Are you looking for higher calorie foods for weight gain? Or maybe even to stop unintended weight loss?
Eating higher calorie foods doesn’t have to be hard. In the article I breakdown how you can get more calories in your diet through some simple swaps.
Swapping out lower calorie foods for higher calories foods means you can gain weight by eating the same volume of food. Let’s dig in!
Why Higher Calorie Foods?
Higher calorie foods can help to stop unintentional weight loss and to promote weight gain.
Calories or energy help the body to work. When we get too many calories, we gain weight. When we don’t get enough calories, the body will use energy stored in the body (in fat and muscle) to get what it needs to function.
This in turn leads to weight loss. Eating higher calorie foods can stop that loss.
Which Food for Calories?
With so many foods to choose from, which foods should you pick for calories?
All foods contain calories, the amount varies by the type of food. Food is generally broken down into three categories. Each contains specific amounts of calories per volume.
- Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Fat: 9 calories per gram
Most foods are made up of different combinations of these three nutrients. As you can see by this list, fats contain more than twice as many calories per volume than carbohydrates and protein.
Selecting foods with higher fat volume will mean more calories.
You’ll notice many of the swaps on this list include foods higher in dietary fat. This is done to pack in the calories without adding more food to eat.
Simple Swaps for Weight Gain
Without further ado, here is our list of simple swaps for higher calorie foods. Below we will go into detail on how to use these higher calorie foods.
Of note, all the foods on this list can work for a healthy diet. There are no good or bad foods. This list simply shows a similar food option that is higher in calories for someone looking to make a high calorie food swap.
|Lower in Calories||Higher in Calories|
|Skim Milk: 83 kcal/cup||Whole Milk: 150 kcal/cup|
|Carrots: 45 kcal/cup||Avocado: 234 kcal/cup|
|Cod: 144 kcal/6 oz.||Salmon: 302 kcal/6 oz.|
|Vinegar: 6 kcal/2 Tbsp||Olive Oil: 238 kcal/2 Tbsp|
|Jelly: 100/ 2 Tbsp||PB: 190 kcal/2 Tbsp|
|Chicken: 140 kcal/3 oz.||Rib Eye: 248 kcal/3 oz.|
|Nonfat Plain Yogurt: 90 kcal/cup||Whole Milk Plain Yogurt: 170 kcal/6 oz|
|Crackers: 81 kcal/5 peices||Walnuts: 327 kcal/0.5 cup|
|Blueberries: 60 kcal/cup||Banana: 105 kcal/medium|
|Kool-Aid: 60 kcal/cup||Protein Powder: 125 kcals|
|Nonfat Cottage Cheese: 83 kcal/cup||Whole Cottage Cheese: 285 kcal/ 3 oz|
Note: Estimated calories information is provided above and throughout this article. Read labels for individual calorie counts as calorie content varies by product.
Discuss changes to diet & issues with weight loss with your healthcare team.
Higher Calorie Milk
A simple swap for a higher calorie milk is trading skim milk for whole milk.
One cup of skim milk contains 83 calories while one cup of whole milk contains 150 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 67 calories.
In addition to drinking whole milk, you can add it to soups, smoothies, and other baked goods. Another high calorie option is to use creamer or half and half, which has even more calories.
If you want to find a really high milk option, check out our article on Weight Gain Milk.
Higher Calorie Vegetables
A simple swap for a higher calorie vegetables is trading carrots for avocado.
One cup of carrots contains 45 calories while one cup of avocado contains 234 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 189 calories.
Yes, we know that technically an avocado is a fruit. But, it’s used as a vegetable in cooking. In salads, on eggs, etc. So we feel good counting it as a vegetable for the sake of a higher calorie swap!
Vegetables are known for being lower in calories. However, there are many high calorie vegetables available.
If you want to find a really high milk option, check out our article on High Calorie Vegetables.
Higher Calorie Fish
A simple swap for a higher calorie fish is trading cod for salmon.
Six ounces of cod contains 166 calories while six ounces of salmon contains 302 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 158 calories.
Most seafood and fish products are lower in calories. However, salmon and tuna are great higher calorie fish options. Both contain heart healthy omega-3 fats.
Note that different varieties of salmon contain a different number of calories. But they are still higher calorie fish options.
Adding butter to your salmon will add even more calories and some great flavor. We recommend fresh dill along with the butter.
Higher Calorie Condiments
A simple swap for a higher calorie condiment is trading vinegar for olive oil.
2 Tablespoons of vinegar contains 6 calories while 2 Tablespoons of olive oil contains 238 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 232 calories.
Lower calorie condiments include vinegars and mustard. Olive oil and mayonnaise contain fat, which means more calories.
When adding condiments to food to add flavor, look to olive oil for a great high calorie option. Olive oil comes in a variety of flavors as well. Our favorite is Lemon Olive Oil.
Try adding olive oil to green salads, pasta salads, vegetables, casseroles, soup, or use it to dip bread in.
Higher Calorie Spreads
A simple swap for a higher calorie spread is trading jelly for peanut butter.
Two Tablespoons of jelly contains 100 calories while two Tablespoons of peanut butter contains 190 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 90 calories.
Peanut butter and jelly certainly go together. But when it comes to choosing a spread, say for your toast, peanut butter is going to have more calories for sure.
You can spread peanut butter on toast, bagels, celery, or apples. You can add a dollop to your oatmeal or into your smoothies as a high calorie add in.
If you are allergic to peanuts, consider other nut and seed based butters. Examples include almond butter, walnut butter, sunflower seed butter, and pumpkin seed butter.
Higher Calorie Meats
A simple swap for a higher calorie meat is trading chicken breast for rib eye steak.
Three ounces of chicken breast contains 140 calories while three ounces of rib eye contains 248 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 108 calories.
Lean meats are great options for those following a heart healthy diet or looking to limit calories in their diet. Fattier cuts of meat contain more calories. These are great options for those who need higher calorie foods.
Cuts of beef with a high amount of marbling (fat) are higher calorie meat options.
Higher Calorie Yogurts
A simple swap for a higher calorie yogurt is trading nonfat yogurt for whole milk yogurt.
Six ounces of nonfat yogurt contains 90 calories while six ounces of whole fat yogurt contains 170 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 80 calories.
There are so many different types of yogurt available in the grocery store. It can be hard to know which ones to choose without reading the nutrition label on every container.
Avoid yogurts with the words light, fit, skim, and nonfat. These are lower calorie yogurt options.
Instead look for yogurts made with whole fat milk and cream. Sweetened varieties will have even more calories from the added sugar.
Our favorite higher calorie yogurt is Greek Gods Honey Vanilla Yogurt. It contains 200 calories per ⅔ cup serving. And it is so delicious.
Try eating this yogurt layered with granola and blueberries for a high calorie parfait.
Higher Calorie Snacks
A simple swap for a higher calorie snack is trading for crackers for walnuts.
Five crackers contains 81 calories while half a cup of walnuts provides 327 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 246 calories.
There are so many different snack options to choose from. Nuts make a great high calorie snack because they are jam packed with calories. Plus they provide that crunch we typically look for in a snack.
In addition to walnuts, you can try almonds, pecans, cashews, hazel nuts, macadamia nuts, and brazil nuts. You can eat them alone or mixed with seeds, dried fruit, and chocolate for a tasty trail mix.
For more higher calorie snack ideas, check out our article Easy High Calorie Snacks for Weight Gain.
Higher Calorie Fruit
A simple swap for a higher calorie fruit is trading blueberries for banana.
One cup of blueberries contains 60 calories while one medium banana contains 105 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 45 calories.
Many fruits are lower in calories, but there are higher calorie options. These fruits usually contain more sugar than their lower calorie counterparts.
Dried fruits will also contain more calories than fresh fruits. Because the water from fruit is removed to make dried fruit, you have more fruit and calories per volume.
For a larger list of higher calorie foods, check out our article 15 High Calorie Fruits for Weight Gain.
Higher Calorie Drinks
A simple swap for a higher calorie drink is trading kool-aid for protein powder.
A serving of kool-aid contains 60 calories while a serving of protein powder contains 125 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 65 calories.
Zero calorie drinks include water, coffee, and tea (without sugar or cream). Higher calorie drinks contain fat and protein. Examples include milk and protein drinks.
Calorie content in protein powders vary. Read nutrition facts labels to find protein powders you like with the most calories. Be mindful if a serving is one scoop or two scoops.
Check out our article Protein Shakes for Weight Gain for some high calorie options.
And for more higher calorie drink ideas, check out our article 5 Best High Calorie Drinks.
Higher Calorie Cottage Cheese
A simple swap for a higher calorie cottage cheese is trading nonfat cottage cheese for whole milk cottage cheese.
Three ounces of nonfat cottage cheese contains 83 calories while three ounces of whole fat cottage cheese contains 285 calories. This simple swap will provide an extra 202 calories.
Cottage cheese typically comes in nonfat, low fat, and whole fat (or regular). The cottage cheese made with whole milk has the most calories.
Add canned fruit to your cottage cheese for even more calories.
More Resources for Weight Gain
Here are some more resources for weight gain.
High Calorie Articles
For more articles on higher calorie foods for weight gain, check out our complete list of High Calorie articles. Some recommended articles include:
- High Calorie Meals with FREE Meal Plan
- 21 Best Real Foods to Gain Weight Fast
- 11 Healthy High Calorie Breakfast Recipes
- 15 Best High Calorie Vegan Foods
- High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain
We periodically write articles on high calorie topics, so be sure to check back for more articles.
High Calorie Recipes Website
For some delicious high calorie recipes, check out our sister website and food blog High Calorie Recipes. Some recommended recipes include:
- Chicken Avocado Quesadilla
- High Calorie Cheesy Breakfast Grits
- Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast
- Italian Sausage and Summer Vegetable Soup with Orzo
- High Calorie Banana Shake
Be sure to bookmark High Calorie Recipes and visit often as we are always putting up new recipes.
High Calorie Paid Products
If you are looking for a little more support, check out our premium paid products. From e-books, to worksheets, to a course, we have several products to help you gain weight.
Check out our premium paid products here:
- High Calorie Foods SERIES
- Gaining Weight Made Easy- The Course
- High Calorie SHAKES e-Cookbook
- High Calorie RECIPES e-Cookbook
Summary: Higher Calorie Foods for Weight Gain
We hope this article provided you with ideas to help you gain weight. Remember, simple swaps with higher calorie foods can help to stop unintended weight loss and promote weight gain.
Work with your doctor to address any potential underlying health issues contributing to your weight issues. Best of luck with your weight gain journey!