Use this high-calorie foods list to learn which foods are ideal for healthy weight gain.

These are the foods we love and regularly recommend for our clients who are building muscle are high-calorie foods and snacks.

In this article, we include 53 of the most healthy high-calorie fats, proteins, and carbs. We’ll also share simple tips to use these high-calorie foods in your meals.

But, these calorie-dense foods aren’t just for people trying to bulk up. We’ve used this high-calorie foods list several times just this year.

For example, we used it to pack for backpacking trips, write meal plans for elderly clients, recover after long runs, stay nourished while breastfeeding, and come up with snack ideas for our underweight infant.

Whatever your reason for is increasing calories, these are the best high-calorie foods for weight gain. Let’s dig in.

High-Calorie Foods

List of high-calorie foods that are healthy 

When I read that Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, consumed an astonishing 10,000 calories a day at the peak of his training, my jaw just about dropped to the floor.

Ten thousand calories is nearly how much I eat in a week. How many hours did that take him?! Did he just sleep, eat, swim, and repeat with no time for anything else?

(As an aside, a tidbit that we found interesting as engineers was that a substantial amount of his calories were burned via thermogenesis, aka burning calories to maintain body heat. Heat loss is 20X faster in water than in air. You can do similar things with food too — celery is a great example of a thermogenic food because it burns more calories to eat than it supplies!)

As I started researching high-calorie density foods, I realized that with a carefully thought-out plan, it’s possible to maximize your calorie intake without much effort or change — or avoid calories if that’s what you’re trying to do.

Being able to easily bulk up calorie intake is perfect news for someone like Ryan, who finds it challenging to eat enough on his mostly plant diet, or anyone recovering from an illness and lost weight.

It’s also great news for our active toddler, who, after transitioning to solid foods, eats her meals slower than if a sloth and a tortoise had a baby.

In this article, we’ll share a list of the healthiest high-calorie foods to eat, tips to bulk up your meals or healthy snacks, and a printable high-calorie foods chart.

If you’re wondering,

“What foods are highest in calories and still healthy?”
“How can I eat 3,000, no 4,000 or even more calories in a day?”
“How can I add 500 calories a day to gain weight?” 

Then this food list is perfect for you. Also, if you’re wondering which high-calorie foods to avoid, they’re the ones not on this list!

Using Our High-Calorie Foods List

This is a list of nutrient-dense, high-calorie, and clean foods to add to your day. They are all extremely healthy. No fast food here. We include a mix of animal products as well as high-calorie vegetarian foods for weight gain.

Generally speaking, fats have the highest calorie densities at 9 calories per gram. Both protein and carbohydrates contain approximately 4 calories per gram.

While you might be tempted to eat healthy fats all day long, remember that all macros are necessary for the health of your body. For example, your brain uses mostly carbohydrates for fuel, so if you cut any group out, you’re at risk of creating imbalances and health issues for your body.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you’ll want to target roughly 55% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates, 20% from protein, and 25% from fat.

We’ll include examples from each group in our high-calorie foods list below. Plus, we have a free PDF downloadable list that you can save on your phone and print out as an easy takeaway.

Lastly, make sure your gut bacteria are healthy and happy so that they can help digest and distribute all these healthy calories. We don’t all need probiotics, and the supplement industry is highly unregulated. Here are 7 science backed signs that you need probiotics and our favorite ways to get them from whole foods. 

High-Calorie Foods List

Download The High-Calorie Foods Chart

This printable list of high-calorie foods that are healthy includes meal or snack items and their calories. They're in rough order from most to least, judging how much is likely to be eaten in one sitting. Download and print the PDF template as your guide.

High-Calorie Foods: Fats

Whether you’re looking for a high-calorie food list to chow down or avoid, here are the highest-calorie health foods you’ll find, according to data by MyFitnessPal.

What foods cause the most weight gain?

Well, one of the easiest things you can do to boost calories and weight is to load up on high-fat foods. Here is a list of the best calorie-dense and high-fat foods. They’re in rough order from most to least, judging how much is likely to be eaten in one sitting.

Tip for calorie-dense healthy fats

When looking at calories per gram, the highest calorie-dense foods are oils. So add two tablespoons of olive oil to your salads and sesame oil to your sautees and you’ll have added nearly 250 calories instantly.

List of high-calorie fats that are healthy

1) Oil (olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, etc.)
1 tablespoon = 120 calories

2) Butter (salted or unsalted are the same)
1 tablespoon = 100 calories

3) Almond Butter
1 tablespoon = 100 calories

4) Peanut Butter (and various nut and seed butters)
1 tablespoon = 98 calories

5) Manchego Cheese, 1 oz. (1-inch cube)
1 cube = 120 calories

6) Sour Cream, full fat
0.5 cups = 246 calories

7) Avocado, medium
240 calories

8) Greek Yogurt, Whole Milk, 3.25%
1 cup = 238 calories

9) Cheddar Cheese, shredded
0.5 cups = 220 calories

10) Sunflower seeds, shelled
0.25 cups = 210 calories

11) Full-fat cottage cheese, 4%
1 cup = 206 calories

12) Coconut Cream
0.5 cups = 200 calories

13) Brazil Nuts
7 nuts = 190 calories

14) Shredded Coconut
0.5 cups = 180 calories

15) Pistachios, shelled
0.25 cups = 170 calories

16) Whole Milk
1 cup = 149 calories

17) Chia seeds
1 tablespoon = 60 calories

High-Calorie Foods: Proteins

Many people are looking to eat a high-calorie, and high-protein diet, especially those who are weight lifting and strength building.

While most Americans aren’t protein deficient — something we answer in our article, ‘Do I Need Protein Powder?‘ making sure you eat enough protein is a way to satiate hunger, grow muscle, and recover quickly from strenuous workouts.

Here’s a list of high-calorie protein sources, in rough order of how much you’re likely to eat. For those of you who are vegetarian or vegan, we have an even longer list of the best plant-based protein sources as well.

Tip for calorie-dense healthy proteins

In meats, the more marbling or fat, the higher the calorie level. Also, keep the skin on chicken for more calories as well.

As for plant-based “meats,” those are also high in calories because they’re high in fats. But just because they’re plant-based, they aren’t necessarily healthy so eat those in moderation.

List of high-calorie proteins that are healthy

1) Beef steak, marbled
4 oz. = 290 calories

2) Protein energy bar (such as the vegan GoMacro Sunflower Butter + Chocolate Bar)
1 bar = 270 calories

3) Chicken breast with skin
Medium breast = 250 calories

4) Beyond Burger
1 patty = 250 calories

5) Impossible Burger
1 patty = 230 calories

6) Lentils
1 cup = 230 calories

7) Black Beans
1 cup = 220 calories

8) Lamb
4 oz. = 210 calories

9) Pork chop
4 oz. = 210 calories

10) Ground Meat (turkey, beef, pork, chicken, etc.)
4 oz. = 170 calories

11) Shakeology (or similar meal replacement shake)
1 scoop = 160 calories

12) Canned tuna in oil
0.5 cups = 160 calories

13) LyfeFuel Performance Shake (or similar high-calorie meal replacement shake)
1 scoop = 150 calories

14) Garbanzo beans, cooked
0.5 cups = 110 calories

15) Salmon
4 oz = 100 calories

16) Seitan
100 g = 140 calories

17) Egg
1 large = 70 calories

18) Sushi
1 piece = 50 calories

High-Calorie Foods: Carbohydrates

Despite the bad rep that carbohydrates have these days, this macro group encompasses all vegetables and fruits in addition to the bready types most often thought of as carbs. In other words, don’t skip them! Not only do they provide energy but an array of nutrients that your body needs.

Below we list high-calorie, nutritious carbohydrates to consider when adding more calories to your day.

Tip for calorie-dense healthy carbs

When picking out healthy carbohydrates, we look to see if there is at least 1 g of fiber per every 10 g of carbs on the nutrition labels

If you’re like us and you’re a fan of meal replacement shakes, you can use the below high-calorie fruits for weight gain (hint – mango and banana!)

List of high-calorie carbs that are healthy

1) Red Lentil Pasta, cooked
1 cup = 300 calories

2) Buckwheat, cooked
0.5 cups = 292 calories

3) Mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup = 249 calories

4) Dried apricot
100 grams = 240 calories

5) Quinoa, cooked
1 cup = 222 calories

6) Granola
0.5 cups = 210 calories

7) Millet grain, cooked
1 cup = 207 calories

8) Whole Wheat Pasta, cooked
1 cup = 200 calories

9) Barley, cooked
1 cup = 193 calories

10) Sorghum, dry
0.25 cup = 165 calories

11) Sweet or white potato
medium = 164 calories

12) Oatmeal, cooked
1 cup = 160 calories

13) Brown rice, cooked
1 cup = 150 calories

14) Mangos
1 cup = 110 calories

15) Bananas
Medium = 105 calories

16) Raisins
0.25 cup = 90 calories

17) Medjool Dates
1 date = 70 calories

18) Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon = 55 calories

Closing Thoughts on High-Calorie Foods That Are healthy

With this healthy high-calorie foods list and a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be able to add a lot more healthy calories to your day.

Our best tips to increase calories to gain weight are to

  • Add extra oil to your salads and cooking
  • Go to whole milk and full-fat dairy products
  • With meats, opt for more fatty cuts, marbling, and keep the skin on
  • When choosing high-calorie carbs, look for high-fiber options

Pair this list with a great, strength-building workout, like our free 8-week Bodyweight Workout Plan, and you’ll be well on your well to gaining muscle and strength.

Don’t forget to check out our other food lists, such as:

Zero Calorie Food List for Weight Loss

Healthy and Cheap Grocery List

High Fiber Foods Chart

High-Calorie Foods List

Download The High-Calorie Foods Chart

This printable list of high-calorie foods that are healthy includes meal or snack items and their calories. They're in rough order from most to least, judging how much is likely to be eaten in one sitting. Download and print the PDF template as your guide.

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Hey we're Ryan and Alex

A husband-wife duo, two engineers, and the creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. 

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our to tackle our true passion:

Helping highly motivated couples optimize their relationship and health by cutting through the muck and sharing what the research says works.

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