How to Increase Calories Without Increasing Carbs

Salmon fillet on plastic cutting board with garnishes
Eating healthy proteins, such as salmon, will increase your calorie intake without any carbs. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

If you're trying to gain weight and follow a low-carb diet, take some time to plan ahead how you'll get those extra calories without the carbs. Carbohydrates are found in starchy and sugary foods, such as potatoes and other starchy vegetables, fruit, bread, dairy, snack foods and desserts. To increase your calories without any carbs you have to eat foods made up of mostly fat and protein. Fat is the most dense with calories, providing nine calories per gram, but too much of it can lead to other health problems.

Step 1

Eat more lean proteins such as skinless chicken breast, fish, eggs and tofu. These foods are mostly protein and a little fat. They provide between 120 and 150 calories in a 3-ounce portion.

Step 2

Snack on nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews and peanuts. They will give you about 170 calories per ounce and have less than 6 grams of carbohydrate, the majority of which come from indigestible dietary fiber.

Step 3

Add healthy oils, such as olive oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil, to your food when cooking. Each will provide you with about 120 calories per tablespoon and no carbohydrates. Avoid added animal fats, which are rich in saturated fat and may increase your cholesterol.

Step 4

Put peanut or almond butter into protein shakes in the blender. Two tablespoons of nut butter gives you about 200 calories and only 6 grams of carbohydrate, as long as it has no sugar added.

Step 5

Top your meal with avocados. Almost all of the 150 calories in half an avocado come from fat. They do contain 6 grams of carbohydrate, but four of those 6 grams come from indigestible dietary fiber, which does not cause your blood sugar to rise.

Step 6

Cook with coconut milk or garnish meals with shredded coconut. One ounce of dried coconut gives you 180 calories and less than 5 grams of carbohydrate. From 4 ounces of coconut milk, you'll get about 250 calories. Eating 3 ounces of fresh coconut meat will give you 300 calories.

Tip

For most people to maintain optimum health the Institute of Medicine recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 20 to 35 percent from fat and 10 to 35 percent from protein. In rare cases, such as in someone with severe epilepsy, a high-protein and high-fat diet may be medicinal.

Warning

Completely avoiding one food group, such as carbohydrates, may lead to nutrient deficiencies over time. Eating mostly fat and protein could leave you lacking fiber and cause elevation of your cholesterol level. The American Heart Association notes that high cholesterol may increase your risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

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