High-Carb Foods For Weight Gain – 12 Muscle-Building Foods To Try


For skinny guys trying to bulk up or underweight individuals focused on gaining, getting enough carbohydrates in your diet is crucial. Carbs provide the glycogen your muscles need to grow along with fuel for an active lifestyle conducive to building mass.

Choosing healthy, nutritious sources of carbohydrates can ensure you gain lean weight in the form of muscle versus fat. Let’s look at some of the top high-carb foods to incorporate for clean weight gain.

Why Carbs Are Key For Weight Gain?

Carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel for your brain and muscles.

12 High-Carb Foods To Gain Weight

Here’s why loading up on carbs aids weight gain:

  • Carbs get stored in muscles as glycogen which pulls water into the cells, increasing size.
  • Carbs provide glucose to fuel intense workouts needed for muscle growth.
  • Higher carb intake elevates anabolic hormones like insulin which assist muscle building.
  • Carbs increase levels of serotonin in the brain improving mood and appetite.
  • A high-carb diet supports higher calorie intake essential for gaining weight.

Consuming enough nutritious carbs makes the weight gain process easier and more efficient.

12 High-Carb Foods To Gain Weight

Here are some of the top high-carbohydrate foods to add to your diet:

1. Oats

Great source of slow-burning complex carbs and fiber. Make oatmeal or add to smoothies.

2. Quinoa

Nutrient-dense whole grain full of protein, carbs, amino acids, iron, and magnesium.

3. Bananas

Starchy fruit provides filling carbs, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Packed with fiber, vitamins A and C, antioxidants, iron, and quality carbs.

5. Brown Rice

Nutritious high-carb staple to pair with beans, meat, veggies, or healthy fats.

6. Potatoes

These underground tubers offer carbs, fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6.

7. Whole Grain Bread

Look for 100% whole wheat for muscle-fueling carbs and fiber.

8. Beans

Filling protein and fiber sources full of plant-based carbs and iron.

9. Granola

Packs easily digested carbs combined with healthy fats and protein.

10. Dried Fruit

Provides concentrated carbohydrate and calorie boost from natural fructose sugars.

11. Nut Butter

Carb and protein combo full of essential fats that support weight gain.

12. Dark Chocolate

Indulge in the carbs from cacao along with mood-boosting fat and antioxidants.

Meal Ideas To Pack In More Carbs

Try incorporating these higher-carb dishes into your meal plan:

  • Breakfast burrito with whole wheat tortilla, eggs, cheese, salsa
  • Oatmeal topped with chopped nuts, banana, cinnamon and nut butter
  • Veggie chili with beans over brown rice or sweet potato
  • Whole wheat pasta with chicken, veggies and Parmesan
  • Tofu stir fry with broccoli, carrots, snap peas over quinoa
  • Greek yogurt parfaits layered with granola, berries and nuts
  • Grilled cheese on whole grain bread plus tomato soup
  • Bean and avocado burrito with brown rice and melted cheese
  • Chicken baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce
  • Overnight chia oats with milk, yogurt, dried fruit and seeds

The Takeaway: Eat More Healthy Carbs

Adding more wholesome, fiber-rich carbohydrate foods supports clean weight gain goals. Focus on unrefined comples carbs over sugars. Pair with protein and exercise for best results. Eating adequate nutritious carbs provides energy for an active lifestyle, helps build more muscle, and makes following a higher calorie diet easier. Just be mindful of portions and balance with other healthy foods.


1. How many carbs should I aim for to gain weight?

Shoot for 300-500 grams of carbohydrates daily depending on your goals, activity level and current intake.

2. Are starchy carbs better than sugary carbs for gains?

Yes, focus on complex carbohydrates like oats, rice and potatoes over simple sugars for clean weight gain.

3. What are easy high carb snacks?

Try trail mix, granola bars, crackers with nut butter, smoothies, dried fruit and chocolate milk.

4. Can too many carbs increase belly fat?

They can, so be mindful of portions. Balance carbs with lean proteins, healthy fats and exercise.

5. Is a high carb diet healthy long term?

Yes, if you stick to nutritious whole food sources and stay active. Limit processed carbs and sugars.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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