• The study aimed to figure out which foods cause weight gain. The study examined the effects of food texture and processing on calorie intake and eating behavior.
  • Subjects were assigned to four conditions: hard unprocessed, hard (ultra-)processed, soft unprocessed, and soft (ultra-)processed.
  • The results showed that participants consumed more calories and had a higher eating rate when consuming ultra-processed foods than unprocessed foods.
  • Calorie intake in the hard texture condition was 571 ± 135 kcal lower compared to the soft texture condition. This represents a 33% reduction in energy intake.
  • The results suggest that consuming ultra-processed foods may lead to overconsumption of calories and contribute to weight gain.

When it comes to gaining weight, the texture of the foods we consume plays a pivotal role. Recent studies have shed light on how the hardness or softness of foods can influence our eating behavior and appetite, ultimately affecting the number of calories consumed. This article delves into the findings of these studies, offering insights for those aiming to gain weight.

Understanding the relationship between food processing and weight gain

In today’s fast-paced world, industrially processed foods have become a staple in many households. Their convenience and often irresistible flavors make them an easy choice for busy individuals. However, with the rise in obesity rates and health concerns, it’s essential to understand the effects of these foods on our daily energy intake and overall eating behavior. In a previous article, I wrote about hard-textured foods being better for weight loss in a previous article.

Ultra-processed foods are commonly consumed worldwide. For instance, 60% of the calories in the average US diet come from ultra-processed foods, with similar figures in Germany and the Netherlands. In contrast, countries like Australia, France, Brazil, and Spain have lower percentages, ranging from 20% to 40%. (Machado et al., 2020; Slimani et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2021)

A recent review of studies found that highly processed food was associated with weight gain.(Askari et al., 2020) In that crossover inpatient study, 20 participants received a 2-week diet that was either high in ultra-processed or unprocessed foods and matched for energy content and palatability. Participants on the ultra-processed diet showed higher energy intakes (500 calories more per day) and gained weight (0.9 kg or .4 pounds over 2 weeks) compared to a diet of low-processed foods. (Hall et al., 2019) This suggests that if you are trying to gain weight, ultra-processed foods allow an easier number of daily calories to be consumed. (Bolhuis et al., 2014)


Food texture (i.e., hard or soft food) affects intake through eating behavior and eating rate.(Krop et al., 2018; Robinson et al., 2014) For example, compared to soft textures, hard food leads to a slower eating rate due to longer oral processing time per bite or gram of food (chewing duration).(Bolhuis et al., 2014)

A 2022 study involved 50 participants who consumed four different meals, each varying in texture and processing level. The findings were clear: Soft-textured foods resulted in a significantly higher food intake than hard-textured foods. This was the result of faster eating rates observed with softer meals. Moreover, the energy consumed was highest for soft and ultra-processed meals, followed by soft and minimally processed, hard and ultra-processed, and finally, hard and minimally processed meals. (Teo et al., 2022)

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Moreover, the energy consumed was highest for soft and ultra-processed meals, followed by soft and minimally processed, hard and ultra-processed, and finally, hard and minimally processed meals. (Teo et al., 2022)


A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition titled “Speed Limits: The Effects of Industrial Food Processing And Food Texture On Daily Energy Intake And Eating Behaviour In Healthy Adults” by Lasschuijt et al. provides valuable insights into this topic. The study aimed to determine which foods cause weight gain.

Lasschuijt’s study took soft and hard texture foods a step further than other studies by ensuring that all meals had matched calories. The researchers wanted to understand how the texture of the foods influenced eating behavior and satiety. The study also aimed to assess the palatability of the meals and the participants’ appetite ratings before and after consumption.

The researchers examined foods from 4 different categories. The calorie and nutrient composition of the meals were similar.

Unprocessed Hard Texture Foods

Breakfast: Fresh mixed fruit, apple pieces.

Morning Snack: Dried figs and almonds.

Lunch: Fresh Tagliatelle pasta with homemade tomato sauce, hard-steamed vegetables, and large pieces of chicken fillet.

Afternoon Snack: Dried mango.

Dinner: Potato parts with large pieces of pork fillet and whole hard-steamed green beans.

Dessert: Dessert details not provided.

Unprocessed Soft Texture

Breakfast: Store-bought smoothie.

Morning Snack: Solid/liquid snack (specifics not provided).

Lunch: Ready-to-eat macaroni Bolognese with grated cheese (noted for its hardness and piece size).

Afternoon Snack: Store-bought Apple juice (Solid/semi-solid/liquid).

Dinner: Details not provided.

Dessert: Dessert details not provided.

  • Weight: 4286g
  • Energy: 4467 kcal
  • Fat: 204g (40% of energy)
  • Saturated Fat: 46g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 467g (42% of energy)
  • Mono- and Disaccharides: 323g
  • Protein: 153g (14% of energy)
  • Fibre: 68g

Ultra-Processed Hard Texture

Breakfast: Curd with added honey and crushed pecan nuts.

Morning Snack: Canned mixed fruit.

Lunch: Store-bought pork meat tortellini with pre-canned tomato sauce, hard-cooked vegetables, and grated cheese.

Afternoon Snack: Muesli bar pieces.

Dinner: Pre-flavoured and baked potato parts with large pieces of chicken schnitzel and whole, hard-steamed green beans.

Dessert: Mass-produced fig bread.

  • Weight: 4440g
  • Energy: 4505 kcal
  • Fat: 136g (27% of energy)
  • Saturated Fat: 51g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 602g (54% of energy)
  • Mono- and Disaccharides: 336g
  • Protein: 149g (13% of energy)
  • Fiber: 110g

Ultra-Processed Soft Texture

Breakfast: Homemade smoothie.

Morning Snack: Apple sauce (no additives).

Lunch: Fresh tagliatelle pasta with homemade tomato sauce, soft-steamed vegetables, and homemade pulled chicken.

Afternoon Snack: Raisins.

Dinner: Homemade mashed potato with eggs and small pieces of soft-steamed green beans.

Dessert: Dessert details not provided.

  • Weight: 4315g
  • Energy: 4435 kcal
  • Fat: 216g (43% of energy)
  • Saturated Fat: 74g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 463g (42% of energy)
  • Mono- and Disaccharides: 238g
  • Protein: 131g (12% of energy)
  • Fibre: 43g
  • Sodium: 4681mg

Results of which foods cause weight gain study

The results indicated that food texture had a more pronounced impact on food intake than the degree of food processing. Soft food diets lead to higher food and energy intake. In contrast, hard-textured foods resulted in reduced energy intake rates, longer meal durations, and smaller bite sizes. (Lasschuijt 2023).

  • Unprocessed Hard Texture Group: The unprocessed hard texture group participants consumed an average of 4437 kcal daily.
  • Unprocessed Soft Texture Group: The unprocessed soft texture group participants consumed an average of 4467 kcal daily.
  • Processed Hard Texture Group: The processed hard texture group participants consumed an average of 4505 kcal daily.
  • Processed Soft Texture Group: The processed soft texture group participants consumed an average of 4435 kcal daily.
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Soft food diets lead to higher food and energy intake. In contrast, hard-textured foods resulted in reduced energy intake rates, longer meal durations, and smaller bite sizes.

Practical Applications for Which Foods Cause Weight Gain

For those aiming to gain weight, knowing which foods cause weight gain is important. Incorporating more foods with soft textures and ultra-processing levels can increase the calories consumed. For instance, if you want to gain weight, you could opt for mashed potatoes instead of baked potatoes. Also, use soft-steamed vegetables such as soft-steamed green beans over hard-steamed green beans. Even a simple switch from a soft fruit like a banana to an apple can make a difference in extra calories consumed.

Sample Soft Meal Plan for Weight Gain Diet:

Below is a list of soft foods that are high in calories and easy to consume.


  • Smoothie Bowl: Blend together bananas, Greek yogurt, almond butter, protein powder, and a splash of almond milk. Top with granola, chia seeds, and honey.
  • Scrambled Eggs: Softly scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach, and diced tomatoes.
  • Oatmeal: Creamy oatmeal made with full-fat milk, topped with peanut butter, honey, and sliced strawberries.

Calories: 1000 kcal

Protein: 46g

Fat: 43g

Carbohydrates: 102g

Mid-Morning Snack:

  • Protein Shake: Blend whey protein powder with full-fat milk, a spoon of peanut butter, and a banana.
  • Avocado Toast: Soft whole grain bread topped with mashed avocado, a sprinkle of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Calories: 750 kcal

Protein: 46g

Fat: 31g

Carbohydrates: 75g


  • Chicken Alfredo Pasta: Soft-cooked pasta with creamy Alfredo sauce, tender chicken pieces, and steamed broccoli.
  • Cream Soup: Butternut squash or potato leek soup served with soft bread rolls.
  • Cottage Cheese: Full-fat cottage cheese mixed with pineapple chunks.

Calories: 1150 kcal

Protein: 74g

Fat: 49g

Carbohydrates: 105g

Afternoon Snack:

  • Yogurt Parfait: Layer Greek yogurt with granola, honey, and mixed berries.
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Seasoned with butter, a touch of cinnamon, and maple syrup.

Calories: 450 kcal

Protein: 19g

Fat: 14g

Carbohydrates: 70g


  • Salmon Fillet: Baked salmon fillet with a lemon-butter sauce.
  • Quinoa Risotto: Creamy quinoa cooked with mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and vegetable broth.
  • Steamed Vegetables: Carrots, zucchini, and asparagus steamed to a soft texture and drizzled with olive oil.

Calories: 750 kcal

Protein: 47g

Fat: 31g

Carbohydrates: 65g

Evening Snack:

  • Chocolate Mousse: Rich and creamy chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream.
  • Warm Milk: Full-fat milk warmed with a touch of honey and vanilla extract.

Calories: 400 kcal

Protein: 12g

Fat: 23g

Carbohydrates: 37g

Total Estimated Macronutrients for the Day:

Calories: 4500 kcal

Protein: 244g

Fat: 191g

Carbohydrates: 454g


The texture of the foods we eat can significantly impact our overall energy intake and, by extension, our weight. By being mindful of our foods’ texture and processing level, we can make informed choices that align with our weight management goals. Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds or put on weight, consider the texture of your foods as a tool to help you achieve your objectives.


Askari, M., Heshmati, J., Shahinfar, H., Tripathi, N., & Daneshzad, E. (2020). Ultra-processed food and the risk of overweight and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. International Journal of Obesity, 44(10), 2080-2091.

Bolhuis, D. P., Forde, C. G., Cheng, Y., Xu, H., Martin, N., & de Graaf, C. (2014). Slow food: sustained impact of harder foods on the reduction in energy intake over the course of the day. PLoS One, 9(4), e93370.

Hall, K. D., Ayuketah, A., Brychta, R., Cai, H., Cassimatis, T., Chen, K. Y., Chung, S. T., Costa, E., Courville, A., Darcey, V., Fletcher, L. A., Forde, C. G., Gharib, A. M., Guo, J., Howard, R., Joseph, P. V., McGehee, S., Ouwerkerk, R., Raisinger, K., . . . Zhou, M. (2019). Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell Metabolism, 30(1), 226.

Krop, E. M., Hetherington, M. M., Nekitsing, C., Miquel, S., Postelnicu, L., & Sarkar, A. (2018). Influence of oral processing on appetite and food intake – A systematic review and meta-analysis. Appetite, 125, 253-269.

Lasschuijt, M., Camps, G., Mars, M., Siebelink, E., de Graaf, K., & Bolhuis, D. (2023). Speed limits: the effects of industrial food processing and food texture on daily energy intake and eating behaviour in healthy adults. European journal of nutrition62(7), 2949–2962.


Machado, P. P., Steele, E. M., Levy, R. B., da Costa Louzada, M. L., Rangan, A., Woods, J., Gill, T., Scrinis, G., & Monteiro, C. A. (2020). Ultra-processed food consumption and obesity in the Australian adult population. Nutrition & Diabetes, 10(1), 39.

Robinson, E., Almiron-Roig, E., Rutters, F., de Graaf, C., Forde, C. G., Tudur Smith, C., Nolan, S. J., & Jebb, S. A. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger123. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100(1), 123-151.

Slimani, N., Deharveng, G., Southgate, D. A. T., Biessy, C., Chajès, V., van Bakel, M. M. E., Boutron-Ruault, M. C., McTaggart, A., Grioni, S., Verkaik-Kloosterman, J., Huybrechts, I., Amiano, P., Jenab, M., Vignat, J., Bouckaert, K., Casagrande, C., Ferrari, P., Zourna, P., Trichopoulou, A., . . . Bingham, S. (2009). Contribution of highly industrially processed foods to the nutrient intakes and patterns of middle-aged populations in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63(4), S206-S225.

Teo, P. S., Lim, A. J., Goh, A. T., R, J., Choy, J. Y. M., McCrickerd, K., & Forde, C. G. (2022). Texture-based differences in eating rate influence energy intake for minimally processed and ultra-processed meals. Am J Clin Nutr, 116(1), 244-254.

Wang, L., Martínez Steele, E., Du, M., Pomeranz, J. L., O’Connor, L. E., Herrick, K. A., Luo, H., Zhang, X., Mozaffarian, D., & Zhang, F. F. (2021). Trends in Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods Among US Youths Aged 2-19 Years, 1999-2018. JAMA, 326(6), 519-530.

Additional Information on the Weight Gain Diet

What are some common foods that cause weight gain?

Some common foods that can cause weight gain include sugary drinks, processed snacks, fast food, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products. These foods are often high in calories, and low in nutrients, and can lead to overeating and weight gain when consumed in excess.

Soft Processed Foods for Young Athletes: Which Foods Cause Weight Gain Guide

For young athletes looking to gain weight, soft processed foods can benefit their diet. Here’s a concise guide:

Calories and Weight Gain Diet:

A dietitian recommends incorporating nutrient-dense foods to increase body weight in a healthy way. While whole foods are ideal, soft processed foods can also offer benefits. For instance, plain Greek yogurt, a dairy product, is high in protein and calcium. Beverages like whole milk can be a good choice for those not lactose-intolerant, providing healthy fats and aiding in increasing body mass index (BMI).

Smoothies, Carbs, Cereals, and Sugars:

Complex carbohydrates like oats and brown rice are preferable over white rice and white bread, which have added sugar and can spike blood sugar. However, in moderation, these can be included for those needing to gain weight. It’s essential to understand the type of sugar; for instance, lactose in dairy products is different from the grams of sugar in sweetened cereals.

Fats and Proteins:

Healthy fats are crucial. Rich in fatty acids, coconut oil offers numerous health benefits, including boosting metabolism. While red meat is high in protein, it’s linked to heart disease, so moderation is key. Tuna, a high-protein option, and nut butter are alternatives. For vegans, soy products can replace dairy, providing similar protein content.

Additional Tips for the Weight Gain Diet:

Dark chocolate, rich in antioxidants, is a healthier alternative to candies with added sugars. While french fries might tempt many, they can lead to being overweight and inflammation. Instead, opt for foods that don’t spike insulin resistance. Remember, gaining weight should focus on increasing muscle, not just body weight.

Which Foods Help with Weight Gain Diet Conclusion:

While soft processed foods can aid in weight gain, it’s essential to choose wisely. Prioritize nutrient-dense options, consult with a dietitian, and remember, everything in moderation.

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