26 Best High Calorie Foods for Weight Gain and Bulking

If you’re looking to gain weight fast and healthily, using the right high-calorie foods can be a game changer! There are plenty of foods that are nutrient and calorie-dense, and they are excellent to add to your weight gain diet or bulking plan.

High calorie foods for weight gain.

How to Gain Weight

To gain weight and build muscle, you need to create a calorie surplus by consuming more calories than you burn. Start by calculating your daily calorie needs to maintain your current weight, and then increase your intake by 250 to 500 calories per day. This approach will establish a calorie surplus, helping you gain weight at a healthy rate of 0.5 lbs to 1lb per week.

It’s important to focus on nutritious, calorie-dense foods to make sure you gain weight healthily. These include complete proteins for muscle repair, whole grains for long-lasting energy, healthy fats for overall health, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals.

In addition to nutrient-dense foods, you also need to do the right kind of exercise. Focus on resistance training, especially compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses that work many muscles at once. These compound exercises will help you achieve more muscle hypertrophy than isolated exercises, leading to more muscle growth.

Rest and recovery is also important to help you gain muscle. Your muscles grow and repair themselves during rest, making it important to get enough sleep and take days off from training.

Combine these 3 strategies:

  1. A calorie surplus with nutritious, calorie-dense foods
  2. Resistance training, especially compound exercises
  3. Ample rest and recovery

These 3 strategies will help you gain both weight and muscle while improving and maintaining your overall health.

Best High Calorie Foods for Weight Gain and Bulking

When you are looking for high-calorie foods for weight gain, you want to avoid relying on junk food. Junk food tends to be processed and doesn’t contain many essential nutrients. It’s important to get most of your calories from nutrient-dense foods to help you fulfill nutrient needs. Then, after, it is okay to have the odd treats.

This list focuses on nutrient-dense foods that can be eaten alone or used with other ingredients to make healthy, high-calorie recipes.

1) Salmon

Salmon fillets on a wooden board.

Nutritional Benefits

Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart and brain health, and provides high-quality protein for muscle repair and growth. It’s an excellent choice for those aiming to gain weight in a healthy manner.

Serving Suggestions

Try grilling, baking, or broiling salmon and serving it with a side of hearty grains like quinoa or a salad for a nutrient-packed meal. For an extra calorie boost, consider a creamy sauce or a topping of avocado slices.

Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 206 kcal
  • Protein: 22g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fats: 12g

2) Red Meats

3 Types of red meat: ground beef, beef chuck and steak.

Nutritional Benefits

Red meats, including beef, are rich in protein and essential nutrients like iron and vitamin B12, supporting muscle growth, energy production, and overall health. They are particularly useful for those looking to increase their calorie intake for weight gain.

Serving Suggestions

Ground beef can be used in a variety of dishes, from burgers and meatloaves to hearty sauces and casseroles. Pair with carbohydrate-rich sides like pasta, potatoes, or whole grains for a balanced and calorie-dense meal.

Ground Beef (80% lean) Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 254 kcal
  • Protein: 17.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fats: 20g

3) Nuts and Nut Butters

Nuts and nut butter.

Nutritional Benefits

Nuts and nut butters are excellent sources of healthy fats, proteins, and essential nutrients, making them perfect for weight gain and overall health. They provide sustained energy and are a great snack for boosting calorie intake.

Serving Suggestions

Incorporate nuts or nut butter into your diet by adding them to smoothies, spreading them on whole-grain bread, or eating them as a snack. They can also be used in baking or as toppings for salads and oatmeal.

Peanut Butter Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 588 kcal
  • Protein: 25g
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Fats: 50g

4) Chicken

Chicken wings, chicken breast, chicken thigh and chicken drumsticks.

Nutritional Benefits

Chicken is a versatile protein source rich in essential nutrients like B vitamins, phosphorus, and selenium. It’s beneficial for muscle repair, growth, and overall health. Leaner cuts like breast meat are great for weight management, while darker cuts like thighs are higher in calories and fats, making them more calorie-dense.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken fits well into a variety of cooking methods, including grilling, roasting, and stewing. For those looking to gain weight, incorporating darker cuts like thighs can add more calories than chicken breast.

Chicken Thighs Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 209 kcal
  • Protein: 19g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fats: 15g

5) Avocado

Sliced avocado on toast with nuts and a lime wedge.

Nutritional Benefits

Avocados are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals. Its high fat and calorie density can help aid in weight gain, while its fiber promotes digestive health.

Serving Suggestions

Avocados are highly versatile and can be added to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, or as a creamy base for dips. Their rich texture also makes them a perfect substitute for fats in baking, offering a nutritional boost.

Avocado Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 160 kcal
  • Protein: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g (Net carbs: 2g, Fiber: 7g)
  • Fats: 15g

6) Potatoes (Ideally Sweet Potatoes)

Sweet potato that have been sliced and roasted.

Nutritional Benefits

Potatoes are a staple carbohydrate source, offering vitamins C and B6, potassium, and dietary fiber. They provide essential complex carbohydrates for energy production and muscle growth, suitable for various dietary needs. Sweet potatoes, in particular, are rich in beta-carotene and can be used interchangeably with regular potatoes.

Serving Suggestions

Potatoes can be enjoyed boiled, baked, mashed, or roasted. They pair well with healthy fats and protein sources and are excellent in soups, stews, and salads.

Sweet Potato Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 86 kcal
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Fats: 0.1g

7) Eggs

Eggs on toast with avocado and seeds.

Nutritional Benefits

Eggs are a nutrient-dense food, offering high-quality protein along with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, and choline. They’re particularly beneficial for muscle repair and overall health due to their complete protein profile, containing all nine essential amino acids.

Serving Suggestions

Eggs are incredibly versatile and can be prepared in numerous ways—boiled, scrambled, poached, or made into omelets. They’re great for breakfast paired with whole-grain toast or as part of salads and sandwiches for added protein.

Eggs Nutrition (per 100 grams, about 2 large eggs)

  • Calories: 155 kcal
  • Protein: 13g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.1g
  • Fats: 11g

8) Oats

Oats in a bowl.

Nutritional Benefits

Oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber (particularly beta-glucan), and a good amount of protein. They offer sustained energy release, are beneficial for heart health, and can help with weight management and gain when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Serving Suggestions

Oats can be enjoyed as a high-calorie oatmeal and as overnight oats for weight gain. They’re also great for baking, in pancakes, or as a base for homemade granola bars.

Oats Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 389 kcal
  • Protein: 17g
  • Carbohydrates: 66g
  • Fats: 6.9g
  • Fiber: 10g

9) Tuna

Tuna steak sliced on a wooden board with lemon.

Nutritional Benefits

Tuna is a high-protein, low-fat option that provides a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart health and reducing inflammation. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and selenium.

Serving Suggestions

Tuna can be eaten fresh or canned, making it a convenient protein source. It’s great in salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. For those looking to gain weight, pairing tuna with calorie-dense foods like avocados or whole grains can make a well-balanced and healthy meal.

Tuna Nutrition (per 100 grams, canned in water)

  • Calories: 86 kcal
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fats: 0.5g

10) Beans

12 different types of beans on a board.

Nutritional Benefits

Beans are a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. They are excellent for digestive health and providing sustained energy, making them a valuable food for fueling for a workout.

Serving Suggestions

Beans can be incorporated into a wide array of dishes, including bean chili, soups, stews, salads, and as a hearty addition to tacos or burritos. They also make a great base for vegetarian burgers or meatless meatballs. Pairing beans with grains can provide a complete protein, ideal for vegetarians and vegans looking to increase their protein intake.

Beans Nutrition (per 100 grams, dried)

  • Calories: 347 kcal
  • Protein: 21g
  • Carbohydrates: 63g
  • Fats: 1.2g
  • Fiber: 16g

11) Pork

Pork chops on a wooden board with rosemary.

Nutritional Benefits

Pork is a versatile and widely consumed meat, providing high-quality protein and essential nutrients, including thiamine, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. Pork cuts like tenderloin are lean and low in fat, while others, such as pork belly, are higher in fats, making them more calorie-dense.

Serving Suggestions

Pork can be roasted, grilled, or slow-cooked to create a variety of flavorful dishes. Lean cuts like tenderloin are excellent for quick meals, while fattier cuts like ribs or belly can be used in richer, more indulgent dishes. Pairing pork with vegetables and whole grains can make for a balanced, nutritious meal.

Pork Belly Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw)

  • Calories: 518 kcal
  • Protein: 9.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fats: 53g

12) Dried Fruits

6 types of dried fruit in spoons.

Nutritional Benefits

Dried fruits are concentrated sources of energy, vitamins, and minerals. They are high in natural sugars and fiber, making them a great snack for a quick energy boost. Dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and dates offer nutrients such as potassium, iron, and antioxidants.

Serving Suggestions

Dried fruits can be enjoyed on their own as a snack or used to enhance the flavor and nutritional content of cereals, yogurts, and salads. They can also be incorporated into baking recipes for natural sweetness or used as a topping for oatmeal and pancakes.

Dates Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 277 kcal
  • Protein: 1.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 75g
  • Fats: 0.15g
  • Fiber: 7g

Following the same structured approach, here’s an overview of Lentils, Greek Yogurt, and Pasta, highlighting their general benefits, serving suggestions, and detailed nutritional information.

13) Lentils

Different types of lentils in bowls.

Nutritional Benefits

Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, making them excellent for digestive health and maintaining steady energy levels. They’re also rich in iron, folate, and magnesium, contributing to overall health and aiding in muscle growth and repair.

Serving Suggestions

Lentils can be used in a variety of dishes, from hearty lentil soups and stews to salads and side dishes. They’re particularly good in curries or as a meat substitute in dishes like tacos or spaghetti bolognese, adding both nutrition and texture.

Lentils Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw)

  • Calories: 352 kcal
  • Protein: 24.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 63.3g
  • Fats: 1g
  • Fiber: 10.7g

14) Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt in a bowl.

Nutritional Benefits

Greek Yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, and probiotics, making it excellent for bone health, digestive health, and muscle repair. It’s thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, offering a satisfying option that’s lower in lactose and higher in protein.

Serving Suggestions

Greek yogurt can be enjoyed on its own, as part of a breakfast parfait with fruits and granola, or as a base for smoothies. It also works well as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in dips, dressings, or baking, adding creaminess and tanginess to recipes.

Greek Yogurt Nutrition (per 100 grams, full-fat)

  • Calories: 97 kcal
  • Protein: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.6g
  • Fats: 5g
  • Fiber: 0g

15) Pasta

Wholegrain penne and wholegrain spaghetti on a board next to extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional Benefits

Pasta, a staple of Italian cuisine, is a good source of energy-providing carbohydrates and has a low glycemic index, leading to a slower release of energy. When made from whole grains, pasta can also provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health.

Serving Suggestions

Pasta is incredibly versatile and can be paired with a variety of sauces, vegetables, and proteins for a balanced meal. To make it more nutrient-dense, choose whole grain pasta and add lean meats, beans, or vegetables to your sauce. Try this high-calorie carbonara made with a silky egg sauce until of cream or this high-protein pasta recipe.

Pasta Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw, whole wheat)

  • Calories: 348 kcal
  • Protein: 14.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 72g
  • Fats: 2.5g
  • Fiber: 10.7g

16) Seeds

Chai seeds in a cup and a tablespoon.

Nutritional Benefits

Seeds, including chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, are packed with nutrients. They offer a rich source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals. Seeds can contribute significantly to cardiovascular health, digestive health, and overall wellness due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Serving Suggestions

Seeds can be sprinkled over salads, blended into smoothies, mixed into yogurt, or baked into breads and muffins for an extra nutritional punch.

Chia Seeds Nutrition (per 100 grams, representative of seeds)

  • Calories: 486 kcal
  • Protein: 17g
  • Carbohydrates: 42g (of which fibers are 34g)
  • Fats: 31g

17) Coconut

Coconut, coconut meat, and coconut oil.

Nutritional Benefits

Coconut, in its various forms such as raw meat, oil, milk, and water, is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), fiber, and minerals like manganese and copper. Coconut products can support metabolism, hydration, and provide a quick source of energy.

Serving Suggestions

Coconut meat can be eaten fresh or dried, added to desserts, or used to enhance the flavor of savory dishes. Coconut oil can be used as a versatile cooking oil, while coconut milk can be used in smoothies, curries, and soups for richness.

Coconut Meat Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw)

  • Calories: 354 kcal
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fats: 33g
  • Fiber: 9g

18) Rice

Rice, brown rice and wild rice.

Nutritional Benefits

Rice is a staple food worldwide, providing a significant source of energy through its carbohydrate content. Whole grain varieties, like brown rice, also offer fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for health, including magnesium and selenium.

Serving Suggestions

Rice can be served as a side dish or as the base for main dishes such as stir-fries, pilafs, and rice bowls. It pairs well with a variety of foods, including vegetables, beans, and meats, making it a versatile component of many meals.

Brown Rice Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw)

  • Calories: 370 kcal
  • Protein: 7.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 77.2g
  • Fats: 2.9g
  • Fiber: 3.5g

19) Whole Milk

A jug of milk and a bottle of milk.

Nutritional Benefits

Whole milk is a rich source of high-quality protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals, including calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. It supports bone health, muscle repair, and provides a balanced intake of macronutrients necessary for overall wellness.

Serving Suggestions

Whole milk can be consumed directly as a beverage, used in smoothies, or added to coffee and tea. It’s also a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking, providing moisture and richness to recipes like mashed potatoes, sauces, and desserts.

Whole Milk Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 61 kcal
  • Protein: 3.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.8g
  • Fats: 3.3g

20) Protein Supplements

Protein powder in tablespoons.

Nutritional Benefits

Protein supplements, including whey, casein, and plant-based proteins like soy and pea, offer a concentrated source of high-quality protein. They’re beneficial for muscle building, recovery after exercise, and can aid in meeting daily protein needs, especially for individuals with higher requirements or those struggling to consume enough protein through food alone.

Serving Suggestions

Protein supplements can be mixed with water or milk to create shakes, blended into smoothies, or incorporated into foods like oatmeal, yogurt, and homemade energy bars. They’re a convenient option for post-workout recovery or a protein-rich snack.

Protein Supplement Nutrition (per 100 grams, whey protein)

  • Calories: 352 kcal
  • Protein: 82.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.5g
  • Fats: 1.5g (Note: Nutritional values can vary significantly between types and brands.)

21) Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil being poured into a small bowl.

Nutritional Benefits

Olive oil, especially extra-virgin olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, including oleic acid and polyphenols. These compounds contribute to heart health, reduce inflammation, and have been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases.

Serving Suggestions

Olive oil can be used in salad dressings, drizzled over cooked dishes for added flavor, or used as a healthy cooking oil for sautĂ©ing and roasting. It’s also great for dipping bread or marinating meats and vegetables.

Olive Oil Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 884 kcal
  • Protein: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fats: 100g

22) Tofu

Tofu on a wooden board.

Nutritional Benefits

Tofu is made from soybeans and is a versatile plant-based protein source rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete vegan-friendly protein.

Serving Suggestions

Tofu can be used in a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries and soups to smoothies and desserts. Its mild flavor allows it to absorb the taste of marinades and sauces, making it an excellent meat substitute in many recipes.

Tofu Nutrition (per 100 grams, firm)

  • Calories: 144 kcal
  • Protein: 17.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.3g
  • Fats: 8.7g

23) Noodles

Noodles on a kitchen counter.

Nutritional Benefits

Noodles come in various forms, including wheat-based, rice noodles, and those made from alternative grains like quinoa or buckwheat. Their nutritional value can vary significantly based on the ingredients used. Generally, noodles provide a source of carbohydrates, offering energy for daily activities. Whole grain or alternative grain noodles offer more fiber and nutrients compared to traditional white noodles

Serving Suggestions

Noodles can be used in a variety of dishes, including hearty soups, stir-fries, and pasta meals. For a balanced meal prep idea, consider making this chicken and noodle dish using sliced chicken thighs, a variety of vegetables, and noodles tossed in a light sauce. This combination provides a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and essential nutrients.

Whole Wheat Noodles Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw)

  • Calories: 339 kcal
  • Protein: 14.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 71g
  • Fats: 2.5g
  • Fiber: 10.7g

24) Banana

Bananas on a counter next to a banana smoothie.

Nutritional Benefits

Bananas are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6. They support digestive health, provide energy due to their natural sugars and carbohydrates, and contribute to heart health through their potassium content.

Serving Suggestions

Bananas can be eaten raw as a convenient snack, blended into smoothies, baked into breads and muffins, or sliced and added to cereals and oatmeal. They also make a natural sweetener for various dishes.

Banana Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 89 kcal
  • Protein: 1.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 22.8g
  • Fats: 0.3g

25) Cheeses

Cheese board on a counter next to olives.

Nutritional Benefits

Cheese is a significant source of calcium, protein, fat, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. It varies widely in texture, flavor, and nutritional content based on the type and processing. Cheese can contribute to bone health, muscle function, and provide essential fats.

Serving Suggestions

Cheese can be enjoyed as a snack, used in cooking to enhance flavor in dishes like pizzas, pasta, mac and cheese, and sandwiches, or added to salads for a protein boost.

Cheddar Cheese Nutrition (per 100 grams)

  • Calories: 402 kcal
  • Protein: 25g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.3g
  • Fats: 33g

26) Quinoa

Quinoa seeds in a bowl on a wooden table.

Nutritional Benefits

Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that offer a complete set of amino acids, making it an excellent protein source. It’s also rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, supporting overall health from digestive to cardiovascular systems.

Serving Suggestions

Quinoa serves as a great base for salads, sides, or as part of a bowl meal. For meal prep, combine cooked quinoa with roasted vegetables and salmon for a nutritious and satisfying lunch option.

Quinoa Nutrition (per 100 grams, raw)

  • Calories: 368 kcal
  • Protein: 14g
  • Carbohydrates: 64g
  • Fats: 6g
  • Fiber: 7g


To gain weight and build muscle in a healthy way, it’s important to focus on high-calorie foods that are also rich in nutrients. Adding these foods to your diet and following a regular exercise routine can gradually increase your weight and build muscle. By staying consistent with your calorie surplus and physical activity, you’ll be on your way to reaching your weight gain goals.

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