How and Why Some People Gain Weight on Paleo

a plate of keto-friendly food

How to Gain Weight on Paleo

The secrets to healthy weight gain

How we eat is a fundamental part of how we live. Our conventional diets, however, leave much to be desired and often lead us to diminished health.

Many who look to alternative diets like Keto and Paleo do so for weight loss, seeking to shed the extra weight that a carb-heavy, sugar-heavy diet can lead to.

But for others, both those with a medical condition that impedes nutrition (like Crohn's Disease) and those who are naturally skinny and want to bulk up, a Paleo lifestyle can be a way to healthily gain weight.

Why gain, anyway?

In light of the obesity epidemic, our rhetoric naturally focuses on losing weight - cutting junk food, watching calories, and staying active.

These are all virtues, but not everyone needs to lose weight.

Perhaps you have a medical condition that impedes your calorie intake. It's possible to eat the correct number of calories, but find yourself not processing that food into energy and mass because of the activity of your gut.

Gut health

Processed foods and some other, non-Paleo foods (like legumes, grains, and dairy) can have an adverse effect on your gut health.

One of the tenets of the paleo lifestyle is that it's comprised solely of whole foods that we as humans have been eating for many thousands of years.

These foods won't continue the confusion in your stomach, and over time the Paleo lifestyle may help return the gut flora to a more natural, healthy state.

Paleo diet

Packing muscle

The most common impetus for gaining weight is the desire to add muscle mass. Whether playing sports or practicing solo athletic activity, adding muscle can improve your performance and overall strength.

Adding muscle involves a surplus of calories and an emphasis on dietary protein.

Eating Paleo for weight gain can be difficult for two reasons - quantity eaten and the nutritional make-up of Paleo foods.

Paleo and overeating

The junk food that plagues our diets is designed specifically to encourage overeating, combining nutrient-poor but tasty ingredients that we can seemingly never tire of.

The Paleo lifestyle, by removing these foods, can quickly put an end to overeating.

Not overeating unhealthy foods is, of course, a good thing. But if you are trying to gain weight, you may find you're satisfied with a regular portion of Paleo foods and have no desire to increase calorie intake; the calories you need for healthy weight gain.

To gain weight on paleo, one may have to tweak recipes, adding additional healthy fats or salt to increase the desire to keep eating. As always, practice moderation. This brings us to the second obstacle, the caloric density of Paleo foods.

Check out our Paleo friendly Mongolian-style beef:

Tender steak tips paired with a soy-free Mongolian sauce made with coconut aminos, ginger, and shiitake mushrooms.

Mongolian-style Beef


Paleo foods, being whole and unprocessed, don't have the added calories found in some foods often used for weight gain.

Namely, protein powder is certainly not Paleo, but it has been one of the most popular means of muscle gain in recent times.

In general, you should avoid protein powder. But if you are convinced that you require the boost to protein, opt for grass-fed whey. The quality of the powder makes a tremendous difference.

Weight gain efforts during Paleo should employ the most calorie-dense foods in the Paleo arsenal - building off of the core of nutrient-rich vegetables that characterize the diet.


Starchy veggies

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are super calorie-dense, making them great staple ingredients for paleo weight gain.


When choosing proteins, look to buy fattier cuts and varieties. The fats in salmon and (in moderation) beef can add valuable calories to your meal.


This brings us to perhaps the most powerful tool at your disposal, healthy fats. Fat is by far the most calorie-dense macro-ingredient, compared to protein and carbohydrates. Add olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, butter (if you tolerate dairy well), etc. - either in the cooking process or to top off a dish.

Meal examples for Paleo weight gain

Let's give examples of protein and calorie-dense Paleo meals that you can make for the purpose of weight gain.


It's easy to imagine eggs and bacon for a Paleo breakfast. And indeed that can be a great option. But let's look beyond these classics and introduce an important concept for weight gain: liquid calories.

This smoothie and others like it are a great way to consume a lot of healthy calories without the need to chew!

Liquid calories can be the bane of our existence when they come in the form of highly processed, sugary drinks and juices. Pack your smoothies with vegetables, fruit, and other protein-rich ingredients like almond butter to make liquid calories work for you!


Is coffee Paleo-friendly?

In short, no. Coffee wasn't consumed during the Paleolithic period. Additionally, caffeine provides a short but diminishing boost to the energy that can increase exhaustion in the long run.

People following the Paleo lifestyle often find that, after eating the diet for a few weeks, their energy levels are naturally higher, removing the need for caffeine in the first place.

Is oatmeal Paleo?

While most hardcore Paleo lifestylers don't consider oats Paleo-friendly, there is evidence that our ancestors ground oats and other grains into food.

If you want to include oats in your Paleo lifestyle, look for Paleo-specific recipes to keep your bowl as healthy as possible.


Take a look at these delicious paleo tacos, made with Kevin's chicken tikka masala.

Packed with protein, these tacos use grain-free shells and easy-made-at-home pickled onions for a burst of flavor.

For an extra healthy dose of great fats, top these tacos with avocado!

Here is our Chicken Tikka Masala:

Tender chicken breast strips in a bright tomato curry made with coconut milk, ginger, and Indian spices.

Chicken Tikka Masala


For a hearty dinner full of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats, try this Korean bbq steak.

Kevin's bulgogi sauce ties all the flavors of this dish together. Exceedingly easier to make, feel free to add a side of mashed potato or sweet potato to add calories.

Kevin's Korean BBQ Sauce:

Tender chicken breast strips in a bright tomato curry made with coconut milk, ginger, and Indian spices.

Korean BBQ sauce

Is Fruit OK on Paleo?

The fruit is absolutely paleo. Picked from bushes and trees, the fruit has been eaten for all of human history and contains vitamins and antioxidants that our bodies love.

Can you eat sausage on Paleo?

Sausage, being processed, is probably not Paleo. However, if all of the ingredients are organic and grass-fed with no additives, it can be permissible to eat sausage.


It can be difficult to eat paleo - it requires breaking long-standing habits that our mainstream food culture has instilled. Once one starts, however, losing weight can be very easy. It's a bit more complicated to gain weight on paleo.

Whether you're trying to grow to a healthy weight or add more muscle mass, it's very possible to eat paleo for weight gain. It just takes a little more planning and dedication to making sure you're eating enough.

If you're seeking muscle gain and not seeing the gains you need from paleo, you might consider the benefits of keto vs paleo.  While keto is made for cutting fat, it also focuses on high levels of protein which can be great for building muscle. However, what is keto diet approved can be more restrictive depending on your current diet.

Check out Kevin's Paleo recipes for tons of scrumptious ideas. Once your ingredients are in line, chow down for healthy weight gain and nutrition.