Which Food Is Rich In Calories? The calorie is a means of measuring energy and is a diet component. It represents the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram (1 liter) of water through 1 °C. The unit reflects the amount of heat liberated as food is metabolized by the body. Although it is possible to consume too much calories, regular physical activity can be adopted to lower one’s caloric needs.
What are calories, why do we need them, and can a better understanding of calories help us maintain a healthier weight throughout our lives?
Calories are units of energy that a food or drink provides. You can usually find calorie counts listed on food items, and wearables like the best fitness trackers allow you monitor how many calories you’re burning by doing different activities. Certain foods, such as fatty, fried, or processed foods, tend to have more calories. Other foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, tend to have fewer calories. However, some healthy fruits and vegetables can be high in calories, while low-calorie foods, such as diet soda, don’t provide any nutritional value.
We need calories to give us enough energy to move around, stay warm, grow, work, think, and play. Even our blood circulation and digestion need the energy gained from calories in order to function well.
WHAT ARE HIGH-CALORIE FOODS?
Fatty foods, such as fried foods, fatty meats, oils, butter, sugary treats, and candies are high-calorie foods. While many high-calorie foods are low in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, there are also plenty of high-calorie foods that are surprisingly healthy.
Healthy foods that are high in calories include avocados (322 calories each), quinoa (222 calories per cup), nuts (828 calories per cup of peanuts), olive oil (119 calories per tablespoon), and, in moderation, dark chocolate (648 calories per bar), according to the USDA Nutrition Database(opens in new tab).
WHAT ARE LOW CALORIE FOODS?
Fruits and vegetables are usually relatively low in calories, but still provide a good source of dietary fiber. Two cups of shredded romaine lettuce or spinach have 16 calories, a large stalk of celery has 10 calories, 1 cup of broccoli has 15 calories and an orange has 70 calories, according to the USDA Nutrition Database(opens in new tab).
WHAT ARE EMPTY CALORIES?
Empty calorie foods are foods that have little or no nutritional value. They often have high fat or sugar content. Alcoholic drinks are considered to be empty calories.
The following foods are examples of empty calorie foods:
- Sugary drinks, including sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juices
- Cakes, cookies, donuts, muffins, and other carb-heavy desserts and snacks
- Chocolates, candies, and candy bars
- Processed meats, such as bacon and sausages
- Condiments and sauces, including ketchup and mayonnaise
- Fast foods and junk foods, including pizza, burgers, and French fries
- Solid fats, such as butter and shortening
HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD YOU EAT EVERY DAY?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend women should take in around 1,600 to 2,000 calories a day, and men should take in around 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day. The less active you are, the fewer calories you’ll need. But, as the guidelines point out, the total number of calories a person needs every day can vary. It may depend on age, weight, sex, how much physical activity you do, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans details how many calories should come from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins each day, in order to receive sufficient energy and nutrition:
- Carbohydrates should make up 45% to 65%
- Fats should make up 20% to 30%
- Protein should make up 10% to 35%
These percentages are for the average person, and ratios may change for infants and young children, who need more fats in their diet.
High Calorie Foods for Good Health
A calorie is simply the measure of energy. It provides people with energy and keeps their bodies functioning. That’s why it’s essential to keep a balance between the number of calories consumed and the number of calories burned every day. The daily intake of calories depends on age, sex, metabolism, and physical activity levels, among others. The recommended intake is generally 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.
High-calorie foods provide one with more energy and nutrition than low-calorie foods. There are a myriad of reasons why one would start consuming high-calorie foods. Someone with a medical condition or malnutrition should incorporate high-calorie food into their daily meal plans.
However, rather than selecting such foods randomly, it is good to take the advice of a nutritionist. A person with a weak constitution or a person recovering from an illness may also turn to high-calorie foods to re-energise themself.
Athletes like weightlifters may opt for high-calorie nutritious foods to build up their muscles or bulk up. Regular gym-goers may also include them to increase endurance.
Additionally, women may turn to high-calorie foods to achieve the beauty standard of being “fuller”. However, it is essential to note that just like everyone does not need a low-calorie diet, not everyone needs to eat many high-calorie foods. One needs to educate themselves on their body needs before jumping into a diet.
If possible, one should seek advice from a qualified nutritionist and learn about the consequences of consuming foods. They need to eat the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, calories, fats, vitamins and minerals that work for their body specifically.
Why You Need Calories
Calories keep the body functioning. All of the processes that the body performs require energy to keep moving. Calories provide our bodies with this energy that is necessary to sustain our daily lives.
Some health conditions cause people to lose weight in unhealthy ways, including some types of cancer, eating disorders, depression or anxiety, HIV/AIDS, hyperthyroidism, and others. This unhealthy weight loss can cause a host of health risks. People with these conditions need to find foods that are high in calories to help them gain weight.
Best Healthy Foods to Gain Weight Fast
For some people, gaining weight or adding muscle can be just as difficult as losing weight is for others.
However, simply adding certain foods to your diet can make your weight gain efforts both healthy and more effective.
Here are 18 of the best foods to help you gain weight or add muscle, the healthy way.
Drinking homemade protein smoothies can be a highly nutritious and quick way to gain weight.
Making your own smoothies is the best way since commercial versions are often full of sugar and lack nutrients. It also gives you full control over the flavor and nutrient content.
Here are just a few tasty variations you can try. You can combine each with 2 cups (470 mL) of dairy milk or soy milk if you have lactose intolerance. Both have more nutrients and calories than other alternative milks.
- Chocolate banana nut shake: Combine 1 banana, 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of peanut or another nut butter.
- Vanilla berry shake: Combine 1 cup (237 mL) of fresh or frozen mixed berries, ice, 1 cup (237 mL) of high protein, full fat Greek yogurt, and 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein.
- Chocolate hazelnut shake: Combine 15 ounces (444 mL) of chocolate milk with 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of hazelnut butter, and 1 avocado.
- Caramel apple shake: Combine 1 sliced apple, 1 cup (237 mL) of full fat Greek yogurt, 1 scoop of caramel- or vanilla-flavored whey protein, and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of sugar-free caramel sauce or flavoring.
- Vanilla blueberry shake: Combine 1 cup (237 mL) of fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein, 1 cup (237 mL) of vanilla Greek yogurt, and sweetener if needed.
- Super green shake: Combine 1 cup (237 mL) of spinach, 1 avocado, 1 banana, 1 cup (237 mL) of pineapple, and 1 scoop of unflavored or vanilla whey protein.
All of these smoothies provide around 400–600 calories, along with a high amount of protein and other important vitamins and minerals.
There are many delicious protein smoothie recipes. Avoid most commercial versions, which may contain added sugar and aren’t as nutritious.
Milk has been used as a weight gainer or muscle builder for decades.
It provides a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats and is a good source of calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
For those trying to add more muscle, milk is an excellent protein source that provides both casein and whey proteins. Research has even shown it can help you add muscle when combined with weightlifting.
Additionally, studies have found that milk, or whey and casein combined, can lead to greater mass gain than other protein sources.
Try drinking one or two glasses of whole milk (149 calories per cup) as a snack, with a meal, or before and after a workout if you’re training.
Milk smoothies are also a delicious way to add milk to your diet. For an easy morning protein boost, try blending up 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of whole milk, 2 teaspoons of honey, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla (about 275 calories).
Drinking milk is a great way to add protein to your diet. It contains both casein and whey proteins.
Rice is a convenient, low cost carb source to help you gain weight. Just 1 cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice provides 204 calories, 44 grams of carbs, and very little fat.
Rice is also fairly calorie-dense, meaning you can easily obtain a high amount of carbs and calories from a single serving. This helps you eat more food, especially if you have a poor appetite or get full quickly.
When you’re on the go or in a rush, 2-minute packs of microwavable rice can be easily added to other protein sources and premade meals.
Another popular method is to prepare a large pot of rice, refrigerate it or freeze individual portions, and then combine it with different proteins and healthy fats for varied meals throughout the week.
There are many ways to turn relatively bland rice into a taste extravaganza. The easiest way to add taste, calories, and a protein boost is to simply stir in some of these ingredients after you have cooked your rice:
- butter and Parmesan cheese
- broccoli and cheese
- scrambled eggs
- toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, or cashews
Another way to boost taste and calories is to top your rice with a sauce like curry, pesto, or alfredo. You can buy these sauces ready-made if you’re pressed for time.
A rice dish can easily become a whole meal. Try this wild rice and chicken kale for a healthy lunch (400 calories per serving).
You can also stir up your own healthy take on the Chinese takeout favorite, fried rice, with this vegetable-tofu “fried” rice dish — which is actually baked.
Rice is a great source of carbs that are easy to consume and digest.
Nuts and nut butters are perfect choices if you’re looking to gain weight.
Just one small handful of raw almonds (1/4 cup) contains 170 calories, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of healthy fats.
Since nuts are very calorie-dense, just two handfuls per day with a meal or as a snack can quickly add hundreds of calories.
You can add nut butters to a variety of snacks or dishes, such as smoothies, yogurts, and crackers, to turn them into a high calorie snack in no time.
For a quick pick-me-up, try this peanut butter banana smoothie, with only three ingredients (270 calories, using whole milk). If you have a peanut allergy, substitute another nut butter.
However, make sure you pick 100 percent nut butters with no added sugar or extra oils. Or better yet, make your own from this homemade almond butter recipe. It’s easy to make and easy on your wallet, too.
Nuts and nut butters are delicious, high calorie treats. They’re great for you and easy to add to many different snacks or recipes.
Red meats are probably one of the best muscle-building foods available.
For example, 6 ounces (170 grams) of steak contains around 5 grams of leucine.
Leucine is the key amino acid your body needs to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and add new muscle tissue. It also contains 456 calories and nearly 49 grams of protein.
In addition to this, red meats are one of the best natural sources of dietary creatine, which is possibly the world’s best muscle-building supplement.
Consider choosing fattier cuts, which provide more calories than leaner meats, helping you take in extra calories and add weight.
In one study, 100 older women added 6 ounces (170 grams) of red meat to their diets and performed resistance training 6 days a week for 6 weeks.
The women gained lean mass, had an 18 percent increase in strength, and had an increase in the important muscle-building hormone IGF-1.
Both lean and fatty meats are a great source of protein, though fatty meat provides more calories, which can help you gain weight. One of the best-known fatty beef dishes is brisket.
Brisket is known for being time-consuming to prepare, but it can be much easier if you own a slow cooker.
Start this brisket recipe in the morning and you’ll have a nutritious dinner waiting for you in the evening — approximately 300 calories per 3-ounce (85 grams) serving.
Red meat is an excellent source of protein that will help you gain muscle. It contains leucine, an amino acid that helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis. The fattier the meat, the more calories you’ll take in.
Potatoes and other starchy foods are a very easy and cost-effective way to add in extra calories.
Try to choose one of these healthy sources of starchy carbs:
- potatoes and sweet potatoes
- winter root vegetables
- beans and legumes
Not only do potatoes and other starches add carbs and calories to help you gain weight — they also increase your muscle glycogen stores.
Glycogen is the predominant fuel source for most sports and activities.
Many of these carb sources also provide important nutrients and fiber, as well as resistant starch, which can help nourish your gut bacteria.
With sweet potatoes, you can try out one of the current Instagram trends: sweet potato toast. Prep takes only minutes. Start by washing, drying, and thinly slicing a medium-sized sweet potato, then toast it to your liking either in a toaster or a toaster oven.
Then you add your favorite toppings. For example, slather it with mashed avocado and top with a fried egg (300 calories per serving). You’ve got yourself a perfect breakfast or post-workout snack.
Quinoa is actually a seed that’s prepared and eaten like a grain. It can be cooked and eaten on its own, added to soups, or made into flour and used in bread, drinks, or porridge.
Quinoa is superior to many other grains in that it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. It’s also high in protein, minerals, and B vitamins.
Get a healthy dose of both sweet potatoes and quinoa in this hearty lunch recipe for quinoa and roasted sweet potato bowls (336 calories per serving).
Other ways to add calories to complex carbs include:
- adding sour cream to potatoes
- adding grated cheese to quinoa or mashed potatoes
- adding healthy fats like olive or avocado oil to roast your vegetables
- adding sliced olives as a topping
- adding hummus to whole grain bread or crackers
- using dairy or soy milk instead of water in your oatmeal or other hot grains
Healthy starches are a great way to get important nutrients and fiber, boost your calorie intake, and increase your muscle glycogen stores.
Like red meat, salmon and oily fish are excellent sources of protein and important healthy fats.
Out of all the nutrients that salmon and oily fish provide, omega-3 fatty acids are among the most significant and well known.
They offer numerous benefits for your health and help fight diseases.
Just one 6-ounce (170-gram) fillet of deboned wild sockeye salmon provides around 250 calories and 12 grams of healthy fats. The same serving packs 37 grams of high quality protein, helping you build muscle or gain weight.
You can prepare salmon in a variety of ways: steamed, sautéed, smoked, grilled, baked, or poached. You can also try smoked salmon or even eat raw salmon in sushi and sashimi.
Fresh or frozen salmon often has a slightly higher price tag, but canned salmon is a quick and inexpensive option. Almost all canned salmon is wild rather than farmed, giving it top marks for nutrition.
Consider these convenient, healthy ways of adding salmon to your diet:
- Try giving your usual “tuna” salad a new spin, using canned salmon instead.
- Make a Cobb salad substituting canned salmon for the traditional chicken, then add bacon, hard-boiled egg, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Give smoked salmon a try. Slather cream cheese on whole grain bread or crackers, add smoked salmon, and top with cucumber, tomato slices, or capers.
- Make a salmon salad with leafy greens, asparagus, and some full fat plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream.
Salmon and other oily fish are a great source of incredibly healthy omega-3 fats. They also provide high quality protein to help you build muscle.
Taking protein supplements is a common strategy for athletes and bodybuilders who want to gain weight. There are many types available, including whey, soy, egg, and pea protein.
Whey protein supplements and mass gainers (supplements that can help you gain muscle mass) can be very easy and cost-effective strategies to gain weight, especially when combined with strength training.
Some people think whey protein is unhealthy or unnatural, but this isn’t the case. Whey protein is made from dairy and has been shown to help improve health markers and reduce the risk of disease.
Protein supplements may be even more important if you’re also training since your daily protein requirements increase.
Like meats and other animal products, whey protein contains all the essential amino acids required to stimulate muscle growth.
You can use it before or after your workout and at any other point during the day.
The easiest way to add protein powder into your diet is with a protein smoothie, especially for breakfast. That gives you the rest of the day to add in nutritious meals and snacks to make sure you get a balanced nutrient intake.
Generally, a smoothie that you make yourself will be more nutritious than buying one that’s ready-made, which may have added sugar and flavorings.
Try this basic whey shake recipe to start your day off with a high energy breakfast. For even more protein, try adding in peanut butter, almond butter, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.
Unflavored whey protein can be added to dishes such as soups, mashed potatoes, and oatmeal to increase protein content.
Protein supplements are a simple and affordable addition to your diet to help you increase your protein intake.
Dried fruit is a high calorie snack that also provides antioxidants and micronutrients.
You can get many different types of dried fruit, and they all have a naturally high sugar content. This makes them great for gaining weight, especially since they’re convenient to eat and taste great.
While many people think fruits lose most of their nutrients when dried, this isn’t the case. Dried fruits contain lots of fiber and most of their vitamins and minerals remain intact.
Try combining some dried fruit with a protein source, such as cuts of meat, cheese, or a whey protein shake. They also mix well with nuts and full fat plain Greek yogurt, providing a blend of healthy fats, protein, and other key nutrients.
Dates are nutritious, full of fiber, and high in antioxidants. They’re also versatile and simple to prepare as a high calorie snack. Just two Medjool dates on their own provide about 130 calories.
Try filling dates with nut butter, cream cheese, or even cooked grains like rice or quinoa. Add one or two dates to smoothies, sauces, and dressings for a touch of sweetness.
Dried fruit is packed with calories, healthy fiber, and antioxidants. It’s an easy way to add nutrients and calories to your diet.
Whole grain breads are another good carb source to help you gain weight.
You can make some very simple, high calorie, and well-balanced meals by combining bread with protein sources such as eggs, meat, and cheese.
When purchasing bread, aim for natural whole grain and seeded breads. Healthier versions, such as Ezekiel bread, are available in most grocery stores.
Sandwiches are one of the easiest, most versatile, and portable meals for helping you put on weight. Their ingredients are limited only by your imagination: meats, cheese, veggies, nut butter spreads, avocado, and more.
Try one of these sandwich recipes. You’ll find everything from the basic Reuben to healthy wraps to several imaginative takes on the timeless grilled cheese.
Sourdough bread has become increasingly popular during the pandemic period and for good reason. It’s one of the most nutritious and satisfying breads.
During the pandemic, many are learning how to make sourdough starters. Sourdough bread has just three simple ingredients: flour, water, and salt. One slice weighing 2 ounces (56 g) will give you about 160 calories.
The live good bacteria in sourdough feeds bacteria in the gut, which can strengthen your immune system
High Calorie Indian Meal Plan
A high-calorie Indian meal plan is a meal plan that one can alter according to their food choices. Additionally, age, sex, calorie requirements and level of physical activity are parameters that one should keep in mind before starting one. This meal plan is to help people in their journey of gaining weight healthily.
Here is a sample of a 3000 calorie meal plan with food options to choose from:
- One glass of milk with bananas and a handful of almonds
- You can either have two paneer stuffed parathas with 1 cup of curd or two masala dosas with sambhar and chutney or two egg omelettes with two slices of whole wheat/multigrain bread.
A handful of groundnuts or dry fruit or roasted almonds with one glass of curd lassi
- One cup of rice with 1 cup of dal
- Two cups of some vegetable of your choice
- Non-vegetarians can substitute dal with chicken breast or fish.
- 1 cup tea or coffee with full-fat milk
- Nachni Chilla or Poha with peanuts
- Potato and peas or makhanas roasted with ghee
A handful of groundnuts or dry fruit with a handful of roasted almonds
- One bowl of chicken or mixed vegetable soup
- Two medium chapatis
- 2 cups of vegetables
- Chicken breast or a fish fillet for non-vegetarians
- Tofu or paneer, 1 cup dal, 1 cup rice, and mixed salad
One glass of milk with organic turmeric with two bananas