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Healthy ways to gain weight

Gaining weight can be difficult for some people. With a few changes, you can gradually reach a healthy weight.

Being underweight could mean you're missing out on vitamins and minerals.

This could lead to health problems such as a weak immune system and bone fractures.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to a GP if:

  • you've lost weight suddenly
  • you’ve lost weight without changing your diet or exercise routine
  • you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations

This could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Read more about unintentional weight loss.

Read more about eating disorders.


Find out if you're underweight

Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement that can show you if you're a healthy weight.

You'll need your height and weight to calculate your BMI.

Use the BMI healthy weight calculator

Tips to help you gain weight


  • gain weight gradually by adding healthy calories – adults could try adding around 300 to 500 extra calories a day

  • eat smaller meals more often, adding healthy snacks between meals

  • add extra calories to your meals with cheese, nuts, and seeds

  • have high-calorie drinks in between meals, such as milkshakes

  • have a balanced diet – choose from a variety of food groups, such as fruit and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates and dairy and alternatives

  • add protein to your meals with beans, pulses, fish, eggs and lean meat

  • have snacks that are easy to prepare, such as yogurt or rice pudding

  • build muscle with strength training or yoga – exercise can also improve your appetite


  • do not rely on chocolate, cakes and sugary drinks to gain weight

  • do not fill up on drinks before eating meals

Further information

Adding healthy calories

To add healthy calories, you could:

Build muscle

Strength training or yoga can help you build muscle and increase your appetite.

Try free exercise videos at home on the NHS Fitness Studio

Get meals at home (meals on wheels)

If you struggle to cook or shop for yourself, you may be entitled to have meals delivered to your home. This is provided by your local council's social services.

Find out more about getting meals at home from GOV.UK

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Page last reviewed: 28 March 2023
Next review due: 28 March 2026