High-calorie, nutritious foods are an integral part of many diets. People who suffer from diseases that curb appetite or for those who are trying to gain weight in a healthy way, following a high-calorie diet can help keep up the body’s energy level while providing all necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Though many high-calorie foods are from the dairy group, such as milk, yogurt or ice cream, there are plenty of healthy non-dairy foods that will boost your calorie intake.
Eat nuts and nut butters in combination with other foods to boost the total number of calories you consume. Columbia University Medical Center recommends serving bread, crackers, fruit and vegetables with peanut butter to add calories, fat and protein. Peanut butter and other nut butters have nearly 200 calories per 2-tbsp. serving, and they can be mixed into granola, hot or cold breakfast cereal and some casseroles or sauces. Eat handfuls of whole nuts or trail mixes that contain nuts as a snack between meals, or sprinkle them on cereal or salads. Whole nuts also contain about 200 calories per 2-tbsp. serving.
Buy dried fruits along with fresh. Dried fruits offer similar nutritional profiles to those of fresh fruits, but they are more calorie-dense and easier to eat in large quantities. One fresh apple has about 75 calories, but 1 cup of dried apple pieces has more than 200 calories. Sprinkle dried fruit on salads or cook it along with savory main dishes to add a touch of sweetness to the meal. Avocados, a stone fruit, are also rich in calories and unsaturated fat. One medium avocado has about 250 calories. Try slicing fresh avocado onto salads or eating guacamole with whole-grain crackers or bread.
Beans and Legumes
Reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat and keep your calorie intake high by substituting beans or legumes for meat and fish in your diet. Health News suggests eating black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans or soybeans several times per week to add protein and calories to your diet without adding a lot of fat. Beans, lentils and legumes can stand in for meat filling in a taco or add substance to a casserole, soup or stew. One cup of cooked chickpeas has about 275 calories, 1 cup of cooked black beans has 225 calories, and 1 cup of cooked red lentils has 230 calories.
Don’t go overboard with desserts, but do use them as one possible way to increase your daily calorie intake. The Mayo Clinic recommends choosing desserts that offer nutrients as well as calories, such as bran muffins, granola bars or fruit pies. Have a “healthy” sweet treat to top off one meal each day. The sugars and simple carbohydrates in most desserts won’t give you a lasting feeling of fullness, so you’ll be able to add to the calories you eat without feeling bloated or uncomfortable. One medium bran muffin has about 300 calories, and one chocolate-chip granola bar has between 100 and 200 calories.