Female Weight Gain Progression


As women age, they usually gain weight in their breasts, thighs, hips, and arms. This is due to the increase in fat mass and decrease in muscle mass. There are several social, environmental, and biological explanations and perspectives regarding female weight gain. 

How long should it take to gain weight?

The rate in which it takes to gain healthy weight varies between individuals and relies on factors such as health status, activity level, and body size. It is commonly agreed that a healthy weight gain is 1 or 2 pounds a week. This can be achieved through a reasonable increase in energy intake. A pound of fat is equivalent to an excess of 3,500 calories a week. In comparison, supporting a pound of lean muscle takes between 2,000 to 2,500 of extra calories per week.

Healthy ways to gain weight

Body mass index or BMI is a measurement of body fat. It applies height, age, and weight to create a health range. It is generally accepted that a BMI below 18.5 is underweight, and a BMI above 25 is overweight. 

The healthiest way to gain weight is to avoid empty high calorie foods, such as fast food and soft drinks, as these do not provide the needed nutrients to strengthen bones and repair tissue. Instead calorie dense foods containing healthy fats, complex carbs, and protein are desirable. Nuts, avocados, and salmon are nutrient-rich foods that provide a substantial amount of healthy calories that allow you to gain weight safely while fueling your body.

Many nutritionists suggest supplemental shakes for female weight gain. The incorporation of high calorie foods such as chia seeds, fruit, peanut butter and milk in a beverage, for example a protein shake or smoothie, will help increase daily intake of calories.

Gaining muscle can be achieved through a combination of strength training and eating in a caloric surplus. Many people think that doing cardio will ruin muscle gain, but this is not true; as long as you eat over your maintenance calories, you will gain weight.5

Pregnancy weight gain

Weight gain during pregnancy differs greatly from person to person. Most pregnant women gain most of the weight after the 2nd trimester.1 A weight gain between 10 to 12.5 kg is healthy and reasonable. 

Though much of the extra weight is because of the growth of the baby, there will be a progressive increase of maternal adipose tissue or fat in preparation for breastfeeding. Weight gain during pregnancy is important, as gaining too little weight may bring on health problems for the unborn baby and mother.

Muscle weight gain

Muscle weight gain not only increases metabolic rate, helping decrease fat weight gain, but also increases strength. It should be noted women cannot gain muscle mass as fast as men. This is due to the fact they possess different levels of hormones, such as a lower testosterone level.2 However, an adequate training program and a sufficient supply of protein can support and maintain muscle weight gain.

Fat weight gain

Although fat weight gain is generally a result of lifestyle and eating behaviour, some women are at a biological disadvantage in managing their eating habits. Factors such as hormones and genetics can drive overeating, and so particular women are predisposed to fat weight gain.

The modern diet in the west stimulates insulin resistance in many women, whereby the elevation of insulin levels causes the storage of fat cells in substitute of it being available for use. Though insulin’s function in obesity is debated, numerous studies have suggested that high insulin levels have a pivotal part in fat weight gain.6

Other reasons for weight gain

There are several conditions and diseases that can cause weight gain. One example is Cushing’s Disease, where too much of the stress hormone cortisol causes an accumulation of fat around the base of the neck and stomach.3

Another possible reason for weight gain may be cardiovascular disease, which can cause rapid weight gain around the feet, legs, and stomach. Though weight gain may be primarily extra fluid in the body, fat weight gain will happen over time.

Metabolic syndrome, a set of conditions that raise the chances of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease, is indicated by the progressive gaining of weight. 

Mental health conditions, such as chronic stress, depression, and anxiety can lead to women seeking food as comfort. Some women may also make poor health choices which inevitably lead to weight gain.4 


Weight gain in women may be caused by several factors, both conscious and unintentional. Scientific measurements such as BMI can indicate health relating to weight in women. However, some weight gain can be due to an increase in muscle mass while progressive and unexplained fat weight gain may indicate a health issue.


  1. Weight gain in pregnancy [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/weight-gain/
  2. The ultimate guide for women to build muscle quickly [Internet]. LIVESTRONG.COM. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/98440-women-can-build-muscle-fast/
  3. Conditions that can cause weight gain [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/ss/slideshow-weight-gain-conditions
  4. The national council on aging [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.ncoa.org/article/how-excess-weight-impacts-our-mental-and-emotional-health#:~:text=Chronic%20stress%2C%20anxiety%2C%20and%20depression,turn%20can%20cause%20weight%20gain.
  5. Proctor EH Kailey. 12 healthy ways to gain weight safely and build muscle fast, according to dietitians [Internet]. Insider. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.insider.com/guides/health/diet-nutrition/how-to-gain-weight
  6. 10 leading causes of weight gain and obesity [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-causes-of-weight-gain
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Iqra Khalif

Pharmaceutical Science, University of Hertfordshire

Iqra Khalif is a pharmaceutical scientist with deep roots in research and development. She has a leadership qualification in global health and is interested in strategising for innovation in the life sciences.
She currently works in data analytics and management for a health-tech startup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818