What are good safe ways to increase calorie intake?

Ever since I started working on getting more fruits and vegetables in my diet I've been coming in at roughly 1200-1500 calories per day. I should be getting 2300. Any suggestions on how to increase my calorie intake without adding unhealthy foods to my diet or increasing the amount of food I eat (since I eat quite a lot and there isn't much room for more)?

My diet right now consists mainly of whole grain pasta, brown rice, chicken breasts, egg whites, fish, fruits and vegetables. When I eat beef its the 93% lean stuff.


Most Helpful Girl

  • God, why are guys so obsessed with protein shakes? Get that word out of the vocab! I just had to explain this tonight to my brother, too. The average American diet is packed with plenty of protein. Adding these stupid shakes is redundant. The only people who need to pack those down are elite athletes.

    As for caloric intake, it really depends on your preferences in foods. Everyone already gave some great examples with nuts, avocados, etc. In all honesty, I'd suggest Googling to find foods of your preference. Consider smoothies with banana and yogurt.

    How did you come up with 2300 for your intake? I wish I still had my exercise physio notes. We had an equation we used to find your ideal caloric intake, figuring in activity level and metabolic rate. I am taking sports nutrition next quarter so I'd be able to give you more scientific advice then. :p

    • An equation I've seen repeated on a few sites and in a few nutrition guides.

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    • Lolz. Downvoting. I bet they're a fan of GNC.

    • Wasn't me =P

What Girls Said 10

  • eat more nuts, avocado, protein bars and supplements.

  • If you don't already, you can incorporate things like nuts (or organic nut butters), avocado, yogurt, granola, and healthy oils (such as olive oil---you can cook with it, use it as a base for some homemade salad dressing, or if you really want, you can just mix it in with your food, like in a protein shake) into your diet.

    Consider using regular foods instead of low-fat/fat-free foods (i.e. 2% milk instead of skim, regular cheese instead of light, regular yogurt instead of fat-free).

    Choose a fattier fish. Like, if you normally eat white fish, eat some salmon instead. It's higher in calories, and also gives you a lot of good fatty acids.

    • Good call on the other things but not with the fish. I only like the taste of white fish. Call me a fish racist, but when it comes to fish, I say white is right. And I am a total white fish supremacist.

    • Ohhh, you're missing out. I love salmon! Mmm.. maybe I'll make myself a salmon salad sandwich for lunch. :D

  • Peanut butter, avocados, protein shakes/bars, coconuts, add more meals to your day as well

  • Protein bars perhaps. [:

    I like Luna bars, but those are really woman's bars... ha.. But they're good and vegan. ;] link They're around 170 calories, I believe.

    The coconut is beyond amazing. Just saying.

    Or Clif Builder bars. link

    Around 270 calories.

    Both really fill you up though.

    Maybe cut the beef out and replace it with a builder bar.. Has more protein and fiber, I'm sure.

    • Clif products are good overall but have lots of sugar. I'm weary of them for that reason. Good call on protein bars though.

    • Protein bars can be a double edged sword I've noticed. You have two kinds basically. You have the kind that is packed full of artificial sweeteners that may or may not be really bad for you, and you have the kind that's bursting with as much sugar as a can of coke, which we know for a fact is bad for you =(

      I eat them anyway but not often.

    • Clif uses evaporated cane juice though. Which is just a healthier alternative to sugar.

      And brown rice syrup.

      But still, both are healthier than sugar or artificial sweeteners.

  • Maybe having one indulgent meal a day? Like, I dunno, pancakes in the morning with maple syrup, or something.

    Or a chocolate bar or something?

    I'm not saying go crazy, but it sounds like you've got enough room to add something if you wanted to.

    Alternatively, maybe it's not about increasing what you eat, but more what you eat things with? Not suggesting this, but people eat mayo with chips - is there anything you like which goes with your current meals? You know like, make your whole grain pasta into a tuna and pasta bake or something?

  • basically you know the rule kinda is the more you work out the more you are supposed to take in. 1200-1550 is good for day to day (little to no exercise)

    If your semi exerise (1450 -1660 calories)

    Moderate (1700 - 1980)

    Active (2000+)

    Anyway... if your excerising more your supposed to take in more

    when I was in training I was working out 6-7 days a week , 2 to 4 hours a day

    I was on a schedule of 2400 calories a day. I'd take in boneless/skinless white meat, learn red meat, whole grains, veggies (green) and moderate dairy and fruit

    what also helped me was the database on sparkpeople.com

    • I work out 4-5 days a week. On strictly cardio days I only work out for 30 minutes but on weight days I do a good hour or so. I'm 5'10" 220 lbs.

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    • everyday is my cheat day!

    • Maybe for a girl.. But that's way too low for the average guy, unless he's trying to lose weight.

  • healthy foods like nuts, organic or healthier peanut butter, and more fruits. Milk. You can also try eating more smaller meals throughout the day. You can try protein shakes (milk or water, ice, fruit, and some proteins powder). I had a nutritionist do my meal plans so its basically just balancing out my diet between protein, carbs, fats, and everything else. It was more smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. You can eat more of the fruit and vegetables since there really is no limit on those.

  • Add turkey and some almonds and yogurt

  • Olives, nuts, avacodo, power bars, cheese...


What Guys Said 18

  • Why are you eating such lean beef?

    Any dairy in your diet?

    • I cut out dairy for a while to try to isolate the reason why I've been so gassy ever since I started trying to eat healthy. Haven't reintroduced it yet. As far as the beef goes, I kinda figured you had to. What's a good l/f ratio with beef? 80/20 is too much, right?

    • I don't think you can look at fat content in isolation and say its 'good' or 'bad'. Some foods are ... not natural. Most natural foods can be good or bad depending on the overall diet.

    • Fair enough. For the past few weeks the only dairy I've been getting in my diet is whey protein (which is dairy based), and occasionally sprinking shredded cheese on the tops of things like salads. I've isolated the source of the gas as coming from baked goods made with flour (breads, mainly).

  • To safely add more cals to your diet, you can't go wrong with healthy oils.

    Cook with more olive / sesame oil than you usually do, and eat more nuts and avocados.

    Avocados aren't cheap so I understand if you don't wanna go that route.

    PS I know this is 2 months old...but all knowledge helps :)

    • are sir, that it does.

  • Add in a few glasses of whole milk. If you want to gain weight (fat, lean mass, or both) or make up for lax eating habits this is the best way to do it. Liquid calories are definitely easier to take in than solid ones, and it tastes great to boot! No need to buy "gainers" as one guy called them. No need for powders, mixes, bars, or whatever it is people use these days. Just drink nice, tasty, fatty whole milk.

    After losing a rather substantial amount of weight over a short period of time (still haven't figured out why, maybe my system was fighting something) I gained it back by drinking about a half gallon of whole milk per day.

    The weight came back quickly, both muscle AND fat. When I was a little higher than where I thought I should be I stopped and my weight evened out. It's safest to go a bit higher than you intend to, because your body will have increased your metabolism with your increase in food intake, so if you suddenly drop the calories you'll lose a few pounds. For example, I was down to between 150 and 160 before eating up to about 175-180. When I stopped I dropped down back to 170

  • If you have the mullah, buy a weight gainer protein powder. They seriously help you put a lot of size on..trust me. If not add a tablespoon or two of peanut butter to your protein shake, oatmeal, olive oil, etc.. those alone can work wonders. Eat every two/three hours and focus on eating high caloric carbohydrates. Pastas, sweet potatos, whole grains, WHOLE GRAIN PASTAS, etc. A plentiful amount of whole grain carbs keep your body anabolic (pro muscle building environment). Keep most of your protein sources from meats, fish, poultry, dairy etc. Just take in more small meals a day that are calorie and protein dense meals.

    • He's not looking to gain weight.

    • He just said he wants to increase caloric intake in a safe way..read my answer again

  • Well first thing is first. You gotta figure out how much activity you're doing versus how much nutrition you need to ingest. Are you losing weight? Keep a track of that on a weekly basis (if you're losing like 1kg per week then you're probably about 300 calories per day off maintainence)

    If you know you need to get more calories into you, then calorie dense foods are what you need. Essentially that boils down to nuts and butters (30% of that should be fat based calories).

    Some healthy options include (I notice you can't really eat processed grains foodstuffs):

    Avocado & Bananas are really dense natural sources of calories


    Dark chocolate

    Nuts & Seeds (and their butters e.g. peanut butter)

    Coconut milk, coconut butter, etc.


    Dried fruits


    Protein powders (in all forms)

    Vegetable oils

    Eggs are an excellent source of protein and calories (whole egg)

    As always, practice moderation. If you feel you really can't stomach eating more, then consider using fruit juices, or protein shakes to slowly expand the capacity of your stomach (i.e. drink a little more each time).

    Keep in mind staying on a really calorie dense diet will invariably lead to packing on weight (you're not eating a lot, but you are getting a tonne of nutrients) so make sure you back off once you reach a healthy level of daily calorie intake (maintaining weight)

  • A gainer perhaps?

    A great Company BSN has a product on the line called TRUE-MASS, its a gainer, and it does exactly what your looking for, it helps gain weight, but with essential vitamins and calories.

  • supposedly eating cooked foods at all adds a considerable amount of calories so the nutrition facts on foods that need to be cooked are wrong, so you may or may not be getting the calories you need

    source: link

  • Best way to increase calorie intake guaranteed:


  • I assume you're trying to gain muscle mass. If that's the case then you need to do a few things.

    First, cut back on endurance cardio like distance running. No matter how much you eat, stuff like that will prevent you from gaining weight and eat your muscle mass. Try walking or the elliptical instead.

    On top of that be sure to drink a high calorie protein shake. Drink lots of it. There are brands out there pretty much designed for what you're looking for though most will do it anyway.

    Also do be afraid to put away large amounts of food like burritos or hamburgers. Just be sure to use only good ingredients and stay active.

    Also, make sure you don't eat too many things raw.. Most food will need to be cooked in order to unlock all of the available nutrients. For example, you'll get less out of a raw carrot then a carrot cooked into a soup.

    When you eat also plays a factor. Carb focusing before an exercise and protein focusing after an exercise works well.

    • im trying to both burn fat and gain lean muscle mass. my goal is losing weight but gaining muscle. I have about 20 lbs of bodyfat I need to lose. the thing is I know you're supposed to meet a minimum calorie intake based on your weight gender and activity level and mine is 2300 for weight loss.

    • "Be sure to drink a high calorie protein shake. Drink lots of it." Hmmmmnope. He's getting plenty with his current diet.

    • ^^It's very hard to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time. Something only beginners can do for a short while.

  • well calories are important but carbs mean just as much and what type. I suggest more fruit. It's healthy high sugar and if you have it as a light desert you can really enjoy it!

  • Have you considered more exercise? I mean of recreational kind. There have been days where I would play basketball and shoot around for 5 hours and hit the weights when I'm done. Needless to say I can eat a TON on those days. Also stay awake longer, don't lose sleep but only sleep as much as your body personally requires. The more you're awake the more energy you use and you'll be hungrier (I've learned this from doing all nighters). Also doing mental work will use your energy as well. Like hours of intense studying,where you have to work to retain information as opposed to watching a TV where information is spoon fed.

    So I guess I didn't suggest any foods to eat but those are some ways that you can make yourself want more food. But I mean if you eat your food like a normal person and you feel fine, why do you have to maintain a certain level of caloric intake?

  • If you're trying to just increase your calories, sub some of what you're eating for denser alternatives. Maybe try 20/80 beef , a cup of almonds, keep the yolks with the whites or a protein shake as many have mentioned. Changing the composition of the protein from one of your meals won't be the difference between a heart attack and long life, especially if you're staying within youo target intake.

  • Drink a protein shake.

    • Good idea. Those things will put on the pounds if you don't exercise a lot. Just to save $, make your own with Vanilla or Chocolate Protein Powder and Almond or Rice or Coconut milk. Trader Joe's sells the stuff pretty inexpensively.

  • Eat meat.

  • Shakes and smoothies are what I recommend most. I advise making them yourself.

  • You know that diet will never work, right? You can go on 'diet' for the rest of your life! The rest of your life is a verrrrry loooong time! What you need to do is to change your eating habit. Not to to deny yourself of the stuffs you enjoy. Just discover other things that you enjoy that coincidence with the healthier lifestyle. Not all food calories are created equal. Remember that! As an example, if you eat two jelly doughnut that amount to 600 calories or so, in 15 minutes you will not feel that you have eaten anything. In an hour you will be hungry again, as if you've starved yourself in the last 12 hours. But, if you eat a couple sliced 12 grain bread with one sunny side up egg, butter, cheese and fattened goose liver pate', which amount to 400 calorie,. you will not, literally think about food until noon when you said to yourself, "Hey, should I be hungry by now? Maybe I should eat anyway...," By the way, a toasted 12 grain bread is to die for. The toasted seeds are just so delicious that makes you wonder why you would ever go back to the ol' boring white bread.

    • This isn't a "diet." This is a lifestyle change. I've been eating like this roughly for two years now, I just wasn't so strict about watching my fruit and vegetable intake until recently.

    • ...butter? Cheese? Are you forgetting about cholesterol? There is nothing wrong with his diet. Your attitude is the big problem with most of society and why there are so many fat asses out there.

    • candlewax, watch what fat people eat. They eat a lot of simple carbohydrate, not just greasy stuff, and they eat a lot of it; more than their required daily intake. Cheese and butter are not going to hurt you if you eat them in moderation. They are also have low glycemic index that help with not feeling hunger all day.

  • protein shake?

    • Already doing it. But the ones I'm doing are fairly low calorie, only 160 or so cals per serving. And I make them with water rather than milk.

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    • What I eat fills me up and doesn't leave room for much more =(

    • :l just gotta push through I guess

  • Instead of eating 3 meals a day eat 4 or 5. Don't change the size of your meals. Just add another with the same amount of food in it. My eating schedule is Breakfast at 8, Lunch at 11, Second lunch at 3, dinner at 6 or 7, Second dinner at 9 or 10.

    • Already doing that. I eat every two hours. Its just hard to keep a high calorie intake when you're worried about getting in your daily recommended allowance of fruits and vegetables which are practically calorie free, and end up not leaving room in the tummy for the rest.

    • Make the fruit into a smoothie and use yogurt instead of ice cream. There's dairy and fruit together and you can drink that alongside with a meal.

    • I do that already just with liquid egg white instead of yogurt. It's my breakfast everymorning, combined with whey protein.