How To Increase Appetite: Everything You Should Know

how to increase appetite
There are different ways to increase appetite. Photo: Nghi Tran

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Appetite is a vital aspect necessary for maintaining good health and all-round well-being. It is essential for human growth, function, and weight gain. But unfortunately, not everyone has a healthy, strong appetite, and this can affect the overall function of the body, causing weight loss, weakness, illness, and if not attended to, death.

Finding an actual cause for this lack of appetite can be pretty tricky, as it can be caused by various factors such as stress, illness, or even from drug use.  Fortunately, several ways[1] can be used to increase your appetite and top up your overall nutrition.

A few different ways to help increase appetite include dietary changes, exercise, stress reduction, and other helpful tips, which we will talk about. By the end, you will have a better understanding of how to increase your appetite, how to gain weight naturally, and how to maintain a much healthier lifestyle.

7 Ways To Increase Your Appetite

  • Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
  • Consume Nutritious Foods
  • Get A Larger Plate
  • Foods Influence Your Appetite
  • Drink Your Calories
  • Reduce Your Fiber Intake
  • Maintain Your Exercise Habits

How To Increase Your Appetite For Weight Gain

Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Putting on weight can be a challenging goal to achieve, mostly for people who struggle with a fast metabolism and lack appetite. One of the most popular strategies for gaining weight is eating smaller and more frequent meals.[2] For example, you eat 5 small meals instead of one large meal in a day, you do this by choosing nutrient-dense meals and spacing out the time intervals for the meals. This would help increase your calorie intake.

Consume Nutritious Foods

When gaining weight, it’s important that, as individuals, we go about healthily. One of the steps to take is to entirely focus on taking in nutritious food that would provide a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and essential minerals that the body needs. Avoiding unhealthy food is crucial because it can lead to health complications.

Get A Larger Plate

One commonly used process of gaining weight is using a larger plate to eat, the ideology behind this is to consume more calories because a larger plate equals more portions of food.

Foods Influence Your Appetite

While gaining weight, certain types of food are crucial in increasing or decreasing your appetite.  Majorly processed foods such as junk food and sugary snacks are low in calories, which burn faster and can make you overeat. On the other hand, proteinous food such as lean beef, eggs, and beans contain more calories and satisfy you. This is the reason why it’s important to consume high-calorie food that makes you feel full and satisfied for a much longer amount of time.

Drink Your Calories

When gaining weight, it’s crucial to increase your intake of calories, and one of the most effective ways of doing that is to drink them. You can do this by incorporating high-calorie beverages into your diet. Examples of calorie-dense drinks are smoothies or milkshakes made with whole cream, ice-creams, and fruits.

Reduce Your Fiber Intake

Another way though not advised, is to cut or reduce your fiber intake. Consuming fruits and food that contains less fiber is more profitable when gaining weight.

Maintain Your Exercise Habits

While gaining weight, individuals need to maintain good exercise habits. Most times, this might prove not easy. Here are some tips to help you. First, you need to be realistic, don’t set goals that will lead to you burning out; instead, set smaller goals and gradually increase them as time goes on. Also, find a fun exercise activity you’d enjoy, and get an exercise buddy to keep things fun and keep you from getting bored.

What Is Appetite?

Appetite is a complex psychological and physiological desire that drives us to eat. It’s frequently confused with hunger, but appetite and hunger aren’t the same. While hunger is a physical sensation that signals our body telling it of its need for nutrients, appetite is a psychological desire to eat, even if we aren’t that hungry.

Appetite is quite complex and not fully understood, but it is believed to be regulated by several interplays of hormones, neurotransmitters, and environmental factors. For example, the hormone ghrelin increases appetite, while another hormone, leptin, suppresses it. Also, stress, mood, and social situations can all affect our appetite.  

A crucial aspect of appetite is its role in maintaining a healthy weight. People who struggle with weight management usually have difficulty regulating their appetite, leading to excessive eating or binge eating. Understanding the difference between hunger and appetite and learning how to manage your appetite is necessary when achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

What Causes A Decreased Appetite?

How to Increase Appetite
One of the most common causes of a reduced appetite is an illness. Photo: Shutterstock

While appetite is the natural desire for food that an individual feels, a lessened appetite, on the other hand, is a loss of interest in food or a reduced desire to eat. This condition can be caused by many factors,[3] some of which we will discuss shortly.

One of the most common causes of a reduced appetite is an illness. When a person is sick, their body may not feel empty, and they may lose their appetite. This is because the body is using its energy to fight off the illness, and the digestive system may decelerate in production. Some common conditions that can cause a  decrease in appetite include the flu, the common cold wave, and stomach flu.  

Another common cause of a reduced appetite is stress. When an individual is over-stressed, their body produces hormones similar to cortisol, which can affect their appetite. Extreme stress can also cause digestive issues like stomach aches and nausea, which can make eating somewhat unpleasant.  

Depression and Anxiety are also common causes of a  reduced appetite. These conditions can affect a person’s mood and desire to eat; some people experiencing depression and anxiety may turn to food for comfort, while others may lose their appetite entirely.  

Certain medicines could also bring about a lessened appetite. Some drugs used to treat conditions similar to depression, ADHD, and chemotherapy can affect an individual’s appetite. It’s important to consult your doctor if you’re witnessing a decrease in appetite while taking any form of the drug.  

Finally, a decrease in appetite can be caused by lifestyle factors like overeating or eating disorders. When an individual reduces their calorie intake, their body may get used to the reduced food intake, causing a  reduction in appetite. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa can also cause a drop in appetite and be dangerous if left unattended.

Ways To Gain Weight Naturally

Here are some simple ways you can take to gain weight[4] in a healthy, natural way:

  • Consume more calories than you expend: The most critical factor in gaining weight is eating additional calories than your body burns. This means you need to eat more calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. To do this, you can increase your portion sizes, eat more constantly throughout the day, and choose calorie-thick foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and dried fruits.  
  • Choose Nutrient-thick Foods: When trying to gain weight, it’s important to concentrate on nutrient-thick foods that will supply your body with the nutrients it needs to perform correctly. This means choosing whole, natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Avoid junk food and other reused foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients.  
  • Eat a lot of Protein: To gain weight and develop muscle, protein is a vital food. Every meal should contain a source of protein, such as eggs, funk, fish, beans, or tofu. However, you can also add protein creams, If necessary.  
  • Lift Weights: Gaining weight and gaining muscle mass can be achieved through muscle training. Focus on compound workouts that target multiple muscle areas, and you can try squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows. Aim to lift lighter weights and gradually increase the weight over time.  
  • Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and growth. Aim to get at least 7- 8 hours of sleep per night to help your body form muscle and recover from your exercises.  
  • Reduce Stress: Your ability to gain weight can be negatively impacted by stress because it raises cortisol levels and decreases appetite. Find ways to reduce stress in your life,  like practicing yoga or meditation or taking a walk while observing nature, or even spending time with loved ones.
  • Be Patient: Gaining weight takes time and consistency. Don’t expect to see results overnight. Be patient, stay consistent with your healthy habits, and trust the process.


It’s essential to bear in mind that a reduced appetite might indicate an inherent medical ailment, so it’s wise to seek advice from a medical expert if you undergo constant loss of appetite. By utilizing these suggestions and tactics, you can strive to enhance your appetite and attain the finest health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common causes of poor appetite?

Most typical causes of decreased appetite are illnesses, high-stress levels, and certain medications.

Why is it important to have a good appetite?

You need a good appetite for general well-being. A good and healthy appetite leads to decent weight gain, having the strength to do different tasks, and being healthier.

How can I increase my appetite naturally?

You’d need to eat more than you burn, mostly proteins, as they help bodybuilding, get loads of sleep regularly, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly.

Are there any supplements that can help increase appetite?

Medically, there are, but it’s best to consult your physician to know the one that’ll work best for you without any complications.

Can stress and anxiety cause a loss of appetite?

Yes they can. A high amount of stress and anxiety can cause an individual to lose interest in food since they mostly affect the person’s mood and hormone level.

How can I make food more appealing if I have a poor appetite?

Diversify and variety can help spice up your interest in eating. Try different dishes someone makes, go through restaurants, and randomize your meals.

Can exercise help increase appetite?

Yes they can. When you work out, your body burns energy causing it to starve and need its nutrients replaced. Regular exercise could help increase the person’s appetite and even help them eat more.

What can I do to help weight gain?

Eat lots of protein, drink lots of water, and get the required sleep. Practice patience rather than worry; most times, the results only show after repeated efforts and time has passed, so don’t overwork and push yourself too hard, expecting changes overnight.

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  1. (2020). Appetite – increased: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Available at:
  2. Improving appetite. (n.d.). Available at:
  3. (2023). Changes to your appetite. [online] Available at:
  4. Parmar, R.M. and Can, A.S. (2023). Physiology, Appetite And Weight Regulation. [online] Available at:


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