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If I want to gain weight, how many calories do I need?

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
It takes 3500 calories to add or lose 1 pound. This said, if you are trying to gain weight you will have to ensure that you take in more calories than you burn. For example, if you add 500 calories extra to your current daily intake while avoiding excess physical activity, you will be adding a total of 3500 calories/week = 1 pound weight gain. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can better help customize a plan that works for you. You can find an RDN near you by using the eatright.org website and using the "find a dietitian" search feature.
You must first determine if you are consuming enough calories to offset energy expenditure, then add 500 Calories to that to allow for mass gain (note: you must engage in training of adequate intensity to ensure that the additional mass is added as muscle and not fat). People who participate in a general fitness program (e.g., exercising 30 - 40 minutes per day, 3 times per week) can typically meet nutritional needs following a normal diet (e.g., 1,800 - 2,400 kcals/day or about 25 - 35 kcals/kg/day for a 50 - 80 kg individual) because their caloric demands from exercise are not too great (i.e. 200 - 400 kcals/session). Athletes involved in moderate levels of intense training (e.g., 2-3 hours per day of intense exercise performed 5-6 times per week) may expend 600 - 1,200 kcals or more per hour during exercise. For this reason, their caloric needs may approach 50 - 80 kcals/kg/day (2,500 - 8,000 kcals/day for a 50 - 100 kg athlete), and an additional 500/day would be needed for weight gain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.