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6 High Protein Foods for Healthy Weight Gain, Says Science

August 13, 2023

For some people, gaining weight in a healthy and sustainable way can be just as challenging as losing weight. If you’re looking to add some pounds while maintaining a balanced diet, incorporating high-protein foods into your meals can make a significant difference. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and it can help you gain weight in a way that promotes overall health. Here are six science-backed high-protein foods for healthy weight gain that can support your journey.

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1. Greek yogurt

berries in yogurt

Greek yogurt is a creamy and delicious way to get in more protein and healthy fats. The majority of the protein in Greek yogurt casein, a slow-release protein that promotes muscle growth by repairing muscle tissue after exercise. Choose full-fat Greek yogurt and add your favorite nuts or cereal for a nutritious and high-calorie snack.

2. Eggs

spinach and eggs in a skillet


Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and an excellent source of high-quality protein. Many people throw away the yolks, but if you’re looking to gain weight, you’ll want to keep them in your diet. Compared to egg whites, egg yolks are significantly higher in calories. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in the egg whites, including vitamin B12 and choline, which are essential for brain function.

3. Quinoa

breakfast quinoa bowl with fruit and nuts


Quinoa is one of the few plant proteins that is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. This makes it a great option for plant-based eaters who are looking to gain a healthy weight. Use quinoa as a base for salads, bowls, or as a side dish to boost your protein intake.

Related: 9 Healthy Quinoa Recipes for Nutritious Meals in a Pinch

4. Oily fish

salmon fillet with lemon and thyme


Oily fish provide a substantial amount of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s offer numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and supporting heart health. Swap leaner fish varieties for oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines to boost your protein intake and promote healthy weight gain.

5. Nuts and seeds

woman holding a handful of nuts to snack on


Nuts and seeds are not only packed with healthy fats but are also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They make for a convenient and calorically-dense snack option that can be easily incorporated into your day. Whether you sprinkle them on top of yogurt, blend them into smoothies, or enjoy them on their own, nuts and seeds are a nutritious addition to your diet.

6. Chicken thighs

cooked chicken thighs on a plate with capers and limes


If weight gain is your goal, choose chicken thigh over chicken breast. It’s higher in healthy monounsaturated fats, which adds a few extra calories to your plate without adding more volume. Grill, bake, or sauté chicken thigh with your favorite herbs and spices for a delicious and protein-rich meal.

Related: 7 Healthy Protein Shakes That Actually Fill You Up

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