Have you been struggling to gain weight? Do you fail to understand the greatest high calorie foods for your goals? We get it. Gaining weight is difficult. In this article, we’ll share 20 high calorie foods that will help with your weight gain. We’ll ensure we keep them palatable and also help you to understand the nutrition behind them so that you never struggle with weight gain again.
We aren’t eating for the sake of eating. And we don’t believe in eating poor quality food, just because you can.
We’re going to eat calorie dense food that’s good for you and will keep you full. This will help you to put on weight without putting on unnecessary fat and at the same time, keeping you feeling good.
Why are you underweight?
Before we get started, let’s talk about the reasons why you’re underweight. If you want to gain weight, and you’re reading about high calorie foods, we’re assuming that you’ve struggled to put on weight for most of your life. You’ve not been able to gain weight the way you’d like to. But you want this time to be different.
Being underweight can be caused by many things:
Weight gain can be a struggle for many reasons:
We can’t change your genetics.
We can, however, give you high calorie foods that suit every budget, most of which can be prepared and consumed with little time. This will help to form the habits you need in order to gain weight for good.
Much like our article on low calorie meals, these high calorie foods will be broken down into three categories: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But we’ll add one more because we care about you: snacks. We’ll explain why later.
How do you put on weight?
Your body will gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn. CICO is a common term in weight management circles. It means “Calories In versus Calories Out.”
People who want to lose weight need to make sure they burn more calories than they consume. They can do this through exercise (burn more) or calorie reduction (eat less). At the end of the day, they want a calorie deficit.
We, on the other hand, are going to consume more than we use. This will leave us with a calorie surplus.
How do you calculate how many calories you need to gain weight?
The Mayo Clinic is world renown for having cutting edge medicine.
Here is their calorie calculator that you can use to determine how many calories you need to eat every day to maintain your current weight.
Input your age, height, weight, and sex like this:
Then hit the Next button.
On the second screen, you will input your normal activity level. Assuming you’re not a complete couch potato, we’ll use “Somewhat active.” Then hit Calculate.
The result is your Daily Calorie Needs:
Your calorie intake baseline is where you start. If you stay Somewhat Active and continue to eat 2250 calories each day, you will stay at approximately the same weight you are now.
We will show you how to eat high calorie foods for weight gain and move you above this baseline number.
Action Item: Write down your baseline daily calorie number from the calorie calculator.
What do you do next?
One pound of weight has 3500 calories in it. To gain one pound per week, you must have a surplus of 3500 calories.
Using our baseline, 2250 calories x 7 days = 15,750 calories.
To gain one pound each week, you need to finish the week at 19,250 calories (15,750 + 3500). This equates to 2750 calories per day, at a calorie surplus of 500 calories per day.
However, LiveStrong has a great article called Ideal Monthly Weight Gain.
Pro Tip: LiveStrong is smart to point out that if you don’t exercise during weight gain, two-thirds of every pound gained will become fat instead of muscle.
So make sure you’re including exercise, both cardiovascular and strength training, into your weight gain plan.
How can you track how many calories you’re eating to gain weight?
At Sports Samurai, we recommend MyFitnessPal.
MyFitnessPal is an easy way to track your weight gain goals. They have every food product on the planet (well, nearly!) so you can easily plan your meals before you eat them.
It will show you all of the nutritional information for each food item and make tracking a breeze.
How do you structure your meals for weight gain?
The way you plan out your calorie intake is up to you. For illustration in this article, we’re going to plan for three meals each day plus a couple of snacks.
You can configure this however you like as long as the calories hit the goal. For example, you can have 5 smaller meals and no snacks, or 2 larger meals and lots of snacks. Hit your calories, and don’t worry about meal timing.
Here’s the deal:
We’ve determined that if we want to gain one pound per week, we need to eat 2750 calories per day and stay at the same level of physical activity.
Note: if you increase your activity levels, you will be burning off more calories. You should go back to the calorie calculator, change your activity level and calculate a new baseline.
Now that you know about the science behind gaining weight, let’s get into why we’re here…
20 High Calorie Foods for Weight Gain
All 20 high calorie foods are used by us at Sports Samurai. They work. However, if you find that you don’t like one or more of these suggestions, use a combination of Google and MyFitnessPal to find the nutritional values of alternatives.
High Calorie Breakfast Foods
Milk is the number one item on our list for weight gain. There’s a reason doctors recommend feeding babies milk for the first six months when they’re born.
That’s right. It helps put on weight!
Milk is a great source of minerals and vitamins. It contains calcium, potassium, B12 and vitamin D. Best of all, it’s a great source of protein and fatty acids that the body needs.
It can help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease thanks to ample omega-3 fatty acids.
One 250ml glass of whole milk contains over 150 calories.
Pro Tip: Drinking two extra glasses of milk per day for a week would equal over 2100 extra calories. This would mean you’re well on your way to get that extra 3500 calories you need to gain one pound of weight per week.
Milk is a great addition to add to your protein shakes if you choose to take them, especially if you’re trying to gain weight. If you’re not sure if protein shakes are for you, we have written a guide here on when you should drink them.
Avocado – Green, Creamy Goodness
Although this is a fruit, it’s not like other fruits. Avocado is high in fats… the healthy kind. Eating just one medium avocado can score you 322 calories!
No cooking or preparation is needed. Just peel off the outer skin and eat. You can buy it in the ready-made form of guacamole or just eat it raw. We like them peeled, cut into slices, and eaten raw.
The bonus with avocados is that they don’t have any cholesterol or sodium. They go well with eggs, as a side, or in a salad.
We love taking oats before a workout. They’re high in carbohydrates, which means plenty of energy for the gym.
If you’ve not tried them before, oat smoothies are a must for weight gain. It’s easier to drink calories than to eat them, which is great for people who struggle to get enough calories.
The Almighty Egg
These protein-packed staples have been around for centuries.
Packed with around 75 calories each, adding two in your breakfast routine earns you an extra 150 calories. Consider adding more than this if you want extra calories.
The good thing about eggs is that they can be prepared a number of ways:
- In an omelette
- And many more…
We like to make a dozen hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week. Then you just pull them out and eat them whenever you get hungry. Add them to salads, eat them as a side, or enjoy as a snack!
Another high calorie food is delicious, shredded cheese. Whether it is sliced or grated, it’s easy to add to any meal.
There are literally dozens of different kinds of cheese. If mozzarella or Edam don’t appeal to you, try cheddar or gouda.
At 115 calories per slice, you can add these to your eggs (or just about anything else) to add extra flavour and calories.
Almonds are nutritionally a calorie dense food and a terrific option for a high calorie snack.
Their versatility makes them an excellent source for flour, syrup, milk, and oil. For example, add 25g of almonds to your oatmeal and milk for an extra 200 calories.
Almonds also come in many flavoured varieties these days. If plain almonds get boring, try some dusted with pepper or chilli.
We keep a large jar of these in our cupboard at all times!
High Calorie Lunch Foods
The first item on our high calorie lunch foods is baked beans. Half a can of baked beans can earn you 200 calories.
There are so many different things you can add to beans for flavour too:
- Spices, including pepper, paprika, and chilli
And the list goes on. Baked beans are an example of a high calorie food for weight gain that you can customise in several different ways.
They’re also very affordable from most supermarkets. There’s a reason why many third world countries survive on beans and rice. Beans are cheap food packed with calories and nutrients.
Pro Tip: When buying baked beans from supermarkets, try and look for varieties that contain low sugar and salt.
Fluffy, filling and almost neutral in flavour, these little gems pack 240 calories per serving,
With the low-cost rice cookers available on the market today, it’s easy to pour in some rice. Then add the right amount of water and let it cook.
What we like about white rice is that thanks to having a neutral flavour, it takes on any added flavour you introduce.
White rice can be eaten alongside all protein sources and is an excellent source of carbohydrates. Another great one for before or after the gym!
Whole Wheat Bagel
Terrific as a snack covered in cream cheese, or on the side of any meal. Bagels are delicious, and once you’ve had one, you’ll be craving for more. This is great for your goals!
If you’re feeling more adventurous than just cream cheese, here are 8 delicious ways to make bagels!
One whole wheat bagel can bring you 200 to 300 calories.
Sports Samurai stocks the highest quality gym bags and backpacks…
High Calorie Dinner Foods
Millions of Italians can’t be wrong… pasta is a terrific food source for calories and taste!
One of our favourite old family recipes is making homemade noodles from eggs, flour, and salt. It takes three hours to make and let them dry out. But the flavour is satisfying and they are very inexpensive.
Mix six eggs, a handful of flour and, as grandma would say “a pinch of salt” and you’ve got enough noodles to feed a family of eight.
If time is not on your side, you can buy different types of pasta from any supermarket.
390 calories per serving can add up quick. It’s easy to eat more than one plate of spaghetti when it has the right tomato sauce and ample garlic salt. This is great to gain weight.
Another favourite is to add a generous amount of parmesan cheese and Tobasco sauce. As for our homemade noodles, they go into a special chicken broth to make the best noodle soup on the planet.
As you can see, the options are endless.
You can’t eat a good pasta meal without some buttered up french bread.
Two warm slices to soak up the sauce off of your plate earn you an extra 240 calories.
Bread has been a staple food for centuries for many reasons. For weight gain, it’s perfect. You can eat more calories from bread than you can other sources, which is why it’s been included in our list of high calorie foods.
All this food talk is making us hungry!
You can’t have warm, toasted french bread without smothering it in butter. Butter is rich in nutrients, although should be enjoyed in moderation.
When we buy ready-made loaves of french bread from the supermarket, we like to slide a pat of butter in between each slice before we toast it to perfection in the oven.
Butter will earn you around 40 calories per pat (one-inch square, see picture above).
A great tasting drink during your pasta dinner is a cold glass of orange juice. Although brands will vary, on average, a standard glass will bring you 100 to 200 calories.
The health benefits of vitamins and minerals packed into this drink will refresh your soul.
Orange juice is also a great addition to your breakfast routine or just as a stand-alone snack with some almonds, or anything else you choose to snack on.
Our Sports Samurai family likes to have these as meals by themselves but they can go also be enjoyed as a side, such as with a plate full of pasta.
While a medium-sized baked potato only contains around 200 calories, it’s all the add-ons you can put in the baked potato that can earn you a mountain of calories.
Some of our favourite varieties of baked potato meals include:
- Beans, cheddar cheese and butter
- Stroganoff meat and cream sauce
- Tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise
- Sour cream, bacon bits and garlic salt
If you are out on the town, grab some baked potato skins from your local pub. This a quick and easy way to enjoy baked potatoes with cheese, bacon bits, and other flavours.
Sports Samurai stocks the highest quality gym bags and backpacks…
High Calorie Snack Foods
And now to our bonus… Snacks. Snacks are great for those who struggle to eat larger meals (and therefore enough calories to gain weight). This is why they’ve been included.
If you’ve been underweight all of your life, this could be you. You’re probably not used to snacking often, but if you eat 2 or 3 snacks per day, this could equate to 500 or more extra calories per day, and help towards weight gain.
We keep a few snack-sized ziplock baggies in our gym bags at all times.
There are hundreds of different types of jerky on the market. We tend to buy it in bulk since it rarely goes bad.
Our favourite brand weighs 28g for two sticks of jerky and we can eat them without even thinking about it while working on our computers.
This 28g portion works out to 120 calories. So a handful of jerky sticks can easily put you over 250 calories and satisfy both food cravings and salt cravings. Usually, when someone craves food, it is for a salty flavour.
Beef jerky is also high in protein, too, which is great for weight gain.
These are another ziplock standby in our gym bags. One 25g serving of these bad boys contains 200 calories without a flinch.
We find it easy to toss these down while driving around town running errands or while sitting at our desk working.
You never have to worry about them spoiling and we frequently take them on train or plane trips.
When you’re craving for sweetness, try a serving of raisins.
These little shrivelled up fruits pack around 100 calories per serving. This is the third item we pack in our travel bag for whenever we’re away from home.
Alternating between the nuts and raisins can stave off most cravings thanks to the natural sugars and salt. Even better: why not combine the two?
Oh, that creamy sweetness! Dark chocolate is a nice treat in between or after meals to satisfy that sweet tooth.
One serving of dark chocolate comes in around 125 calories and is very satisfying. Although it doesn’t last long in a gym bag, keeping a stash in the fridge or cupboards at home is worthwhile, and a good way to get in extra calories.
Besides taming the sugar cravings, dark chocolate has long been used for flavonoids that have a calming effect on the brain.
The versatility of peanut butter makes it a great addition to our list of 20 high calorie foods.
We like to add a few tablespoons to our oatmeal in the morning, and to our favourite protein powder for a super-rich tasting healthy shake.
Just two tablespoons will earn you around 190 calories.
You can also add it to the whole wheat bagel or dip your dark chocolate into it. We find it very hard to be disappointed with peanut butter!
Saving one of the most calorie dense foods for last, quinoa comes in at 230 calories per serving. Quinoa is filling and has numerous vitamins and minerals. See more here for the benefits of quinoa.
With a consistency like puffed rice, we like to add some honey and bits of dark chocolate to a bowl of quinoa for breakfast or a late-night snack.
This article has provided you with 20 high calorie foods for weight gain. We’re certain that you’ll be able to benefit from some, if not all, of these foods.
Pro Tip: Regardless of how you plan your journey if you stick to CICO and have a surplus of calories at the end of every week… you WILL gain weight.
What are your favourite high calorie foods? Let us know in the comments section below.