If you’re trying to put on pounds healthily, integrating high calorie vegetables into your diet is key. Contrary to popular belief, not all vegetables are low in calories.
Some can significantly contribute to your caloric intake and help you meet your weight gain goals.
Understanding Caloric Density in Vegetables
Caloric density is the number of calories contained per unit volume of a food item. In the context of vegetables, many of them have low caloric density, meaning they provide fewer calories relative to their weight or volume.
However, some vegetables are calorie-dense and can contribute significantly to your daily caloric intake, supporting your weight gain efforts.
List of High Calorie Vegetables
Here’s a list of 15 high calorie vegetables that will help you gain weight while delivering essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
1. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are an excellent calorie dense vegetable that contains complex carbohydrates and delivers 86 calories per 100g
- Excellent source of vitamin A
- Good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium
- Contains various B-vitamins
They can be roasted with some olive oil and herbs for a tasty side dish or baked whole and stuffed with beans, cheese, meats, and vegetables for a balanced meal.
Sweet potato fries are also a popular choice for mashed sweet potatoes as an alternative to the regular variety.
Corn is a sweet and versatile veggie with 96 calories per 100g.
- Good source of fiber
- Provides B-vitamins including folate
- Contains iron and protein
You can have grilled corn on the cob with some butter for a delightful summer side dish, or shave the kernels off and add them to salads, salsas, or soups.
You can also make a sweet corn pudding or bake cornbread as a comfort food.
Potatoes are a popular favorite, with 77 calories per 100g.
- Rich in vitamin C and potassium
- Provides vitamin B6 and fiber
- Contains small amounts of magnesium, iron and zinc
Aside from the classic mashed or roasted potatoes, consider incorporating them into a hearty potato soup or potato salad.
Peas contain 81 calories per 100g and offer a protein-packed punch to any meal.
- High in vitamins A, C, and K
- Good source of dietary fiber
- Provides iron and phosphorus
Peas can be added to pasta dishes, mixed into risotto, or combined with ham for a classic pea and ham soup.
They’re also great in casseroles, shepherd’s pie, or simply as a side dish.
At 116 calories per 100g, yams are very calorie dense and are also a rich source of complex carbohydrates and fiber.
- Excellent source of vitamin C and fiber
- Provides potassium and manganese
- Contains B-vitamins and small amounts of protein
Yams can be used similarly to sweet potatoes: roasted as a side dish, mashed, or baked whole.
At 160 calories per 100g, avocados are a powerhouse when it comes to healthy fats.
- High in monounsaturated fats
- Packed with vitamins K, E, C, and various B-vitamins
- Rich in potassium
Avocados make an excellent addition to smoothies, providing a creamy texture and added nutrients.
Parsnips contain 75 calories per 100g and have a distinct flavor.
- High in vitamin C and dietary fiber
- Provides potassium and folate
- Contains manganese and small amounts of iron
Parsnips can be roasted along with other root vegetables, pureed into a creamy soup, or mashed with some butter and cream for a comforting side. They can be thinly sliced and baked into parsnip chips.
Olives contain 115 calories per 100g and have a robust nutrient profile.
- High in vitamin E and healthy fats
- Contains iron and dietary fiber
- Provides calcium and vitamin A
Olives can be added to Greek salad, tapenade, or pasta dishes. They’re also great on top of pizzas or stuffed with feta cheese or pimentos as a snack.
9. Butternut Squash
Providing 45 calories per 100g, butternut squash is a fall favorite with notable nutritional benefits.
- Excellent source of vitamins A and C
- Contains dietary fiber
- Provides small amounts of B-vitamins and magnesium
Roast butternut squash with some cinnamon and nutmeg for a sweet side dish, or puree it to make a creamy soup.
Butternut squash works well in risotto or as a stuffing for ravioli and can be cubed and added to curries or stews.
Offering 43 calories per 100g, beets are colorful, nutrient-dense vegetables.
- High in fiber and folate
- Provides manganese and potassium
- Contains iron and vitamin C
Roasted beets can be added to salads along with some goat cheese and walnuts or pureed into a vibrant beet soup.
At 116 calories per 100g, lentils offer a substantial hit of plant-based protein and dietary fiber.
- High in folate and manganese
- Good source of iron and phosphorus
- Provides copper, thiamin, and pantothenic acid
Lentils can be used to bulk up salads, made into a hearty lentil soup, or used in a vegetarian shepherd’s pie. They’re the main ingredient in Indian dal, a creamy, flavorful dish served with rice.
The caloric content of beans varies by type, but on average, they contain around 130 calories per 100g.
- Excellent source of dietary fiber and protein
- High in folate and manganese
- Provides iron, phosphorus, and potassium
Beans can be incorporated into chili, minestrone soup, or a bean salad. They can also be mashed into a bean dip, refried beans, or used as a filling in burritos or tacos.
Although not the highest on the list at 41 calories per 100g, carrots deliver essential nutrients.
- Excellent source of vitamin A
- Contains vitamin K and dietary fiber
- Provides potassium and small amounts of vitamin C
Carrots can be roasted with honey and herbs, shredded into a carrot salad, or added to stir-fries.
At 47 calories per 100g, artichokes are a fiber-rich vegetable with a distinctive taste.
- High in dietary fiber and vitamin C
- Provides magnesium and phosphorus
- Contains vitamin K and folate
Artichokes can be grilled and served with an aioli, incorporated into a creamy spinach and artichoke dip, or added to pasta dishes.
Offering 55 calories per 100g, broccoli is a nutrient powerhouse with an impressive array of vitamins and minerals.
- Excellent source of vitamins C and K
- High in dietary fiber and protein
- Provides vitamin A, folate, and potassium
Broccoli can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to casseroles. Steam it and serve with a drizzle of cheese sauce, roast it with olive oil and garlic, or add it to a creamy broccoli cheddar soup.
How to Incorporate High Calorie Vegetables into Your Diet
There are various ways to easily incorporate high calorie vegetables into your diet. Here are some of my favorite tips.
The first key to incorporating high calorie vegetables into your diet is variety. Eating a mix of these vegetables can help you get a wide range of nutrients and keep your meals interesting.
This can be as simple as roasting a mix of root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, and parsnips for a flavorful side dish.
Substitute Vegetable Options
Substituting higher calorie vegetables in place of lower calorie ones can also be a way to increase your caloric intake. For example, instead of using cucumber for your salad, use sliced avocados or olives.
You can substitute low calorie vegetable sides like pumpkin (which contains 26 calories per 100 grams) with sweet potatoes or yams in your recipes for more than triple the calorie density.
Pair with Protein
Vegetables can be paired with protein sources to create a balanced, high-calorie meal. For example, beans or corn can be added to chili for a more balanced meal and lentils can be added to stews and curries.
Make High Calorie Snacks
Creating high-calorie snacks using these vegetables is another effective strategy. Snack on olives, make a high-calorie dip with avocados, or fries with sweet potatoes or yams for a satisfying, nutrient-dense snack.
Create Veggie-Packed Smoothies
Smoothies can be a great way to incorporate high-calorie vegetables. Add avocados, carrots or beets to your smoothies for additional nutrition.
Cook Using Healthy Fats
Finally, remember that how you prepare your vegetables can also increase their calorie content. Sauté your vegetables in olive oil, dress your salads with avocado oil, or roast your vegetables with a drizzle of coconut oil to increase their calorie content.
Benefits of High Calorie Vegetables for Weight Gain
- Rich in Nutrients: High-calorie vegetables are nutrient-dense, offering a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants alongside their caloric content.
- Sustained Energy: Many high-calorie vegetables, like sweet potatoes and yams, are rich in complex carbohydrates that provide a steady release of energy. This helps prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes.
- Protein Content: Some high-calorie vegetables, such as lentils and beans, are great sources of plant-based protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, making those exercising while gaining weight.
- Fiber-Rich: These vegetables are high in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and maintains a healthy gut. This is especially important when you’re increasing your calorie intake.
- Versatility: There is a wide variety of high-calorie vegetables that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, making it easier to add extra calories to your diet without it becoming monotonous.
- Beneficial Fats: Certain high-calorie vegetables, like avocados and olives, are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats support heart health and help reduce inflammation in the body.
- Micronutrients Boost: These vegetables offer an array of essential micronutrients, including vitamins A, C, K, E, and B-vitamins, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron. These aid in various body functions and boost overall health, which is critical when trying to gain weight.
High calorie vegetables offer a nutrient-dense and practical approach to support healthy weight gain. By adding these vegetables into your diet, you can increase your calorie intake while also enjoying a diverse array of flavors and nutritional benefits.
It’s worth noting that weight gain is not solely about vegetables; incorporating high-calorie fruits into your meals and snacks can further diversify your diet and boost your caloric intake.