How to Maintain a Caloric Surplus to Gain Weight

To gain weight, you need to be at a consistent caloric surplus. Meaning, you should be consuming more calories than you burn off through physical activity. For example, if someone eats 2,500 calories in one day and burns off 2,000, they have retained 500 calories and thus are at a surplus. How to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight can depend on your personal calorie requirements. Calorie requirements vary from person to person and can differ based off age, height, current physical activity, and more.

You can find out what your recommended daily calorie consumption is using a calorie calculator available online. Generally, retaining an additional 300-500 calories more than what you burn off can aid in how to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight. Listed below are a few tips to help with maintaining a surplus of calories in your diet to gain weight steadily and healthily.

How to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight:

how to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight
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Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals or experts. What is written throughout the content of our website is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical or professional advice. What you choose to do with the information provided is at your own risk and discretion. Before making any significant changes to your diet and / or lifestyle, be sure to contact your health practitioner.

1) Make sure you are eating at least three meals per day

If you want to gain weight, it is essential that you are consuming at least three fulfilling meals per day. A healthful breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will make it easier to reach and maintain a caloric surplus with the right meal choices. You want to aim for primarily nutrient-dense foods as opposed to junk foods in the effort to gain weight. While junk foods and fast food can accelerate weight gain, it is not in your best interest to gain weight this way. Gaining weight by eating high-calorie junk foods can lead to various adverse health effects both short-term and long-term.

how to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight

So, with your meals, make the effort to incorporate nutritious edibles to promote healthy weight gain. There are a variety of healthy foods that with the right preparation, can provide a generous number of calories and contribute to maintaining a caloric surplus in your diet.

Start your day off right with an energizing breakfast. Protein – eggs, meat, etc. can serve as a higher calorie yet healthful option. Add a side of fruit or vegetables as a source of natural energizing carbohydrates. At lunch or dinner, nutritious foods that can additionally help to promote weight gain include potatoes, beans, quinoa, plus more.

Click here to see a list of other healthy weight gain foods:

2) Consume nutritious snacks throughout the day

Another helpful tip to aid in how to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight is to snack throughout the day in between your regular meals. Snacking on nutritious edibles can be a convenient way to get an extra source of calories to contribute to reaching a caloric surplus in your diet. For example, nuts can be a high-calorie yet healthy snack option as they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fats.

Click here to see a full list of healthy weight gain snack ideas:

3) Add the extra toppings when possible

With your meals, go ahead and add the salad dressing, add a side of ketchup, etc. This can be a simple way to get more calories out of your meals and contribute to reaching a caloric surplus. Ranch dressing for example, contains around 70 calories in one tablespoon. When cooking your meals, you can also make use of healthier cooking oils (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil) as a cooking base to additionally serve as a source of extra calories.

4) Try making your own smoothies and shakes for weight gain

how to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight

Weight gain shakes and supplements can be very beneficial for those who want to gain weight. They contain a plentiful number of calories and come in a variety of flavors and sizes. However, a drawback for many is the taste and cost of certain weight gain supplements. To avoid this yet still reap the benefits, it helps to try creating your own weight gain shakes and smoothies.

All you need is a blender and a couple of nutrient-dense edibles. This can be a tasty and convenient way of getting a generous number of calories to aid in how to maintain a caloric surplus to gain weight. A couple of good ingredients to add to your shakes include yogurt, milk, and avocado. You can see more examples of good ingredients to add to your D.I.Y. weight gain smoothies here.

5) Try high-calorie yet nutrient-dense foods

There are a variety of foods that contain a generous number of calories, yet are still healthful. These types of foods can be very beneficial to those who seek to gain weight. Some examples include certain types of fish, avocados, nuts, potatoes, plus more. Higher calories snacks like raisins can also provide a boost of calories yet still provide different health benefits.


1 “Food Composition Databases Show Foods List04639”. Ndb.Nal.Usda.Gov, 2019,

2 “How To Gain Weight Fast And Safely”. Healthline, 2019,