How To Increase Appetite: 7 Tips To Eat More (When You Don’t Feel Like Eating)

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For many people, trying to lose weight is a seemingly perpetual battle, and your appetite may seem nearly insatiable. However, some people struggle with the opposite, and there doesn’t seem to be the same social acceptance about discussing how to increase appetite as there is surrounding weight loss. 

Rather, when people who are trying to gain weight or bulk up complain about having little to no appetite, they are simply met with groans and sighs from peers who struggle with weight loss, accompanied by comments such as, “You are so lucky!”

Ultimately, there is little value in comparing whether one struggle is more difficult than the other. 

It is undeniable that weight loss can be extremely challenging, but if you are trying to build muscle and bulk up but have no appetite, it can be equally challenging to know how to gain appetite fast so that you can meet your physique goals.

In this article, we will discuss tips for how to increase appetite and how to eat more to help you gain weight, build muscle, or bulk up more easily.

Let’s dive in! 

A person sitting in front of a plate of food, not eating, with out an appetite.

How To Increase Appetite: 7 Tips For How to Eat More

Here are some tips for how to eat more to build mass or gain weight:

#1: Eat More Frequently 

Eating more frequently is probably the last thing you want to do if you have no appetite, but it can actually be a great strategy for how to increase appetite and increase your caloric intake when you are not hungry.

The very notion of sitting down and eating three big meals a day can be really unappealing when you do not have an appetite, and just looking at so much food on your plate can immediately ruin any vestige of an appetite you might have.

However, if you spread out your caloric intake into five or six mini meals, it can be much easier to approach meal time and actually eat the nutritious food your body needs without feeling overwhelmed by your plate.

Over time, the goal will be to increase the portion sizes in your mini meals to make them more substantial and to surpass your current daily caloric intake.

Even if your appetite does not improve with this strategy, you might find that you are still able to consume a net higher number of calories over the course of the day than if you are just trying to eat a handful of large meals and picking at your plate without being able to finish.

A handful of nuts.

#2: Eat Calorie-Dense Foods

When you are trying to gain weight, the goal is to start eating more calories, and if you have a low appetite, you need to make judicious choices about what you are going to eat.

Choose energy-dense foods over high-volume foods.

For example, choose dried fruit over fresh fruits. The dehydration process removes all the water, so you still get the nutrients in the fruit, but you can consume significantly more calories for the same volume of food. 

A 100-gram serving of raisins has 300 calories, whereas 100 grams of fresh grapes provides only 67 calories. This means that you will get about 4 1/2 times as many calories choosing raisins over grapes for an equal gross weight serving.

Any type of dried fruit will follow a similar pattern of being a better choice for gaining weight rather than eating fresh fruit.

If you do want to eat only fresh fruit, choose high-calorie fruits such as pineapple, bananas, cherries, and avocado instead of low-calorie fruits like melons, citrus, and berries.

A bowl of yogurt and granola.

With vegetables, choose starchy vegetables like corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, white potatoes, winter squash, and peas rather than watery vegetables like cucumbers, asparagus, lettuce and leafy greens, and mushrooms.

Other nutritious high-calorie foods that can help you gain weight include nuts and nut butter such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, coconut, pecans, peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter.

Seeds and seed butter are also energy-dense foods. You can snack on pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds or add sunflower seed butter as a spread on toast or other whole-grain bread.

Trail mix makes a great healthy snack when you are trying to gain weight. You can combine dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, or dark chocolate morsels.

With dairy products, choose full-fat dairy rather than low-fat or fat-free dairy products. There are some excellent full-fat Greek yogurts and full-fat cottage cheese products that are high in protein, fat, and calories. You can drink whole milk instead of skim milk or low-fat milk. 

Cheese can also be an easy way to add calories. You can add cheese to most savory dishes to bulk up the calories or snack on cheese as a healthy way to gain weight.

A variety of cooking oils.

#3: Sneak Calories Into Your Meals

One way to get in more calories without necessarily needing to boost your appetite to eat more food is to “sneak in“ calories in the meals you are already making.

For example, you can cook your proteins and veggies in olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or butter.

You can add higher-calorie salad dressings or condiments.

For instance, spread mayonnaise on a sandwich rather than a low-calorie spread such as mustard. 

Choose olive oil and vinegar or full-fat salad dressings rather than light salad dressings like balsamic vinegar.

You can add a couple of tablespoons of nut butter to a smoothie or even oatmeal, yogurt, or granola.

Think of yourself as a calorie “ninja,” trying to stealthily add calories wherever you can in the meals that you are already eating so that you can eat more calories even if your appetite is low.

A plate of food.

#4: Use a Big Plate

We eat with our eyes before our stomachs. One tip for how to eat more at mealtime is to switch the plate that you are using.

You can serve up the same amount of food, but by putting it on a larger plate, you can essentially “trick“ your brain into thinking that the portion size is smaller and you have less food to consume.

Similarly, if you are having a bowl of yogurt, oatmeal, or a protein shake or smoothie, use a bigger bowl or glass so that the portion looks more diminutive.

This may help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of food you should be eating, which can cause you to lose your appetite.

#5: Cut Back On Fiber

Although there are many health benefits of fiber, high-fiber diets have been shown to increase satiety and decrease appetite.

Fiber takes longer to digest, so a high-fiber meal or snack will stick around in your stomach for longer, making it harder to regain your appetite after eating.

A person holding a green smoothie and smiling.

#6: Sip Your Calories

One of the best tips for how to gain appetite fast or eat more when you have no appetite is to drink your calories.

Swap water or unsweetened tea and seltzer for caloric beverages such as whole milk, protein shakes, 100% fruit juice, or meal replacement shakes.

You can also make your own smoothies and protein shakes if you don’t physically feel like eating. Sipping on one of these high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods is a great way to “eat“ when you don’t feel like eating.

Add nut butter, milk, and high-calorie fruit such as bananas, flaxseed, avocado, MCT oil, coconut, and protein powders that contain healthy natural fats and natural sugars such as coconut sugar rather than non-caloric sweeteners.

A person eating and reading at the same time.

#7: Distract Yourself

One of the top diet tips for weight loss is to eat mindfully rather than consume your food when you are distracted watching TV or in a social situation.

However, if you suffer from a low appetite and you are trying to eat more, try to make mealtime more enjoyable and distracting.

Studies have found that people tend to eat more food in the company of friends or family or while watching TV instead of just trying to sit down with the food in front of them and focus on eating.

Overall, if you want to bulk up or gain weight, you need to start eating more calories.

This can be accomplished in a few different ways, and often a combination of all of these approaches is the most effective way to put on mass.

The primary dietary strategies to gain weight when you want to bulk up are to eat more frequently, eat more calorically-dense foods when you do eat, and drink beverages that contain calories rather than just water.

Here are some great protein shake recipes that you can try out the next time you want to sip your calories: 10 Awesome Protein Shake Recipes.

A variety of colorful smoothies in bottles.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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