Food & Diet

11 Foods to Eat to Gain Weight and Stay Lean

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Contrary to what many people think, you can actually gain weight without putting on lots of fat. The key is in proper nutrition and working out. If you’re looking to gain some muscle mass, but stay lean, you need to prepare yourself, because it won’t be easy – but if you put in the effort and really commit to your goals, you can do it.

Gaining unhealthy weight can be very unhealthy and lead to several health consequences. On the other hand, gaining muscle mass, provided that you have been eating healthy foods and not stuffing yourself with steroids and other chemicals, can be very good for the overall functioning of your body, and what is probably more important for you at this moment – you’ll look better. Instead of putting on fat and later trying to convert it into muscle mass, why not gain muscle right away and avoid all that fat piling up on your body? Yes, it’s possible, although not many people know how to achieve it.

You will gain a little fat, but most of the weight you gain will be muscle. What you need to understand is that, in order to gain 20 pounds of lean mass (or more), you need to give it time. It is not possible to gain that much lean mass in a very short period of time, so you need to be patient. If you can do that, you’ll be successful.

Of course, to gain weight, you need to increase your calorie intake. But if you overdo it, you will also gain fat. So, the key is in finding a balance and eating just enough so you can gain muscle, but avoid gaining fat. As everyone needs a different number of calories during the day in order to maintain, lose or gain weight, you should find an online calorie count applications and find the numbers that are right for you. As for the nutrients, your body needs around 2 grams of protein per 2 pounds of your body weight, and in order to build muscle you also need to eat around 1-3 grams of carbohydrate per pound. You could use a calorie and macronutrient counter application to help you track the foods and nutrients you eat. When it comes to the foods that are best for your weight-gain process, they are the following.

1. Grass-fed beef

This food is among the best ones for gaining lean muscle due to its high protein content, as well as containing good amounts of good cholesterol, zinc, B vitamins and iron.  This beef contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid which helps you build lean muscle mass and burn fat.

2. Eggs

Eggs contain a very pure protein, which is one of the reasons this food is amazing for building muscle and staying lean. Another thing contained in eggs, particularly egg yolks, is cholesterol, which is also beneficial when it comes to gaining muscle weight. You don’t have to worry much about this cholesterol, as it has been shown to reduce the levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol particles which have been linked to atherosclerosis.

3. Quinoa


Quinoa is very protein-rich and it also contains a slow-digesting carb which helps you stay full for a longer time and provides you with lots of energy that you need in order to effectively work out. Quinoa has also been linked to an increase in insulin-like growth factor-1 levels, which is associated with an increase in strength as well as building lean muscle.

4. Spinach

Remember Popeye? He ate spinach all the time and he was super strong, right? Well, there is some truth in that perception of spinach’s power. Namely, this vegetable is packed with glutamine, which is an amino acid that aids lean muscle growth. Besides that, eating spinach can also help you improve endurance and muscle strength.

5. Milk

Milk contains whey protein as well as casein (quality proteins found in cow milk as well as human milk). Other than that, milk is also rich in amino acid glutamine, which, as it was already mentioned, can lead to muscle growth. When buying milk, go for organic ones, as they have around 70% more omega-3s than conventional milk.

6. Cottage cheese

Similarly to milk, cottage cheese contains good amounts of casein, which is digested very slowly and prevents your muscles from being used for energy while you’re working out or sleeping.

7. Oranges

Oranges contain quickly digestible fruit sugars which can actually help your muscles grow faster. Eating oranges can also help you improve your strength and endurance, especially when you eat them before working out, as they provide you with sugar and energy.

8. Apples

Another fruit great for gaining lean muscle without packing on fat is an apple. This fruit contains great levels of certain polyphenols which have the power to prevent muscle fatigue and improve the strength and endurance of your muscles, which directly means that you’ll be more able to work out longer and harder.

9. Peanut butter

Peanut butter is very protein-rich and very high in calories, so it could become one of your best friends while you’re trying to gain quality weight. You can make peanut butter by yourself or buy it in a store, paying attention to the sugar content.

10. Brown rice

Brown rice is one of the healthiest sources of starchy carbohydrates, and it can help you gain quality muscle weight as well as give you lots of energy to go through the day and work out. Brown rice is slowly digested, which means that it keeps you full for a longer time. One of the best things about this food that benefits those who want to gain muscle weight is the fact that brown rice can boost growth hormone levels, which is important for helping your muscles grow, losing fat and becoming stronger.

11. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great and filling carbohydrate-rich food which makes an excellent addition to your weight-gain program. Eating them as a snack or along with eggs for breakfast can boost your metabolism, and help you get in enough fiber during the day. This is very important because, when eating a protein-rich diet, you could experience constipation, so eating something that contains fiber is essential for maintaining good digestive health while gaining lean muscle.

These are the foods body-builders use, among others, in order to gain quality weight and stay lean. You need to figure out your own quantities, as everyone has their individual caloric and nutritional needs. You can find an online application which will help you figure out how much of each nutrient you should be taking in order to achieve your goals, and it will also help you keep track of your progress.