Your Registered Dietitian (RD) or physician may have recommended a high-calorie and high-protein diet because your body is currently burning more calories than you are taking in. This can cause you to lose weight. Adding snacks in between meals can help you increase your caloric intake if you are having trouble eating enough. Rather than the traditional “three square meals a day” way of eating, having several small meals throughout the day can help you to consume more without feeling overly full.

Tips for weight gain

  • Avoid drinking beverages 30 minutes before meals, or minimize amount of liquids drank with meals.
  • Drink beverages that have calories, such as milk, juice, shakes and smoothies, rather than water, tea, black coffee, and diet beverages that contain no calories.
  • Add condiments or ‘extras’ whenever you can. Top your food with dried fruit, chopped nuts or seeds, honey, bacon bits, cheeses, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. Prepare your food with oil or butter to add calories. Try adding hummus or avocado to sandwiches or crackers/veggies.
  • When eating cereal use whole milk, half and half, or 2% milk. You can also use alternative milks if you find you are sensitive to lactose (lactose intolerance). Do the same when making scrambled eggs, soups, gravies, casseroles, and desserts.
  • Choose breaded meat, chicken, and fish. Choose higher fat meats such as chicken or turkey thighs and legs, pot roast, short ribs, salami, and sausage.
  • Choose fruit canned in syrup rather than juice and tuna canned in oil rather than water.
  • If you are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose-intolerant, use soy/almond/coconut or rice milks, nut or seed butters, tofu, olives, avocado, and vegetable oil to add calories.
  • If you prefer not to cook, or want portable snacks, stock up on individual pudding, yogurt, or cottage cheese cups, string cheese, granola bars, vending packs of trail mix, nuts, sunflower seeds, juice boxes, and chocolate milk cartons.
  • Commercial supplements such as meal replacement bars are also options.

Snack Ideas

100 to 200 calories

  • Apple slices and 2 tbsp. caramel dip
    • Number of calories: 200
  • 1/4 block tofu and 1 tbsp. butter or olive oil for sautéing
    • Number of calories: 200
  • Edamame (1 cup) and 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • Number of calories: 200
  • Hummus (2 oz.) and serving of crackers
    • Number of calories: 200
  • Tortilla chips and salsa and 2 tbsp. sour cream or 2 oz. silken tofu
    • Number of calories: 200
  • 1/2 cup Jello® and 2 tbsp. whipped cream
    • Number of calories: 100-150
  • Roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup) and salt and pepper
    • Number of calories: 150
  • 1/2 avocado on 1 slice toast
    • Number of calories: 250
  • McDonald’s 4-piece chicken nuggets
    • Number of calories: 150
  • McDonald’s small low-fat ice cream cone
    • Number of calories: 150
  • Medium Chai latte made with soy milk
    • Number of calories: 240
  • 1 frozen waffle with 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. syrup
    • Number of calories: 250
  • English muffin and 1 tbsp. nut butter
    • Number of calories: 250
  • Zucchini or pumpkin bread slice and 2 oz. cream cheese or honey
    • Number of calories: 250
  • 1 egg baked in 1/2 avocado
    • Number of calories: 250

300 to 500 calories

  • 6 oz. container sweetened yogurt and 1/2 cup granola
    • Number of calories: 300
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp. honey and 1 tbsp. chopped nuts/seeds/dried fruit/chia or flax
    • Number of calories: 300
  • 1/2 cup rice/noodles with 1 tbsp. butter/olive oil and 1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
    • Number of calories: 300
  • 1 sliced apple or banana with 2 tbsp. peanut butter and chocolate chips
    • Number of calories: 300
  • 3 chocolate chip cookies and 1 cup chocolate milk
    • Number of calories: 300
  • Plain bagel and 2 tbsp. cream cheese
    • Number of calories: 300-400
  • 1 chicken drumstick and 1/2 cup mashed potato
    • Number of calories: 400
  • 1 envelope instant oatmeal cooked with 1/2 cup 2% milk, topped with 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tbsp. butter, and 1 tbsp. raisins
    • Number of calories: 350
  • 1 one-half ounce chocolate bar (milk or dark) and 1/4 cup of almonds
    • Number of calories: 400

500 to 700 calories

  • 1/2 cup tuna or egg salad sandwich and 1 cup 2% milk
    • Number of calories: 600-700
  • 1/2 cup trail mix and 8 oz. juice
    • Number of calories: 520
  • 2 tbsp. peanut or almond butter, 1 banana, 1 cup chocolate milk, and 1 scoop protein powder (blended shake)
    • Number of calories: 650
  • Grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla: 2 slices bread or tortilla, 2 slices cheese, and 2 tbsp. butter
    • Number of calories: 650
  • Snack wrap: 1 flour tortilla, 2 slices ham, 2 slices cheese, 1 tbsp. mayonnaise, and 1 cup chocolate milk
    • Number of calories: 700
  • Pita bread spread with 1/4 cup hummus, stuffed with sliced avocado, olives, tomatoes, and 1 cup chocolate soy milk
    • Number of calories: 500-600
  • Large bakery blueberry muffin and 1 medium vanilla latte
    • Number of calories: 500-700

Condiments and 'extras' to increase calories

  • 1 tbsp. jam, jelly, marmalade, apple butter, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, honey, agave nectar, sugar, cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. hummus, guacamole
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 8-10 olives
    • Number of calories: 50 to 60 calories
  • 1 tbsp. butter, margarine, vegetable oils (canola, olive, etc.) peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, mayonnaise, and sour cream
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese, raisins or other dried fruit, croutons
    • Number of calories: 100 calories
  • ¼ cup nuts or trail mix, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds
  • 1 dark or milk chocolate bar
  • 1/2 cup granola
    • Number of calories: 200 calories

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2017.

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