High calorie snacks for weight gain can make the difference, so that you can gain weight the healthy way. We’re going to look at high calorie foods that are convenient, easy, and fit between high calorie meals.
Today we’ll offer the most important snack ideas, covering 23 high calorie snacks for healthy weight gain, so you can get more calories from nutrient dense foods.
What Do You Need to Gain Weight?
Gaining weight happens when you eat more calories than you use.
This is why high calorie foods are an important part of a weight gain diet, and high calorie snacks fit in between those to get more calories without being too full throughout the day.
High calorie snacks are perfect for hard gainers and skinny guys, who struggle to eat enough to gain weight. Smaller snacks between meals are an easy way to add those extra calories without changing your diet too much, which makes them an easy and enjoyable option.
Best High-Calorie Snacks for Weight Gain
The best high calorie foods for snacking contain at least one of these characteristics: lots of protein, high density carbs, or healthy fats. These are the main factors, but the ways you get them into your diet with variety and different roles is important.
Each of these snacks is a way to get more calories into your diet – but also a culinary platform for personal experimentation.
High calorie snacks are great because they’re so varied and enjoyable so make sure to use them as suggestions and vary to your own preferences.
1. Homemade Protein Shakes and Weight Gainer Shakes
The easiest and most versatile high calorie snack for weight gain is a homemade protein shake or mass gainer shake – combining calories with protein for maximum benefits.
Blend a high-purity protein powder with other options like bananas, oats (or oat flour), and high-calorie ingredients like Nutella, nut butter, or ice cream for a delicious homemade muscle building snack.
2. Mini Rice Bowls
Smaller meals prepared in advance make the perfect healthy high calorie snack, with calorie dense foods and nutrient dense vegetables.
Rice bowls are a great example, packing tiny healthy meals into containers for a protein boost, to add calories, and combine healthy foods.
Rice bowls combining meat and rice, with vegetables and a ramakin of sauce, are perfect. You can make these in advance with a little meal prep, and apply sauce when you’re ready.
3. Nuts and Seeds for Healthy Fats
All nuts are high in calories from healthy fats, helping you gain weight in a convenient way. Trail mix is a more exciting version of nuts and seeds, while they pair perfectly with full fat greek yogurt and dried fruit for a delicious high calorie snack.
Nuts and seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals. These help your body stay healthy while you gain weight, and they’re very calorie-dense, because fats are around 225% as many calories per gram as carbs or protein.
Walnuts, for example, are great for Omega-3s – the best healthy fats around. Sunflower seeds are a perfect all-round healthy calorie boost. Chia seeds are powerful by themselves or in a “chia pudding” (which we’re going to get to later…).
4. Nut Butters
Just like nuts, nut butters are packed with fats and calories.
This makes them an easy choice to get more energy into your diet to fuel your muscle growth. Make sure you get a natural nut butter without too much added sugar, just to keep your intake healthy.
You might want to spread peanut butter on everything, but consider alternative nut butters. Almond butter is packed with heart healthy monounsaturated fats and has a mild taste, while roasted hazelnut butter is decadent and has more calories per serving.
You can combine nut butters with all kinds of fruits and other snacks for more calories – but they’re particularly popular with apple slices and bananas.
5. Chia Pudding
Chia pudding is a soaked seed pudding that is an easy choice for its combination of carbs, fats, and protein.
This makes chia pudding an easy snack to prepare – especially with mason jars and other containers – and a perfect all-rounder for snacking on whenever you need it.
It’s not super high calorie, but has more calories and grams of protein than your usual craving driven mid-morning snack ideas.
Chia seeds are full of healthy fats, carbs, and protein – and they’re some of the most well-rounded and delicious high calorie snacks for weight gain.
6. Whole Milk
Milk isn’t really a ‘snack’, but whole milk does offer the same nutrients you need throughout the day – with a long history of supporting muscle gain.
It’s specifically useful as a post-workout drink for extra calories, where the milk sugars, salts, and protein all add up.
Milk can easily increase your calorie intake, so be careful with the quantity.
Dairy milk also needs lactase, which is why whole milk is the best and least likely to cause digestive problems. Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk (as well as soy milk) have fewer calories than full fat milk, making whole milk the king of liquid muscle building.
7. Coconut Milk
Just like dairy milk, coconut milk (the thick kind made from the flesh of the coconut) is a powerful high calorie liquid combining carbohydrates, healthy fats (like MCTs), and a few extra grams of protein.
Coconut milk is also great for the content of micronutrients like vitamin D and essential electrolytes, which makes it a great plant-based alternative to cow’s milk.
8. Baked Oatmeal
Baked oatmeal is one of the easiest, cheapest, most versatile choices to get a nutritious snack on the go. It’s got all the complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals of oatmeal, but without the mess.
You can add a wide range of ingredients to baked oatmeal, even mixing protein powder into the bake. This lets you build a great high-calorie snack with any of your favorite ingredients, like maple syrup, and you can top it with Greek yogurt.
This is a great snack idea, and one of the best value choices for muscle-building healthy foods.
9. Overnight Oats
To return to oats, you can make overnight oats in a mason jar or other container if you don’t like them baked. This is an easy option that produces a soft texture and amazing versatility to support healthy weight gain.
Overnight oats can use sunflower or chia seeds for a few grams of protein, you can add protein powder, macadamia nuts for healthy fats, or maple syrup for a sweeter flavour.
They’re perfect for gaining weight when you start experimenting with adding your own ingredients.
As ever, use whole milk, protein powder, nuts and seeds, fruit, and other options to taste.
10. Yoghurt with Granola and Fruit
Low-fat yogurt is great for its protein content – and then you can add granola and/or fruit to top up the calories.
The end result is a bowl of yogurt that can easily provide 40-50g of protein, as well as plenty of calories from both fat and carbohydrates and a range of micronutrients.
This is a great choice for snacking at your desk or during a small lull in the day. It takes no time to prep and can be eaten quickly, as well as being a perfect pre-workout top-up.
11. Coconut ‘Greek Yogurt’
Coconut yogurt combines the benefits of Greek yogurt and coconut milk, offering a dairy-free alternative to both, with a great texture and flavor.
As above, add granola and/or fruit to get the most out of it, or even just a scoop of protein powder in a flavor you enjoy.
12. Jerky and Biltong
Beef jerky and biltong are great super-lean snack foods that offer a ton of protein, though they are a little lower in calories than some snacks. They have double the grams of protein of most snack options.
However, the super lean cuts of jerky and the high-fat biltong have more calories, and are both great options for topping up your protein levels and giving your muscles the resources they need to grow.
13. Cold cuts
Just like jerky, cold cuts and deli meats are a great snack source for more protein and some fats, providing a high calorie content with plenty of protein to support muscle recovery and growth.
Look for high protein choices like sliced chicken, German peppered salami, and Wiejska as great options to top up your protein content on the go.
14. Fruits (especially dried fruits and berries)
Many fruits are high in calories due to their carbohydrate content – with great examples like bananas leading the way. Some high-calorie fruits can be very high in sugar, so don’t over-do it, but consider a mixture of fruits to improve your total vitamin intake while boosting your calorie surplus.
15. Toast and Sandwiches
Bread is a convenient way to store your nutrient-rich ingredients, with toast and sandwiches being some of the most convenient snacks of all time. You can toast sandwiches with fillings like cheese, beef, chicken, vegetables, and others.
You can also pan-finish a sandwich in olive oil to melt the fillings and add a few extra heart healthy fats. They’re a classic snack meal for a reason – and a bit of forethought turns a sandwich into a perfect high-calorie snack for weight gain.
Even the skinniest guy or hardest hardgainer can gain weight with a grilled cheese sandwich!
Just like sandwiches, wraps of all kinds offer great snack ideas for extra calories.
They offer carbs from tortillas, as well as the nutrients of any foods you use – from seafood to chicken to beef to rice, beans to peppers, and anything else you can think of. You can finish with Greek yogurt, sour cream, or cheddar cheese to add extra calories and flavor.
Wraps are as good as the things you put in them, but they’re almost always a great choice for gaining weight and building muscle.
17. Bagels (especially toasted)
Arguably an improvement on both wraps and sandwiches, bagels are a great choice for building muscle, as they’re higher in protein than most forms of bread. They take on all the same ingredients and fillings as bread, but with a higher total protein content for the calories.
Bagels are not super high calorie snacks for weight gain, but they’re an excellent protein source and can be made very high calorie if you spread peanut butter or almond butter.
Alternatively, the olive oil in pesto with chicken breast make for a great high calorie snack with plenty of protein and healthy fats.
One popular option among elite athletes is a high-quality cream cheese spread (with healthy fats from MCTs), salmon, and a fried egg. Healthy fats and more calories than your standard breakfast bagel.
18. High Protein Bars
You can make your own homemade no-bake protein bars at home by combining simple ingredients and refrigerating them. These homemade protein bars and mass gainer bars are often packed with protein powder, oats, cocoa, and other useful basic (staple) ingredients.
They vary a lot by ingredients and other choices, but are typically a great choice for cheap, tailored nutrition and a great taste. Add chopped nuts, maple syrup, dark chocolate, and dried fruit to taste.
19. Cereal and Granola Bars
Just like the protein bars, you can make cereal and granola bars at home – or buy them in stores. These are a tasty and easy choice that can easily have added chopped nuts and seeds, fruit, chocolate, or other choices.
They’re dense in calories, convenient to transport, and offer a lot of nutrients for their size. They can be high in sugar, so try and focus on homemade options for saving money and improving nutrient content.
20. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a high fat but lower sugar alternative to normal “milk” chocolate, with a better total effect on health. Dark chocolate is a much healthier alternative with less added sugar, so you don’t have to treat it as a major “problem food”, as the sugary alternatives can be.
Dark chocolate’s cocoa content gives it some powerful nutritional benefits to health and longevity, it still tastes amazing, and it’s relatively high in calories due to the fats. An easy choice for chocolate cravings – but without the guilt.
Eating dark chocolate is a way to get more calories, it pairs with tons of other snack ideas, and has some amazing heart healthy fats that you might be missing out on.
Try it with almond butter or full fat Greek yogurt for some decadent but healthy weight gain snacks.
21. Olives, Feta, and Chili
A mixture of olives, feta, and red chili peppers is a common snack that offers an excellent combination of nutrients – all with higher calories than you might expect.
Olives – like avocado – are fatty vegetables, which means a combination of high-calorie fats and amazing vitamins and minerals.
They taste great with feta and chilies, increasing the variety of nutrients while supporting total health and wellbeing. It’s a high calorie snack that is also nutrient dense and can be paired with bread and olive or avocado oil for sophisticated weight gain.
Smoothies pack in the vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates of fruits into an easier to consume option.
They’re typically higher in sugars than a whole piece of fruit relative to their satiety but, with a few smart choices, you can get amazing nutrition without much extra effort.
Smoothies are super versatile and take on non-fruit options, too, overlapping with shakes and giving you the option to use just about anything you want. You can also add chia seeds here to increase the protein content, or even chopped sunflower seeds (if you have the right type of blender).
23. Açai Bowls and Smoothie Bowls
Açai bowls and smoothie bowls are simple high-carb options with a ton of calories, vitamins, and minerals. They’re a different format to blended fruit that’s typically combined with other options like nuts, seeds, granola, and others.
These are a super easy option to prepare in advance, with an interesting texture and their own variety of ingredient options.
Being easy to prepare and eat makes them a perfect choice for gaining weight – especially for hardgainers who struggle with fullness and appetite.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts
Weight gain snacks are all about combining ingredients to get high calorie snacks that help you gain weight while enjoying yourself. Gaining weight isn’t hard, it’s just a bit boring and repetitive if you don’t enjoy the high calorie snacks you’re eating.
With these high calorie snacks for weight gain, you should be able to enjoy yourself while eating more calories, gaining weight, and building muscle mass.
High calorie foods are often fun, so let them be fun – just make sure your high calorie snacks come with the grams of protein and healthy fats your body needs.
You can gain weight in a healthy way with these foods – and experiment with some pre-made options like trail mix, wheat bread, and full fat greek yogurt.
These are just some of the most proven and effective ways to gain weight – the final choices and staple high calorie foods are all about what you want, so make sure to own the process and choose what suits you.
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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.