A calorie is a unit of energy that is used to by all lifeforms to perform vital basic metabolic functions.
The amount of calories one consumes is dependent on age, gender, lean muscle mass, basal metabolic rate and activity level. We constantly burn calories each day which is why we must constantly consume calories.
Simply put, if we burn more calorie than we consume, this leads to weight loss. However, on the extreme side of the spectrum, if one burns too many calories or consumes too few, one can become underweight which can lead to multiple grave medical problems such as arrested growth in height, electrolyte abnormalities, and irregularities of the heart rhythm and heart valve issues.
In addition, being underweight is associated with low blood pressure leading to fainting, slow digestive tract leading to constipation, anemia, hair loss, and vitamin, as well as greater risk of infections, osteoporosis and fertility problems.
On the other hand, if you consume too many calories or burn too few this can lead to obesity, diabetes, and greater risk of heart attacks or strokes.
This article will provide you 15 high calorie foods which can be consumed for those that are severely underweight or those trying to gain weight in heathy manner.
First off, find your normal calorie intake to maintain your weight by using the calorie calculator from the National Institute of Health (nih).
The nih Body Weight Planner is great tool for finding your current caloric intake based on your activity level. Once you find your baseline your goal will be toeat 500-750 more calories per day on top of what you already consume.
Remember, the more physically active you are, the more calories you burn.
Top 15 Highest Calorie Foods to Gain Weight
1. Protein Shakes
Protein shakes are an essential way to gain lean muscle and enhance your muscle recovery after a workout. You should be consuming a range of 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight a day.
You can try all types of whey protein shake flavors and these 48 delicious recipes!
1 serving of a whey protein shake = 300-600 calories depending on your recipe
2. Brown Rice
Brown rice is rich in fiber, lowers cholesterol, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
One cup (8 ounces) of brown rice contains 215 calories and 45g of carbs to get you fueled for a workout or ice hockey game.
On days where I know I will be exerting myself especially hard, I consume two cups of brown rice. Here are 17 recipes for your brown rice.
1 cup brown rice = 215 calories
3. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is hands down this is my favorite source of protein. A 4oz serving of raw chicken breast contains 190 calories, with only 4g of fat, 0g carbohydrates and 35g of protein.
You can grill it, bake it, or throw it in a stir fry with any of these 30 recipes. End of the day you can a lean source that you can pack on to eat daily.
1 cup chopped chicken = 335 calories
Salmon is a great source of protein and healthy fish oils to keep you fit and lean. Surprisingly, a 4oz salmon has 14g of fat that is a high source of omega fatty acids, 0g of carbohydrates and a whopping 25g of protein.
Salmon is one of my favorite seafood to eat since it has been linked with improved eyesight, replenished skin, helps joints and bones strong, and reduce your cardiovascular disk. Here are some new recipes and easy solutions to try at home.
½ fillet (198g) = 238 calories
5. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs each contain 7g of protein and vitamins, minerals and healthy cholesterol. There are numerous recipes you can do to add on extra calories.
Make an omelet and toss in healthy vegetables or treat yourself to a Benedict Arnold loaded with meat so you can consume 450 calories. You can also load up your Egg Muffin to 400 calories with this recipe.
1 egg = 70 calories
1 egg omelet = 200-400 calories depending on the recipe
Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, lentil and even edamame. Together, legumes are loaded with protein and ideal for vegetarians looking for other sources of protein!
Take a look at the protein content in just one cup of black turtle beans (40g protein), lentils (18g protein), peas (8g protein), and edamame (17g protein). Legumes will improve your cholesterol, and contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble.
1 cup turtle beans =614 calories
1 cup lentils = 230 calories
1 cup peas = 118 calories
1 cup edamame = 119 calories
7. Meal Replacement Bars
Meal replacement bars are great to eat when you have no available food.The best brands to eat are the Quest Bars and Detour Protein Bars.
Even though you are trying to gain weight, try to avoid those loaded with simple sugars. The best options are those with long acting carbohydrates to give you energy to train without a crash.
1 serving of aprotein bar = 180-220 calories depending on the type
8. Red Meat
Red meat when eaten in moderation can make you strong and gain significant muscle. However, be aware that red meat is higher in saturated fat than chicken, and some studies show that it may be linked to increased cardiovascular disease and cancer.
A lean beef burger patty can vary from 200-300 calories. But when you load it with cheese, bread and sauce you can put on 500-600 calories.
100g ground beef (70% lean meat/30% fat) = 332 calories
100g steak = 271 calories
9. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt can contain as much as 20g of protein in one 7oz serving of yogurt! In addition, yogurt can improve your gastrointestinal health, and boost your immune system.
Yogurt is also high in Vitamin B12, Calcium, Phosphorus and Riboflavin. A nice tip to increase the calories even more is to add to your yogurt berries, flax seed, and almonds.
1 cup Greek yogurt = 200 calories (may increase to 400 calories with additional fruits or nuts)
Avocado is packed with monosaturated fatty acids, specifically oleic acid, which is associated with reducing inflammation and having beneficial effects on cancer.
A single serving of a medium sized serving of an avocado contains 22 grams of fat and 13 grams of fiber.
1 medium sized avocado = 227 calories
11. Whole Grain Pasta
Whole grain pasta contains long-lasting carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, a high source of fiber and aids with digestion.
Typically a 2oz serving of whole grain pasta contains 200 calories with about 40g of carbohydrates and 7g of fiber. You can cook this into a salad, pasta, and stir-fry and this can vary from 300-500 calories depending on how you make it.
1 cup of whole grain pasta = 174 calories
12. Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain breadreduces your mortality, risk of diabetes mellitus type 2, blood pressure and protects against metabolic syndrome, stroke, high cholesterol, cancer and heart attacks.
In short, one slice of whole grain bread generally has 70 calories and 12g of carbohydrates with 2g of fiber.
However, the best whole grain bread is Ezekiel bread! Ezekiel bread is made of sprouted grains, wheat, barley, beans, and lentils and you can taste that delicious flavor in each bite. Even better, each slice contains 4g of fiber, 4g of protein that contains 18 amino acids
1 slice of whole grain bread = 70 calories
1 slice of Ezekiel whole grain bread = 80 calories
Quinoa contains vast vitamins, minerals and omega fats and the high fiber is linked with relieving constipation, lowering your risk of blood pressure and diabetes.
Instead of breakfast oatmeal, try quinoa porridge and mix with blue berries and other fruits for extra calories.
1 cup of quinoa = 222 calories
Oatmeal is one of the best ways to start off your morning because one cup of oatmeal contains 150 calories with 27g of carbohydrates and 4g of fiber.
The carbohydrates are long acting to give fuel your day. It is advised that the average woman eat 25g of fiber a day and the average man eat roughly 35g of fiber a day.
Try mixing oatmeal with whey protein in a blender with fruit. Or just have the oatmeal with some skim milk and mix with berries, strawberries, and banana and flax seed.
1 cup of oatmeal = 150 calories
15. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a tremendous source of delicious healthy monosaturated fats that can add on the calories you need to gain weight.
Two tablespoons of peanut butter has 16g of fat (the healthy kind), 8g of protein and puts on about 200 calories. It has been shown that peanut butter lowers the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart disease and contains a healthy source of fats, magnesium to fortify your bones and muscles, Vitamin E and antioxidants.
My favorite way to eat peanut butter is to eat it with my protein shake for a thickened creamy flavor.
2 tablespoons of peanut butter = 200 calories
When it comes to gaining weight in a healthy way you must consume more calories than you are burning. Eat plenty of these top 15 foods, but remember to eat larger portions of meals and more frequently.
Each meal should contain large amounts of protein, rich complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. If you have trouble eating foods, then drink more protein shakes that are also mixed with fruit and oatmeal to add more calories.
It is important that you weight train three to four times a week so you can use those calories to build muscle to avoid getting fat. Be sure to monitor your progress so that you are consuming 500-750 more calories per day than usual.
You should gain approximately 1-2 pounds a week. Keep track of your progress with the scale and the mirror. If you are getting fatter, then reduce your caloric intake.
Be sure to discuss with your physician your weight gaining goals so you can both create a plan appropriate for you based on your health history.
Remember, gaining weight takes time. It is much better to eat healthy instead of junk food. Be patient with the process, and the results will pay off!
The Best High Calorie Foods
- Protein shakes
- Brown rice
- Chicken breast
- Whole eggs
- Meal replacement bars
- Red meat
- Greek yogurt
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole grain bread
- Peanut butter
Rajiv M Mallipudi, md, mhs is an internal medicine resident physician, personal trainer, athlete and author. He has over a decade of personal training experience and helped hundreds of clients of all levels achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. This inspired him to work as a clinical researcher at the nationally recognized Johns Hopkins Hospital Weight Management Center. During medical school he and his classmates created the health and wellness organization, medfit, which provided personal training and nutrition counseling to the medical student body. In his spare time, Dr. Mallipudi enjoys playing ice hockey, dancing, and training for his next bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions. Dr. Mallipudi serves as a contributing writer for the Diet and Fitness sections.