11 Healthy High Calorie Foods

11 Healthy High Calorie Foods

Are you looking for some healthy high calorie foods? There are many benefits to high calorie foods. From stopping unintended weight loss to helping those who are underweight pack on some extra pounds.

At The Geriatric Dietitian we dedicate a lot of our content to high calorie foods. We even created a food blog called High Calorie Recipes.

We all have individual eating needs. And a lot of people simply need more calories in their diet.

In this article I will share my 11 healthy high calorie foods list. And I’ll review some tips on how to maximize the calories in your diet using these healthy foods.

11 Healthy High Calorie Foods

Why High Calorie Foods?

Think of calories like energy. Like gasoline to a car. Calories help our bodies to function and move. Your ability to breathe, to walk across the room, to digest your food… that’s all thanks to calories.

When we don’t get enough calories (or we burn too many calories) our body will find reserves in either fat tissue or muscle tissue. Or, most likely, both. Using up your calorie reserves leads to weight loss (loss of fat and muscle).

Those who are underweight or experiencing unintended weight loss (or just exercise a lot!) need more high calorie foods. This will help them to gain weight. Or get enough calories to stop weight loss.

And when high calories foods are combined with protein and resistance exercise, it can help you gain muscle.

So much focus in the media and online is on low calorie foods and weight loss. Not everyone needs that. In fact, many people need high calorie foods instead!

What Foods Are Highest in Calories

High Calorie Foods

So, if calories provide energy and can help with weight gain, which foods are highest in calories?

When it comes to nutrition (the good, healthy stuff in food), there are 2 types of nutrients:

  • macronutrients
  • micronutrients

Macronutrients contain calories while micronutrients do not.

Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These provide a wonderful variety of other health benefits. But no calories.

There are 3 primary types of macronutrients. Each contain a different amount of calories based on their weight. Here they are:

  • Protein: 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrate: 4 calories per gram
  • Fats: 9 calories per gram

Did you notice the macronutrient with the most calories? That’s right- fats! Fats contain 9 calories per gram. That is more than twice the calories in protein or carbohydrates.

When it comes to foods with the most calories, foods high in fat are the clear winner.

Fats are found in:

  • Salmon and fatty fish
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Avocado
  • Coconut
  • Dairy products
  • Butter and soft spread margarine
  • Olive oil and other oils
  • Meats
  • Etc.

While I won’t be going into the breakdown of fats in this article, be aware there are 2 general categories of fats. Saturated fats and unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats including monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids are generally heart healthy, good fats.

Healthy High Calorie Foods

High calorie and healthy can go hand in hand. Getting the right foods that provide a balance of nutrition is important. Especially for gaining muscle mass and overall health.

You can eat a high calorie diet by eating a lot of junk foods. For example, chips, cake, cookies, buttery popcorn, loads of ice-cream, and more. But that diet won’t leave you feeling too good.

I do believe all foods fit. So, eating a high calorie shake and sweet treat is perfectly acceptable. Especially when trying to stop unintended weight loss (and in turn muscle loss).

But we do want add in some good healthy foods that make our bodies feel good.

Healthy High Calorie Foods for weight gain

11 Healthy High Calorie Foods List

Without further ado, here is my list of 11 healthy, high calorie foods.

Please keep in mind these aren’t the only healthy high calorie foods. I simply created this as a handy reference for you to get started. I will detail each food below and how to maximize calories with each.

11 Healthy High Calorie Foods

  1. Avocado
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Walnuts
  4. Greek Yogurt
  5. Salmon
  6. Peanut Butter
  7. Eggs
  8. Whole Milk
  9. Flax Seed
  10. Almonds
  11. Sunflower Seeds

Calorie Count for 11 Healthy High Calorie Foods

Please note these calorie counts are estimates. Individual calorie counts may vary by manufacturer and how the food is processed (i.e. whole, ground, sliced, etc.). Please read food labels for calorie counts.

Food Serving Size Calories Per Serving
Avocado 1 cup, cubed 240
Olive Oil 2 Tbsp. 240
Walnuts ¼ cup, chopped 190
Greek Yogurt 1 cup 225
Salmon 6 ounces 354
Peanut Butter ¼ cup 379
Eggs 2 jumbo 180
Whole Milk 1 cup 146
Flax Seed ¼ cup 220
Almonds ¼ cup 170
Sunflower Seeds ¼ cup 185


11 Healthy High Calorie Foods Shopping List

You can find all of these foods at your local grocery store. But if you are looking for some added convenience, here are some of our healthy high calorie foods sold on Amazon.

Please note, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.



1 cup of cubed avocado contain a whopping 240 calories.

Avocados for Weight Gain

Avocados are an excellent plant based high calorie food. It is high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats. And it has a creamy texture and is versatile in cooking/ food prep.

Avocados can be purchased:

  • Fresh
  • Frozen
  • Pre-packaged

I love frozen and pre-package mashed avocado because it is easy to store and lasts longer than a fresh avocado. Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh avocados. But nothing is more disappointing then cutting into an avocado to discover it’s browned and you can’t eat it.

Ways to prepare avocados:

  • Cut in half and eat with a spoon!
  • Slice or chop and add to:
    • Salad
    • Omelet
    • Casserole
    • Cooked meat
    • Rice dish
    • Spring rolls
    • Soup
  • Mix in with:
    • Smoothie
    • Milkshake (trust me, it’s good!)
    • Oatmeal

Avocado tastes good with sweet, savory, spicy, and salty. It is a unique and versatile high calorie food.

Be sure to check out this tasty avocado recipe on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

Chicken Avocado Quesadillas

Chicken Avocado Quesadilla

Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. of olive oil contains 240 calories.

olive oil

Olive oil is one of my go-to for adding a quick boost of calories. You can cook with olive oil. And you can add it to a surprising number of foods and dishes.

Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean Diet. It is well known for being a heart healthy (it contains lots of monounsaturated fats!)

Olive Oil can be purchased as:

  • Regular olive oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Flavored varieties

I am from Northern California close to where a lot of olives are grown. I love buying olive oil directly from the famers like at the Olive Pit in Corning, CA.

Ways to use olive oil:

  • Cook vegetables or meat in olive oil
  • Drizzle olive oil over cooked vegetables
  • Make your own olive oil-based salad dressing
  • Add olive oil to soups or casseroles
  • Toss potatoes or veggies in olive oil & roast in oven
  • Add olive oil to pasta dishes
  • Etc.

Be sure to check out this recipe made with olive oil on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

Italian Sausage and Summer Vegetable Soup with Orzo

High Calorie Soup [Italian Sausage and Summer Vegetable Soup with Orzo]


¼ cup chopped walnuts contains 190 calories.

walnuts for weight gain

Walnuts are high in plant-based omega-3 fats, also known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A lot of research has shown walnuts are a heart healthy food.

Walnuts are also a good source of vitamin E and magnesium.  

Walnuts can be purchased:

  • In the Shell
  • Shelled, whole
  • Chopped
  • Blended (walnut butter)

Most walnuts come unsalted. Buying them in bulk will often save you some money.

Ways to prepare walnuts:

  • Eat plain as a snack
  • Add to a healthy salad
  • Sautee with butter & fresh herbs for a savory treat
  • Make your own trail mix
  • Add to casseroles or entrees
  • Make a walnut butter sandwich
  • Stir walnut butter or walnut pieces into oatmeal
  • Dip apples in walnut butter
  • Etc.

Be sure to check out this walnut butter recipe on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

Delicious Walnut Butter

Delicious Homemade Walnut Butter

Greek Yogurt

1 cup of whole fat Greek Yogurt contains 225 calories.

yogurt for weight gain

Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt and is high in protein. The protein in Greek yogurt when combined with resistance exercise is good for muscle health.

In addition to being a good source of protein, Greek yogurt contains gut healthy probiotics.

Greek yogurt can be purchased:

  • Plain
  • Flavored
  • Fruit at the bottom

When selecting a Greek Yogurt for gaining weight, be sure to avoid products that are fat free or low fat. These options are lower in calories. Whole fat Greek yogurt contains the most calories.

Ways to prepare Greek yogurt:

  • Eat plain as a snack
  • Top with nuts, granola and fruit for a parfait
  • Add to oatmeal with fruit
  • Use in baking
  • Add plain Greek yogurt to potatoes or entrée
  • Mix in chocolate chips, sliced almonds, and shredded coconut
  • Freeze with fruit in popsicle molds

Be sure to check out this recipe on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

Cherry Parfait

Delicious Cherry Parfait


6 ounces of farmed Atlantic salmon contains approximately 354 calories.


Health experts recommend eating fish a couple times per week. And what is better than some heart healthy, high calorie salmon?

Salmon is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D. It is an all-around healthy food that is also high calorie.

Salmon can be purchased:

  • Whole
  • Filets
  • Canned
  • Frozen
  • Smoked

Fresh, frozen, or canned salmon are all beneficial. Canned and frozen are beneficial because of the extended shelf life.

Keep in mind that there are many types of salmon. Some have less or more calories than others. Be sure to read the nutrition label (if possible) when purchasing your salmon.

Ways to prepare salmon:

  • Grilled with seasoning
  • Pan fried with butter and herbs
  • On skewers and coated with teriyaki sauce
  • Wrapped in foil with butter in dill, baked in oven
  • Use canned salmon to make salmon cakes
  • Etc.

Peanut Butter

¼ cup of peanut butter contains a whopping 279 calories.

peanut butter

Peanut butter is our highest calorie food on the list. It is high in heart healthy fats and versatile in cooking. It can be used in a savory chicken dish or a sweet smoothie.

Peanut butter is a good source of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats.

Now if you are allergic to peanuts, no problem. You can always use another type of nut or seed butter. Or just use some of the other healthy high calorie foods on this list!

Peanut Butter can be purchased:

  • Smooth
  • Chunky
  • Fresh ground

Many grocery stores, and most natural food stores, have the option to grind your own peanut butter which can be fun.

You can make your own peanut butter using a food processor or powerful blender (we prefer the Vitamix*).

Ways to use peanut butter:

  • Stir into oatmeal or hot cereal
  • Make peanut sauce for chicken or tofu
  • Dip apples in peanut butter
  • Add to a high calorie smoothie
  • Make a high calorie shake
  • Add to bread with sliced bananas
  • Eat with a spoon (why not?!)
  • Use in baking
  • Etc.


Be sure to check out this delicious peanut butter recipe on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast

700 Calorie Breakfast Peanut Butter French Toast


2 jumbo eggs contain 180 calories.


Eggs contain a ton of nutrients. The whites are high in protein. The yolk is high in fat (read= high in calories). Eggs also contain vitamin D, choline, and other vitamins and minerals.

You can prepare eggs in a variety of ways (see below). You can also use them in baking. Add hard boiled eggs to salads. Or add them into casseroles and main entrees.

Eggs can be purchased:

  • Whole
  • Carton (pre-mixed)
  • Powder

Now I prefer regular, whole eggs myself. But you can’t discount the convenience of being able to shake a carton and pour your eggs right into the pan. Make sure you aren’t just buying egg whites- this product is low in calories. Make sure the whole egg is in the carton.

And egg powder is handy to have in the cupboard in a crunch.

Ways to prepare eggs:

  • Hard Boiled
  • Scrambled
  • Poached
  • Over Easy
  • Sunny Side Up
  • Omelet
  • Soufflé

Be sure to check out this tasty recipe on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

High Calorie Cheesy Breakfast Grits

500 Calorie Breakfast Cheesy Grits

Whole Milk

1 cup of whole fat milk contains 146 calories.

whole milk for weight gain

In this list we are talking about cow’s milk. If you prefer plant-based milks, we recommend oat milk or soy milk as high calorie options. Almond milk is low in calories.

When buying cow’s milk at the store you typically find 4 varieties:  whole milk, reduced fat (2%), low fat (1%), or fat free.

Since whole milk has not had any fat removed, it is the highest in calories of the 4 varieties.

Milk can be purchased:

  • Fresh
  • Powdered
  • Canned

As usual, I prefer fresh milk. But having powdered whole milk or canned milk on hand can come in pretty handy.

You can even combine whole milk with milk powder to make Weight Gain Milk. This drink has an added boost of calories.

Ways to use whole milk:

  • Drink plain
  • Add flavoring (ex. chocolate syrup)
  • Add to cereal or oatmeal
  • Use with a high calorie shake or smoothie
  • Make cream-based soups
  • Use in baking
  • Etc.

Flax Seed

½ cup of flax seed contains 220 calories.

flax seed for weight gain

Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. This makes flax seed a heart healthy high calorie food.

Not everyone is used to flax seed, so it may take some creativity and effort to incorporate flax into your diet.

Flax Seed can be purchased:

  • Whole
  • Ground
  • Powder

If you purchase whole flax seed, consider grinding it yourself with a food processor or high-powered blender. Or make sure you chew really good!

If you eat whole flax seed (without chewing well) it might go straight through the GI track without being digested. This means you won’t get the calories or health benefits.

Ways to use flax seed:

  • Add ground flax seed to oatmeal
  • Mix in to a high calorie smoothie
  • Make a home-made granola bar with flax
  • Add ground flax to baked goods
  • Top a salad with ground flax
  • Add to a casserole
  • Etc.

Be sure to check out this recipe made with ground flax seed on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:


Coconut Oil Smoothie


¼ cup almonds contains 170 calories.


Almonds contain heart healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamin E and magnesium. They make a great snack but can also be incorporated into cooking and baking.

Almonds can be purchased:

  • Raw
  • Roasted
  • Salted
  • Flavored
  • Diced
  • Slivered
  • Sliced
  • Blended (almond butter)

I like eating whole almonds as a snack. But I like slivered almonds for cooking.

Ways to use almonds:

  • Eat plain as a snack
  • Add to a healthy salad
  • Sautee with butter & fresh herbs for a savory treat
  • Make your own trail mix
  • Add to casseroles or entrees
  • Make an almond butter sandwich
  • Stir almond butter or walnut pieces into oatmeal
  • Dip apples in almond butter
  • Add almond butter to a high calorie smoothie
  • Etc.

Be sure to check out this recipe on our food blog, High Calorie Recipes:

Almond Butter Weight Gain Shake


Sunflower Seeds

½ cup sunflower seeds contain 185 calories.

Sunflower seeds contain heart healthy fats. And they are high in selenium and vitamin E. They are a tasty, crunchy snack. And can add texture and variety to cooked foods and meals.

Sunflower seeds can be purchased:

  • In the Shell
  • Shelled
  • Blended (sunflower seed butter)

The best way to get the most calories from sunflower seeds is eating them shelled. Or blended as a sunflower seed butter.

Shelled sunflower seeds are fun. But they can also take a long time to eat. Or you won’t be able to consume enough of the seeds to make it a high calorie food.

You can find salted or unsalted varieties, depending on your personal preference or health needs.

Ways to use sunflower seeds:

  • Eat plain as a snack
  • Add to a healthy salad
  • Blend in to a high calorie smoothie
  • Make your own trail mix
  • Add to casseroles or entrees
  • Make a sunflower seed butter sandwich
  • Mix sunflower seed butter into oatmeal
  • Dip apples in sunflower seed butter
  • Etc.

Conclusion: Healthy High Calorie Foods

I hope this list of healthy high calories foods gave you some good ideas. You can stop unintended weight loss or gain weight through healthy high calorie foods.

And if you are looking for a handy e-Cookbook full of recipes to help you gain weight, be sure to check out our:

Or get both cookbooks, our Weight Gaining SECRETS e-Book, and so much more with our signature Gaining Weight MADE EASY Course!

Gaining Weight Made Easy Sidebar

Best of luck to you!

Healthy High Calorie Foods Infographic

3 thoughts on “11 Healthy High Calorie Foods”

  1. This piece goes a long way in showing that just because a food may be high in calories doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low in nutrition. Great insight shared here!

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