Can you gain weight with Keto – and which high calorie keto foods are going to make it possible?
These are the two big questions we’ve set out for today, as we help you gain muscle using the power of healthy fats and protein-packed foods. We’ll be tweaking the traditional Ketogenic diet to focus on growth and strength.
If you want an exciting alternative to a normal weight gain diet, read on…
Gaining Weight With Keto
Ketogenic diets are usually used for dieting but – if you prefer the high fat life – you can use them to gain weight.
Keto diets for bulking work differently; instead of inducing traditional ketosis, they work to increase gluconeogenesis. They turn excess fats into carbs, and this can help make up the shortfall in carbs seen in normal keto for muscle-building.
This is a different approach, but it can help you retain your favorite eating habits from Keto while building muscle mass. This is a great alternative if you’re already keto-adapted and you want to enjoy the meals, habits, and lifestyle you’ve built up.
Is This Real Keto?
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room: it’s not a keto diet if you’re gaining weight.
THE ketogenic diet is a specific weight-loss and health strategy that focuses on ketosis. Your body doesn’t want to be in Ketosis, most of the time, so you get there by reducing your calorie and carbohydrate intake. This combination causes your body to become more efficient in burning fat (1).
Now, when you’re gaining weight, you need to increase your calorie intake. If not, you won’t gain long-term weight – it’s simple.
You can retain the high-fat, low-carb focus of your diet, but the lack of Ketosis means you will be missing some of the benefits. Your body will still become better at using fats as fuel, and it will get better at producing its own carbs, but it won’t cause Keto-adaptation in the same way (2).
Why Bulk With Keto?
So, without Ketosis, why use a high fat diet for bulking?
The simple – and completely legitimate – answer is because you like the eating habits it uses.
Your diet choices don’t have to be about optimizing for results – they can be about optimizing the experience. If you like high-fat foods and have poor experiences with high-carb dieting, then try a fat-focused diet.
Ketogenic diets are popular because they remove some of the guilt and negativity around delicious high-fat foods. What’s wrong with eating steak and green veggies because you like it?
You can gain weight and muscle mass with a low-carb diet. It won’t be as efficient, but that might not matter if you’re going to eat more food in total and have a better time with a high-fat diet.
The Trade-Off: High Protein Keto For Muscle Growth
Now, you’re not in Ketosis – but there’s a secret benefit most people never talk about. Because you’re not in Ketosis, you don’t have to use the ‘moderate protein’ intake that normal Keto diets use.
If you’re worried about protecting ketosis, too much protein is a risk. It can lead to protein conversion and then ruining ketosis. When you’re gaining weight, however, there’s no ketosis to worry about – and you can drastically increase the protein intake of your LCHF diet.
This doesn’t change the focus of Keto-style LCHF diets, but it does maximize your muscle-building potential. High protein diets are key to maximum growth, perfect to replace the carbs in a ‘normal’ weight gain diet.
High-Calorie Keto Foods: Gaining Weight With Low Carb Diets
Keto has a wealth of healthy, nutritionally dense foods that are also high calorie. These range from avocados to red meats to cheeses – so we’re going to have a great time with this list!
Let’s get started with classics of the keto diet and how you can incorporate them into your diet!
Nuts are a perfect keto bulking food, with plenty of fiber and high-quality fats, as well as micronutrients. These are what most keto diets are lacking – leading to Keto flu – and nuts can save you from this kind of deficiency.
Not only that, many nuts are flexible in your foods (like Walnuts) or just outright delicious (like hazelnut). These can fit into your diet as snacks or part of a larger meal to add in variety and healthy electrolyte intake.
Add nuts to just about anything you can, when you’re trying to bulk on keto!
Avocado is a classic high calorie low carb food – and a perfect part of any keto diet. It’s a healthy plant food with plenty of fats and micronutrients (3). These make it a perfect addition to meat-heavy dishes that are going to challenge your gut.
Avocado’s combination of fats and fibers make it a great choice, while it’s also versatile and can be added to all kinds of foods. Try a skin-on chicken thigh fillet burger with cheese, avocado, bacon, and tomatoes. We’ve tried 100s of muscle-building recipes and this was one of the best.
Beef and other red meats can be a great choice for bulking on keto. It’s a staple of any keto diet and a combination of protein, fats, and micronutrients to support muscle growth (4).
Alternatives like venison and elk are great, but more expensive. The idea is to focus on combining beef with high-quality plant foods to maintain gut wellbeing, while pumping up your protein and fat intake.
This can be direct beef or beef mince – at preference. Both are versatile for cooking, and you can add them to other keto favorites like peppers, cheese, and high-fiber vegetables.
4. Skin-on Chicken
Keto bulking starts by adding more fats to the meats you eat – adding skin-on chicken is one of the easiest ways to improve your food intake. This happens for 2 reasons: it’s higher calorie density and it tastes better.
The added fats from chicken skin increase the total calorie content by around 75%, from 110 per 100g to 175. When you’re eating multiple chicken breasts in a sitting, this can add up quickly.
Chicken thigh is even better, with more calories from fat – whether you have it skinless or not. This is another bump to total calories that adds up across a whole week of eating.
5. Nut Butter
Nuts are great, but nut butters are better. They’re semi-solid, which means they’re easier to eat and digest. They’re richer in calories for the satiety, making them a classic for gaining weight on a higher calorie diet.
Make sure you’re buying nut butters without excess sugar, however. If it has additional sugar, it’s typically lower quality, and may interrupt your focus on low-carb dieting.
However, nut butters as a whole are some of the best bulking foods and offer excellent versatility. With roughly 600 calories per 100g, it makes bulking on keto much easier.
Seeds are similar to nuts but with a more well-rounded in their nutrient content, with more protein. These range from sunflower seeds to chia seeds, all depending on your dietary needs and taste.
Seeds are harder to fit into your diet – less versatile than nuts – and often need to be soaked or cooked to get the best results. However, they’re powerful for improving the quality of your muscular growth and health, which is perfect.
7. Fatty Fish
Any fatty fish should be a staple in a Ketogenic diet, whether you’re gaining or losing weight. They’re high in fats and proteins, especially the essential Omega-3 fats. These control many facets of health – like inflammation and brain protection.
These are some of the most important nutrients, especially on Keto, where the quality of your fats is a top priority.
Try using shredded fish, for example, in fisherman’s eggs with salmon or mackerel. This can help boost your total fat intake while providing some of the most powerful, nutrient-dense seafood around.
8. Crustaceans and Seafood
If you can get your hands on crab and lobster, and you enjoy these foods, we recommend it. These are seafood – packed with Omega 3 fats and other nutrients – but with more calories than fish typically offer.
As a result, foods like crabs, prawn, shrimp, and lobster can all make for amazing bulking foods. They offer a perfect mixture of calories, protein, and fats with a very low carbohydrate content for keto bulking!
Frequently Asked Questions
True Ketogenic diets are about losing weight, but you can repurpose the low-carb, high fat diet (LCHF diet) to improve your muscle growth. High calorie keto foods make the difference when you’re trying to bulk with low carbs.
If you love the foods and habits, this can be an easy way to make weight gain palatable and easier.
You may not get the optimal results compared to a meticulously measured bodybuilder’s diet, but you get to enjoy the process. Remember: weight gain can take years to reach your goals, and it’s often more important that you stick with it and make it work, rather than maximize every detail.
If you want to use a high-fat diet, and reduce the focus on carbs, that’s completely fine. The high calorie keto foods we’ve listed today will make this process easier, improve results, and help you achieve the weight gain you want!
You Might Like:
- Keto Friendly Mass Gainer Supplements
- Is Mass Gainer Good For Bulking?
- 8 Top High-Calorie Nuts and Nut Butters for Weight Gain
- High-Calorie Low Fat Foods for Weight Gain
- Will Quest Bars Make You Gain Weight?
Rohan Arora is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist and has been actively involved in sports and fitness for over 8 years. He now leads the team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the world with personalized workout and nutrition plans, along with providing the right information on sports supplements.