You might be following a high-calorie diet if you need to gain weight or if you are an athlete who's training intensely. Sweet baked goods, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages are high-calorie options, but these choices are low in nutrients and high in sugar, which can spike your blood sugar levels. Healthier options for high-calorie foods are lower in sugar and higher in essential nutrients.
Nuts and Peanuts
An ounce of nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pecans and macadamia nuts, provides between 163 and 204 calories. Peanuts are nutritionally similar to nuts, with 161 calories per ounce. Snack on nuts throughout the day to get extra calories without adding much sugar to your diet. You can also add pecans or walnuts to oatmeal, make chicken stir-fry with cashews, add almonds to green beans or make peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches.
Grains are calorie-dense and nearly sugar-free. A cup of cooked whole-wheat pasta has 174 calories, a cup of cooked brown rice has 218 calories and a large bagel has 337 calories. Choose whole-grain products for their natural nutrients, such as magnesium, iron and B vitamins. Try whole-wheat pasta with pesto sauce, rice pilaf with pine nuts and olive oil or lasagna with ricotta cheese and lean ground turkey.
Fats provide 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein. Vegetable oils, such as olive, safflower, sunflower and canola oils, consist mainly of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Avocados are also high-fat, heart-healthy foods. Add sliced avocados to sandwiches and salads, use olive oil for roasting meat and vegetables and make Chinese chicken salad with a sesame oil-based dressing. Coconut oil, palm oil and animal-derived fats, such as butter and fat on meats, are higher in saturated fat, which raises levels of your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, and increases your risk for heart disease.
Fatty fish is carbohydrate-free and sugar-free, and its fat content makes it higher-calorie than other types of fish, shellfish and lean meats, such as skinless chicken breast. A 3-ounce portion of cooked Atlantic salmon contains 175 calories, compared to 89 calories in a 3-ounce portion of cod. Broil salmon with a creamy yogurt sauce and serve it over brown rice, or add mackerel, halibut or another fatty fish to thick soups to increase the calorie and fat content without adding sugar.