It’s incredibly easy to pack on weight by eating junk food. After all, you can eat one burger and consume an entire day’s worth of calories. Purely from a calories standpoint, that may be the most efficient way. However, the problem with this method is all the stuff that comes along with the calories. The artificial flavors, cheap quality ingredients, additives, sugars, and other ingredients that will ultimately be the downfall of your good health. Luckily, there are many health foods that are dense with calories. They will help you gain mass while providing pumping your body with vitamins and minerals to help boost your energy and overall health. Here are the 16 best healthy natural weight gainers.
You’ve probably heard of this foodie favorite. But did you know that when cooked it also delivers 222 calories per cup? Quinoa is also a great source of complete protein. If you’re tired of rice, this is a great substitute as a side-dish to pack on a few extra calories.
2. Almond Butter
It’s the cousin of your favorite snack – peanut butter. While peanut butter can contain toxins, unhealthy additives, GMOs and cause allergies, almond butter provides a similar taste while packing on the same amount of calories. Just one tablespoon of almond butter can have 98 calories. It also has more healthy fat, fiber, iron, and calcium.
I know, I know. It’s not the manliest thing to be seen with at the gym. However, a smoothie is a great way to consume a poop-ton of calories in one go without feeling like you are force-feeding yourself. It’s also a great way to trick yourself into eating healthier, as you can certainly mask the taste of a few veggies with some fruit or your favorite protein. Consuming 1000 calories in food is tough, but blended as a liquid, it’s nothing. But with great power comes great responsibility (not to overdose on the bad stuff). You can easily consume high amounts of sugar this way too, which means you have to be careful.
4. Dried Fruits
A great way to get some energy before your workout or even after is to have some fruits. A cup of dried fruit can add up to about 340 calories and just a 1/4 cup of raisins is about 108. Just try to avoid the store bought dried fruits that have added sugars.
5. Almond Milk
With the majority of the world being lactose intolerant, almond milk offers a great way to continue consuming milk without the added problems of dairy. Sweetened almond milk contains 90 calories per cup, while unsweetened has about 30. It’s less than whole milk, but it provides more calcium, fewer sugars (unsweetened version), 0 carbs, less fat, and 0 cholesterol.
6. Oily Fish
Where there’s oil, there are calories. The fish oil itself is a much-needed addition to anyone’s diet, but it also packs a hefty amount of calories for the gym-goers. Cooked mackerel can have 262 calories per 100 grams, salmon about 175, and tuna canned in oil about 168. However, due to burning fossil fuels, waste incineration, and mining, we have concerns about mercury in fish. Thus, eat fish that are known to have lowest levels of mercury and are not farm-raised.
7. Salad with Dressing
To pack on those calories, you can’t afford to eat your salad plain. A salad is your chance to add some calorie-rich oil dressings. The healthiest choices include avocado oil (124 calories per tablespoon), olive oil (113 calories), and sunflower oil (120 calories). You can also use veggie mayo. Vegenaise organic mayo for example, contains about 90 calories per tablespoon. However, do avoid commercial salad dressings, as they tend to have a host of unhealthy ingredients.
A medium-sized avocado can pack a whopping 322 calories. They are also 75 percent fat but the healthy kind. Avocados are amongst the healthiest foods in the world as they are packed with key nutrients. This makes it a perfect food to consume when trying to put on some mass. Guacamole is a great twist if you don’t like consuming your avocado sliced or as a spread. Guac typically contains avocados, onions, tomatoes, lime juice and some seasonings. It’s an easy to make food at home.
9. Nuts & Seeds
Both are crucial to our diets, but they both often get overlooked. Nuts and seeds contain many nutrients, are high in protein, can contain antioxidants, and are otherwise a superb addition to any diet (when consumed in moderation). Just a half cup of almonds is 410 calories! Macadamia nuts are even better with 470 calories. Eating about 1.5 ounces (42 g) of most nuts a day can also reduce your risk of heart disease.
Now before you go raiding your secret stash of guilty pleasures, know that we are talking about dark chocolate. Dark chocolate (70%-85% cacao) can be a great addition to your diet for its many benefits. And one of them for gym rats is the crazy amount of calories. Just 100g of dark chocolate has about 598 calories. The lower the amount of cacao, the lower the calories. Once you get used to dark chocolate, you’ll learn to appreciate it’s subtle sweetness. However, just as with any foods, be sure to check the ingredients list. Even with 80%+ cacao, chocolate may contain other ingredients, which may not be so “sweet” for your health.
11. Whole Grains
Whole wheat pasta (cooked) can have 174 calories per cup. However, there are other whole grains that contain even higher amounts. cooked teff, for example, has 255 calories, amaranth 251, spelt 246, kamut khorosan 227, quinoa 222, brown rice 218, millet 207, and pearled barley has 193. Consider these side-dishes for any lunch or dinner for extra calories.
The easiest way to get protein and calories is probably through the meat. While red meat is looked down upon, you have healthier choices that will help you pack on some extra mass. You can replace your regular bacon with turkey bacon which has 321 calories per 3 oz. And if you want your calories at a restaurant, without the nonsense, you can always order grilled chicken as a safe bet. But your best bet is to buy quality meat (preferably turkey or chicken) and cook it yourself.
13. Manuka Honey
Not only is manuka honey an incredible way to boost your health, a teaspoon of manuka honey a day can supplement your with extra calories. Just one tablespoon of honey is 64 calories. With 17 grams of sugar, this sweet goodness can replace your unhealthy snacks and curb your cravings.
One of the most overlooked foods by health enthusiasts are eggs. Sure, fried eggs have their downsides. But overall, eggs are a nutrition powerhouse and contain crucial nutrients. Omega-3s, selenium, potassium, folate, calcium, vitamin d, b12, a, and even protein can all be found in eggs! However, don’t skip out on the yolk as it contains most of the good stuff. Eggs have 71 calories per egg, so boiling a few for breakfast may not be a bad way to get some good calories. The major concern with eggs for many is cholesterol, but quite a few studies show that 70% have no change in their total or LDL (bad) cholesterol. In just 30% of the cases, these numbers go up slightly. So eggs consistently raise good cholesterol, and for 70% of the people, the total and LDL cholesterol is unaffected.
So now that we got that out of the way, which eggs are the healthiest to consume, brown eggs or white? Find out by reading our previous article, which also explains the difference between all the labels like natural, cage-free, and farm raised.
The best foods for fitness combine a high calorie count, with high protein and low sugars. Beans have it all. 1 cup of cooked beans (no additives) can have over 200 calories, 15 grams of protein, and close to 0 grams of sugar. You can also prevent beans from making you gassy with this trick. Just avoid the store-bought baked beans as they have a lot of additives including sugar, salt, and others, which take away from the otherwise healthy and natural mass gainer. If you don’t like plain beans, try black bean spaghetti.
Another fitness buff favorite for bulking is oats. They are gluten-free, packed with nutrients and fiber. But that’s not why we love them. A cup of oats has about 26 grams of protein and a little over 600 calories. A great way to incorporate them into your diet is to simply blend them with your protein shake.