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Weight Gain & Maintenance

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Weight gain & maintenance

Being active and choosing healthy foods can help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight, feel more energetic, and decrease your chances of having other health problems. It’s important to choose foods rich in nutrients and aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

The energy your body gets from the foods and drinks you consume is measured in calories. Your body needs a certain number of calories each day, depending on your activity level and other factors, to maintain your current weight. Visit MyPlate Plan to determine how many calories a day you need to be based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.

To lose weight, exercise more or eat fewer calories than is recommended. To gain weight, increase the number of calories you eat while maintaining a moderate activity level.

Read more about making smart food choices and find recommendations of how much to eat, organized by activity level.

What should I eat to lose or gain weight?

Whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, eating healthy foods matters. Try to follow a healthy eating pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins. If you’re concerned about your weight and want to change it, there are things you can do.

Trying to lose weight?

  • Limit portion size to control calorie intake.
  • Be as physically active as you can be.
  • Swap out your usual foods for healthier alternatives.
  • Stay hydrated with water and avoid drinks with added sugar.
  • Set specific, realistic goals, such as three 15-minute walks per week.
  • If there’s a break in your healthy eating or exercise, try to get back on track as quickly as possible.
  • Keep track of what you eat in a food diary.

Trying to gain weight?

  • Eat more foods with healthy fats, such as avocados and peanut butter.
  • If you get full quickly, eat frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Add nutrient-dense snacks such as nuts, cheese, and dried fruit to your menu.
  • Dine with friends and family to make the experience more enjoyable.
  • Stay active to boost your appetite.
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