake, 2 cups cornflakes with tea
- Snack: 3 chocolate chip cookies and 1 cup chocolate milk
- Lunch: Chicken curry with,2 cups mashed potatoes ,1 cup carrot sticks with 1 cup canned pears
- Snack: 1 banana with 2 tbsp. peanut butter and chocolate chips.
- Dinner: Grilled fish fillet, baked potatoes with spinach and green beans sautéed in 1tbsp olive oil
- Snack: 1 Brown chapatti, 1 fried egg, I glass milk
Summary: The recipe ideas above are simple and require very little time to make. They can also be prepared in a variety of ways, making them incredibly versatile.
This sample menu includes a variety of nutrient, fiber, and protein-rich meals to help you reach your weight gain goals.
Portions should be adjusted to your individual needs. Snack examples are included in this plan.
A good weight gain meal plan creates a calorie surplus while providing all the nutrients you need.
Done right, it can be incredibly simple and save you a lot of time.
Picking a method that works for you can also reduce your likelihood of losing weight.
All-in-all, meal planning is an incredibly useful weight gain strategy.