Hello! I hope your are all doing well. In this article I will provide you with a calorie dense foods list. For us hard gainers, gaining quality weight by adding muscle is just as difficult, if not more so, as for those who have trouble losing weight. Adding certain foods to your diet can make a positive change to your weight gain efforts in a healthy and effective way.
Each healthy calorie dense food should contain healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (not the bad trans fats that are produced in the industries). Saturated fats are also needed but should be kept to a minimum.
Fat is needed to build cell membranes for the vital exteriors of each cell and the sheath surrounding nerves. Fat is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation. Fat is the most calorie dense of the nutrients and provides 9 Kcals per gram.
These are essential and is an important nutrient when looking for good calorie dense foods. Carbs are the primary energy source for the body. It not only fuels your workouts, so that you can make those gains, it also fuels the digestive system, brain and other important organ functions. Carbs provide 4 Kcals per gram.
This is the most well-known macro nutrient in the fitness industry. There are plenty of supplements on the market that tend to be geared towards protein. It is better to stick to natural foods then take supplements, however, adding quality whey protein to your diet is worth the investment. Check out my article https://hardgainersguru.com/top-3-protein-shakes-for-weight-gain/ for my recommended protein supplements!
Protein is required for repair and maintenance of the body’s tissues, which includs muscle mass. It also provides a feeling of satiety at meals. Protein has 4 Kcals per gram.
OK so I have looked briefly into the important macro nutrients that a calorie dense food should contain. Now lets get into my recommended calorie dense food list for hard gainers.
Homemade tasty protein smoothies
Homemade protein smoothies are a simple and cost effective shake for pre and post workouts. They are a nutritious, easy and convenient way for your to gain weight. Commercial protein shakes can sometimes contain a lot of sugar and lack nutrients, which is why usually prefer making them at home. Another benefit is that your have complete control over the flavor and serving size.
Some of my suggestions are:
Banana and nut shake
- Combine 2 bananas
- 15ml of peanut butter
- 1 glass of whole or semi-skimmed milk
Super green shake
- 1 cup of spinach (237ml)
- 1 avocado
- 1 banana
- Pineapple (237g)
These are two of my own suggestions perhaps your would like to try them. There are so many alternatives so start experimenting and it would be great to have your ideas in the comments below.
Avocadoes are ultra-healthy, high calorie fruits, however, most people trying to gain muscle mass think that this is not a good food for gaining weight. Despite having a reputation as a health food (foods seen by as those that promote weight loss) avocados are actually one of the best foods for healthy weight gain.
Eating avocados is a great way to add healthy fats, fiber and many vitamins and minerals to your diet. One avocado contains between 250 to 400 calories and around 23 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat.
My advice is to eat an avocado alongside your meals to add extra calories, this will help your to steadily gain healthy weight.
Nuts are great! They are rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats and can help boost your calorie intake. Nut butters are great for weight gain and are easier to consume then nuts. The best thing about nuts is that it is easy to consume, which is good for people with small appetites.
Just one tablespoon of nut butter provides 100 calories and 16 grams of healthy fats. In addition, nut butters are a great source of vitamins and magnesium.
There are so many varieties of nut butters including almond, peanut, hazelnut, cashews and even macadamia. Remember to only choose those that contain 100% nuts, with little to no added salt and sugar.
For breakfast, I eat oats with whole milk and add half a teaspoon of peanut butter. You can add more or less depending on your preference.
Oats are thought of as a weight loss food but can be used as a weight gain food. To increase the calorie content, add whole milk and peanut butter, as I said above. Make sure to choose wholegrain oats over refined versions, as this will offer extra health benefits.
The soluble fiber in oats, beta-glucan, may also help lower cholesterol. Adding whole milk to oats packs 377 calories and 14 grams of fat. Why not add dried fruit or even manuka honey?
This is a great food for healthy weight gain so have I decided to add this to my calorie dense food list. It is a thick oily dip which is made from toasted sesame seeds. Tahini is very high in protein, rich in vitamin C and calcium.
A tablespoon provides 100 calories so it’s a great calorie dense food. Tahini can be used as a dip or mixed into hummus and even added to sauces! I add it to protein shakes to add those extra-beneficial calories.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Pasta is seen by some as being unhealthy, however, there is a healthy option that should not be dismissed. Whole wheat pasta is more nutrient dense but white pasta often tastes better.
So do you have to sacrifice taste over health benefits? The answer to this is no! There is so much that you can add to pasta to make it taste great. Tasty and healthy sauces, eggs, fresh and dried herbs, cottage cheese, meat and even extra virgin olive oil.
I am a carb-lover so I enjoy pasta a lot. Whole wheat pasta is packed with complex carbs, protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and zinc. On the other hand white pasta is made of refined carbs meaning it is stripped of many nutrients during processing.
One serving of whole wheat pasta contains:
- 7 grams of fiber
- 8 grams of protein
- 39 grams of carbs
- 180 calories.
As I mentioned before carbs are the main source of fuel for humans. If your decide to stick to white pasta it is important to watch your serving size and do not add any artificial flavors.
I make wholemeal pasta with pure tomato sauce, also adding garlic, onions and capsicum. I eat my pasta with sweet potato as my afternoon meal, a few hours before going to the gym.
This bring me to the end of calorie dense food list for hard gainers. For too long, we have been told that high calorie foods are bad. But this kind of thinking is outdated, especially for us hard gainers. A food’s quality is not defined by a single characteristic; it is defined by the sum of all its nutrients. Calories is only one component of nutrition. In fact, calorie dense foods are usually of higher nutritional density.
Do not think that all high calorie foods are created equally, in terms of good nutrition. Stay away from calorie dense foods such as baked goods, chips and candy. Instead, focus on whole, minimally processed foods, for contributing towards a higher nutritional density.
Balancing calorie intake with nutritional needs is a learned skill, but with a little bit of practice it gets easier. Please do look at my article https://hardgainersguru.com/how-many-calories-do-i-need-to-build-muscle/ to gain a better understanding of calorie needs of a hard gainer.