5 Healthy Ways to Gain Weight Without Stressing Your Heart

While it seems the majority of Americans are fixated on the best weight loss tactics, it’s not as common to talk about the other side of the coin: healthy weight gain. But being underweight can be just as dangerous as being overweight, and some people do find it tricky to fill out.

Just like with weight loss, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to put on a few pounds (hint: you should probably cancel that large pizza delivery). These five methods will help you gain weight while strengthening your heart.

1. Eliminate the words ‘low cal’ from your vocabulary

Bagels with Cream Cheese

Go for full fat, not “light.” | iStock.com/caelmi

While gaining weight doesn’t mean eating a bunch of unhealthy foods, it does mean swapping out the low-calorie options you’ve probably been told to choose all your life for higher calorie versions. Get rid of “light” salad dressings and make your own using olive oil and seasonings. Choose calorie-dense granola over cereal. And yes, this means you get to choose a big bagel over a small piece of toast or English muffin.

Next: This fish is full of the good kind of fat.

2. Eat more salmon

Raw salmon fillet

This fish is a power food. | OlenaMykhaylova/iStock/Getty Images

You may have heard eating salmon can help you lose weight. And while it’s true that it’s both nutritionally dense and lean, WebMd reminds us that it’s also high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can help you fill out, especially if you eat a large portion and marinade it first.

Next: Snack smart

3. Snack on nuts and dried fruit

assorted nuts

Nuts are a healthy source of protein. | Margouillatphotos/iStock/Getty Images

Calories add up quickly while you’re snacking on dried fruit — one cup of dried apricots has 313 calories, and a cup of raisins has 493 calories. And nuts are packed with both healthy fats and calories, making them one of the smartest snacks you can eat if you’re trying to bulk up.

Next: Choose more starch.

4. Indulge in starchy veggies


A baked potato sounds good. | Mbongorus/iStock/Getty Images

Starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes have more calories than other veggies, but they’re still nutritionally dense. So go ahead, slather butter on your corn on the cob and order a baked potato topped with cheese.

Next: Cook yourself a delicious steak.

5. Eat red meat in moderation

Rare steak

Cut back on your red meat consumption. | zeleno/Getty Images

Red meat is one of the most muscle-building foods available. While many dieters steer clear of it, if you’re looking to gain weight and add muscle to your frame, go ahead and eat red meat in moderation.

Next: It’s all about the nutrients. 

Pay attention to nutrients

Berry smoothie with blueberry

What you put in your body matters. | iStock.com/zefirchik06 

According to Livestrong, it all comes down to choosing nutrient-dense foods. Many high-calorie foods that will help you gain weight, like pizza, cakes, and other sugary treats, are unhealthy. Opting for things like full-fat cheese, butter, heart-healthy oils, and avocados will keep you healthy while packing on the pounds.

Next: Yes, you still have to exercise.

Lift weights

Weightlifter On Benchpress

Exercise is more important now than ever. | iStock.com/Ibrakovic

Just because you’re trying to gain weight doesn’t mean you get to skip your workouts — in fact, exercise is more important now than ever. Weight-bearing exercises are especially important, so grab those dumbbells, do lunges, squats, and push-ups, and break out the bench press.

Next: Here’s how gaining weight is similar to losing it.

Take it slowly


Take time reaching  your goal weight. | Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

While it might be tempting to gorge, you should aim to put on pounds slowly and consistently, just like you’d be advised to lose them. If you try and pack on the pounds too quickly, you could put too much stress on your metabolism, which could backfire in a big way.

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