7 Tips to Gain Weight with COPD


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or better known as COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. This chronic respiratory disease attacks a person’s ability to breathe due to swelling and blockage of their air ways with thick and sticky mucus causing the main symptom of COPD, shortness of breath (dyspnea). But, with the use of supplemental oxygen treatments, respiratory therapy, exercise and proper diet patients can live an enjoyable life doing things that provide them with utmost pleasure.

Eating a healthy-COPD-friendly-diet is one of the most important adjustments you can make after receiving a COPD diagnosis. Since COPD hampers the lungs ability to function properly you will require the need for additional calorie intake in order to handle the work load. In fact, patients can require up to 10 times the daily calorie intake of a non-COPD patient. Due to the increased workload it takes to breathe, patients are often faced with unwanted weight loss which causes them to feel even weaker due to muscle deterioration, and it leaves their body less susceptible to fight off disease worsening viruses, and infections.

It is vital for a COPD patient to consume enough calories to support the increased workload and prevent the weakening or deterioration of the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles. In addition to these 7 healthy weight gaining tips, you should also enroll in pulmonary rehab. This program is there to provide patients with the proper nutrition counseling needed for monitoring COPD. Here you will have the help and support of a professional who will design a diet plan to maximize your health while learning to live with COPD.

Gaining Weight with COPD: 7 Healthy Tips

Tip 1: Harness the Strength of Peanut Butter 

Besides being just a staple of the classic PB&J, peanut butter is beneficial to your COPD health and should always be in your pantry. Not only is peanut butter delicious, but it is also infused with heart-healthy calories and protein. Protein, not only strengthens your muscles, but it also produces antibodies, which help your body fight off infections. Fiber, is another key nutrient you will receive from peanut butter. Fiber helps to move things along in your digestive tract and it will also help reduce the amount of calories your body burns digesting food. Additionally, the intake of fiber will help to better control blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol levels in your blood, further improving heart health.

High Calorie Peanut Butter Snacks:

  • Peanut Butter and Crackers
  • Whole Grain Bagel with Peanut Butter
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables with Peanut Butter Dip

Tip 2: Dairy Products 

Dairy products not only provide nutrients that aid in healthy weight gain, but they are also packed with protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Protein, as you know helps produce antibodies to fight off infections, but did you know that protein will also strengthen your respiratory muscles? Calcium and vitamin D help to fortify your bones, which is important especially since osteoporosis can occur with COPD. Try adding a slice or two of feta cheese to your favorite turkey sandwich, or add some shredded cheese to your delectable homemade soup recipe for an additional calorie boost. When eating cheese to avoid entirely processed cheese such as American cheese. Opt for more natural options like feta, Swiss, parmesan, mozzarella string cheese or cottage cheese. Instead of drinking water at the dinner table, substitute an 8 oz glass of milk to sneak in a few extra calories and nutrients.

Note: If you notice an excess amount of mucus after eating consuming dairy products, drink water afterwards to help thin and decrease mucus production.

Tasty Dairy Product Meals:

  • Yogurt with Granola Topped with Fresh Fruit
  • Eggs Topped with Cheese
  • Vegetables with Cottage Cheese
  • Fruit with Cottage Cheese
  • Cheesy Casserole
  • String Cheese
  • Pasta Topped with Parmesan Cheese
  • Pizza
  • Swiss Cheese Cubes with Fruit

Tip 3: Eat 4-6 Small Meals Per Day

Instead of eating the typical 3 meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) you should be eating 4-6 smaller portioned meals throughout the day. Doing so will reduce the occurrence of bloating and becoming overly full. Eating 4-6 smaller meals will allow you to add healthier high-calorie food items to your diet. These small tasty meals will benefit your goal of gaining weight, increasing energy, and feeling better. Whenever eating be sure to eat slowly so you don’t tire yourself out before you are finished with your meal. Savor each bite.

Tip 4: Indulge in Whole-Grains 

You may be eating a diet packed with whole-grains currently, but you may simply be unaware of the benefits they truly have on your ability to gain weight with COPD. A diet fortified with whole-grains provides your body with ample amounts of calories, fiber, B vitamins, iron and magnesium. Whole-grains will help to improve your weakened immune system with its B vitamins, while magnesium is necessary for muscle contractions and protein production. Magnesium also works with calcium to control bronchial activity, resulting in an antihistamine like effect. Iron will also benefit your breathing with COPD as it is used to carry oxygen through the blood.


  • Whole-Grain Wheat Bread
  • Whole-Grain Crackers with Cheese
  • Granola
  • Oatmeal with Milk
  • Quinoa
  • Whole Wheat Pasta with Olive Oil
  • Brown Rice
  • Rolled Oats

Tip 5: Don’t Skip the Healthy Fats 

To aid you on a successful path to gaining weight with COPD, don’t forget to add healthy poly and mono-unsaturated fats to your meals and snacks. You don’t have to worry as these do not contain cholesterol, so adding oils such as canola, olive, safflower, or corn oil is a great way to add extra calories and flavor to your meals in a healthy way. Instead of dowsing your pasta with margarine opt for olive oil. Avocados are also another tasty avenue to receive healthy unsaturated fat that also provides a calorie boost. Give your plain and boring salad a boost of flavor by cutting up and topping it with some fresh avocado, or make a fresh batch of salsa mixed with avocado to eat with whole-grain chips.

Cooking with Healthy Fats:

  • Saute Vegetables in Safflower Oil
  • Marinate Lean-Meat in Vinaigrette made from Olive Oil
  • Vinaigrette Salad Dressing made from Olive Oil on a Fresh Salad

Tip 6: Fruits High in Calories

During your next shopping trip be sure to add some high calorie fruits into your basket. What exactly do I mean by high calorie fruits? Typically fruits canned in heavy syrup, frozen in sauces, dried, or 100% fruit juices offer the highest caloric intake. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid fresh fruits in all, they still provide essential nutrients and fortify your immune system with antioxidants.

High Calorie Fruits:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Dried Apples
  • Dates
  • Apricots

Tip 7: Calorie Boosting Shakes and Smoothies

Smoothies and shakes are an actionable way to receive protein, vitamin D, and extra calories without tiring yourself out. Which is ideal for COPD patients due to the fact that chewing food uses up a lot of energy. To get the most out of your smoothie or shake, blend some fresh or frozen fruit (100% fruit juice is okay as well) with some yogurt or ice cream. Make sure to add whole or 2 percent milk to sneak in a few extra calories, while also adding the muscle boosting power of protein powder.

High Calorie Shake and Smoothie Recipes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake (1,090 Calories per Serving) 

  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate Syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons of Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1-1/2 Cups of Chocolate Ice Cream

Directions: Combine Ingredients into a Blender. Mix Well (Makes 1 Serving)

Super Shake (550 Calories per Serving)

  • 1 Cup of Ice Cream (1-2 Scoops)
  • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
  • 1 Package of Carnation Instant Breakfast

Directions: Combine Ingredients into a Blender. Mix Well. (Makes 1 Serving)

Morning Time Protein Shake (640 Calories per Serving; 50 Grams of Protein) 

  • 12-16 Ounces of Orange or Mango Juice
  • 2 Scoops of Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1 Freshly Peeled Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • 1/4 Cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Directions: Combine Ingredients into a Blender. Mix Well. (Makes 2 Servings)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie (798 Calories per Serving)

  • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 3 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cocoa Powder or Chocolate Syrup
  • 1 Serving of Protein Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey for Sweetness

Directions: Combine Ingredients into a Blender. Mix Well. (Makes 1 Serving)


  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Dried Apples
  • Dates
  • Apricots
  • Granola
  • Oatmeal
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • Rolled Oats
  • Whole-grain Crackers
  • Whole-grain chips
  • Whole-grain Bagel
  • Whole-grain Bread
  • Whole-grain Wheat Pasta
  • Whole-grain Brown Rice
  • Peanut Butter
  • Honey
  • Yogurt or Greek Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • String Cheese
  • Whole Milk or 2 percent milk
  • Orange or Mango Juice
  • Ice Cream
  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Vanilla Protein Powder
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Cocoa Powder or Chocolate Syrup
  • Protein Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Canola Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinaigrette made from Olive Oil


The importance of maintaining a healthy weight with COPD cannot be stressed enough. Rest assured knowing that with these 7 tips above you are now better equipped with the knowledge to put you on a successful path to getting back to a healthy weight. What are some healthy, COPD-friendly recipes that you have found that provide nutrients but aid in gaining weight?

References: my.clevelandclinic.orglung.orghealthysmoothiehq.com

About the Author: Eden Coleman is an avid blogger and content developer for copdstore.com. Through blogging he provides actionable and lifestyle tips to help COPD patients live the highest quality of life possible with an often restrictive disease.

Eden Coleman