What Is a Calorie Surplus Needed to Gain Weight?

Whether you are trying to gain weight or lose weight, your diet plays an important role. You want to make sure that you are consuming a primarily nutrient-dense diet consisting of enough protein, healthy carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, etc., at the guidance of your health professional. If you are wanting to gain weight, you may have come across the term “calorie surplus”. But what is a calorie surplus and why is it needed to gain weight? In this article, we will go into more detail on what a calorie surplus is and why it is essential to gain weight:

what is a calorie surplus
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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.

What is a calorie / caloric surplus?

A surplus is an excess of something, or an amount over what is needed. A calorie surplus is a certain number of calories that total up to more than what is required in your diet. Furthermore, when it comes to weight gain, a calorie surplus is a point in your diet where you are consuming more calories than you burn off through exercise or from your basal metabolic rate (metabolism). A surplus of calories in your diet is essential in order to gain weight.

For example, if someone eats 2,400 calories and burns off 1,900 calories, they have retained 500 calories and are at a surplus. A consistent surplus of calories in your diet will promote steady weight gain in the form of muscle and / or fat. On the contrary, a calorie deficit is where you burn off more calories than you consume. A consistent calorie deficit will lead to weight loss.

Why is a calorie surplus needed to gain weight?

what is a calorie surplus
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Now knowing what a calorie surplus is, why is it necessary in order to gain weight? If you don’t regularly consume a surplus of calories in your diet and you are trying to gain weight, you will either remain at your current weight or lose weight.

With a caloric surplus, your body will retain the extra calories and store them in the form of fat / muscle, encouraging weight gain. This is why it is important that you exercise even while trying to gain weight, so that you can tone your gained body mass.

Tips on how to reach and maintain a calorie surplus in your diet:

  • Generally, an additional 300-500 calories over your recommended daily calorie consumption should put you at a decent caloric surplus.
  • Make sure you consume enough protein. Protein plays a key role in muscle growth and development which can have an effect on your overall body mass.
  • Add extra toppings to your foods (e.g. condiments such as ketchup, salad dressings, etc.), when you can for extra calories.
  • Increase your meal proportions. For instance, if you are having one baked potato for lunch, have two instead. At dinner, have two servings instead of one. So on and so fourth.
  • Track your calorie intake and progress with a calorie counter app to help stay on track.
  • Try a weight gain supplement in the form of a shake or smoothie to easily tack on extra calories.


1 “Surplus.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/surplus?s=t.