Not all calorie-heavy foods are created equal. In this article, we’ll dive into some high-calorie healthy foods that are worth keeping on your radar and processed foods you should scrap ASAP.
Nutrient-dense makes sense
It’s without any wonder that a lot of processed snacks tend to be on the lower end of the nutritional value spectrum – food companies need to earn money, and that means cutting costs wherever possible. Many major brands slash nutrition altogether in place of low-cost ingredients that bring the largest profits.
These food manufacturers pull out all the stops to increase the bliss point of their products so that consumers come back for more. To achieve this goal, they load the products with sugar, fat, and calories. These high-calorie, low-nutrient foods deplete our bodies, all the while leaving us feeling sluggish and craving more.
The foods we feature here are high calorie, high nutrient – by that we mean they contain lots of energy in the form of calories, but they’ll also give your body a host of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. High-calorie healthy foods like these offer you a lot more bang for your buck.
7 High-calorie healthy foods for gaining muscle
If your goal is to lose or maintain weight, we recommend going easy on the foods in this list. However, if you’re looking to gain weight (especially muscle), incorporating these nutrient-rich foods into your diet can help you increase your caloric intake and reach those goals. Curious which foods make the cut? Read on to see seven of our favorite high-calorie healthy foods to add to your shopping list.
Avocados give your skin a healthy glow and supply your heart with an extra dose of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. But avocados aren’t just for toast and grain bowls, you can add them to your favorite baked goods – it will increase the moisture while also upping the nutrition. If you don’t need the extra calories or you want to veganize a dish, try swapping out the butter in your next baking recipe for avocado using a 1:1 ratio.
Avocados are also perfect for making a creamy sauce, just like you’ll find in this 8fit recipe: Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Avocado Sauce.
2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are chock-full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals including zinc which can improve sexual health and immunity. If you’re in need of some extra calories, aim for the roasted varieties which typically have extra oil added. Nut butters are also an excellent way to get these healthy snacks into your daily diet, just go for the ones with no sugar added.
Try adding peanut butter to Asian-inspired dishes or dressings. Need a little direction? Whip up our simple (and healthy!) Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing.
3. Healthy oils
Adding oil is an effortless way to sprinkle on some extra healthy calories. Oils are fine in moderation, however, it’s important to know which are best for cooking at higher heat and which are better consumed cold. As a general rule, avocado oil, coconut oil, and canola oil are preferable for high heat, whereas olive oil, flax oil, and grapeseed are better suited for lower temperatures. Aim to purchase oils that are cold pressed and unrefined.
We love drizzling unrefined olive oil over our food to give it an extra boost of flavor, such as in our recipe for Feta, Tomato & Basil Crackers.
It’s a common misconception that potatoes are bad for you. Of course, when you deep fry them like french fries or processed chips, they can do damage and lead to disease. By using healthier cooking methods such as boiling, you’ll benefit from electrolytes like potassium. Yes, potatoes are starchy, but they contain a type of fiber called resistant starch that affects how quickly they’re absorbed.
Check out this quick and easy way to sneak satisfying potatoes into your morning routine Sweet Potato Toast with Yogurt and Greens.
Salmon rightly attracts attention for its omega-3 content. This essential fat contributes to brain function and heart health. According to The Department of Health and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should aim to eat fish at least twice a week, with at least one of those being an oily variety like salmon. Try frying and flaking it, then adding it to scrambles, shredded vegetables, salads, or a healthy quiche.
Adding salmon can be as easy as opening a can and adding your favorite vegetables like in our Quick Salmon Salad recipe.
Beans contain soluble and insoluble fiber, which help improve gut health and blood cholesterol levels. They’re an excellent source of protein, so they make for an excellent substitute if you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption. Try adding them to baked goods like making black bean brownies, mashing them in your potatoes, or adding them to salads, soups, and stews.
Eat these tasty snacks at your next party or pair with a meal to increase your calories: Black Bean Croquettes.
Oats are a great source of healthy carbs and fiber, and also contain more protein than most grains. The soluble fiber promotes healthy gut bacteria and increases feelings of fullness. The soluble fiber promotes healthy gut bacteria and increases feelings of fullness.
Oats are typically eaten for breakfast and added to muffins, granola bars, cookies and other baked goods. But our yoga teacher Emily recommends adding oats to eggs.
"When I need to add something extra to my eggs and don’t have whole grain toast or other grains on hand, I like to add quick cooking oats to my scrambled eggs. I simply add ¼ cup of oats and ¼ cup of water to a bowl of 2-3 scrambled eggs and then fry it up per usual. I usually top my bowl of yum with some greens and I’m satisfied for hours.”
We add oats to many of our smoothies – like our Spiced Oatmeal Smoothie – because they help delay the absorption rate so you don’t end up with a sugar high.
There are plenty of ways you can incorporate these high-calorie healthy foods into your diet. If you want to cut out the guesswork entirely, download the 8fit app for meal plans customized to fit your goals, whether you’re looking to bulk up, feel healthier or simply improve your cooking skills.