How To Gain Weight

If you’re underweight or simply looking to beef up and add some muscle mass, you need to know how to gain weight in a safe and healthy way.

There’s a lot of focus on people wanting to lose weight, but a good number of people are not happy with their weight because they feel they’re underweight. If you feel you’d like to be heavier, you need to ask yourself if you:

  1. Want to put on some body fat?
  2. Want to gain muscle?
  3. Want to gain muscle with some body fat?

Whichever of the above you’re looking to do, you will need to consume more calories than you’re burning up during the day; if you want to build muscle, you will need to do some weight training too.

How do I gain weight?

Basically, to increase weight, you need to consume more calories than your body uses. When your body doesn't have enough calories for energy, it uses the energy stored as glycogen in your muscle first, then your fat stores. You need to eat enough to cover these requirements. But how long does it take to gain weight? If you want to gain some body fat, then to increase by 1lb per week you need to consume a surplus of 500kcal per day.

How many calories do I need to gain weight?     

The amount of calories you need depends on your gender, age, height, weight and activity. Use this calorie calculator to calculate the amount of calories you need per day. For a rough guide on how much weight you can gain in a week, add 500kcal to gain 1lb per week.

How do I count calories?    

Most foods today have the calories printed on them so you can keep a running total during the day. There are also some apps out there to help, such as myfitnesspal, which makes tracking calories over the day a bit easier. Huel makes it even easier by providing all the nutrients in one product, and you can easily see what you’re getting.

Which foods should I eat to help gain weight?    

It’s important that you get all the nutrients you need; don’t just stick to a few high calorie foods. There’s more information about what each nutrient does and what you need in our article The Beginner’s Guide to Nutrition. But what foods help to gain weight? You need to consume a balance of protein, fat, carbs and all 26 essential vitamins and minerals. Include some protein and carb foods at each meal and snack. Fats, as long as they’re healthy fats, are more calorie dense than other nutrients, so can be a great way to obtain more energy in a smaller volume of food.

What should I drink?

We advise you to drink plenty of fluid every day. This can be in the form of water, tea, coffee, green tea, diet sodas or sugar-free cordial. Include at least seven or eight cups of fluid per day.

How often should I eat?    

If you’re trying to gain weight, you may have to eat quite a bit of food. This can be hard to take in at one sitting. It’s therefore useful to spread your eating over 5-6 smaller meals and snacks per day, rather than three huge meals. Don’t miss meals; get a meal plan and stick to it. Eat your planned meal even if you’re not hungry.

How do I build muscle with exercise?

Often when people refer to ‘gaining weight’, they are actually referring to building more muscle. To do this, a good nutrition program should be accompanied by a suitable weight training program. If you’re new to weight training, a routine doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can grow muscle training with just 2-3 weights sessions per week. There are plenty of weight training routines for beginners on the internet; here’s one: Initial Basic Hypertrophy Guide.

Building muscle through exercise does, however, burn calories, so you’ll need to eat more to compensate for calories burned. This basic principle of having more calories than you burn also applies to fat too. It’s also useful to stay active and keep fit, so some cardiovascular exercise is advised.

Tips for building muscle:

How long does it take to build muscle?

Gaining muscle is a process that takes a number of weeks. If you’re doing strength training, eating enough protein-rich food and resting well, you should see visible results in as little as 3 weeks, with real results after around 12 weeks. You can increase gains by working out specific body parts during each workout which increases the intensity, while also giving that area a chance to rest, repair and grow while you exercise another body part in your next workout. Between 30 and 60 minutes per session is sufficient to build muscle and strength.

How much protein should I eat to gain muscle?

Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle. It’s the building block of the body, and is a key component in muscle, tendons, skin, our organs, plus hormones and important molecules that support functions in the body[1].      

The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for protein for adults is 0.75g protein per kg body weight per day; this equates to 56g/day and 45g/day for men and women of average body weights (75 and 60kg respectively)[2]. However, the RNI is based on meeting the minimum needs for sedentary individuals. It is not an optimal amount for gaining muscle. To gain muscle, studies have shown that around 1.6g-2.2g protein per kg body weight per day is an ideal amount which looks more like 96g-132g/day for a 60kg individual[3].

It’s also important to consider that the body can utilise around 30-40g of protein per meal for muscle building. For a 60kg person to hit their optimal daily protein intake this translates to 33g of protein in meals.[4]         

However, just eating more protein isn’t enough. The body needs a stimulus to build muscle, that stimulus is exercise.[5]      

One study[6] showed that an extra 1,000 calories per day over a month, with 20% of calories coming from protein, resulted in weight gain of which just 2.5 pounds was fat. This was compared to a group that also consumed an extra 1,000 calories a day, but only 10% of calories came from protein – this group also gained weight, but more of it was fat – 4.5 pounds. This shows that increased protein consumption can lead to weight gain which constitutes more lean muscle than fat.

Can Huel help me gain muscle?    

 Huel is high in protein with good amounts of fat and carbs, so can be a convenient way of helping you build muscle through an increased calorie intake, especially as it also contains all essential vitamins and minerals.      

Top 10 Tips on How to Gain Weight    

  1. Don’t drink water before you eat – this will reduce your stomach capacity and make it more difficult for you to ingest as many calories. However, remember to drink after you eat – it’s important to stay hydrated.
  1. It’s not all about your caloric intake – make sure you sleep enough each day. Good quality rest gives your muscles the opportunity to repair, and thus to grow.
  1. When you’re thirsty, drink milk instead of water. Milk is great at hydrating, plus it has the benefit of being high in protein and calorie-rich so you can add to your gains.    
  1. Eat more regularly – it’s better to have five or six slightly smaller meals throughout the day rather than two or three larger ones. It will mean you’ll be able to graze throughout the day and take on more calories in the same time period while also maximising the utilisation of protein from your meals.
  1. Add extras to your meal – it’s easy to add items like cheese and eggs to bulk up a meal for additional calories, healthy fats and proteins.
  1. Regular strength training is key – as well as stimulating your appetite, it will increase your muscle mass, helping you gain weight more quickly.
  1. Eat nutrient-rich foods. Good choices are things like whole-grain breads, pasta and cereals, dairy, nuts and seeds. Steer clear of junk food. It may be calorific, but it’s not as good for you.
  1. If you snack between meals, you can maximise the value of those as well and incorporate snackable foods that can help you gain weight. Great examples include hummus and crackers, roasted chickpeas, avocado on toast, apple slices and caramel dip.
  1. Increase your portion size – this can be as easy as using a bigger plate for your main meals.
  1. Increase your eating window. If you’re used to eating breakfast an hour after waking, try to decrease this to 30 minutes.


  • Calories are key - you need to eat more than you're expending. Eat for the weight you want to be.
  • Eat a sufficient amount of protein throughout the day.
  • Ensure you get all essential nutrients - your health is vitally important.
  • Don’t miss meals - draw up a meal plan and stick to it.
  • Optimal health goes beyond just nutrition - ensure you’re exercising, sleeping well and drinking enough.
  • It will take time - expect only small results; consistency will help you achieve your target.
  • Consume 500kcal per day more than you need - get to understand calories and the amount each food and drink contain so you can adjust if you need to.
  • Exercise appropriately - seek credible advice on workout plans

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  1. MedlinePlus. Protein in diet. Date Accessed: 04/05/22. Available from:
  2. British Nutrition Foundation. Protein. Date Accessed: 04/05/22.  Available from:
  3. Morton RW, et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. 2018; 52(6):376-84.
  4. Schoenfeld BJ, et al. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018; 15:10.
  5. Deldicque L. Protein Intake and Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy: An Update. Nutrients. 2020; 12(7).
  6. P, W. and JF, A. Adaptation to overeating in lean and overweight men and women. [online] PubMed. 1983.

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