Healthy Weight Gain with Smoothies

Weight Gain Smoothies

It may be hard for most of us to imagine, but some people have real, often medical, reasons to gain weight. Smoothies are versatile enough to be used to lose weight, maintain weight, and even gain weight. With the right recipe, with thoughtful planning, and with carefully-chosen healthful ingredients you can use smoothies as a route to steady weight gain.

Why Weight Gain?

There are a lot of valid reasons to gain weight. For some people it may be a sport or for the sake of appearance. Maybe you’re naturally thin and lack muscle tone. There is nothing wrong with wanting to bulk up a little so that you fill out, are stronger, and can compete in certain types of sports that interest you or perform better in athletics in which you already participate.

Some people need to gain weight for medical reasons. If you have been sick or hospitalized for a long time, you may need to put weight back on. You may also have a medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism, that makes you lose weight unintentionally. Other conditions can cause you to lose your appetite, which in turn causes you to lose weight because you have no interest in eating. Cancer, liver disease, heart failure, HIV, kidney failure, and certain medications all can cause reduced appetite.

The Healthy Way to Gain Weight

It can be tempting to use the need to gain wait as an excuse to eat anything and everything that tempts you, but there is a right way and a wrong way to put on extra pounds. Eating junk foods and those rich in unhealthy fats and added sugars will help you gain weight, but not in a healthful way. You need to eat foods that are calorie-dense, but also nutrient-dense.

Avoid foods that are high in empty calories, like deep fried foods, sugary snacks, and processed snacks. Eat healthful foods in greater quantities. Supplement your normal foods with healthful, high-calorie snacks like nuts and seeds, dried fruits, avocado, full-fat yogurt, and whole grains.

If you are gaining weight for medical reasons, start with your doctor’s advice, or that of a nutritionist or dietician. Find out how many calories you should consume every day and start counting them. The more calories you consume, the more weight you will put on.

If you are gaining weight to put on more muscle mass or to perform better at athletics, you need to be especially conscious of eating more protein. As you boost your calorie intake add dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, and other protein-rich foods.

Smoothies for Weight Gain

Smoothies are a perfect dietary addition if you need to gain weight. If you have no appetite, or if you have digestive problems due to a medical condition, a smoothie will be easier to handle than whole foods. Even if you don’t have a problem with eating more, a smoothie is still a great way to get more calories into your diet every day. Here are some ingredients to start stocking up on for your high-calorie smoothies:

  • Nuts and nut butters. The healthy fats found in nuts are nutritious and high in calories. Just one tablespoon of nut butter has between 90 and 110 calories. Put whole nuts into your smoothie and blend them in, or use natural nut butters, including peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or even sunflower seed butter.
  • Seeds. Seeds, like nuts, are rich in healthy fats and high in calories. You can add a number of seeds to your smoothie without adding much flavor. They can also provide extra nutrients. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are all good choices and will add protein, fat and calories. If you use flax seeds, be sure to grind them up in a food processor first.
  • Avocado. Avocados are also rich in healthy unsaturated fats that include a lot of calories. They are also great in smoothies because they give any recipe a smooth and creamy texture. The flavor of fresh avocado is mild and unobtrusive. It blends well into any type of smoothie recipe.
  • Coconut oil. The oil made from coconuts is almost entirely made up of fats, which are calorie-dense. Coconut oil is also a potent superfood. It helps to lower bad cholesterol levels while raising good cholesterol. It has antibiotic properties, and it may even protect against developing Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe best of all, coconut oil tastes great, especially in fruity or chocolaty smoothies. Make sure you look for virgin coconut oil.
  • Dried fruits. You might normally reach for fresh fruits for nutritional reasons, but if you want more calories per ounce in your smoothie, go with dried fruits. Dried fruits are high in natural fruit sugars and in calories. Fresh and frozen fruits contain water, which contributes no calories to your smoothies. Make sure you pick dried fruits that have no added, refined sugar.
  • Oats. Carbohydrates from whole grains are high in calories and fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Oats are a good choice for smoothies because they blend well. Put raw oats into the blender first to chop them up, then add the rest of your smoothie ingredients.
  • Milk and Yogurt. Unless you have a lactose intolerance, full-fat dairy products are great for adding weight because they are rich in fat and protein. Raw milk has historically been used to pack on the pounds. If you don’t have access to raw milk, opt for whole milk. Yogurt, again full-fat varieties, blend well in most smoothies and are high in good calories.
  • Protein Powders. Protein supplements and gelatin are an easy way to boost the amount of protein in your smoothies. Click here to see the protein powders I recommend.

Remember that your goal, in addition to putting on pounds, should be to eat nutritious and healthful foods. Avoid processed foods and those that are high in calories simply because of added sugar.

If you’re wondering about raw eggs, a classic staple of old-school bodybuilding, I don’t feel comfortable recommending them. The risks of salmonella contamination are too great. However, if you have access to eggs from local, pastured chickens, I don’t see a problem.

Making your High-Calorie Smoothie

Smoothies are great vehicles for bulking up on calories because you can more easily drink your extra food intake than eat it. You will feel less full and bloated when you consume your calories in liquid, smoothie form than if you tried to eat all solid foods. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup raw milk
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 3 tablespoons organic peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1 serving Sun Warrior chocolate protein powder or your preferred protein
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey to sweeten

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 798
  • Fat: 51g
  • Protein: 44g
  • Carbohydrates: 51g
  • Fiber: 12g
  • Sugar: 30g
  • Vitamin A: 6% RDA
  • Vitamin C: 17% RDA
  • Calcium: 36% RDA
  • Iron: 37% RDA

Natural Protein Smoothie Recipe

  •  1 cup kefir (or 50/50 kefir and milk, preferably raw milk)
  •  1/2 avocado
  •  1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (full-fat preferred)
  •  1 tablespoon chia seeds or chia seed gel
  •  1/4 cup goji berries
  •  1 tablespoon gelatin
  •  1 teaspoon coconut oil
  •  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  A little honey, maple syrup, or stevia to sweeten (optional)

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 631
  • Fat: 43g
  • Protein: 29g
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Fiber: 11g
  • Sugar: 19g
  • Vitamin A: 99% RDA
  • Vitamin C: 42% RDA
  • Calcium: 53% RDA
  • Iron: 17% RDA

These are just a couple of basic recipes to help you get started in using smoothies for your healthy weight gain. Try them, but also don’t be afraid to make your own recipes. Alternatively, you can start with your old favorite recipes and add in nutritious, high-calorie ingredients to bulk them up. Experiment with different combinations to find what tastes most appetizing to you and provides the most calories per drink. With smoothies, there’s no better way to enjoy gaining weight.

Most of my recipes categorized as protein are high in calories and qualify as a weight gain smoothie. To peruse them, see:

Protein Smoothie Recipes

Please leave a comment below if you have questions, thoughts, ideas, or tips on gaining weight with smoothies. Happy Blending!

Sources for this blog post include:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/make-smoothies-gain-weight-4751.html
http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/ild_nutrition_manual/high-calorie_shakes_and_smoothies/
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-to-gain-weight
http://nutrition.about.com/od/dietsformedicaldisorders/f/GainWeight.htm
http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6852

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47 Responses to Healthy Weight Gain with Smoothies

  1. Laura P. #

    Hey Ryan,

    Love your posts and site. Question. I’ve been doing healthy juicing and smoothies for about several months and keep gaining weight – and I DON’T want to gain weight. However, I am insulin resistant so I use a lot of nut butters, coconut, etc instead of lots of fruit. And have several food intolerances (wheat, dairy, rice). Smoothies are great for me because I also have difficulty digesting food. Honestly I feel good but I am packing on the pounds. It’s quite discouraging because at 5′ 0″ and a petite frame, 128 is a lot of weight for me. That’s 15-20 pounds over what a healthy weight for my size is and I’m not used to this. 10 pounds in just the last several months and my eating is better and I’m more active.

    Any suggestions for keeping the healthy smoothies without all the calories or sugar? Frankly when I am in a hurry and grab a big cheeseburger I’ll drop a few pounds. I can’t figure out what my body is doing even though I’m constantly researching and trying different things. Smoothies have been my favorite so far and have eliminated digestion problems but I don’t want the weight.

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Laura,

      This is quite the conundrum. It sounds like you’re consuming smoothies that should aid weight loss. One thing you might try is reducing the nut butters and incorporating a little avocado into your smoothies. Actually, could you provide a sample smoothie recipe? Maybe there’s an ingredient or two that’s not right.

      How’s the rest of your diet? That’s important too. Have you perused my article on healthy fat – getting your fats right is crucial to your health and maintaining a healthy weight.

      https://www.healthysmoothiehq.com/healthy-fat

      Best,
      Ryan

      • Mary #

        Hi Ryan I have just started making my owns smoothies I have arthritis and crohns and could do with putting on a few pounds and calming my symptoms I am 5ft 5 and 49kg. I am worried about all the sugar in these smoothies so I try and cut down on the fruit I put in them I usually use cucumber advocado courgette with half a kiwi and some mango or Apple with a squeeze of lemon or lime. I use almond milk with some extra virgin organic coconut oil. I am hoping this would be a low sugar smoothie! By the way I love the website keep up the good work.:-D

        • Ryan Carmody #

          Hi Mary,

          As long as you’re not using too much sweet fruit, which is doesn’t appear you are, your smoothies won’t be too sugary. You can try cronometer.com (free) to determine the nutritional content of your smoothies to know for sure.

          Regards,
          Ryan

    • Roxi #

      If you don’t mind can you share your smoothie recipes because I am trying to gain weight and can’t for the death me.. I am 4’9 and weigh about 76lb and I feel like the more I eat or stuff myself the more I lose..

      • Sharonda #

        I use oats, chia seeds, egg white, almond butter, and bananas. That’s my gain weight smoothie. Loving it

  2. Laura P. #

    Thanks for the reply. Compared to where I was the rest of my diet is great. I’m not good all the time but we used to go out to eat 2-3 nights a week and eat out lunch every day (my business schedule doesn’t allow much time for cooking). We’ve cut back to not eating out at night except maybe once a month and I still will grab something for lunch or not eat at all about 3 times a week. Smoothie for breakfast and sometimes I eat bacon with it, lunch is whatever I can find (I own a retail store so usually it’s a handful of peanuts), and dinner is fairly healthy and light. I’m wondering if I’m not eating enough calories? It averages to about 900 calories not counting the smoothie.

    My favorite smoothie is spinach, organic coconut milk or coconut yogurt, tahini (or another nut butter), blueberries (sometimes mango) and either chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp protein powder, or spirulina (or a combo of some of those). I recently took out banana to cut back on sugar. That’s pretty much what I have been sticking with the last few weeks until I can figure out what I should be eating.

    I love avocado but I haven’t tried it in a smoothie yet. I’ll check out your article this afternoon.

    Like I said, I feel much better – I’ve just gained a lot of weight in the process. I’m also 44 and had a hysterectomy about 5 years ago. I could be experiencing menopause weight gain???? I can’t figure it out.

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Laura,

      Bacon with your smoothie, nice :) I suspect you’re not getting enough calories. This commonly results in weight gain. Your body is storing extra weight because of a perceived famine. People often go on diets (usually calorie restricted) and lose weight, but then gain it all back and then some for this reason.

      Here’s an idea. Make a larger, more calorically dense smoothie and have half for breakfast and half for lunch. Or plan ahead and bring something else healthy and quick for lunch – leftovers from the night before perhaps. I would only skip lunch once in a while.

      Your smoothie is pretty good. Definitely get avocado in there and some coconut oil. Boosting your caloric intake with healthy fats is ideal. Besides helping you shed pounds, they’ll also provide energy and keep you satiated. Yes, eat fat to lose fat.

      Menopause weight gain is a possibility and something to keep in mind. Women often put on a little weight as they age, which is normal and healthy. Just not “accepted” by many.

      Best,
      Ryan

  3. Ron #

    Hi Ryan
    I would like to use oats ocassionaly for the fibre and certainly don’t want to gain weight. I didn’t know they could be uncooked. Even steel cut oats? And can coconut flakes substitute for coconut oil?
    Thank you,
    Ron

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Ron,

      Yes, steel cut oats can be consumed raw too. Make sure to blend the oats first to a fine powder before adding other ingredients.

      Coconut flakes can be substituted for coconut oil.

      Cheers,
      Ryan

      • Jim Dunlop #

        Ryan,

        As far as Oats go, what about those round containers of Quaker Oats? Would they be OK to use in a smoothie? If so, what prior prep on them do they need?

        And would what germ be a good substitute?

        • Ryan Carmody #

          I’m guessing those aren’t organic so not ideal. I prefer organic rolled oats. From my fruity oatmeal smoothie.

          https://www.healthysmoothiehq.com/fruity-oatmeal-smoothie

          – Soak 1 cup rolled oats in 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons acid (lemon juice, liquid whey, apple cider vinegar, or yogurt) for about 8 hours. Soaking overnight is very convenient.

          – Add another cup of water and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to soaked oats, stir, heat to a low simmer, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

          – Consume with liberal amounts of butter and cream. Or toss into your next smoothie and take your oatmeal to a new level of flavor and nutrition.

  4. Yann28 #

    Hi Ryan,

    Ive been blending a smoothie that consists of yogurt, milk, peanut butter, banana and ice for the past 2 weeks and was wondering when i will see results in my body? I weigh 117 pounds and my diet is fairly Ok. I usually blend the smoothie in the morning for lunch id eat anything (don’t have a specific) and my dinner would be healthy and fulling. I want to gain atleast 10 pounds…do i need to drink a higher smoothie?

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Yann28,

      Everyone’s body (and lifestyle) is different, which impacts how easily you gain and lose weight. It’s impossible for me to determine when you’ll start gaining weight without a lot more information about your diet and lifestyle.

      Have you used a site such as cronometer.com to determine your caloric intake?

      Best,
      Ryan

  5. bere #

    Hi, im hypoglicemic i actually weight only 80 pound and im 5’1 im allergic to peanut and lactose, what can i use to replace? I need and want to gain weight i had tried almost every diet high in protein, my diet its really healthy, but high in protein and calories, i eat humus, almond butter,avocado, eat at least 7 time a day, to maintain my blood sugar, what else can i use

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Bere,

      Are you able to do other nut butters such as almond, cashew, walnut, etc in place of peanut butter? Have you tried raw milk and raw dairy products? Many people who are lactose intolerant do well on these. Are you getting ample healthy fat in you diet?

      https://www.healthysmoothiehq.com/healthy-fat

      I really can’t make recommendations based such little info.

      Cheers,
      Ryan

  6. exquisite #

    helpful information… thanks Ryan…still wonder what other healthy additional foods can be taken with the smoothie to help gain weight..

    • Ryan Carmody #

      You’re welcome, exquisite. If you have any or I come across other smoothie worthy foods that support weight gain I can update this article. Cheers!

  7. cheryl #

    I recently had surgery in January and I have lost a lot of weight are their any other kind of weight gaining smoothies I can take I have a fast metabolism so the more calories the better

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Cheryl,

      The two above are good launching points. Feel free to mix and match the ingredients to create your own unique creations.

      Regards,
      Ryan

  8. Maxene #

    I am currently a size 0 petite in pants and need hip weight. I am 5ft. I need to fill out at least a size 2 petite without a muffin top. Do you have a great smoothie recipe for me to gain healthy weight? I also have high cholesterol.

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Maxene,

      I would start with either of the two recipes above. Stick with the one you like the best and increase the amount of each ingredient if you’re not satiated for 3-4 hours after consuming.

      Regards,
      Ryan

  9. I’m starting to bulk up at the gym and I’m using smoothies as a way of getting my extra calories – is this the best thing to do? If so what kinda things should I put in them?
    Matt

  10. Ryan Carmody #

    Hey Matt,

    Smoothies can be a good tool for helping bulk up and add size. Ample sleep, recovery, and a good diet are also imperative. The ingredients listed in the post above are what I recommend. Raw milk is highly recommended, hopefully you can procure.

    Regards,
    Ryan

  11. Hey Ryan,

    Great post! I have definitely found that smoothies are an excellent way to put on weight.

    I’ve been very thin all my life but after incorporating a daily high-calorie smoothie into my diet, I’ve been able to consistently put on weight.

    There is a slightly…embarrassing problem that I’ve run into from drinking smoothies on a regular basis, however. They have a tendency to significantly slow my digestive system down. I love the ease and benefits of drinking smoothies, but constipation is not fun.

    I’ve found that taking the magnesium supplement Natural Calm has helped with this issue. I imagine drinking more liquid and perhaps making smoothies that aren’t super thick would help as well?

    Anyways, I hope you don’t mind me referencing this post in my blog on gaining weight. Keep up the good work!

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hey Alex,

      Nice to hear you’ve been able to leverage smoothies to put on weight.

      Smoothies don’t typically cause constipation, usually the opposite. You can try using more liquid and not making smoothies so thick as well as making sure to incorporate enough healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, ghee).

      Regards,
      Ryan

  12. Brandon #

    Hey Ryan,

    I have a really crazy schedule so I basically have a all smoothie diet can you recommend some more healthy high calorie smoothies for weight gain an management for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thanks

  13. Baaba #

    Hello Ryan. I am currently trying to gain weight mainly with smoothies but without the protein powder. What ingredients would you recommend? Thanks

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Hi Baaba – all of the ingredients listed above minus protein powder :)

  14. alex #

    Hello ryan! my boyfriend has really bad digestion problems to the point where eating can make him really sick and makes him really anxious and nauseous, as a result he generally only can eat once a day or so and in turn he is becoming really nutrient deficient I was wondering if you knew any good smoothie recipes (the only thing he can stomach without a problem) that could help with his nutrient problem and maybe even encourage his appetite?

  15. Nina #

    I think you meant hyperthyroidism and NOT hypothyroidism

    • Ryan Carmody #

      You’re right, Nina. I just updated the article. Thanks!

  16. Hello Ryan,

    My 14 year old daughter is struggling to put on weight & is lactose intolerant. She prefers a fruity type smoothie over a shake. Can you recommend a smoothie recipe with a tummy friendly protein powder or 2 that would help her put on weight?

    TIA, aby

    • Ryan Carmody #

      Here’s a smoothie for you daughter, Aby:

      1/2 cup water (or almond milk)
      1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (full-fat preferred)
      1/3 avocado
      1/2 cup berries of choice (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
      1 tablespoon chia seeds or chia seed gel
      1 serving Sun Warrior chocolate protein powder, your preferred protein, or gelatin
      1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 tablespoon honey to sweeten

  17. Thank you very much Ryan,

    I will give this a try asap. How best should I go about calculating calorie count?

    I also want my daughter to be aware of her consumed calories, as she thinks she eats enough, but is actually negative for her activity level, averages < 1700 calories / day.

    Thanks again, aby

    • Ryan Carmody #

      There’s a very nifty site, cronometer.com, that allows you to determine nutritional info including calorie count. It’s what I use for my site. There’s probably apps as well that might be easier.

  18. Ryan, I am embarrassed to ask, but how does one make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe cold?

    I get that when using frozen fruits, you introduce the cold elements. Sorry for the newby question & thanks for the insight. If you are adding ice, how much?

    • Ryan Carmody #

      No worries, Aby :) You can use frozen fruit and/or ice cubes (typically 3-6) for a cold smoothie.

  19. Momof7 #

    My son’s Dr. wants him to gain weight. Do you have any kid friendly recipies?

    • Ryan Carmody #

      The recipes above are all kid (3 or older) friendly, Momof7.

  20. Tammy M #

    Hi Ryan.
    I have read and love your articles on natural ways to gain weight with smoothies!
    As for me.. I have been under a lot of stress for the past year and a half and have lost a lot of weight.. 35lbs actually now weighing 100 lbs. I am one to not eat a lot when stressed and have a high metabolism on top of that.
    I recently visited my Dr to get a physical just to make sure I havent caused any physical damage to my body with all the stress. My potassium is a slight bit high.
    Anyways. I NEED to start gaining my weight back fast and restoring good vitamins back in to my body!
    Which protiens can I make that will help me gain back everything I need to get healthy again?
    Very much appreciated.

  21. Tammy M #

    P.S.
    Sorry Ryan.. Correction.. Which smoothies not protiens. But.. On that note.. Should I also be taking prorien powders? If so which ones are good for a vegan all natural no sugars, gmo’s or soy??
    Thanks again ;)

  22. Which smoothie is good for weight management?
    i.FOr gaining
    ii. for reducing

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